“Brazil Now Third Country with One Hundred Stakes,” Ensign, June 1994, 79
Impressive growth of the Church in Brazil has resulted in the creation of seven new stakes in this South American country.
Six of the seven stakes came from divisions of just two stakes—Florianopolis and Novo Hamburgo. Brazil is only the third country in the world to have more than one hundred stakes. (The United States has more than 1,170 stakes, and Mexico has 126.)
Missionary work began slowly in Brazil, which boasts a population of 160 million and covers almost 3.3 million square miles. When missionaries first arrived in 1928, they confined their preaching to the German colonies in the south. It wasn’t until after World War II that missionaries began teaching in Portuguese to the entire population. In the last thirty years, Church membership in Brazil has jumped from five thousand to five hundred thousand.
Because of the size of the country, members often travel several days to attend the temple. Yet the area presidency reports that the Sao Paulo Temple often functions at full capacity, with individuals and organized groups from all over the country arriving weekly.
“The dedication of the people is inspiring,” said Elder Harold G. Hillam of the Seventy, president of the Brazil Area. Forty years ago, he served a mission in Sao Paulo, where only one branch was organized. Recently he attended a regional conference in the same city with more than twenty thousand members in attendance.
“At the time [I served as a missionary], there was just one mission in Brazil,” Elder Hillam continued. “This mission had a North American mission president, and 98 percent of the missionaries were North Americans.
“Today, the faithful Brazilians are filling more than half the callings as mission presidents, and the strong Brazilian youth are accepting the challenge and making the sacrifice to serve missions. Now, more than half the missionary force is made up of Brazilian elders and sisters.”
The potential for missionary work in the country is still great. The area presidency reports that there are cities of 100,000 to 250,000 people that have never had missionaries, as well as numerous smaller communities. A new missionary training center, slated to be the second largest in the Church, is being built in Sao Paulo.