The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created the 100th stake (diocese) as a result of significant membership expansion and growth. The Philippines becomes only the fifth country in the world to have 100 or more stakes. The stake was created by Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at a special conference at the Kia Theater Cubao. The evening before there was a cultural celebration called “Upon the Isles of the Sea” that included over 600 enthusiastic participants celebrating the gospel in the Philippines in song and dance.
The 100th stake is the Mandaluyong stake created from the Makati, Makati East and Manila Philippines stakes. The new stake’s boundaries were included in the original Manila stake, which was the first stake in the country, created on May 20, 1973.
Elder Andersen in talking about the significant growth in the Philippines explained that “it is because of who you are.” He encouraged the people to “see the great place in the history of the restoration that you play.”
He also referred to the cultural performance the previous night by saying, “I have never seen a better performance in all my life.”
The cultural program “Upon the Isles of the Sea” included over 600 excited participants made up of mostly youth, but also included children, young adults, and adults. Each of the major regions’ cultures, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, were exhibited.
The finale included all participants together on the stage as a counter on the screen showed each of the existing 99 stakes in order of creation. Following this Elder Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen joined the participants on the stage. Elder Andersen’s first words were “Wow, that was outstanding!” He later said, “we will never forget this and I hope you won’t either.”
The beginning of the Church in the Philippines started with a prayer offered on April 28, 1961, by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. In the prayer he asked for “the blessings of the Lord upon the missionary work in the Philippines.” He also prayed that “there shall be many, many thousands who shall receive this message and be blessed thereby.” Shortly after, the church was legally registered in the Philippines and the first four missionaries arrived.
In just 56 years, the church has grown to about 750,000 members in 100 stakes and 75 districts. There are currently 21 missions, 2 operating temples in Manila and Cebu and 2 more announced in Urdaneta and Alabang. There is a Missionary Training Center in Manila that was recently doubled in size.
Other general authorities in attendance at the two events included President Ulisses Soares, Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Shayne M. Bowen, Philippines Area President, Elder Allen D. Haynie, and Elder Evan A. Schmutz, of the Philippines Area Presidency, and their wives Sister Rosana Soares, Sister Lynette Bowen, Sister Deborah Haynie, and Sister Cindy Schmutz.