“Elder Oaks and Elder Holland to Serve among Local Saints,” Liahona, July 2002, 126
Beginning in August, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will serve in assignments outside the United States for a period of one year. Elder Oaks will serve as Area President in the Philippines, and Elder Holland will serve as Area President in Chile.
The appointments mark the first time in decades that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has lived and presided outside the United States. Elder Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) and Elder Mark E. Petersen (1900–84) presided as Apostles over the European and West European Missions respectively. Elder David O. McKay (1873–1970) also served as a mission president while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presiding over the British Mission in the early 1920s.
The appointment of Elder Oaks and Elder Holland as Area Presidents is aimed at meeting a challenge the Church has faced for years in developing areas: rapid growth. “Growth has been our greatest problem,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview with the Deseret News. “And a wonderful problem it is.”
In their new assignments, Elder Oaks and Elder Holland will assist in training new Church leadership and in helping new members assimilate into the Church and attend the temple. The new assignments will also enable members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to gain additional experience in meeting such needs.
Chile and the Philippines have experienced rapid Church growth in recent years. In the Philippines, Church membership has grown to nearly half a million, with much of the growth occurring in the past decade. Membership in the Philippines in 1984 was 76,000, in 1990 it was 237,000, and today it is approximately 496,000. More than 1,200 congregations, organized in 80 stakes and 13 missions, now exist in this nation. The Manila Philippines Temple was dedicated in 1984.
Today Chile has more than 520,000 Latter-day Saints. When the Santiago Chile Temple was dedicated in 1983, the country had some 140,000 members. In 1988 Chile became the fourth nation in the world to reach 50 stakes. Between 1983 and 1993, the number of Chilean members and stakes doubled, making Chile the country with the fastest-growing Church membership in South America. Continued growth, including the creation of 26 new stakes between 1994 and 1996, led to the creation of the Chile Area in 1996.