This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Now that Cuba will be open to U.S. visas for religious activities, that island nation may soon be flooded with evangelizers including its first name-tagged Mormon missionaries.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not registered as an official religion in Cuba and has not sent any full-time volunteers there to proselytize as it does in so many nations throughout the world.
"We are known for sending missionaries to countries where they are officially recognized and welcomed by governments," LDS Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said Wednesday in a statement. "It's unclear what today's announcement may mean for the future growth of the church in Cuba or how it will relate to missionary work in that nation."
Still, Mormonism likely will continue to expand in Cuba as it has for a decade after the first branch, or congregation, was created there in 2004 with a handful of members, mostly from one family.
Thanks to outreach efforts, the Utah-based faith has steadily grown to more than 100 members, making it necessary to form a second branch.
In June, LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland and other church authorities traveled to Cuba to preside over that move and to laud the "modern-day pioneers" who helped build Mormonism there.
Holland met with representatives from Cuba's Office of Religious Affairs, Catholic leaders and the Cuban Council of Churches, according to an LDS Church News report.
"The church blesses people and strengthens families wherever it is found throughout the world," Holland told the groups, the News reported, "and that is what we intend to do in Cuba."
There are no legal restrictions preventing the LDS Church from assigning full-time missionaries to Cuba from other Caribbean or Latin American countries, says independent Mormon researcher Matt Martinich.
The LDS Church currently has "a sufficiently large number of Latin American missionaries to staff full-time missionary efforts in Cuba," Martinich, who has extensive knowledge of Mormonism across the globe, wrote in a recent case study of the country. It also "maintains a large Spanish-speaking full-time missionary force in the Dominican Republic, where hundreds of local Dominican members serve full-time missions."
Given Cuba's "improving religious-freedom conditions," Martinich foresees a time when the government may grant the LDS Church official recognition.
That possibility became more real with Wednesday's announcement.