As of December 31, 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 156,961 members in 33 stakes,[1] 260 Congregations (214 wards[2] and 46 branches,[2]), as well as four missions and two temples in Florida.[3]

History

In April 1843, Joseph Smith called William Brown and Daniel Cathcart to serve a mission to Pensacola, but no record exists of them fulfilling the calling. Between April and June 1854, Phineas Young visited the Indian chiefs in Florida and distributed copies of the Book of Mormon.

Missionaries began preaching in Pensacola in January 1895 and started a number of Sunday Schools soon afterwards. The first was in Coe Mills in May 1895.[4] The first branch, known as the Hassell Branch, was created in Jefferson County on May 9, 1897. In September 1897, the Sanderson branch was organized. George P. Canova, a well-to-do landowner and chairman of the Baker County Commission, became the Sanderson branch president in January 1898. Five months later, following threats of violence, Canova was killed as he returned home from a Church meeting.[5]

In 1906, Charles A. Callis became president of the Florida Conference. That same year, a meetinghouse was dedicated in Jacksonville. Another meetinghouse was completed in Oak Grove in 1907.[6]

In 1909, missionaries began working in Miami during the winter months. Three years later four Mormon pioneer families from Arizona moved to Florahome, Putnam County and established a Sunday School there. In 1914, Julius C. Neubeck of Miami was called on a seven-month mission by Charles A. Callis and became the first missionary from that city. He then became presiding elder of the Church in Miami following his mission.[7]

By 1925, branches or Sunday Schools existed in Florahome, (Putnam County), Jacksonville, Sanderson, Tampa, Miami and in other places throughout the state. In February and March 1925, church president Heber J. Grant visited Jacksonville and held public meetings. Ten years later the Florida District had 22 branches, and the West Florida District had another 13 branches.[8]

The first stake in Florida and in the South was created in Jacksonville on January 19, 1947, by Charles A. Callis of the Quorum of the Twelve. Alvin C. Chace, a grandson of early leader George P. Canova was called as the first president.[6]

In 1950, more than Template:Convert was purchased by the church which is now known as the Deseret Ranch. The initial purchase grew into a Template:Convert ranch in Central Florida.[4] As of 2003, Deseret Ranch had the largest cow-calf operation in the United States with 44,000 head of cattle.[8] It also includes various cattle enterprises, orchards and other agribusiness projects.

Due to the influx of immigrants Florida received over the past few decades from the Caribbean and other countries, branches and wards were created to accommodate foreign speaking individuals in Florida. The first Spanish-speaking stake in the southeastern United States was organized in Miami. This was followed by the creation of a second Spanish-speaking stake in Hialeah Gardens in 1998.[7]

On October 9, 1994, church president Howard W. Hunter dedicated the Orlando Florida Temple. On January 19, 1997, church president Gordon B. Hinckley addressed more than 5,000 members at a conference Jacksonville commemorating the stake's 50th anniversary.[9] On June 9, 2019, church president Russell M Nelson addressed a large gathering of almost 16,000 saints in the Amway center in Orlando.[10]

The LDS church has assisted in recovery efforts from several natural disasters in Florida, and many Florida church members have responded to additional calls to give aid in surrounding states, such as the cleanup efforts following hurricane Katrina, and major flooding in Georgia a few years later. Increasing membership has enabled the magnitude of the church's involvement in disaster relief to grow substantially over time.[11]

See also

External links


References

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