Aregional representative here was elected recently as National Deputy in the Uruguayan government - the equivalent to the position of a governor in the United States.
Through his new position, Elder Luis Alberto Ferrizo, a convert and former stake president, has helped break down barriers of misinformation about the Church, and raise its profile. It is the highest office to which any member in this country has been elected.Referring to members' participation in politics, Elder Ferrizo commented, "It is the responsibility of each member to sustain and uphold the government, and it is important that we participate and stay informed of political affairs of the country, and to elect the best candidate to office."
He noted that the Church, which was introduced into Uruguay in 1947, has reached 50,000 members, and is one of the larger denominations in the country of 3.3 million people.
A member of the same party as the nation's recently elected president, Dr. Luis Alberto Lacalle de Herrera, Elder Ferrizo outpolled his nearest rival by several thousand votes.
He was converted to the Church in 1963, and has served as branch president, district president and stake president. He was called in 1989 as regional representative.
He also has had extensive experience in serving in the community. He has been active in sports and was president of the the Penarol Soccer Club for 15 years. He has been active in education and political affairs as well, serving as president of the College Parents Association, a delegate in the National Party, and as mayor of this community of Flores.
"Activity in the Church and political activity are two separate things that do not interfere with each other," he told a reporter. "The Church does not take part in political affairs, nor does it have any political affiliation. We are taught to be good citizens. In the Church, we teach gospel themes only, and we do not express political preferences."
He said, however, that when political figures present ideas that conflict with his religious beliefs, "I dig in and defend my principles, notwithstanding decisions that were made earlier by my party."
He added that being LDS has never been an obstacle to political involvement, "to the contrary, it has led to more respect for me and my principles."