News Release

Church Creates Dunedin New Zealand Stake

132nd Latter-day Saint stake organised in the Pacific Area

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organised the Dunedin New Zealand Stake on Sunday 17 April 2016.

It is the 132nd stake of the Church in the Pacific Area. A stake is a group of Latter-day Saint congregations, similar to a diocese in other Christian churches. The Pacific Area is an ecclesiastical region that includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the islands of the South Pacific.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson, president of the Pacific Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made the announcement on Sunday, also announcing the Dunedin Stake’s three-person presidency: Stephen Smith; Rangi Solomon; and Justin Kaufana.

Approximately 700 members and guests of the Church attended the Sunday morning session of the two-day conference.

Elder Pearson said the stake organisation was “an historic event in the Church for Dunedin.”

He reminded stake members that the Church was organised into the Dunedin District in 1892, and encouraged local Latter-day Saints to work towards the creation of a second stake in the area in the next five to ten years.

Elder Pearson urged the members of the stake to keep the Sabbath day holy, and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and of modern-day prophets and apostles.

He invited all in attendance “to take upon ourselves the name of Christ through covenants with God.”

“In order to seek and receive the Lord’s richest blessings for ourselves, our families and others, we must fully align ourselves and our lives with the Lord.”

Elder David J. Thomson, Pacific Area Seventy, accompanied Elder Pearson at the stake conference.

In his remarks, he said the Church has been a part of the landscape in Dunedin and in the surrounding region for a long time.

“A stake is a refuge from the storms that will come,” he said. “It is a gathering place for the growth of the Church.”

President Stephen Smith, originally from Canada, works full-time as a professor of law at Otago University.

As lay ministers in the Church, President Smith and his counsellors' service will be given in the evenings and on weekends. This will include meeting with individuals, couples, families and other groups to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and help others strengthen their faith and face the challenges of life.

President Smith served as a missionary in New Zealand as a younger man, including a period of time in Dunedin. He, his wife Kimberly, and their six children returned to New Zealand ten years ago, settling in Dunedin.

As he began his remarks on Sunday, he said it was “an overwhelming sight to stand at this pulpit to see the congregation.”

Answering the rhetorical question, “What do we do now we are a stake?” President Smith said, “We carry on.” Elder Thomson echoed the sentiment when he urged all in attendance to “press forward.”

Jared Ormsby, president of the Church’s Christchurch New Zealand Stake, said his heart was “full of joy” as the new stake was created.

Roger Hudson, president of the Church’s New Zealand Wellington Mission—which covers the lower part of the North Island and the entire South Island of New Zealand—encouraged those in attendance to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

Geoffrey Mitchell, who served previously as the Dunedin District President (a Latter-day Saint district is also a collection of congregations in a geographical area, but with fewer members than a stake), thanked his wife Shona and many others who have worked with him in serving the Lord and the people for many years.

“We are a village and we work together,” he said.

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