Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Belize

Published: Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 308,000; Members, 3,430; Districts, 2; Branches, 12;Percent LDS, 1.1, or one in 90; Central America Area; Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission.

Located on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, has a parliamentary government and a population that speaks English, Spanish, and Creole. Belize received independence from Great Britain in 1981.

Missionary work began in Belize on 5 May 1980 when President Samuel Flores of the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission and missionary Robert Henke arrived, followed by 10 additional missionaries the next day. The Belize City Branch was organized with missionary Merlin Mikkelson as president, and the first meeting was held 11 May. Ernesto Alay, the first member in Belize, was baptized on 1 June 1980.

The Belize District was organized on 17 April 1983 with Harold Smith as president. Meetinghouses were completed in Orange Walk in August 1987 and in San Ignacio ththe following month. By 1987 Church membership in the Belize District numbered approximately 1,000. The Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission was divided on 1 July 1990 and Belize was placed in the new Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission. Hilberto Cassanova was the first missionary called from Belize. He served in the Honduras Tegucigalpa Misssion from 1987-1989.

In 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first Church president to visit Belize, speaking to approximately 1,200 members in Belize City on 13 November. It was the largest gathering of members in the country to date.

In 2003, membership reached 2,827.

Sources: Honduras Tegulcigalpa Mission, Annual historical reports, Church Archives; Donald Q. Cannon and Richard O. Cowan, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land, 2003; Belize City Branch, photographs, 1980, Church Archives; "Growth Leads to Four New Missions, Two in Mexico, Two in Central America Reflect Continuing Missionary Success," Church News, 2 February1990; Correspondence from Ralph D. and Dawnetta A. Erickson, 30 November 1994; "Mexico's President Welcomes Prophet," Church News, 22 November 1997, John L. Hart,"Belize: 'Great Manifestations of Faith,'" Church News, 7 February 1998.