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History of the Madrid Mission
Article from the 1997-98 Church Almanac
Year-end 1999: Est. population, 41,404,000; Members, 33,000; Stakes, 6; Wards, 22; Branches, 129; Missions, 5; Districts, 18; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, 0.07, or one LDS in 1,459.
Located in southwest Europe, Spain is a constitutional monarchy. its people speak Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque, and 90 percent are Roman Catholic.
Regular Church services began in Spain among LDS servicemen after World Ward II when the United States established relations with that country. Two American branches were functioning in 1966, and a district presidency operated under the French Mission. One of the first converts in Spain, José María Oliveira, was baptized in France in March 1966.
The Spanish Religious Liberty Law passed in 1967 paved the way for the organization of the Madrid Branch on the first Sunday in February 1968. Some 40 attended, including Spanish wives of American servicemen, other Spanish-speaking members, and investigators.
Official recognition for the Church in Spain was formalized on Oct. 22, 1968. A mission was organized July 11, 1970. During this period, many Spanish-speaking members were transferred by their businesses to Spain and helped strengthen the new branches. By 1974, 17 branches, with a total membership of 619, were operating in Spain.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, accompanied by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, visited King Juan Carlos de Bourbon in August 1978.
Spain's first stake was created in Madrid on March 14, 1982, with José Oliveira as president. Additional stakes followed. When the Seville Spain Stake was created in 1988, one area within the stake reported 98 percent activity among Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and noted that 54 members of the stake were serving full-time missions.
President Hinckley visited King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía March 9, 1992, and presented the couple with a personalized, leather-bound copy of the Book of Mormon. About that time, Spain was among the countries to receive satellite broadcasts of general conference. At the April 1993 general conference, as first counselor in the First Presidency, President Hinckley announced that the Church was acquiring property for a temple in Spain, the Church's fifth in continental Europe.
President Hinckley returned on June 11, 1996, as the first president of the Church to visit Spain where he broke ground for the Madrid Spain Temple. The ceremony was held in 113-degree heat on a graded site in Moratalaz.
Submitted by Kelly S Roe from the
In the summer of 1970 the Spain Mission was formally
In January 1971, the mission office moved from cramped
The first year of the Spain Mission was a year of growth and saw the opening of the following cities and areas: San Fernando, Sabadell, Tarrasa, Badalona, Hospitalet, Malaga, Granada, Jaen, and Cordoba. By years end, there were 650 members of the Church in Spain, of which 225 were native Spaniards, and the missionary force was fifty missionaries stronger than it had been the year before, with a total of eighty-six full-time proselyters.
SOME DETAILS OF EARLY MISSIONARY WORK IN SPAIN
Spain's history since 1492 has been one of strong Catholic influence, and great importance was always placed on religious conformity. However, as tourism and commercial exchange increased in Spain, government officials began to make some accommodations for religious freedom. Finally, in 1967, legislation was passed that made possible the recognition of non-Catholic churches. This led to the call of local missionaries from the Madrid servicemen's branch of the Church. Elders Rodney Dotson and Jos_ Mar_a Oliveira were two of these early missionaries. (Jos_ Mar_a Oliveira was later to be called as the first president of the Madrid Stake.) Slowly, the Spanish membership of the Church grew. In 1968, the Madrid Spanish Branch was organized, with Jos_ Mar_a Oliveira as the first counselor to President David B. Timmins. The first meeting -- a Sacrament meeting -- of the new branch was held on Feb. 4, 1968 in downtown Madrid. Thirty-eight members attended.
The branch later began meeting in a schoolhouse in northern Madrid. In May of 1969, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve arrived in Madrid to participate in a conference and was favorably impressed with the prospects of missionary work in Spain. On May 20, from a hill overlooking the city, he offered a prayer, dedicating the country to missionary work. Elder Romney also talked about the success and growth of the mission, that it would grow and the Church would grow very rapidly, and there would be stakes in no time. He also mentioned the trials the missionaries would suffer -- that temptations would be such that they would be tried to the utmost. (Source: A conversation with Sister Baker, wife of the Branch President, that Elder Maudsley and I had on October 8, 1969, that I recorded in my journal on that day.)
A few weeks later, in June, the first missionaries arrived in Madrid, transferred from Argentina. Elders Clark Hinckley, Jos_ Luis Barco, Craig Ward and Robert Hernßndez were these first missionaries. They were made a zone of the French Mission.
At this time, I was in the Language Training Mission in Provo, T1 Utah. In late June, in the Spanish language section of the L.T.M., we received a group of missionaries with calls to the French Mission. We were puzzled when they arrived. It took time for us to learn that they had been called to labor in Spain. That was the first that we in the L.T.M. had heard that Spain had been opened to the missionary work, and we were excited.
Wednesday, July 23, 1969, a group of us at the Language Training Mission in T1 Provo had interviews with Elder Loren C. Dunn of the First Council of Seventy. Elder Angus Cannon Fox and I, because of visa problems in getting into Mexico, had our mission calls changed from Mexico to Uruguay. We were disappointed on two counts. First, we had our hearts set on going to Mexico, and it was a tough adjustment to think about going to another mission. Second, we found out that the visa problem had come to light a couple of weeks ago, but, since Elder Dunn had lost the original notice about it, our departure into the mission field had been delayed by that much. Anyway, we were told to be prepared to leave for Uruguay by that Saturday. However, on Saturday, we were informed by President Wilkins of the Language Training Mission that a letter had been received from the missionaries in Spain that there was an urgent need for two missionaries fully prepared in the Spanish language and missionary discussions to go to Spain right away. Would Elder Fox and I be willing to fill those slots? he asked. Not only was I willing -- I could scarcely contain my enthusiasm. On Tuesday morning we were on our way. On Wednesday, July 30, we found ourselves in Madrid, not a little dazed from the abrupt and exciting change.
President Smith B. Griffin of the French Mission greeted us at the Madrid airport.
Elder Fox and I arrived together with two new transfers from Argentina, making us eight in all. My companion, Elder Ward, was one district leader, and Elder Hinckley was the zone leader and the other district leader. Elder Hinckley spoke with us about the peculiar circumstances of our transfer to Spain. He told us that Elder Dunn had lost the original instructions about our transfers in order to get us connected to the request to send missionaries to Spain. We were not called to Spain originally, he said, because there was no mission in Spain when we got our calls, but this is where the Lord had wanted us from the beginning.
On August 15 and 20, 1969, the seven new missionaries arrived from the Language Training Mission. On Saturday, August 16, Elders Hernßndez and Barco left on the train to open the city of Sevilla. We all bade them farewell at the train station, with an emotional "God bless you."
On September 1, Elders Hinckley, Hernßndez and Ward left for the United States. Elder Fox and I, who both arrived in Spain on July 30, became senior companions, with less than five weeks of experience in the mission. It was a real challenge.
On September 9, President Griffin flew in from Paris and each of the missionaries talked to him on the phone. I asked him when the group would be going to open Barcelona and expressed my desires to be in that group. He said that would be done toward the end of November, and he would keep me in mind.
A problem in our early teaching was social pressure that was exerted on potential converts. One convert family who seemed like they would make excellent members scheduled their baptism and then didn't come to the service. In September, we found out why. The husband had been dismissed from his job because the boss said all of his employees were Catholics. And the wife said that she was afraid of what would happen socially with the children, when all their friends were Catholic. Another convert decided not to get baptized because of pressure from family members. This was repeated over and over with people who believed what we taught.
Thursday, October 2, 1969 - We found out something interesting in our first contacting today. In one building a woman came downstairs after turning us down asking what authorization we had for what we were doing. After we explained that we had our permission, she said that the priest had spoken about us in mass on Sunday, saying that two men would come talking about a prophet, etc., and that the people shouldn't pay any attention to us.
On October 4 we got five new elders transferred from Uruguay.
President Griffin came into town October 8 for a zone conference. I made a special point in my interview with him to tell him how much I wanted to go to Barcelona, saying that I felt the city had been specially prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel. He assented in that sentiment. As I recall, he did not commit to any plans to open the city. After my evening prayers, however, I became so sure that I was leaving Madrid for somewhere, hopefully Barcelona, that I washed my clothes and began preparing to go.
On Friday, October 10, 1969, the missionary zone conference concluded, and eight missionaries, including me, were told that we were assigned to open the city of Barcelona. I was ecstatic. We boarded the train that evening at 7, arriving in Barcelona the next morning at 7:30. While the other elders in our group had considerable trouble finding places to stay and had to live in the hotel for almost a week or more, my companion and I found a family with whom to live and moved in that very night. We learned that the lady of the house had turned down at least a couple of other prospective tenants, but was impressed enough with us and what we were doing to trust us in her home. By suppertime, we were settled in and our "landlady" fixed a nice supper for us. While eating supper, an interesting thing happened. She had the television on a musical program that I didn't appreciate. I asked for another program, and she turned it to "Wagon Train." It so happened that the episode was about the Mormon pioneers. We explained that to her, pointed out Brigham Young, and, instead of tending to her chores, she stood and watched.
The next day was Sunday. Señora Hernandez, in whose apartment Elder Spackman and I were staying, offered her home for our meetings. We held our Priesthood Meeting and Sunday School there in the morning, and she was our first investigator. She was so impressed with the meeting that she nearly cried. We used plastic cups and kitchen plates for the sacrament. For Sacrament Meeting that afternoon, we decided to go to a beach a few kilometers south of the city where we had talks and bore testimonies. Only the missionaries were in attendance.
The first missionaries in Barcelona were Elders Michael Duffin (zone leader), Jorge Michalek (district leader), Gary Glosser, Kevin Bodily, Robert Bollard, Angel Herrero ( the first native Spaniard to serve a mission), Michael Spackman, and David Hall. Elder Duffin was called to be the branch president, and I was called to be the branch clerk. An interesting aside is that 11 years later, in 1980, Jorge Michalek was called as a stake president in Argentina; in 1989, Michael Duffin was called as a stake president in California.
We had a list of members of the Church who were baptized in other locations and had moved to Barcelona. Of those that we were able to track down, none of them were interested in attending Church meetings. So we had to start from scratch to organize a branch.
We began meeting in the apartments of the missionaries and by February 1970 had acquired a chapel -- an apartment that was modified to accommodate our meetings. By the time we began meeting in the chapel, we had seven baptized native members plus three children under the age of 8.
Most of the baptisms were performed using a portable baptismal font that was shipped back and forth to Sevilla. Occasionally one was held in the Mediterranean Sea.
There was a missionary conference in Madrid on March 13-14. We reported on our success in Barcelona, and in turn heard the reports from Madrid and Sevilla. There had been 19 baptisms in Sevilla since the last conference in December. There were only four elders laboring in Sevilla, so their success was impressive.
These early days were exciting, and we lived and worked through them with a sense of the history of the occasion. However, the growth of the Church that is now seen in Spain is amazing, after remembering the difficulties through which we passed. The work at the time seemed so discouraging, battling against ingrained prejudices and pressures on the people to conform to the prevailing religious practices. There is a great lesson in the perspective that history gives us of the success of the missionary work in Spain."
David A. Hall
As David Hall mentioned, I was one of the
first four missionaries in Spain
Some of our first baptisms included a widowed mother and her
daughter, Hna. and Marisol Juan. We found them tracking the first week in
Madrid. Hna. Juan later served as RS president. Marisol married a young man
from Texas who was in the Air Force. They now live in Texas and have a
son serving a mission in Japan. They were baptized in the Fotheringham's
Elders Ward, Haws and I were released the first of September 1969
(all of us had extended our missions three months to go to Madrid). It was a
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