QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Five and a half decades after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was legally registered in the Philippines, Elder Neil L. Andersen created the church’s 100th stake in the country on Sunday.
To a capacity congregation gathered in the Kia Theater in metro Manila, Elder Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of the historic milestone for the Philippines — the first nation outside of the Western Hemisphere to experience this level of LDS growth.
Why among all the nations of the earth “has the Savior set his feet so firmly here in the Philippines?” he asked. “It is because of who you are.”
Elder Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, praised the Filipino church members for their gentleness, humility, education, optimism and belief in Jesus Christ.
“This is a special place,” Elder Andersen said. “Do not underestimate who you are. The most important part of the Philippines is the people.”
Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy, told early church pioneers in the Philippines that they are the reason the gospel of Jesus Christ took root in their country. “We are celebrating this wonderful moment because of the faith of people like you.”
The new stake — the Mandaluyong Philippines Stake — is located in the area where the LDS Church built its first chapel in 1966.
The milestone is significant. The LDS Church has only reached this milestone in four other countries of the world — Brazil, Mexico, the United States and Peru.
Although the first official Mormon conference was held in the Philippines on May 13, 1945, it was only attended by Latter-day Saints in the U.S. military.
The Philippines wasn’t dedicated for the preaching of the gospel for another decade. On Aug. 21, 1955, then-Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, who later became the 10th president of the church, offered a prayer of dedication on the Philippines.
On April 28, 1961, under the direction of then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who would also later serve as prophet, the church was legally registered in the Philippines and received permission to send missionaries to the nation.
“This is an occasion you will never forget,” Elder Hinckley told a group gathered at the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila in 1961. “What we…