At the request of Cuba’s Ambassador to the U.S., José R. Cabañas, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met Wednesday morning, Oct. 23, with him, his wife, Edilia Gonzalez, and Third Secretary Yanet Pumariega Pérez.
Ambassador Cabañas reaffirmed that the Church is welcome in his Caribbean country. He was pleased with the things he saw in Utah and the kindness of the people. They spoke about the importance of solidarity after natural disasters and the Church’s cooperation with social and community organizations in Cuba. He also acknowledged the goodness of Latter-day Saints who are constructive members of Cuban society. Hundreds of Latter-day Saints reside in Cuba and are organized into several branches and one district, which was created in 2017. Before Ambassador Cabañas left, the First Presidency gave him a Spanish language edition of the Book of Mormon.
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are charged with sharing God’s love for all His children. These senior Church leaders also regulate the affairs of the Church in all nations. One way they accomplish both objectives is in regular meetings with government, civic and religious leaders from around the world.
The ambassador’s stop in Utah also included a Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 22, lecture on Cuba-U.S. relations at Brigham Young University and a diplomatic luncheon Wednesday, Oct. 23, in downtown Salt Lake City.
Although the Church is not officially registered in Cuba, the Church has had a presence there since 2004 when the first Cuban branch was organized and government officials in the Department of Religious Affairs have been welcoming of the Church over the years.
Cuba was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel on Feb. 16, 2012, by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the dedication, Elder Bednar blessed the country and its people.
Visiting the site of the dedication in 2014, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looked out over the city of Havana and said, “Cuba is a beautiful country and the Cuban people are warm and wonderful.”
During that same trip, Elder Holland helped to create Cuba’s second membership branch. At a conference with the new branch, he said “Although we are small in number, each member is precious to us, and Cuba is precious to us.”