Mission History - English

Scripture and Gospel Related History

In Old Testament times, during the days of Moses, Phoenician traders and Greek explorers began commercial relations with the Tertessians and founded Tarshish, the present day city of Cádiz. Tarshish also included the area of the lower Guadalquivir River and extended to present-day Seville. Tartessos was the mythical city at the end of the world where the sun sank into the ocean and Hercules went during his trials.
In the books of Kings and Chronicles, we read of periodic journeys made to Tarshish in quest of silver, tin, and peacocks, which were used to adorn the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21). Five hundred years later, in the story of Jonah, we learn of voyages along the Mediterranean to these settlements on the edge of the western world (Jonah 1:3).
Following Christ´s admonition to take the gospel unto all the world, Paul announced his intention to bring the Gospel to Spain between 40 and 60 A.D. (Romans 15:24,28). There is little recorded history of the first Christians in Spain. We do know that they were established mainly in southern Spain where they suffered great persecution.
With the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. large numbers of Jews resettled in Spain, more than in any other European nation. These Jews settled in southern Spain and experienced persecution along with the Christians. This persecution was most intense around the year 300 A.D. However, with Constantine as emperor, a drastic change took place. By the year 315, being a Christian had become the means of gaining power and influence. Constantine took the bishop of Cordova as his main ¨spiritual¨ counselor. This man was responsible for organizing most of the Catholic councils (Arles, Nicea, etc.), the first being held in Granada around the year 320 A.D. The minutes of this council show the largest concentration of Christians was founded in Andalusia and also point out the advanced degree of apostasy in the church (predetermined sentences for church courts, the beginning of celibacy, etc.). They also show many remaining true doctrines that were later to be changed (a monthly fast, unpaid ministry, baptism by immersion following faith and repentance, and a prohibition against images.)
With the incorporation of Christianity into the political empire of Rome, the apostasy in Spain advanced at an accelerated rate. By the year 400, it had vastly corrupted the church and its clergy. Then invasions took place. The most destructive and cruel of these were the Vandals from Scandinavia, who initially settled around Seville and in southern Spain. Within a few years, the Visigoths conquered the same area and imposed their rule and brand of Catholicism in Spain. During this period, Andalusia remained one of the most civilized parts of Europe, maintaining trade and close association with North Africa and the Eastern Empire. This continued for 300 years.
In 711, another invasion took place, this time from the South. The Moors (Arabs and Berbers) from Africa invaded the entire peninsula of southern Spain and began their 800-year stay in Spain. All over Spain much of the population converted to the Islamic religion. Cordova and Seville became centers of power and were the most splendid and enlightened cities in the world. While the rest of Europe was in the Dark Ages, they erected universities, established large libraries, and developed advanced mathematics and science.
Little by little, the Catholics began to reconquer Spain. Seville was reconquered in the late 1200´s. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted to create a strong, united Spain and they considered the Jews and Muslims in Spain a threat to this goal. In 1480, they established the Spanish Inquisition, a special court that imprisoned or killed people suspected of not following Roman Catholic teachings. The Inquisition continued for more than 300 years.
In 1492, the last Moorish stronghold in Granada was finally conquered. It was in this year that Columbus went from Seville to Granada in search of financial assistance for his proposed voyage of discovery, which was to leave from Palos de la Frontera (Huelva). It was also the year in which all Jews who had not converted to Catholicism were ordered out of Spain. In fact, the day Columbus embarked upon his voyage was the beginning of this expulsion. This is particularly interesting in light of considerable evidence that Columbus himself was of Jewish origin. It appears that his family had been driven out of northern Spain in the 1300´s and had settled in Italy. Columbus still spoke Spanish, however, and his personal notes in early life were written exclusively in Spanish. He showed considerable pain and sympathy for the Jews during their expulsion, though he and many of those who assisted him in the royal court were themselves Jews converted to Catholicism.
During the conquest of the Americas, Seville and Cádiz were the principal ports of Spain. Most of the gold and riches were stored in the Torre Del Oro, roughly three blocks from the original mission office in Seville. Hernán Cortz, the conqueror of Mexico, died in a convent about that same distance from the original mission home. By 1550, Spain controlled Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, much of western South America, the southwestern United States and territories in Africa and Europe. However, through a series of wars, poor management, and heavy spending, the empire declined. 
In later years, Cádiz became a special city in Spain. It was the only portion of Spain not conquered by Napoleon. Within a short distance from the city, the naval battle of Trafalgar was fought. In the early 1800`s a political movement began in Cádiz that resulted in a liberal constitution which granted religious freedom. Unfortunately, it was defeated and not resurrected until the death of Franco, serving as a model for much of the present constitution. On June 28, 1967, Spanish law was changed, allowing freedom of religion and permitting missionaries to preach in Spain. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially and legally recognized in Spain on October 22, 1968. On May 20, 1969, Elder Marion G. Romney dedicated Spain for the preaching of the gospel.
In June of 1969, the first four full-time missionaries began preaching the gospel in Spain under the direction of President Smith B. Griffin of the French Mission. In July of 1970, the Spain Madrid Mission was formed, under the direction of its new president, R. Raymond Barnes. The first people to join the church were America military personnel on the Torrejon military base in Madrid, and a few Spanish converts. Various other cities in eastern and southern Spain were opened by President Barnes.
President Robert V. Stevens was then called to preside over the Spain Madrid Mission. As a result of the growth in the number of converts and the overall progress of the work, the mission was divided into three new missions: the Spain Madrid, the Spain Barcelona, and the Spain Seville Missions.
In July of 1976, President Hugo Catrón was called as mission president of the Spain Seville Mission. President Dallas N. Archibald, President Gordon Christensen, and President D. Chad Richardson followed as mission presidents.
In 1988, Elder Boyd K. Packer visited Seville and organized the first stake in Andalusia, the Spain Seville Stake. With the progress of the missionary work, the Spain Seville Mission was divided into the Spain Seville and the Spain Las Palmas Missions.
Also in 1988, President Carl B. Pratt was called as mission president. He was followed by President David C. Heslington, who in September of 1992, moved the mission home and office the the Málaga area and subsequently the name was changed to the Spain Málaga Mission. President James L. Shurtleff and President Garth J. Wakefield followed President Heslington.
From 1994 to 1998, the Spain Málaga Mission was presided over by President Fausino López Requena of Madrid, the first Spaniard ever to be called as Mission President. In February of 1995, Elder Neil L. Andersen visited Seville to divide the Seville Stake and create the Cádiz Stake, Spain´s fourth stake. President D. Michael Madsen of Miami presided over the mission from 1999-2001 and thereafter President Allan F. Packer of Salt Lake City, Utah.
On the 19th of March 1999 a 65,000 sq. foot temple was completed and dedicated in Spain´s capital, Madrid, serving the units of Spain, Portugal, southern France, and Cape Verde. The temple complex includes a Stake Center, a hostel and a Missionary Training Center, along with other Church service entities such as a Distribution Center and a Family History Center.
In 2004 the Granada stake was formed making 3 stakes in total for Andalusia. In the same year, President Lindon J. Robison began presiding as mission president with his wife Bonnie. The Spain Las Palmas mission was absorbed by the Spain Málaga Mission in July of 2006 adding 2 district units to the mission. Due to a medical condition, President Robison was forced to leave the mission field 6 months prior to the original release date. President John Budd Keeler and his wife Christine presided over the mission in his stead.
In July of 2007 President Robert Lynn Mellor became Mission President along with his wife Claire. During his time as the President of the mission, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles toured the mission during the month of February of 2009.
In February of 2010 the Chruch announced several changes in the mission structure for Spain. The Spain Bilbao Mission was to be consolidated into the Madrid and Barcelona Missions. The Canary Islands (formerly Las Palmas Mission) would also be taken from the Málaga Mission and assigned to the Madrid Mission. The Málaga Mission would inherit the Elche Stake from the Barcelona Mission, the La Mancha District from the Madrid Mission along with 2 mission branches, Cáceres and Badajoz.
Richard R. Clegg and his wife Anne, who had been presiding in the Spain Bilbao Mission were newly assigned to preside over the Spain Málaga Mission beginning the 1st of July 2010 until the end of June 2012. President Clegg and his wife, Anne, served until June 29, 2012, when Monte Max Deere Jr. and his wife Barbara (Bobbi) took over the leadership of the mission.
On the 16th of September 2012, Elder Kent F. Richards of the Area Presidency reorganized the presidency of the Seville Stake and also realigned the boundaries of the Stake to include the branch of Badajoz in the La Mancha district.
In December 2012, Patrick Kearon and Kent F. Richards, 1st and 2nd Counselors of the Europe Area Presidency divided the Valencia and Elche Stakes into three stakes:  Valencia, Elche and Cartagena.  The areas of Benidorm, Albacete and Alcoy were absorbed into the Spain Malaga Mission. 
While the number of stakes had risen to five with that reorganization, the number of missionaries dwindled to 84.  President Monson’s announcement of the change in age for missionary service would have a dramatic effect in 2013.  The first wave of younger missionaries arrived May 1, 2013.  Large groups continued to flow into the mission during the summer, and by September 2013 there were 220.  Office elders rented 67 new apartments during those five months.  
On June 30, 2015 President T DarVel Andersen and his wife Marilyn arrived.

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