Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Church in Eastern Europe

I wanted to take some time and write about the Church and Eastern Europe. The majority of the countries considered to be in Eastern Europe were opened for missionary work most recently in the early 1990s. Since that time, the Church's presence and spread into most of the largest cities, but with relatively few members. For instance, the country in Eastern Europe with the highest membership is Ukraine with around 10,200 members (out of 46 million people). However, the countries in Eastern Europe with the lowest Church membership (among countries with a Church presence) are Serbia with fewer than 300 members in three branches and Moldova with around the same number of members in two branches. There is a strong potential for future growth of the Church in Eastern Europe, especially because unlike many other places in the world, there are branches organized through these countries. If conditions change and people become more interested in religion, the Church is mobilized to need such a demand.

Below is a map of Bulgaria; a country which provides the best example of this phenomenon. Click on the map in order to see it more clearly. Each green square is a branch.

Notice how the largest city, Sofia, has several branches organized in it and that branches are scattered fairly evenly throughout the country.



Romania is another good example, and here's a map below.


Here are some exciting recent developments of the Church in Eastern Europe.


New Branches in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Georgia




Branches have recently (last 12 months or so) been estabished in the following cities.

  • Jelgava, Latvia
  • Parnu, Estonia
  • Shkoder, Albania (see earlier post)
  • Kosice, Slovakia
  • Tbilisi, Georgia (second branch in city, the Avlabari Branch)
  • Alexandria, Romania (last June)
  • Pula, Croatia
  • Subotica, Serbia
  • Kremenchuk, Ukraine

Church Launches New Latvian Website

In the past week or so, the Church has launched a country website for Latvia. It is in Russian and Latvian, and is found at http://www.jezuskristusbaznica.lv/ .

Lastly, I wanted to conclude that the activity rate in these nations are actually not as low as you might think. The LDS Church News stated in the Church Almanac that there are over 1,000 temple recommend holders in Ukraine and the temple has been under construction in Kyiv for the past six months. Furthermore, there are two stakes in Eastern Europe: One in Ukraine and the other in Hungary. The Church is close to organizing stakes in St. Petersburg, Russia ; Kharkiv, Ukraine ; and Donetsk, Ukraine. As for Future missions, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine seem most likely. It will be interesting how soon missionaries will be placed in newly independent Kosovo. I imagine that Kosovo will be included with the mission in Albania, since the majority of the population is Albanian.

4 comments:

JonErik said...

The wife of the Czech Prague Mission, Sister Ellen Slovacek, is keeping a blog of their mission experience. She recently reported that there are now 5 active branches of the church in Slovakia: Bratislava, Trencin, Zilina, Martin, and Kosice. The Martin and Kosice branches were organized within the past year. In June of 2008, a popular semi-professional soccer player was baptized in Trencin. This should create at least a little local interest/curiosity among the youth of Trencin.

A recently returned missionary reported in his homecoming talk in May, 2008, that many additional cities are now being opened by missionaries throughout Slovakia. Since President Slovacek's grandparents emigrated from Slovakia, he has taken a personal interest in this eastern half of the mission, and getting the work moving in Slovakia.

All of this has been happening since September, 2006 when the "Miracle of Slovakia" (as it was called in the Church Almanac)occurred in getting over 30,000 Slovakian citizens to sign a petition, requesting the LDS church be recognized by the Slovakian government. The church hoped the necessary 20,000 signatures could be gathered in one month; it only took 8 days to exceed that total by an additional 10,000! With government recognition, the church has the ability to purchase land, perform civil weddings, and even receive governmental monetary support (which the church graciously declined to receive).

Elder Uchtdorf dedicated Slovakia in a special dedicatory prayer on the hill overlooking the Trencin castle, on a spring day in April, 2006. About 50 members and missionaries joined him. In that dedicatory prayer, he said that while past growth had been slow in Slovakia, it would become a land of strength with many congregations of Saints. Elder Uchtdorf, himself, was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia - which is about 120 kilometers north of Trencin.

The Bratislava branch has about 30 active members - which is split almost evenly between native Slovaks and expatriate church members from USA and other countries, who are working/living in Bratislava. Branch meetings are conducted concurrently in both the Slovakian and English languages because of that mix.

Matt said...

Thanks for the information...I did not know about a branch in Martin. I do have the url for President Slovacek, but I guess I overlooked that information. I will be making a post soon about Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Thanks Again,

Matt

eestipurebutter said...

Parnu was opened in 2003, it formally became a branch recently, but it has been an operating branch for a long time now.

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