With hymns sung in both English and Spanish, the Houston Texas Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) received new leadership on January 18, 2015. The term “stake” comes from the book of Isaiah in the Bible and is a collection of congregations (known as wards) within a designated geographic area. The Houston Texas Stake was recently realigned to contain seven wards, both English and Spanish speaking and is in the southwest quadrant of Houston within Beltway 8. There are 19 such stakes in South East Texas.
Dean A. Andersen was called to be the President of the stake replacing Erwin Portillo who had served for nine years as president. Andersen will serve with Guillermo Rojas and Robert L. Wells as his counsellors. Andersen is a controller for a company in Houston. He and his wife Colleen have eight children and have been in the Houston area for 20 years
Rojas is the executive director of a nursing and rehabilitation center and has been in Houston since 2003. He and his wife Aneth have four children. Wells, the CFO of an oil reservoir management company, has lived in Houston since 2010 with his wife Judy. Married for 37 years, the couple has 5 children and 9 grandchildren. Wells is the brother of Sharlene Wells Hawkes, the first foreign born, bilingual Miss America (1985). The Mormon Church has no paid clergy so these three leaders will continue in their professions as they serve in the church.
Because of the importance of a change in stake president, Elder Daniel Johnson, a General Authority in the church was sent from Salt Lake City to effect the change. He was assisted by Elder Jim Wright, a regional authority from Phoenix. These church authorities visit with local members and through inspiration designate the person that they feel God wants to be the stake president at this time. The new president choses his two counselors and the members sustain and recognize them as their new leaders of the stake.
President Andersen spoke of the things he looks forward to as stake president. “I believe that the Stake has a role to play in helping people come unto Christ. Unity of purpose and a shared sense of stewardship for each other can bring about very practical spiritual and temporal help for people-especially in times of difficulty”.
Andersen continued, “I look forward to helping those Spanish-speaking members who do not yet speak English to learn English and take full advantage of all the opportunities that are available to them in even more abundance if they are able to speak the [pre]dominant language[of a country]. I have a bit of an unusual perspective with regard to that as I took my wife and our six children (at that time) to France where I worked for 2 ½ years for a French company in Paris. When we went, none of us knew the language at all. We eventually learned the language and found so much joy in participating more fully in the beautiful French culture more completely as we could understand what was going on around us”.
“I feel a deep love for all the people in the stake’s boundaries, whether members of the church or not. One thing that continues to amaze me is how immediately and completely God blesses us with love for those we are called by Him to serve”, Andersen concluded.
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