TRELEW, Argentina — A partnership between the Church and government in this city of 90,000 has benefited both, and led to a close working relationship.
The most recent example of this was on Sept. 12 at the dedication of a new meetinghouse that was built on prime property donated by the city. In 2003, the Church donated a meetinghouse in an area of few local resources to the city to be made into a hospital.
About 1,000 people attended the services, including the governor of the Patagonian province of Chubut, and the primary media representatives of the area. Elder Carlos E. Aguero, Area Authority Seventy and second counselor in the South America South Area presidency, hosted Dr. Mario Das Neves, governor of Chubut; and Dr. Aldo Marcanetto, mayor of Trelew, and various other dignitaries.
Gov. Das Neves, a leader with a good understanding of the history of the Church in Trelew, shared his feelings, paying tribute to the pioneers who came in the 1940s, and later those who built the first chapel, which he said was a "magnificent work."
He also thanked the Church for its donation, and asked all to end their various prejudices regarding the Church "because at times we have made unfounded judgments, while you were always helping care for society, working in the difficult times we have experienced in our community."
Many of those in attendance also came to the building's open house. Among the visitors were two previous governors of the state of Chubut, Carlos Maestro and Jose Luis Lizurume; the mayor of Rawson, Pedro Planas; and former mayors Gustavo Di Benedetto and Jose Gatica.
These leaders were hosted by Trelew Argentina South Stake President Juan Carlos Pino, who explained to them the programs and activities of the Church. He said that while most who use the facility are Church members, it is open to the public. Neighbors and others who wish to attend services are welcome. He told about the new family history center, and noted that it is available to all who wish to research information about their ancestry. Also available to the public is the local Church employment center, which offers training and help to those looking for work, and teaches principles of personal and family self-sufficiency.
Preceding the dedication of the meetinghouse, 20 wheelchairs were donated by the Wheelchair Foundation and the Church to the National Commission for the Incapacitated.
"It is a great source of satisfaction to be part of this initiative, and to see the happiness and joy in the faces of most needy brothers and sisters, and to contemplate the difference that this way of life brings for the youth and older people, offering more independence and mobility," said Elder Aguero.