Nostalgia fills stake's creation

Returning to Canada where they both presided over missions, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve had a nostalgic association with long-time acquaintances as they officiated in the creation of the Sudbury Ontario Stake on May 5.

The new stake, with about 1,800 members, was formed from the Northland District of the Canada Toronto West Mission and the Marquette (Mich.) District of the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission. When President Monson presided from 1959 to 1962 over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, it was the North Bay District. By the time Elder Ballard was president of the Canada Toronto Mission from 1974 to 1977, the district name had changed to Northland."The Church has grown in Canada," President Monson told the Church News. "Toronto became the first stake in eastern Canada, in August 1960; it was the 300th stake of the Church. Toronto now has two missions - Canada Toronto East and Canada Toronto West missions. The Toronto stake has been divided many times. Stakes have come to Ottawa, Montreal, Kitchener, Oshawa, London and to Hamilton. But there was one remaining district, the Northland District. Elder Ballard and I were pleased to go there and create the Sudbury Ontario Stake from that great mission district.

"We found that the stalwart leaders of our time in Canada had grown older, and the current leaders were following in their footsteps in giving leadership and service to the Church," President Monson said. "Many of the current leaders are the children of members who were baptized when I was the mission president or when Elder Ballard presided over the mission. Not one single person could think of any reason why he would wish to or needed to decline a call to serve. Not one. When my wife (Frances) and I went to Canada in 1959, we met some of the most wonderful people in all the world. I was just 31 when I was called to preside over the mission. We had two young children accompany us and our youngest son was born in Canada. We are deeply rooted in Canada."

President Monson and Elder Ballard spoke of the geographical vastness of the stake. Its boundaries range from the U.S.-Canadian border to the North Pole. It goes east to the Quebec border, and west of Sault Ste. Marie, along Lake Superior. In the new stake are the Bracebridge, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie (which serves U.S.-Canada twin cities), Sudbury and Timmins wards, and the Temiskaming Branch. (Biographical information on the new stake presidency will be published later.)

"The stake encompasses huge tracts of geography. There are lots of trees and moose, with smaller population bases that are widely spread," said the new stake president, Boyd McGinn. "The geography presents a great challenge to keeping close to one another."

President Monson observed that while members in the new stake have faced many challenges, they've come a long way, and not just in distance. "They need not take second place to members anywhere in devotion, spirituality, commitment or testimony. If anything, the miles which separate them have brought them closer together in the work of the Lord."

Elder Ballard said returning to Canada to create the new stake "seemed like old-home week" as he saw many familiar faces among the 400 members attending a Saturday evening session of the conference in the Sudbury Ward meetinghouse and 750 members attending the general session in an auditorium on the campus of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

"As President Monson and I interviewed priesthood brethren, we noticed that many of them were our dear friends from years gone by. It was kind of like a reunion, as well as a meeting to create a new stake. Quite a few of the people we interviewed joined the Church when we were mission presidents. It was a great thing to see those converts now taking on leadership responsibilities of this new stake. There was a lot of nostalgia."

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