News Release

Church leaders meet with the Vice President of the Dominican Republic

The meeting focused on presenting the humanitarian works of the Church and identifying new opportunities for cooperation between the Church and the Dominican state

A delegation of leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was received at the government house on Friday afternoon, August 27, by the Vice President of the Dominican Republic, Raquel Peña. This constitutes the first official visit of Church leaders to the Executive Branch under the administration of President Luis Abinader, whose term began on August 16, 2020.

The purpose of the meeting was to present a report on the humanitarian projects carried out by the Church in the country in recent years and to explore ways to continue and expand cooperation between the Church and the Dominican State under this new administration.

"It is a great honor to have you here with us, because we know the work of The Church of Jesus Christ in the country very well, especially in terms of its welfare assistance and its commendable work in favor of families and youth," said Raquel Peña, who also heads the Social Cabinet of the Dominican government and the Family Cabinet.

“The government presided over by Mr. Luis Abinader is committed to making the aid of generous entities like you transparently reach those who really need it.  The Church of Jesus Christ is a strategic ally with whom we see great possibilities of cooperating for the good of the most vulnerable population in the country,” added the vice president, who was just returning from social work in the south of the country, where the Church also has a strong presence and membership.

“Among our priorities is working to improve the health services provided to the Dominican people, especially in the midst of a pandemic from which we are gradually emerging, and whose management has not been easy.  Thank God and the good measures taken by the government, as of today we have reached almost eleven million doses in the country and a significant percentage of the population has received first, second, and even third booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines," said the vice president.

It should be noted that The Church of Jesus Christ, through a $ 20 million donation this year, became one of the largest private contributors worldwide in providing vaccines through the COVAX program, in cooperation with UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO), among other international organizations that came together to provide vaccines in the world’s poorest countries.

For his part, Elder Soares praised the Dominican government's work in managing the pandemic, considering that many other countries are in a much worse situation with the new variant and with lower percentages of the population having received the vaccine.

“We want to congratulate you for the work you have done in your country with the management of the pandemic. I must say that this is the first time that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church has made an international trip since the beginning of the pandemic, so it is not by chance that the country we have gone to is the Dominican Republic, a country that has done a great job. At all times, I have felt calm and safe being here with our members, following the guidelines recommended by the health authorities,” commented Elder Soares, who is Brazilian and who is the newest member of the quorum.

“We are here to present ourselves and be introduced to this government, in order to offer our help as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, since, as such, we have the responsibility to help all of His sons and daughters, wherever they may be. There are many values ​​and interests that we have in common, and it is an honor for us to have been working alongside the Dominican government for all these years. We look forward to expanding the fruitful cooperation that has been cultivated over the years,” added Elder Soares, who introduced some of the basic beliefs of Latter-day Saints and their strong concern for people's education and self-reliance.

Rafael Gutiérrez, communication director of the Church for the Caribbean Area, reported through a statement that “through the Latter-day Saint Charities, which is the humanitarian arm of the Church of Jesus Christ, we have donated some 36.3 million dollars in humanitarian projects, including: drinking water, food, medicine, clothing, medical equipment and supplies, school supplies, hygiene items, and emergency response. Latter-day Saint Charities also has an extensive program of promotion and integration of people with physical-motor disabilities and hearing disabilities through the donation of wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, prostheses, equipment, and hearing devices, which has been repeatedly recognized by the National Disability Council (CONADIS), the umbrella body of the state in charge of the disability issues in the country.”

According to Gutiérrez, “the report presented to the Vice Presidency came at the request of President Luis Abinader, who, just days before being elected as President of the Republic, requested to know more about the projects that the Church was carrying out with the Dominican government and expressed his desire to maintain and expand the joint work between the Church and the government for the good of the poor families of the country ”.

“In the past year, we have paid special attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we have donated hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment items for medical and health personnel who are on the front line of fighting the virus in the country,” he concluded.

According to the report, the state entities that have benefited from the Church's welfare assistance in recent years include the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the National Disability Council (CONADIS), the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) and various non-profit entities, including the Dominican Rehabilitation Association, ASODIFIMO, the National Board of the Blind, various schools and universities, homes for the elderly and children, service organizations such as the Rotary Club International, and a number of community organizations.

The vice president described herself as “a woman who comes from the business sector and from a long academic career, so I like to orient myself to action and execute the plans that we propose.” She therefore proposed to arrange additional work meetings that will allow specific projects to be carried out in various areas broadly identified during the affable meeting.

Elder Soares was accompanied by Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy and President of the Caribbean Area, as well as Sister Rocío Cañar, Area Organization Adviser. The latter highlighted the important role of women in society and reiterated the Church's willingness to help promote projects and initiatives that allow Dominican women to improve themselves and materially support their families.

The friendly meeting, which lasted longer than scheduled, concluded with the presentation of a Christus statue by Elder Soares, as a symbol of friendship and deference to the Vice President, whom he described as “a woman of faith that reflects the common values ​​that Latter-day Saints have with the aspirations of the Dominican government”.

"Jesus Christ is the center of our worship and is the one who gives meaning to all that we do, so receive this humble present as a symbol of our friendship and of our common belief that all of these efforts will be able to prosper with the help of God always," concluded Elder Soares.

Mrs. Peña was very pleased by the visit and by the present, and she reiterated her commitment to organize work meetings to follow up on the topics discussed and thus shape to the projects that were identified in various areas of common interest.

About the Church of Jesus Christ in the country

On December 7, 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organizaed in the Dominican Republic, and it currently has a membership of approximately one hundred and forty thousand parishioners who meet weekly in almost two hundred congregations distributed throughout the nation.

Latter-day Saints are characterized by a faith centered on Jesus Christ, by their extensive missionary work worldwide, by their family promotion campaigns, and by their concern for serving others, either through projects, humanitarian service, or through service projects at the community level.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.