Country information: Bolivia
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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 9,775,000; Members, 163,119; Stakes, 24; Wards, 165; Branches, 82; Missions, 3; Districts, 10; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, 1.7, or one in 60.; South America West Area.
Bolivia, located in central South America, is a republic with a population that speaks Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara.
Andes Mission President Vernon Sharp and his wife, Fawn, traveled to La Paz in 1961 to investigate the possibility of bringing missionaries into Bolivia. Norval Jesperson, a member, who, in 1962 became director of the American-Bolivian Center in Cochabamba, introduced to the Gospel to a number of Bolivians. As a result, Maria Van Gemerfen, became the first Bolivian to be baptized. In 1963, Jesperson, along with two other Church members, Duane Wilcox and Dube Thomas, who lived in La Paz, helped the Church gain legal status. Andes Mission President Sterling Nicolaysen arrived in Bolivia on 20 October 1964 and met with the Duane Wilcox family in La Paz and the Newell Judkins family in Cochabamba to find suitable locations to hold Church meetings. The first branch meeting in Cochabamba was held 22 November 1964 with 19 people in attendance. Missionaries arrived from the Andes Mission on 24 November 1964. Missionaries baptized Victor Walter Vallejos at Cochabamba just before Christmas in 1964.
The first Bolivian to serve a mission was Desiderio Arce Cano. While pursuing a singing career in Argentina, he was called on 25 April 1967 to return to his native land. The first missionary called from Bolivia was Carlos Pedraja. He was baptized 30 May 1965, and called to the Andes South Mission in 1968, and later served as stake and mission president, and director of seminaries and institutes in Bolivia. Martha Taborga Coca de Oruro received her missionary call to Ecuador on 31 August 1970, the first sister missionary called from Bolivia. Early Church member and leader Jorge Leano Rodriguez became the first Bolivian mission president. He was called on 16 June 1987 as president of the Colombia Cali Mission. In 1995, he was called as president of the Lima Peru Temple.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball and Andes Mission President J. Avril Jesperson met with Bolivian President Rene Barrientos Ortuno on 6 September 1966. They explained the Church's plan to create the Andes South Mission, headquartered in La Paz, and also invited him to visit the Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, which he subsequently did two years later. The Andes South Mission later became the Bolivia La Paz Mission. In 1968, there were about 350 members in Bolivia. That number increased to 9,700 by 1977. The Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission was organized in 1977, and was renamed the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission in 1982. The Santa Cruz Bolivia Stake, the first in Bolivia, was organized 14 January 1979. More than 4,300 members attended an area conference in La Paz on 3 March 1977, with President Spencer W. Kimball, who also met with the head of state, President Hugo Bonzer Suarez.
At the close of the 1980s, some political extremists carried out random attacks on Church meetinghouses and tragically assassinated missionaries Jeffrey Ball and Todd Wilson in La Paz on 24 May 1989. During this period Bolivian members became more united and many of the youth committed themselves to serve full-time missions. Despite the opposition, Church growth continued, and in 1991, there were more than 4,000 baptisms in Bolivia. On 15 January 1995, workers completed the construction of the 100th meetinghouse in Bolivia, the first having been built by local Church members in Quiriza in 1969.
The Cochabamba Bolivia Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B . Hinckley on 30 April 2000, following a five-day open house in which 65,570 people visited. By the year 2000, there were 118,000 members of the Church in Bolivia.
In 2002, membership reached 133,170.
Sources: Carlos Pedraja, Historia de la Iglesia en Bolivia, 2001; Sistema Educativa de la Iglesia, La Historia de la Iglesia en Bolivia, 1964-1985; Andes Mission, Manuscript history, Church Archives; Andes Mission history [ca. 1960-1962], Church Archives; Dell Van Orden, "Love, Respect and Emotion End Area Conference Series," Church News, 12 March 1977; "Some Missionaries in Bolivia, Peru Are 'Redeployed,'" Church News, 15 July 1989; Allen Litster, "Pioneering in the Andes," Ensign, January 1997; "The Church in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela," Ensign, January 1997; "President Hinckley Visits South America, Florida, Washington, D.C.," Ensign, February 1997.
Stakes — 24
(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)
No. / Name / Organized / First President
South America West Area
1465 / Cochabamba Bolivia Cobija / 19 Feb 1984 / Guillermo Rivero Paz Soldan
2143 / Cochabamba
Bolivia Jaihuayco / 10 Dec 1995 / Ivan Jorge Gutierrez
1940 / Cochabamba Bolivia
Los Alamos / 16 May 1993 / Jose Ruben Rivero Zeballos
1062 / *Cochabamba Bolivia Universidad / 19 Feb 1984
Cochabamba Bolivia / 11 Sep 1979 / Carlos L. Pedraja
1831 / El Alto Bolivia / 24 Nov 1991 / Edmundo Chavez Vasquez
2763 / El Alto Bolivia Los Andes / 9 Jun 2007 / Javier Lazo Mamani
1227 / *El Alto Bolivia Satelite / 6 Mar 1992
La Paz Bolivia El Alto / 18 Jan 1981 / Victor Hugo Saravia R.
2207 / La Paz Bolivia
Alto San Pedro / 30 Jun 1996 / Juan Carlos Mogrovejo Rocabado
1112 / *La Paz Bolivia Constitucion / 18 Jan 1981
La Paz Bolivia West / 24 Feb 1980 / Victor Hugo Saravia R.
1007 / *La Paz Bolivia Miraflores / 18 Jan 1981
La Paz Bolivia / 11 Mar 1979 / Jorge Leano
1670 / La Paz Bolivia Sopocachi / 17 Jan 1988 / Eduardo Gabarret I.
2120 / Montero Bolivia / 12 Nov 1995 / Hugo Walter Sandoval Pinto
1213 / Oruro Bolivia 1 Dec 1980 / J. Adrian Velasco C.
2063 / Potosi Bolivia / 18 Jun 1995 / Edgar Medardo Lopez Loayza
993 / *Santa Cruz Bolivia Canoto / 15 Feb 1981
Santa Cruz Bolivia / 14 Jan 1979 / Noriharu Ishigaki Haraguichi
2434 / Santa Cruz Bolivia El Bajio / 1 Feb 1998 / Jose Martin Tellez T.
1782 / Santa Cruz Bolivia Equipetrol / 2 Dec 1990 / Antonio Rolando Oyola
2601 / Santa Cruz Bolivia La Merced / 9 Sep 2001 / Ricardo Villarroel Suarez
2735 / Santa Cruz Bolivia La Pampa / 14 Oct 2006 / Alcides Carlos Sabath Flores
1235 / Santa Cruz Bolivia Paraiso / 15 Feb 1981 / Erwin Birnbaumer
1981 / Santa Cruz Bolivia Piray / 19 June 1994 / Rolando A. Oyola Suarez
2191 / Sucre Bolivia / 28 Apr 1996 / Esteban Portillo Rios
2184 / Tarija Bolivia / 24 Mar 1996 / Juan Garcia Vargas
2611 / Trinidad Bolivia / 27 April 2003 / Jorge Romero Soria
2277 / Oruro Bolivia Agua de Castilla / 24 Nov 1996 / Johnny Chambi Joaniquina
Discontinued 19 Aug 2001
Missions — 3
(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)
(150) BOLIVIA COCHABAMBA MISSION
Casilla de Correo 1375
(75a) BOLIVIA LA PAZ MISSION
Av. 20 de Octubre #2550
La Paz, Bolivia
(320) BOLIVIA SANTA CRUZ MISSION
C/ Saavedra esq. Cochabamba
Torres Cainco, Biq Empresarial, Piso 9,
Santa Cruz, Bolivia