A significant moment in the international expansion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occurred last Sunday when Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the creation of the Hyderabad India Stake.
Elder Oaks was assisted in this action by Elders Donald L. Hallstrom and Anthony D. Perkins of the church Quorums of the Seventy.
The new stake — a church administrative unit similar to a Catholic diocese, consisting of a number of individual congregations, which are called wards or branches — is India's first and one of nearly 3,000 similar units worldwide. It will serve the needs of approximately 10,000 Latter-day Saints who are currently living in India.
Although LDS Church leaders made several attempts through the years to establish the church in India beginning in the mid-1800s, it wasn't until 1981 when government regulations allowed an LDS missionary couple to establish a branch of the church there. While most missionary teaching at that time was done in English, the Book of Mormon was translated into Telegu in 1981.
The first mission in India, the India Bangalore Mission, was created in 1993 with Gucharan Singh Gill, a native of India who joined the LDS Church as a student in California and who later taught mathematics at BYU, as president. At that time there were 1,150 Latter-day Saints in India in 13 church branches. Within five years that number grew to 2,000 members in 18 branches.
In 2007 a second mission in India — the India New Delhi Mission — was organized to provide ministry in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.