Elder L. Tom Perry organized the first stake on Guam last Sunday, named the Barrigada Guam Stake. The new stake was created from the Guam District and each of the five branches became wards. One of the five wards in the new stake functions on neighboring Saipan. In 2010, two countries/territories had their first LDS stakes established, which were Uganda and Guam. The creation of the new stake increases the likelihood of a future LDS temple to be build in Micronesia to service members in the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.
The Church created the Pacajus Brazil Stake last Sunday from a division of the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake, which had nine wards and two branches. Consisting of five wards and one branch, the Pacajus Brazil Stake includes the Pacajus 1st, Pacajus 2nd, Pedras, Russas, and Tabajaras Wards, and the Aracati Branch. The Tabajaras Ward was formerly a branch prior to the creation of the new stake. LDS Church growth has been among the strongest worldwide in eastern Fortaleza as the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake was created in 2005 and has since divided in 2008 and 2010. The Aracati Brazil District operated from 2003 to 2008 until it was absorbed into the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake and two of its original three branches have since become wards. Growth has occurred in other areas of Fortaleza and a new stake has been created every year in the city since 2005. Located in the northeast of Fortaleza, the Fortaleza Brazil Stake has experienced rapid congregational growth in 2010 as the number of wards has increased from five to eight. The Church announced a temple for Fortaleza in October 2009. There are now 236 stakes in Brazil.
The Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake had 12 wards and two branches and was divided last Sunday to create the new San Francisco Venezuela Stake. Comprising seven wards in the southern areas of Maracaibo, the new stake consists of the Bolivar, El Caujaro, El Sol, La Canada, San Francisco, Union, and Veintecuatro de Julio Wards. The Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake now has five wards and two branches. Prior to the creation of the new stake, the last stake created by the Church in Maracaibo was in 2006. At present, only the Ciudad Ojeda Stake appears close to splitting among stakes in the Maracaibo area. Former LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Maracaibo a decade ago and predicted that a temple would one day be build in the city. Temple attendance at the Caracas Venezuela Temple appears too low currently to merit the construction of a temple in Maracaibo in the immediate future, but prospects appear high for a temple in Maracaibo in the coming decade. There are now 28 stakes in Venezuela and six stakes in the Maracaibo area. For more information about prospects, challenges, and opportunities for LDS Church growth in Venezuela, please read an article recently written by me and David Stewart at Cumorah.com found here.
Becoming the first new stake of 2010, the Church created the Paniqui Philippines Stake from the Paniqui Philippines District last Sunday. The new stake consists of five wards (Anao, Gerona, Moncada 1st, Paniqui 1st, and Paniqui 2nd) and four branches (Cuyapo, Moncada 2nd, Panique 3rd, and Ramos). The stake is located not too far from Urdaneta where the third LDS temple in the Philippines will be constructed in the coming years. The creation of the new stake is a major accomplishment for the Church in that there have been no new stakes created in northern Luzon since 2001 and that several stakes were discontinued in the early 2000s in this area. Dozens of districts appear close to becoming stakes in the near future throughout the Philippines, but low member activity and poor convert retention have delayed the creation of additional stakes and congregations. For more information about the Church in the Philippines, I refer you to another article written by me and David Stewart on Cumorah.com found here.