Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 5,891,000; Members, 63,964; Stakes, 8; Wards, 55; Missions, 1; Districts, 6; Branches, 38; percent LDS, 1, or one in 92; Central America Area.
Located in Central America, the Republic of Nicaragua has a Spanish-speaking population.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, organized the Central American Mission in 1952. Two missionaries from that mission, Elders Manuel Arias and Archie R. Mortensen, entered Nicaragua in 1953. They encountered difficulties at first, but on 11 April 1954 they baptized Jose D. Guzman. Other conversions followed. The Nicaraguan District was organized in 1959. The Managua Stake was organized on 22 March 1981, discontinued in October 1989, and re-organized on 21 June1998.
Church growth in Nicaragua was impeded for a number of years because of natural disasters and political unrest. A major earthquake in 1972 severely damaged Church meetinghouses in the capital of Managua. Missionary work was interrupted in September 1978 because of internal political conflicts which erupted into a civil war. Full-time missionaries were withdrawn in May 1980. Work continued under local missionaries, and full-time work resumed in the late 1980s. During the periods when few outside leaders entered the country, the local members continued faithfully despite serious difficulties, including the appropriation of two meetinghouses as schools and recruitment centers for one of the warring factions. In the summer of 1987, members of the Managua Stake received government permission and traveled by bus to the Guatemala City Temple to do temple work.
When political circumstances stabilized, the Nicaragua Managua Mission was organized on 15 October1989, with Church membership in Nicaragua at 3,453. President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Nicaragua on 21 January 1997 and spoke to approximately 2,400 members. This was the first visit to Nicaragua of a Church president since David O. McKay visited in 1954.
Nicaragua was one of three Central American countries where the Church, in partnership with California philanthropist and Wheelchair Foundation founder Kenneth Behring, donated 500 wheelchairs in 2001 via the country’s First Lady charitable organization. The ceremony in Nicaragua, where wheelchairs were presented to the first group of recipients, was attended by Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman and his wife, Maria.
In 2002, membership reached 41,224. In 2005, membership reached 52,184.
Sources: Clarice Tetz, History of the Costa Rica Mission, 1943-1995, Church Archives; Donald Q. Cannon and Richard O. Cowan, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land, 2003; Costa Rica San Jose Mission photograph album, Church Archives; Managua Nicaragua District, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; “LDS Scene,” Ensign, November, 1978; “Church Continues to Progress in Nicaragua,” Ensign, February 1979; William Hale Kehr, “A Prayer Answered,” Church News, 19 May 1979; Gerry Avant, “Nicaraguans Eager to Learn, Improve Lives Through Gospel,” Church News, 22 November 1980; “Church Denies Sandinista Charges in Nicaragua,” Ensign, October 1982; “Wheelchairs Given to Latin American Countries,” Church News, 27 October 2001.