Vocabulary words: in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a "ward" is a congregation. A group of "wards" is a "stake." Church leaders are sometimes referred to as "Elder," just as missionaries are referred to as "Elder." (It has nothing to do with age...just how you are serving.)
Here is a cool story we (David's family) heard at Stake Conference (Boston Stake) in October, from Elder Gordon H. Smith. Elder Smith used to be a U.S. Senator for Oregon.
He says that a few years ago, President Uchtdorf calls him and says that the church does not have the status of being an officially recognized church in Italy. The members are allowed to meet and worship, but by not being recognized as an official religion, 30,000 Latter-day Saints in Italy are not getting the benefits of other organized religions (like marriages and baptisms being recognized by the government, etc.). President Uchtdorf says to Elder Smith, "What can we do about this?"
Elder Smith says, "Let me make a few phone calls, and see if we can talk to somebody."
So he calls the Italian government and gets an appointment with the Italian equivalent of our cabinet member for the Department of the Interior. Elder Smith calls President Uchtdorf and says, "I'm meeting with the (Minister of the Interior) in Rome on this date." President Uchtdorf says, "I'll meet you there."
They go to the Italian government offices, and are led into a big room with a long table. After they are seated, in walks the Minister of the Interior. She has an assistant minister with her and he is a professor who teaches religion.
They exchange polite greetings with these two Italians who speak perfect English. President Uchtdorf explains the above situation, and says how it would help these citizens of their country if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized as an official religion.
The Minister turns to the professor and asks, "What should we do to help them?"
He says, "You know, two summer ago I was in Western United States, and I visited your headquarters in Salt Lake City. We took a tour of Temple Square, and the tour guides were two lovely young ladies from our own country. They were so kind, and thorough, and answered our questions. They were really impressive examples of what a woman from Italy should be. If your church develops our young people in Italy to be of that caliber, then I am wholeheartedly behind you."
Then the professor says, "One of the places we saw and learned about in Salt Lake City was your temple. It was just beautiful! If we make yours an official religion, can you build one of those here?"
President Uchtdorf smiles and says, "We'll start tomorrow."
With the typical challenges of large government and politics, it took 1 1/2 more years, but the church did receive official recognition with the Italian government and the members in Italy now receive all of the rights and privileges which that recognition affords.