News Release

Creation of the Bloemfontein South Africa Stake

It was with great anticipation and excitement that the members of the Bloemfontein South Africa District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered for District Conference on 19 May 2013 to create the Bloemfontein South Africa Stake.  Elder Carl B. Cook, 1st Counselor in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency, presided over the conference, assisted by Elder Jacques A. Van Reenen, an Area Seventy.

Elder Van Reenen presented the names of the new Stake Presidency as follows -  President: Gerrit Grobler, 1st Counselor: Thabiso Isaac Ntsomotho, 2nd Counselor: Newton Thamsanqa Nyatshoba.  All local congregational leadership in the Church is a lay ministry.  President Grobler is an engineer and has built cell phone towers in Southern Africa.  President Ntsomotho is a captain in the Bloemfontein police department over four divisions.  President Nyatshoba is an independent building contractor.

Congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are organized geographically and members attend worship services near their home. Each member belongs to a stake, or district, which is similar to a Catholic diocese. The leader of a stake is called the stake president.

The word stake is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2).

Each stake is comprised of several smaller congregations called wards or branches. There are usually 5 to 12 wards and branches in a stake. In areas where the Church is new, members are organized into districts instead of stakes.

The substantial time and effort required to administer a stake and meet the needs of the members is carried out by the members themselves. Most members of the Church are asked by local leaders to contribute in specific capacities. Duties include local administrative, teaching or service-oriented positions. These responsibilities are changed on a regular basis, according to the needs of the congregation.

It was an historic moment for the Bleomfontein District to become a Stake.  The first branch in Bloemfontein was established in 1922.  The first Chapel was dedicated in 1968 by Elder Hugh B. Brown, a member of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  With the increased membership, a new chapel was built in Heuwilsig Suburb and dedicated in 2003 by Elder Christoffel Golden Jr., of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

With the addition of Branches of the Church in the Bloemfontein area, Bloemfontein became a district, which is a smaller version of a Stake.  

On 19 May 2013 President James C. Von Stetten, of the South Africa Durban Mission, complimented the saints in Bloemfontein by saying, "As saints in this area were lifted up by the Lord, they showed a great desire and had a righteous goal in mind to become a Stake.  It was a wonderful experience to see the pioneers of this area being blessed by the Lord, as they demonstrated their faith by finally becoming a Stake."

The theme for the Conference was "Catch the Wave" based on a talk given by Elder Russel M. Nelson in a recent General Conference of the Church.  Newly called Stake President, Garret Grobler, mentioned the need to "Catch the wave of missionary work in the Stake, and catching the wave of temple work in the Stake to create strong families."  He said that strong families make strong wards and branches, and strong wards and branches make a strong stake.

Elder Carl B. Cook said that the Lord would speak His word through the Stake President regarding matters of the Stake.  He asked the members to rise up and "Catch the Wave" to serve others.  He also emphasized the need for strong, prepared missionaries from the Stake to be sent abroad to teach the gospel, and the need for members of the Church to do temple work. Elder Cook commended the new Stake Presidency for their goodness and service.  He compared the new Stake to the people in 4 Nephi in the Book of Mormon saying, "They were one - one in culture and one in the Gospel of Christ."

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