It’s official! There are more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) in the Brisbane area than anywhere else in Australia.
Reflecting significant membership growth over recent years, on Sunday 18th November two new stakes (dioceses) were created – the Brisbane Australia Cleveland and Coomera Australia stakes – bringing the total number in South-East Queensland to ten.
The first Church building in Australia was constructed in Brisbane in 1904 and, from this humble beginning, membership has surged. South East Queensland has had 64 per cent growth in the last ten years. The first Brisbane stake was created 52 years ago in 1960.
Elder Kevin W Pearson, a member of the Pacific Area Presidency of the Church, presided over the region-wide changes. "[This] is an exciting time to be a part of,” he said. “There is great power in this day and in the expanding kingdom of God. Things are changing so rapidly within the Church. It is thrilling.”
Five stake (or diocesan) presidencies were called as part of the changes. In prior weeks, sweeping modifications were made to geographical boundaries of wards (parishes), stakes and priesthood leadership in order to establish a framework for creation of the new stakes and to allow for growth in subsequent years.
Newly-called stake president of the Eight Mile Plains Stake and father of four, Asa Smibert said, “I am a young man, but I love the Lord and always have tried to show that in the way I have served. When you serve others, you are blessed.”
Another new stake president, Esben Strodl, of the Brisbane Australia Stake, encouraged members to focus more on the power that Christ can have in changing each of our lives for the better. "My goal is to help members within our boundaries to better understand the atonement of Jesus Christ,” he said. “In so doing, we will prosper spiritually, emotionally and even physically as families and individuals."
According to Elder Jeffrey D Cummings, of the Seventy (Church leaders who direct the international areas of the Church), also called the changes momentous. “This is a mark of the growth of the church in Queensland and the strength of the members and priesthood leadership. It will allow for the continued care of Church members and for greater opportunities to serve within their local communities."
He said that Queensland is a vibrant part of Australia and that vibrancy is reflected in the strength of the Church.
“Yet, there is a unique aspect to the Church here and elsewhere around the world,” he said after the meetings announcing the changes had concluded. “In the midst of a world of confusion and uncertainty – even in some religious spheres – the Church stands as a sentinel of stability to which many are being drawn.”
Despite severe weather warnings of large hail stones and thunderstorms in South East Queensland, the meetings were overflowing with members clearly eager to learn why they had been brought together for six special meetings across greater Brisbane.
In Latter-day Saint practice, wards and stakes are presided over by a lay or unpaid ministry, called in Church parlance, the “priesthood”. A stake president will continue in his full-time job while serving the members of his stake during the evening and on weekends. So, too, will those who lead local congregations or wards. The Church believes that this follows Christian practice in biblical times.
Queensland Mormons have long believed that one of their most significant roles is to serve their neighbours, whether members of the Church or of other faiths. During the recent Brisbane floods, squads of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers donned their distinctive yellow t-shirts and helped families to clear their battered homes. Following the devastation of Cyclone Larry in 2006, which hit Queensland’s north eastern coast, Church members donated $200,000 to victims through the Church’s international humanitarian program.
QUEENSLAND CHURCH LEADERSHIP -
Brisbane Australia Cleveland Stake
- President: Dale Maurer
- First Counsellor: Anthony Poole
- Second Counsellor: Nathanael Green
Brisbane Australia Stake
- President: Esben Strodl
- First Counsellor: Brian Adams
- Second Counsellor: Bradley Smith
Brisbane Australia Centenary Stake
- President: Adam Hannant
- First Counsellor: Willie Ing
- Second Counsellor: Te Moanaroa Taimana
Eight Mile Plains Australia Stake
- President: Asa Smibert
- First Counsellor: Mark Gibson
- Second Counsellor: Neil Munro
Coomera Australia Stake
- President: Michael Stone
- First Counsellor: Joseph Skipps
- Second Counsellor: Tai Cecil Jnr.
Gold Coast Australia Stake
- President: Dean Reid
- First Counsellor: Gary Collins
- Second Counsellor: Daniel Shine
Ipswich Australia Stake
- President: Mark McNamee
- First Counsellor: Steven Tuddenham
- Second Counsellor: Benjamin Myers
Sunshine Coast Australia Stake
- President: Paul Thomas
- First Counsellor: Neville Ormsby
- Second Counsellor: Robert Barff
Brisbane Australia North Stake
- President: Robert Gilkes
- First Counsellor: Greg Dumbrell
- Second Counsellor: Craig Dobson
Brisbane Australia Logan Stake
- President: David Munro
- First Counsellor: Naamanu Lamositele
- Second Counsellor: Matthew Ellis
Rockhampton Australia District
- President: David Swann
- First Counsellor: Richard Brearley
- Second Counsellor: Stephen Swann
Townsville Australia District
- President: Geoffrey Lui
- First Counsellor: William Walker
- Second Counsellor: Paul Mathie
Cairns Australia District
- President: James Gardner
- First Counsellor: Darrell Bell
- Second Counsellor: Aquilar Luki Jnr.