Latinos Are The Mormon Church's Fastest-Growing Group


Mitt Romney’s presidential run has brought attention to the Mormon church. But there is a side to the religion that breaks from mainstream references like Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” or HBO’s “Big Love” series. It’s the church’s international mix, especially fueled by its presence in Latin America and, especially, Mexico, which ties to Mitt Romney’s own family ancestry.
In Provo, Utah, one man, Fernando Rogelio Gómez, has created a small museum solely dedicated to this small Mexican slice of Mormon history. It started when he found a trunk full of documents buried inside his aunt’s house in Mexico. Old books, relics and photographs.
“These are some of the early members,” Gómez says, pointing to weathered black-and-white photographs, now displayed in the museum. One features a man named Narcizo Sandoval, who Gómez called one of the “most prolific missionaries that Mexico has produced.”
What Gómez discovered at his aunt’s house, and what he has collected over the years, is now a trove of history about the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Days Saints in Mexico. It has convinced Gómez, a 72-year-old retired engineer and devout Mormon from Mexico, to create two museums dedicated to Mexican Mormon History, one in Mexico City and a new one here in Provo, Utah, Mormon heartland.
On a recent weekday afternoon, Gómez, polite and soft-spoken, served as a personal guide. His collection houses maps detailing the treks in the late 1800s, when Brigham Young first sent missionaries to Mexico. Gómez also prizes housing some of the oldest, original copies of the Book of Mormon sent to Mexico and some of the earlier Spanish translations of the book. “It was in preparation of the first missionaries,” he said. “So they’re probably 125 years old now.”
“In 60 years we have over a million members. So it’s really a fantastic history.”
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