Thursday, February 2, 2012

Turkey Opening For Missionary Work

Missionaries serving in the Bulgaria Sofia Mission report that four elders will be assigned to Istanbul, Turkey in mid-February and begin active missionary work in Turkey.  This development appears to have occurred on the heals of the Church receiving government recognition within the past year.  In accordance with societal attitudes regarding Christian proselytism, all missionary activity will occur through member referral.  Reports indicate that missionaries will learn the Turkish language by attending university classes for a portion of the day once transferred to Istanbul.  Turkey previously pertained to no mission but was assigned to the Bulgaria Sofia Mission within the past year.

The Church has operated four branches in Turkey for two decades and has assigned humanitarian senior missionary couples for years.  The assignment of young missionaries to Turkey is a major church growth development as Turkey numbers among the most populous countries that have no proselytizing missionaries assigned and Turkey is a homogeneously Muslim nation.  It is unclear whether missionaries will be permitted to teach Muslims or be restricted to working with individuals who follow other religious beliefs.


Nick said...

This is awesome that we are getting Elders in Turkey.

I served in Bulgaria between 2001-2003 and at that time, with President Galbraith, Turkey was a part of our mission and we had some senior couples over there who weren't allowed to proselyte.

It was under the Greece mission prior to President Galbraith coming to the Bulgarian mission, if I remember right. But because of his experience at the Jerusalem Center the put it under him.

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Dimitrius said...
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Matt said...

Fantastic feedback everyone!

I am not anticipating that the Church will experience rapid growth in Turkey. The Church has experienced slow membership growth and retention problems throughout Southeastern Europe over the past decade. Other missionary-focused Christians report slow or stagnant growth if any growth occurs at all. Many Christian Turks have left the country or have few children resulting in a decline in the number of indigenous Christians. The Church's past efforts to reach Turkic peoples have also yielded few results. For example, there has been very little growth in Kazakhstan notwithstanding full-time missionaries working in Almaty for about five years and in Astana for the past six months or so.

It sounds like there is some strong member support for missionary work from the handful of Turkish Latter-day Saints in Istanbul. It will be critical for local members to continue to head finding and retention efforts in order for growth to be sustainable.

It is exciting to see missionaries assigned to such as homogeneously Muslim nation and for the Church to take advantage of the liberal religious laws that accommodate many Christian groups.

Jeff said...

Exciting news, although Matt is certainly correct to temper the enthusiasm. FYI, Booth's diaries are available online here and they are currently being prepared for publication in print form.

Jeff said...

Let's try a shorter URL. Booth diaries (along with the diaries of many other early missionaries) are located here:
(this is a project that I worked on at BYU and I too remember being fascinated by Booth's obversations)

Laura Elekdag said...
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Laura said...

Do you know where I can find an official statement by the church regarding this matter? I don't want to pass it on until it's been officially released to the public. Thank you for the information!

Matt said...

There is no official church statement on the assignment of young missionaries to Istanbul. This information was obtained through missionary reports from Southeastern Europe.

The Church rarely reports when it assigns its first missionaries to a nation. Rather, the Church will often report when a nation is dedicated for missionary work - but this can occur months, years, and even decades after the first missionaries are assigned and the first congregations are organized.

Dimitrius said...
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Rebecca Thompson said...
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Rebecca Thompson said...

Merhabba! (That is hello in Turkish.) I am a Senior at BYU-Idaho and was recently in Istanbul, along with many other cities in Turkey. The people there are absolutely wonderful. The Spirit is very strong and the singles branch is amazing too. This is fantastic news to me and the other students who came to Turkey.

Allison Marie said...

One of those four Elders is my cousin! So excited to see this growth.

Allison Marie said...

Because I get this cousin's emails weekly, I will confirm for all of you that this is true. I don't know when the church would make an 'official statement' but they are for sure there!

Alex. said...

to all:

We have a member who arrived few months ago in our branch, he speaks mostly Turkish. I am about to start learning Turkish to help him. It is really super hard to find "church words" in Turkish, because the web translators (like Google tool) are not geared to "understand" the LDS terminology.

Anyone knows someone who speak Turkish and English? (or even French or Spanish. I need translation!) I don't even know how to say Home Teacher in Turkish...

To Nick: President Galbraith is currently serving as our Temple President in Montreal! He gave a very powerful fireside last year about Jerusalem and other things at our stake center!

hooknlure said...

I Am lds and while living with my father, who was in the military, we lived in Turkey for 9 years. I find the people very warm, and sincere. I speak the language still and if I had the means I would sign up tomorow to go and teach on a couples mission. My wife speaks as well, and shares the same love for these people as I do.

Alex. said...

To: hooknlure

Nice!!!! Thank you "hooknlure". I might check with you to translate few sentences? I guess I am mostly interested in "Church Vocabulary".

Hopefully you will be able to help me.

maybe few equivalents first, what would be the Turkish words for:

Elders Quorum
Temple trip
Passing the sacrament
Home Teaching appointment

my email is:

thank you

Deivisas said...

I heard that the Church has called a Mission President to Preside over the Turkish Mission.

Anonymous said...

I saw a video here that said missionaries help people. Can you help my family reunite after my American Mom was killed in Iran.

Can you help my husband who went from living in a 2 Million house in Iran to starving in Turkey as a refugee

I have been to every church except yours and all have done nothing. Our toddler is very ill and if something happens to him before we reunite with my husband, I cant even imagine life then.

My Mom was my best friend. No one will help us. My husband was a Chef in UK and his Mom became ill. I cant show support from him to bring him in through immigration. He cooks like Chef Emeril and I am willing to relocate if someone can help us.

Me and the baby are alone here. We need his Father.

gomormon! said...

Hello "Pirat esntreasure". I don't know if you've been responded to yet, but if you go to this website, you can fing LDS church buildings in your area and talk to someone in person there.
They probably won't know what to do, and there is probably nothing the Church can do (the Church cannot get involved with immigration issues), but if your husband is close by Istanbul (that's where the missionaries are right now) they might be able to visit him. However, you say he is in a camp next to Iran... so there might not be anything the Church can do to help. I just don't think we are in those areas yet, but you can always contact the Church and ask.

A better possibility is to contact the US government about asylum:
If you and your husband can prove persecution, you may be able to get him into the country that way.

I wish you the best! My wife and I will say a prayer for y'all.

Lucy said...

Hi, I am an Indian latter day Saint. Lately I have been seeing Turkey a lot on television that makes me interested in getting to know members there in Turkish branches and about church growth there. Can I have few email IDs or FB connects ?