Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population: 26,815,000; Members, 144,089; Stakes, 26; Wards, 182; Branches, 90; Missions, 4; Districts, 9; Temples, 1; percent LDS, .5, or one in 186; South America North Area.
On the Caribbean coast of South America, Venezuela is a federal republic where the people speak Spanish and Indian languages.
As early as 1966, a group of members, mostly foreigners working in Venezuela, held Church meetings in the home of Carl C. Wilcox in Caracas. A branch of 45 members was organized by Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 2 November 1966 with Carl C. Wilcox as president. Costa Rica Mission President Ted E. Brewerton sent four missionaries, Floyd Baum, Neil Gruwell, David Bell and Fred Podlesny, to Venezuela to begin missionary work. Baum, Bell, Steve Jensen and Stephen Edmunds began work in Maracaibo on 7 July 1967.
Fred Podlesny and David Bell baptized the first convert, Hernan Sepulveda, on 12 February 1967. Though initial converts were few, the Colombia-Venezuela Mission was created in 1968. The first district conference was held on 15 October 1968 with 28 missionaries then serving in Caracas and Maracaibo.
When the Venezuela Mission was created on 1 July 1971, membership had reached 1,259. Under the leadership of President Clark D. Webb, the mission began to average 40 converts per month. The Church Educational System started in Venezuela in 1972 under the direction of Alejandro Portal Campos.In January 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball became the first Church president to visit Venezuela. In 1977, about 4,000 members were organized in 23 branches and five districts. Successive mission presidents emphasized building programs and leadership preparation. The Caracas Venezuela Stake, Venezuela’s first, was created on 15 May 1977, followed by the creation of the Maracaibo Venezuela Mission in 1979. Membership that year was 5,000. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Caracas Venezuela Temple on 20 August 2000.
Local Church leaders urged members to keep their focus on Christ and His teachings during the summer of 2003, a time of turbulent and volatile political divisiveness which caused much suffering due to fuel and food shortages. Despite political troubles, “We are baptizing more than ever,” said Elder Claudio R.M. Costa, president of the South America North Area.
Membership in 2002 reached 113,652. In 2005, membership reached 134,597.
Sources: Venezuela Caracas Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Church Educational System, La Historia de la Iglesia en Venezuela 1966 a 1986, 1986; Donald Q. Cannon and Richard O. Cowan, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land, 2003; “Venezuela,” Ensign, February 1977; “Perseverance Pays,” Church News, 10 November 1979; “Rapid Pace Across South America,” Church News, 23 August 1997; Jason Swensen, “Venezuelan Saints Rejoicing at New Caracas Temple,” Church News 26 August 2000; Jason Swensen, “Church Leaders Work to Buoy Members’ Spirits,” Church News 25 January 2003.
Stakes — 26
(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)
No. / Name / Organized / First President
South America North Area
1724 / Barcelona Venezuela / 4 Jun 1989 / Angel Luis Fajardo C.
2701 / Barinas Venezuela / 18 Dec 2005 / Alexander Gamez V.
1989 / Barquisimeto Venezuela / 28 Aug 1994 / Julio Ramon Davila Duran
2604c / Barquisimeto Venezuela Obelisco / 23 Feb 2003 / Wilker Jose Pacheco D.
827 / Caracas Venezuela / 15 May 1977 / Adolfo F. Mayer G.
2695 / Caracas Venezuela Los Teques / 20 Nov 2005 / Juan Carlos Chacin N.
1887 / Caracas Venezuela Palo Verde / 14 June 1992 / Edgardo Angulo de la Paua
1717 / Caracas Venezuela Urdaneta / 7 May 1989 / Hector Manuel Arraez R.
2607b / Ciudad Bolivar Venezuela / 10 Nov. 2002 / Hector Luis Arevolo
1787 / Ciudad Ojeda Venezuela / 24 Feb 1991 / Juan Silfrido Carrizo C.
2615a / El Tigre Venezuela / 29 June 2003 / Alfredo Jose Rodriguez Carmona
2783 / Guacara Venezuela / 18 Nov 2007 / Rigoberto Rodriguez Rojas
2608b / Guarenas Venezuela / 11Nov 2001 / Edgar Lopez Delgado
1585 / Guayana Venezuela / 15 Jan 1986 / Luis A. Aguilar Guevara
1181 / Maracaibo Venezuela / 15 Sep 1980 / Francisco Giminez S.
1862 / Maracaibo Venezuela Centro / 17 May 1992 / Ruben Dario Blanco Valles
1414 / Maracaibo Venezuela South / 24 Apr 1983 / Omar Alvarez
2721 / Maracaibo Venezuela West / 7 May 2006 / Eulogio Jose Quero P.
1774 / Maracay Venezuela / 4 Nov 1990 / Jairo R. Herrera
2608a / Maturin Venezuela / 20 Oct 2002 / Felix David Hurtado C.
2333 / Merida Venezuela / 23 Mar 1997 / Freddy V. Herrera Molma
2627 / Ocumare Del Tuy Venezuela / 25 Jan 2004 / Angel Maria Leal Hernandez
1885 / Puerto La Cruz Venezuela / 7 June 1992 / Luis Jose Gonzalez
2127 / San Cristobal Venezuela / 19 Nov 1995 / Javier Ibanez Leon
2125 / Valencia Venezuela Candelaria / 19 Nov 1995 / Gamaliel de Jesus Osorno Flores
1050 / *Valencia Venezuela Los Sauces / 19 Nov 1995
Valencia Venezuela / 19 Aug 1979 / Teodoro Hoffman
Missions — 4
(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)
(303) VENEZUELA BARCELONA MISSION
Av. Intercomunal Jorge Rodriguez
Torre BVC, Piso 5, Oficina 5A
Lecheria Anzoategui, Venezuela
(95) VENEZUELA CARACAS MISSION
Clle La Estancia, Edif. Centro Bonaven
Torre B, Piso 1 Oficina 14 B
Chuao, Amazonas, Venezuela
(174) VENEZUELA MARACAIBO MISSION
Calle 73 Ave 3G No. 3F-87
Edif. El Tama Sector Bella Vista
Maracaibo, Edo. Zulia
(267) VENEZUELA VALENCIA MISSION
Calle 137 Centro Comercial Imperial 2
Urb. Comoruco Sector Los Sauces
Piso 1 Oficina 1-7
Valencia, Carabobo 02001 Venezuela