SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Salt Lake Valley celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first Hispanic Latter-day Saint congregation in Utah, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On Friday, Aug. 18, more than 500 people reportedly gathered for a devotional and cultural event held at the Church’s Institute of Religion. Elder Hugo E. Martinez, of the Utah Area Presidency, spoke and shared the history of the Salt Lake Mexican Branch, according to the Church.
The celebration reportedly included exhibits that paid tribute to the history and contributions of early Mexican Latter-day Saints who helped establish the congregation. There were musical numbers to reflect the growth of the Church in Utah, including performances from Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, and Columbia, according to the Church.
Today, there are more than 180 Spanish-speaking Church of Jesus Christ congregations in the Salt Lake Valley, which, the Church said, has roots that trace back to the Salt Lake Mexican Branch that was established in 1923.
The first branch, which later turned into the Lucero Ward, reportedly held meetings at a restaurant owned by a Church member.
Carlos Torres, who attended the event, said he grew up attending the Salt Lake Mexican Branch in the 1950s. He said it was fun to reminisce and reflect on his faith.
“It’s the greatest blessing in my life,” he said. “That’s why I follow my Savior, the Lord. And what I believe is because of what I learned in that branch.”