Courtesy LDS Church
Varuzhan Poghosyan (left) translates as Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organizes the first stake of the LDS Church in Yerevan, Armenia.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has organized its first stake in the Republic of Armenia.

A stake is a geographical unit of the church created for organizational and ecclesiastical purposes. A stake is comprised of a number of individual church congregations, called wards or branches. It is similar in function to a diocese in other Christian denominations.

According to an article posted on the LDS Newsroom website, Elder Russell M. Nelson presided at a special meeting held June 16 in Yerevan, during which the country's first stake was created. "We have good (church) leadership here, strong people in the gospel," Elder Nelson said during the service.

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Elder Nelson has been involved in the relationship between the people of Armenia and the LDS Church since 1988, when he presented a check from the LDS Church to Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin to provide aid to victims of a devastating earthquake in Armenia, which was then still under Soviet control. Elder Nelson and LDS philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman were involved in ongoing efforts to help rebuild earthquake-torn areas of Armenia.

Two years later Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and in early 1992 the first two LDS baptisms to be performed in the newly independent nation took place. Today there are just more than 3,000 Latter-day Saints in Armenia

"This is a Christian nation," Elder Nelson said. "The spirit of Christianity has been in Armenia a long time. Our relationship with the government is outstanding."

The Yerevan Armenia Stake brings the total number of stakes in the LDS Church to 3,025.