The Mormon church has seen the number of its faithful in the United States increase by more than 45 percent over the past 10 years, largely because the number of Spanish-speaking members has practically doubled.

This weekend, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its semi-annual conference in Salt Lake City with a special place reserved for Hispanics.

Eric Hawkins, an LDS spokesman, told Efe that thousands of Latinos arrived at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City over the weekend to take part in the event.

Additionally, he said, the 1,400-seat Assembly Hall was equipped so Latino Mormons could follow the conference in Spanish.

"More than 5 million members of our church are in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Those members joined the other 14.7 million Mormons around the world that followed the conference on television, radio, satellite transmissions, Internet or in published articles," Hawkins said.

The spokesman estimated that 100,000 LDS members attended the conference in person.

The number of Spanish-speaking LDS congregations in the United States rose from 389 in 2000 to more than 760 at present.

Translations in Spanish for this year's meeting were done by bilingual employees, missionaries and some professional linguists, though in most cases volunteers pitched in who had learned Spanish when taking part in LDS missions in Latin America, the first of which was in Mexico in 1876. 

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