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

Country information: St. Lucia

Published: Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 160,000; Members, 166; Branches, 2;Percent LDS, .1, or one in 964; Caribbean Area.

A. Clarieta Philgence joined the Church in England in July 1982 and soon returned to her homeland, St. Lucia. In August 1983, after learning about Sister Philgence, West Indies Mission President Kenneth Zabriskie visited St. Lucia and met with Sister Philgence and Al and Julie Nuttal, who had transferred from medical school in Grenada to St. Lucia. Zabriskie was accompanied by Elder Ronald E. Poelman of the Seventy. In November 1983 President Zabriskie sent Elders Todd Hardy, Paul Jackson, Jay Schroeder and Marty Harris to begin missionary work. The first baptism in St. Lucia was Caren Cotter on 2 September 1984.

The Castries Branch was organized 21 January 1984 with Michael Choo-Tung as the first president. He had joined the Church in Nova Scotia, Canada. By June 1984, about 40 investigators and members were attending meetings. In the summer of 1984, the first senior missionaries, Vail and Betsy Hatt, arrived. In September 1987, Clarita Philgence and Joseph and Dilcie Clarke from St. Lucia visited Utah to receive their ordinances in the Salt Lake Temple.

During the next few years missionaries began having trouble renewing their visas after anti-Mormon information was spread in the press. In 1986, missionaries Lewis and Jean Call were asked to leave the country by immigration officials in preparation for a visit of Pope John Paul II. Missionaries were not allowed to return following the papal visit.

Local member Joseph Clarke served as branch president until he died in 1993 and then Derrick St. Rose served as group leader when the Castries Branch was discontinued in 1994. Kelvin J. Felix who had joined the Church in England moved to St. Lucia and became branch president on 18 April 2003 when the branch was reorganized.

As of May 2004 the Church was petitioning the government for legal recognition so that missionaries may return to the island.

Sources: Kenneth L. Zabriskie, History of the West Indies Mission, [ca. 1989], Church Archives; Kenneth L. Zabriskie interview, 2003, Church Archives; Julie Nuttal phone conversation, 14 May 2004; Elden Wood, Autobiography, 1994, Church Archive; Roy R. Valentine, Journal, 1997, Church Archives; Jean Call phone conversation, 18 May 2004.