Sunday, August 15, 2010

District Discontinued in Puerto Rico

The sole functioning district on Puerto Rico based in Arecibo was discontinued and its branches were assimilated into the Toa Baja Puerto Rico and Mayagüez Puerto Rico Stakes. This latest development appears part of a nationwide initiative to consolidate the remaining districts as less than a month earlier, the Fajardo Puerto Rico District was discontinued. Each of the former districts had an inadequate number of congregations to become a stake. With the recent realignments, stronger branches may become wards as they will now be part of stakes.

In addition to significant numbers of members relocating to the United States mainland, Puerto Rico has experienced little membership growth and few convert baptisms over the past two decades. Emigration was partially responsible for the discontinuance of all four stakes operating on the island in 1993 and the subsequent formation of eight districts. Four stakes were reestablished by 2000 and a fifth stake was created from two districts in 2006. None of the five stakes on Puerto Rico appear close to dividing in the foreseeable future. A second mission was created in 2007 and discontinued in 2010. However the purpose of the second mission appears to have been focused on other small Caribbean nations rather than expanding missionary outreach in Puerto Rico. In recent years, membership has begun increasing after many years of membership decline.

There has been some discussion on the likelihood of a future temple in Puerto Rico. Currently, members in Puerto Rico can access the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple with few challenges and in a timely manner. With only five stakes, Puerto Rico may not receive a temple for many more years. Returned missionaries report that Caribbean island nations would travel to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple with greater ease than to a potential temple in Puerto Rico due to visa restrictions and expenses.

2 comments:

TempleRick said...

I just spoke with a recently returned missionary from Puerto Rico who said a large focus of the mission was to increase the number of active, tithe-paying Melchizedek priesthood holders on the island in order to qualify for a temple. As yet, the membership is not strong enough.

My understanding is that a temple site was acquired many years ago in the city of Caguas (a central location for the island). It had been considered for the site of the first Caribbean temple, but over time, rapid membership growth in the Dominican Republic and the comparatively better economic status of members in Puerto Rico made Santo Domingo the favored location. As far as I know, the Church still owns the Caguas site.

Spencer said...

Actually the Church sold the Caguas site when I was there in '06. My entire mission we worked towards a temple being announced and every conference I still hope to hear about it, but the members move to the States too frequently to keep active numbers up.