News Release

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Celebrates 60 Years in the Philippines

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commemorates its diamond jubilee in the Philippines, celebrating 60 years of formal Church presence on the island nation.

With the theme “60 Years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines: A Celebration of Faith,” the Church reflects on its growth as it has blessed the lives of people and those of other faiths through the teaching of Jesus Christ, at its foundation.  

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The history of the Church in the Philippine Islands began in the context of war, with two American servicemen being set apart as missionaries before deployment to the country in 1898.

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On 28 April 1961, Around 100 Latter-day Saints gathered on the grounds of the American War Memorial Cemetery at Fort Bonifacio as Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) rededicated the Philippines for missionary work.© 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Servicemen's group leaders organized Latter-day Saint (LDS) meetings, the first at Tacloban on the coast of Samar at a U.S. Naval installation. Held in various locations throughout the islands, these meetings were frequently interrupted by air raids and other exigencies of war. With the continued U.S. military presence in the Philippines, numerous LDS servicemen stayed in the country even after the war.

Following the war years, President Joseph Fielding Smith, worldwide leader of the Church, dedicated the Philippine Islands for the preaching of the gospel at Clark Air Base on 21 August 1955. The Philippines became part of the Southern Far East Mission of the Church.

After much effort, legal registration was finally granted to the Church six years later, and the appropriate clearances were secured to allow full-time missionaries to enter the country.

Consequently, in the early morning of 28 April 1961, around 100 Latter-day Saints gathered on the grounds of the American War Memorial Cemetery at Fort Bonifacio as Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) rededicated the Philippines for missionary work.

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Amidst the rising sun and rows of grave markers, President Hinckley invoked a blessing “that there shall be many thousands who shall receive this message and be blessed thereby. … We pray that there shall be many men, faithful, good, virtuous, true men who shall join the Church.” A tiny seed was planted. Now nearly 60 years later, the tiny seed has grown into a "mighty tree" — like the mahogany trees that dot the forests of this island country.

On 28 June 1967, the Southern Far East Mission was divided to create the Philippines Mission, with Paul S. Rose as its first president. It covered the entire country. With it, the gospel of Jesus Christ was being taught in eight of the major islands with great success. On 1 July 1974, the mission was divided to create the Philippines Cebu Mission from the Manila Mission, with Carl D. Jones presiding in Cebu.

From those two missions, Church growth has continued. Today, there are over 2,000 missionaries serving in 23 missions throughout the archipelago. The vast majority of these young adults are native Filipinos.

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In 1983, the Church established a training center in a rented house in Greenhills, Manila where they could receive training beginning their missionary service. It expanded to two rented houses two years later. In 1992, the Church constructed its first training center in the country located across the Manila Philippines Temple, which accommodated 80 missionaries.

In 2011, the Philippines Missionary Training Center expanded its facilities to two new residency and classroom buildings, which increased its capacity to 144 missionaries. In 2012, the MTC complex was expanded, adding an activity area and gym facility. In 2017, two more buildings were added to the facility increasing its capacity to 250 missionaries.

Today, the Philippines MTC welcomes missionaries from Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Micronesia-Guam, and Mongolia. It also provides language training for English, Tagalog, Cebuano, Cambodian, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Total Church membership in the Philippines continues to increase, approaching almost 850,000 with over a thousand congregations meeting each week.

With continued Church growth, there was an increasing need for a local temple to serve faithful members, many of whom would save for years in order to travel abroad to have their marriage solemnized in a temple.

The announcement of the first temple in the Philippines was made on 1 April 1981, and on 25 August 1982, groundbreaking and site dedication for the temple took place. Located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the temple came with great sacrifice from the local Saints, who financed a significant portion of the cost from small personal contributions.

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On 25 September 1984, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor to the president of the Church, dedicated the Manila Philippines Temple. The temple began to serve half a million members in the Philippines, Micronesia, and Southeast Asia. It became the 29th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In April of 2006, Church leaders announced the second temple in the Philippines to be in Cebu City. Ground was broken on 14 November 2007, with Apostles Dallin H. Oaks and Quentin L. Cook officiating. Elder Oaks had served as the presiding authority of the Church in the Philippines from August 2002 through 2004.

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On 13 June 2010, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Cebu City Philippines Temple. It became the 133rd operating temple in the Church. It serves more than 200,000 members in the Visayas and Mindanao.

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Four months later, President Monson announced the construction of the Urdaneta Philippines Temple. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the groundbreaking on 16 January 2019 to begin its construction. Upon completion, it will be the 3rd operating temple and will serve over 100 stakes and districts in the Luzon Island Group.

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Four more temples were soon announced in the Philippines. On 2 April 2017, the First Presidency announced the Alabang Philippines Temple. On 1 April 2018, President Russell M. Nelson announced the Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple, the first temple construction announcement for Mindanao. In October of the same year, President Nelson announced the second temple in Mindanao, the Davao Philippines Temple. On 5 October 2019, President Nelson announced plans for the construction of the Bacolod Philippines Temple. It will be the second temple in the Visayas Group of Islands.

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The Church continued to reach significant milestones with the creation of its 100th stake (diocese), which Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, created on 10 September 2010 during a special conference held at the New Frontier Theater (formerly KIA Theater). The creation made the Philippines the fifth country in the world to have more than 100 stakes, the first in Asia. The first stake in the country was created on 20 May 1973.

A Celebration of Faith

As part of the 60 years celebration, the Philippines Area Presidency released a timeline detailing significant events in the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Philippines. 

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On 7 February 2021, the Area Presidency launched the 60 Years Celebration with the release of the official logo and #60TheChurchOfJesusChristPH.  

In less than 60 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines has seen tremendous growth, and it all started because of the faith of every believer of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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