Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Growth of the Church in Brazil

Brazil Growth Comparisons

The seeds from which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil grew sprouted in Germany, not Brazil and the first missionaries arrived from Salt Lake City via Buenos Aires to teach a minority immigrant group in a language foreign to Brazil.  The German migration to Argentina and Brazil following WWI included LDS families.  In 1923 Wilhelm Friedrich and Emile Hoppe arrived in Buenos Aires and as members began preaching the gospel.  They reported their success and concerns to the First Presidency by letter and asked for missionaries because brother Friedrich, the only Priesthood holder, was a Deacon and did not have the authority to baptize his daughter or the investigators they had found.  (Historical information from “Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land “ by Cannon and Cowan.)

The First Presidency dispatched Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Council of the Twelve and his two companions, Elder Rulon S. Wells who spoke German and Rey L. Pratt who spoke Spanish to Argentina; Ballard’s companions were both members of the Seventy.  They were met by the Friedrich and Hoppe families and then taken to a meeting with fifty in attendance.  Less than a week later, six Germans were baptized and two weeks later, on Christmas morning, Elder Ballard offered a prayer dedicating South America for the proclamation of the gospel “to unlock the door for the preaching of the gospel to all the peoples of the South American nations.”

In the same year that the Friedrich and Hoppe families arrived in Buenos Aires to proclaim the gospel, Roberto Lippelt immigrated to Ipomeia, Brazil with his family to escape it.  His wife, Augusta, and their children had joined the Church in Germany and his resentment toward the Church grew as their testimonies strengthened.  The Church and its missionaries were not in Brazil.  Once settled, August wrote the Church seeking reading material.  The request was forwarded to Reinhold Stoof, the South American Mission president in Buenos Aires, who delivered the requested material directly to Sister Lippelt in December 1927.  You can run but you can’t hide.  Roberto Lippelt joined the Church.  President Stoof sent missionaries to Brazil in 1928.  In 1935, when Stoof was released as Mission President, Brazil became the second South American mission. 

German was not to remain the primary language in Argentina or Brazil.  The Argentina Mission had switched to Spanish prior to 1938.  Rising nationalism in Brazil in response to the attempt by some German immigrants to import Nazism brought a series of law requiring all materials printed in a foreign language to include a Portuguese translation.  German members and consequently missionaries conducted meetings in Portuguese rather than German.  The change in language was a natural event given the desire to preach the gospel to all peoples in Brazil and resulted in a more rapid expansion of the Church.

The graph, “Growth in Brazil Compared to Utah and USA” compares the growth of the Church in Brazil to the Church in Utah and the United States using indexes that begin at 100 the year that a stake was first created.  I used stakes rather than members because I had that data and not the other.  I suspect that they would tell much the same story.  The Church has grown much faster in Brazil than in the United States.

The first permanent stake was formed in Utah in 1847, seventeen years after the Church was organized.  As of yearend 2012, there were 560 stakes in Utah and 1,491 stakes in the United States.  The first stake in Brazil was organized in 1966, thirty-eight years after the first missionaries arrived.  As of yearend, there were 246 stakes in Brazil.

1 comment:

  1. Great post.Just a quick note it is important that Portuguese translation being accurate and efficient can indeed not be overstated. Especially in the ever faster moving world of globalized business, successful information and technology transfer within multinational businesses can make the difference between win or lose.