Brigham Young University

The Republic of Ecuador, located on the Pacific Coast of South America, has a Spanish and Quechua- speaking population that is 95% Roman Catholic. The Church was first introduced to the country in 1965 when Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles sent a letter to J. Averil Jesperson, president of the Andes Mission in Lima, Peru, suggesting that missionary work be taken to Ecuador. Two weeks later four elders from Peru were sent to labor in Quito, Ecuador.

At the time the Ecuador Mission was created on 1 August 1970, membership was 1,000, and by the end of 1975 it had risen to 3,226. Hundreds of members attended newly organized seminary and institute programs. The first stake was organized in Guayaquil on 11 June 1978 with Lorenzo A. Garaycoa as president. Less than a month later, a second mission was opened in Guayaquil, and at the end of 1979 membership had accelerated to 19,000.

Some of the earliest proselyting in Ecuador took place among the Otavalo Indians near Quito. Among the first baptized was Rafael Tabango, who later became the first branch president, district president, and stake patriarch in Ecuador. In 1981 the first all-Lamanite stake in South America was created from among the Otavalo Indians.

In 1989 the headquarters for the South America North Area moved to Quito from Lima, Peru. Although President Gordon B. Hinckley had announced the coming of a temple in 1982, because of pending government approvals it was not until 1996 that ground was broken by Elder Richard G. Scott. In August 1997 President Hinckley traveled to Ecuador, speaking to some 15,000 members; he was the first Church president to visit the land. On 1 August 1999 the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple was dedicated. At the beginning of the year 2000 there were 146,420 members in the country living in 32 stakes and 373 wards and branches.

[Year-end 2005: Est. population, 13,363,000; Members, 170,736; Stakes 32, Wards 212; Branches, 82; Missions, 3; Districts, 10; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, 1.2, or one in 81; Source 2007 Church Almanac.]

SOURCES

“Ecuador’s 1st Stake Formed in Guayaquil.” Church News, 8 July 1978, 12.

1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1998. 313-14.

Wells, Elayne. “In the Andes, Lehi’s Children Grow Strong in the Gospel.” Church News, 17 February 1990, 10.

REBECCA JACKSON

From Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 319-20. Used with the permission of the Deseret Book Company. Copies prohibited by law.