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

Country information: Costa Rica

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 4,254,000; Members, 36,666; Stakes, 5; Wards, 44; Branches, 33; Missions, 1; Districts, 6; Temples, 1; percent LDS, .86, or one in 116; Central America Area.

A Central American democratic republic, Costa Rica has a population that speaks Spanish.

While working for the U.S. government on assignment in Costa Rica, three Church members, Gardner Hale Russell and Clark and Adrienne Falls, held the first sacrament meetings in Costa Rica in 1944. Although no members were baptized during their stay in Costa Rica, Russell noted that they made "many friends who knew of and appreciated the Church." Two years later Costa Rica became part of the Mexican Mission on 8 July 1946. The first two missionaries, Robert B. Miller and David D. Lingard, arrived in Costa Rica on 6 September 1946.

They had an opportunity to visit with Costa Rica's president, Teodoro Picado Michalsky, and present him with a copy of the Book of Mormon. In 1947, Uriel Quesada became the first Costa Rican to be baptized. Due to political unrest, the missionaries left in 1948, but David D. Lingard and Jack M. Farnsworth returned in July 1949. The first conference in Costa Rica was held 7 June 1950, about 70 attended. A branch was organized 25 August 1950. Property for a meetinghouse was purchased in 1951.

During the 1950s, the Church in Costa Rica grew slowly. The Central American Mission was formed from the Mexican Mission on 16 November 1952. When the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission was created in 1965, it included Costa Rica. The first district conference was held in August 1968, with 296 people in attendance. Six years later, the Costa Rica Mission was organized on 20 June 1974.

Costa Rica's first stake, the San Jose Costa Rica Stake, was created on 20 January 1977. A month later, President Spencer W. Kimball spoke at an area conference in San Jose that was part of his seven-nation Latin America tour. At that time, there were 3,800 members in the country. By 1986, Costa Rica had 7,100 members. Eight years later the number reached 25,000.

President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Costa Rica on 20 January 1997 where he met with Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres in San Jose. In 1999, Church membership surpassed 30,000 members. The San Jose Costa Rica Temple was dedicated by President James E. Faust on 4 June 2000.

In 2002, membership reached 32,563.

Sources: Costa Rica San Jose Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Clarice Tetz, History of the Costa Rica Mission, 1943-1995, Church Archives; Gardner Hale Russell, One Small Rough Stone, [n.d.]; San Jose Branch, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Arthur V. Kocherhans, "Church Branch in Costa Rica," Church News, 28 December 1949; "An Outpouring of Love for Prophet," Church News, 1 February 1997; Jason Swensen, "A New Landmark by Shining Seas," Church News 10 June 2000.

Stakes — 5

(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)

No. / Name / Organized / First President

Central America Area

1783 / *Alajuela Costa Rica / 20 Jun 1995

San Jose Costa Rica Alajuela / 9 Dec 1990 / Milton Perez Ruiz

1826 / San Jose Costa Rica La Paz / 10 Nov 1991 / Max Enrique Urena Fallas

917 / San Jose Costa Rica La Sabana / 7 May 1978 / Jorge Arturo Solano Castillo

803 / *San Jose Costa Rica Los Yoses / 10 Nov 1991

San Jose Costa Rica / 20 Jan 1977 / Manuel Najera G.

2524 / San Jose Costa Rica Toyopan / 25 Apr 1999 / Rodrigo Bernal Soto Bolanos

Mission — 1

(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)

(43b) COSTA RICA SAN JOSE MISSION

Apartado Postal 2339-1000

San Jose, Costa Rica, C.A.