News Release

Fourteen New Stakes and Three New Missions in the Pacific Area

With the creation of the new Fairfield stake in Sydney, 14 new stakes and three missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been organised or announced in the last several months in the Pacific Area.

 The changes are in response to significant growth in membership in several Pacific countries and the call of tens of thousands of additional full-time missionaries internationally.

The latest addition occurred on Sunday (19th May).  Elder Kevin W. Pearson, First Counsellor in the Pacific Area Presidency, and Elder Robert J. Dudfield, an Area Seventy, officiated at the stake conference where the Sydney Australia Fairfield Stake was formed, bringing the total number of stakes in New South Wales to 10.

A stake is a group of Mormon wards [congregations] in a geographical area. The word stake is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2). There are usually six to ten wards in a stake. A stake usually has approximately 2,500 to 4,000 members.

The new stake president of the Fairfield stake is Andrew Shum.   “I have a small family, I have a job and I am a priesthood leader.  I didn’t solicit this position, but I am truly grateful for it.  I know the Lord is my Saviour and I will serve with all my heart,” said President Shum, who will continue in regular employment while serving in his volunteer leadership role in the Church.

President Shum praised the role model of the women in his life. “My wife has been a great example to me, as well as my mother and mother-in-law.  Also my grandmothers have significantly influenced my life for good.”

President Shum will work with two counsellors, Siosefa Palu, previously of the Baulkham Hills stake presidency, and Martin Wong, previously bishop of the Prairiewood 1st Ward.

While presiding at the stake conference, Elder Pearson also gave guidance to the gathered Saints on the great benefits that come to them when they follow the directions of Church leaders and study the scriptures.

“Miracles occur as we listen to the prophets and adhere to their counsel to read the Book of Mormon every day.  Weary the Lord in prayer to call down the powers of heaven for our families and go regularly to the temple,” said Elder Pearson.

Referring to the dramatic changes occurring in society, Elder Pearson said, “The time is coming when we will need to be protected even more so by the covenants we have made in the temple.  We can’t be casual in our commitment. 

“Our youth need to be prepared to serve missions and as parents we need to make our homes mini-missionary training centres.”

Elder Dudfield grew up in Tasmania.   As a young missionary his first service was in the area of the new Fairfield stake, now also his first assignment as a new Area Seventy. 

He said, “Everything is leading us to the temple.  Hold fast to the iron rod (of truth).  As well as ensuring that we are individually worthy of eternal life, each of us has a responsibility to rescue those who’ve been lost, or who haven’t had the opportunity to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ yet.”

The creation of the new Sydney Australia Fairfield Stake meant adjustments needed to be made to wards in surrounding stakes.

The Fairfield stake has seven wards:  Prairiewood 1st (English speaking), Prairiewood 2nd (Spanish speaking), Villawoood 1st (English speaking), Villawood 2nd (Samoan speaking) and Fairfield (Tongan speaking), which came from the Liverpool Australia Stake, and Oatlands and Parramatta (both English speaking), which came from the Sydney Australia Baulkham Hills Stake.

The Liverpool stake now has six wards, having gained the Minto Ward from the Macarthur Australia Stake.  The Baulkham Hills stake now has seven wards with the transfer to it of the Blacktown Ward from the Sydney Australia Hebersham Stake.   Remaining in the Hebersham stake are six wards.

New stakes also have recently been organised in: Melbourne, Australia (two); Brisbane, Australia (two); Auckland, New Zealand (two); Samoa (two); Hamilton, New Zealand; French Polynesia; Tonga; American Samoa; and New Caledonia.

The Pacific Area now has a total of 124 stakes — from Perth in the west to Papeete in the east, and Port Moresby in the north to Christchurch in the South.  Australia has 36 stakes while New Zealand has 28.

A Latter-day Saint mission is a defined geographical area where a number of missionaries serve in various cities, towns and villages.  Most missions have from 100 to 250 missionaries — including young missionaries aged 18 to 26 years, as well as senior missionaries who are retired from the regular workforce.

At present, of the 347 missions in the world, 14 are located in Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific.

The new missions announced, as of 1 July 2013, for the Pacific Area are the Australia Sydney North Mission, the New Zealand Hamilton Mission and the Papua New Guinea Lae Mission.

These three new missions, along with 55 other newly created missions globally, will bring the number of missions in the Pacific Area to 17, for a total of 405 worldwide.

In the year 1830, in a small log cabin in upstate New York State, the Church was organised with six members.  Since that time the Church has grown to a worldwide membership approaching 15 million.

With a firm sense of gathering to the Church’s centre of strength in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the past many faithful members emigrated there as soon as they had the means to do so.

This fact contributed to the slow growth of the Church in Australia in those early years.  Today however, there are nearing half a million Latter-day Saints throughout the Pacific Area with 132,000 of those located in Australia. 

The membership of the worldwide Church continues to grow and today is listed as the fourth-largest Christian faith in the United States. On average, construction of at least one new Mormon chapel is completed somewhere in the world each day in order to house the growing membership.   Growth in the Church is driven by both convert baptisms and natural growth through the birth of children in Latter-day Saint families.

One of the most recognised characteristics of the Church is missionary service. Missionaries are men and women who can be seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities in the world as well as in thousands of smaller communities.

The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel and baptising believers in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thousands of young prospective missionaries have responded enthusiastically to the October 2012 semi-annual conference announcement by President Thomas S. Monson that lowered the age requirement for missionary service.  Young men can now serve at the age of 18 and young women at age 19.

Pacific Area President of the Church, Elder James J. Hamula, says that the creation of new missions and stakes will further strengthen the Church in the Pacific Area. “Wherever you have strong missions and stakes, individuals, families and communities are blessed.”

“Our aim,” he added, “is to help our members to live good lives, based on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. We strive to be good citizens, good employees, good neighbours, and good fathers and mothers.”

“We also invite our friends and neighbours, not of our faith, to worship with us at any of our chapels, or to ask their Mormon friends, or local missionaries, about how our beliefs are enriching our lives. Some may choose to learn more about us by visiting”

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