“Thriving in Victoria, British Columbia,” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 79
Although the first independent branch on Vancouver Island wasn’t established until 1946, two stakes are now burgeoning on this island off the southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. One of them is the Victoria British Columbia Stake. Latter-day Saint immigrants from around the world, attracted to the area’s beauty, mild climate, and recreation and employment opportunities, have contributed to the increase. Church converts also have fueled the growth.
“Many members in the stake are first- or second-generation converts and feel great appreciation for the impact of the gospel in their lives,” says stake president Jackson Ellis. “They have helped establish the kingdom through their own faith and works.”
Yet, whether they are converts, immigrants, or lifelong local members, Latter-day Saints in Victoria are flourishing as they live the gospel and share its blessings in various ways.
Eileen Bevan, a convert from South Africa, organizes sisters in the Victoria First Ward in making blankets, quilts, clothing, and leper bandages for the needy. The sisters work together on their humanitarian projects once a week. Some continue the projects on their own. Through word of mouth and the local media, the sisters have involved members of other faiths in the effort.
Member and nonmember visits to the Victoria Stake Family History Center total more than 1,000 per month, thanks in part to outreach efforts organized by Barry Stewart, director of the center. A Church member recently spoke on a local talk show about genealogy and the Family History Center. That event was followed by a daylong family history seminar that many members and nonmembers attended. After the seminar, “attendance at the center doubled,” said Brother Stewart. “The event was a huge success, and another is in the works.”
Another important outreach effort is made by members to new converts and move-ins to help them feel part of the stake family. Melissa Orrego, a 15-year-old who recently moved to Victoria from Australia, says: “Even though the people and their customs were different, I felt welcome right away. It was like I had known them for a long time.”
As members of the Victoria stake continue to enthusiastically reach out to strengthen each other and to share the gospel with those around them, there’s no doubt that the Church here will flourish.—Carey Barnard, Victoria First Ward, Victoria British Columbia Stake
Victoria B.C. Stake
Units: 5 wards, 2 branches
Full-time missionaries from stake: 13
Temple district: Seattle Washington Temple