The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia

(Redirected from August Höglund)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a presence in Russia before the rise of the USSR, with the first baptisms occurring in 1895. Preliminary missionary efforts began before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the Russian government officially recognized the church in 1991. Membership increased in the 1990s and early 2000s. Missionary efforts were impacted by the 2016 Yarovaya law, which prohibited proselytizing outside of official church property. Current membership statistics are not available for Russia, but the church reported 19,946 members in 2009. As of 2021, there were three stakes and five missions in Russia. In 2018, Russell M. Nelson announced that a temple would be constructed in a major city in Russia.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia
LDS Church logo - rus.png
(Logo in Russian)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - panoramio.jpg
A meetinghouse in Kaliningrad
AreaEurope East
Members23,180 (2016)[1]
Stakes3 (2022)
Districts8 (2022)
Total Congregations[2]91
Temples1 Announced
Family History Centers64 (2016), 0 (2022)
The Russian translation of the Book of Mormon


Membership In Russia
1992 750
1999 11,092
2004 17,284
2009 19,946
2016 23,180
Source: Jim M. Wall, Deseret News, various years, Church Almanac Country Information: Russia, Windall J. Ashton

Early beginningsEdit

In 1843, 13 years after the church was formed,[3] Joseph Smith called two missionaries – George J. Adams and Orson Hyde – to preach in Russia. Smith stated that "some of the most important things concerning the ... building up of the kingdom of God in the last days" involved Russia.[4] Adams and Hyde's mission, however, was canceled after the death of Joseph Smith.[5] In the 1840s, the Russian press reported the Mormon pioneers' move west, and in the 1870s and 80s chronicled the struggle between the church and the U.S. government over the practice of plural marriage.[6]: 14–15  In 1887, while serving in Jaffa, Palestine, Joseph M. Tanner reportedly baptized some Russians who then settled in Utah.[5] The first Latter-day Saint baptisms in Russia occurred in 1895.[5] August Höglund, a Swedish native, was sent to St. Petersburg in response to a request from the Lindelof family for missionaries to visit them. Johan and Alma Lindelof[5] were soon baptized, and two of their children followed in 1905.[6] This event encouraged Francis M. Lyman to travel to Russia in 1903 to dedicate it for missionary work.[4] He gave dedicatory prayers in Moscow and at the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg.[7] Church leaders visited the Lindelofs following their conversion.[3] An LDS missionary was sent to Latvia, but increasing political tension thwarted further efforts to proselyte in the Russian Empire.[4] After the October Revolution occurred, the Lindelof family was arrested and only two children are confirmed to have survived.[5]

Soviet eraEdit

There is no evidence of additional converts to the church before 1989; however, John H. Noble claimed to have met a "handful of Mormons" while in the Soviet Union in the 1950s.[6] He recorded that they were persecuted by the Communist government for their association with an American religion, but persisted in practicing their faith.[8] The term "Mormon" was also used by Russians to describe unaffiliated polygamist groups.[9]

In 1959, Ezra Taft Benson visited Moscow and spoke to a crowd in the Central Baptist Church.[3] The Russian-language translation of the Book of Mormon was published on June 3, 1981.[5] As the political climate began to change, the Russian people began learning of the church through travel to other countries and contact with members.[4] The Terebenin family joined the church while visiting Budapest, Hungary, in 1989, and it was in their home on February 11, 1990, where the first Russian branch of the LDS Church was created. Soviet diplomat Yuri Dubinin traveled to Utah in April 1990; while visiting Brigham Young University, he affirmed that the church would be allowed inside the USSR.[5] Russell M. Nelson dedicated the land for missionary work for the second time in 1990,[10] in the same Summer Garden where Lyman gave the original prayer.[7] The first mission in the Soviet Union was established in July 1990.[9]

Religious Freedom, Growth and ExpansionEdit

The church was officially recognized by the Russian government in May 1991.[3] The Russia Moscow and St. Petersburg missions were founded in February 1992[5] after legislation passed that allowed for greater religious freedom. At the time, church membership had reached 750.[3] In the 1990s and early 2000s, membership grew and three stakes were established in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Saratov.[11] In March 1998, a pair of missionaries were kidnapped while working in Saratov[12] and held for a demanded ransom of $300,000.[13] The ransom was never paid, and the young men were released four days later.[14]

Government Restrictions, 2016 to presentEdit

Beginning in July 2016, anti-terror laws passed in Russia prohibit most religious proselytizing. The LDS Church announced that it would adhere to the new restrictions outlined in this Yarovaya law, including referring to missionaries as "volunteers."[15] According to a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the law prohibits "preaching, praying, disseminating religious materials, and even answering questions about religion outside of officially designated sites."[16] A 2018 Radio Free Europe story detailed the challenges these volunteers face in Russia, including not being able to directly tell people about the church in public places and combating abundant anti-Mormon media.[17] According to The Moscow Times, Roskomnadzor, the part of the Russian government overseeing media censorship, has blocked the church's website.[11] In March 2019, a pair of Latter-day Saint volunteers serving in Novorossiysk were arrested and deported by Russian police for visa violation when they were found teaching English.[7] There are continuing cultural obstacles, particularly due to the overlap that occurs between church culture and American culture.[11] Family History Centers in Russia were closed.[18][19] The church has built its own chapels in Russia, but tends to purchase and remodel existing buildings in order to draw less negative attention.[19] Despite restrictions, the LDS Church continues to push to create/build relationships with local authorities, serve the community, and strive to abide by the guidelines set by governmental authorities.[7]

Beginning in 2016, missionaries were referred to as volunteers with restricted duties because of government restrictions. Church meetings and services were left under the direction of local members. In 2020, in-person meetings were suspended which resumed starting in September 2021.[20] In 2021, the church in Russia provided various humanitarian service and supplies to organizations in Russia. The LDS Church also participated in various interfaith meetings.[21] By mid-February 2022, all remaining foreign volunteers from missions in Russia were relocated to other missions outside of Russia, due to unrest surrounding Russia's invasion of Ukraine.[22]

Statistics and other informationEdit

As of January 1, 2009, the church reported 19,946 members, 8 missions, 15 districts, and 129 branches in Russia. Members made up 0.14 percent of Russia's population.[5] In 2017, the First Presidency dissolved the Russia Vladivostok Mission into the Novosibirsk Mission,[23] lowering the number of missions in Russia to five.[24] A 2017 Deseret News report claimed 23,180 members and 103 congregations.[25] Currently, no membership statistics are available for the country.[3]


As of February 2022, Russia has three stakes:




Russian members attended the Stockholm Sweden Temple and the Freiberg Germany Temple before the Helsinki Finland Temple and the Kyiv Ukraine Temple were constructed.[4] Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine have made travel more difficult for members seeking to attend the Kyiv temple.[19] In the Russian Far East, members have also used the temple in Seoul.[4]

At the church's April 2018 general conference, Russell M. Nelson announced a temple to be constructed in Russia. The official location has not been announced, though it will reportedly be in a major city.[citation needed] While visiting Moscow that same month, Dieter F. Uchtdorf encouraged church members to prepare for the temple but to have "patience," as development and construction will be slow.[29] Ronald A. Rasband visited Eastern Europe in 2019 and assured Russian members that a temple would indeed be built.[30]

1 April 2018 by Russell M. Nelson[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Facts and Statistics: Statistics by Country: Russia", Newsroom, LDS Church, retrieved 3 May 2021
  2. ^ Total Congregations is the sum of wards and branches and does not include member groups which is a smaller and/or more temporary congregation of members than wards and branches.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Nechiporova, Elena. "Russia - Facts and Statistics". Mormon Newsroom. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Miller, James A. (Feb 2014). ""That Vast Empire" The Growth of the Church in Russia". Ensign. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Country information: Russia". LDS Church News. February 1, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Eliason, Eric A.; Browning, Gary (2001). "Russia's Other "Mormons": Their Origins and Relationship to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". BYU Studies. 40 (1): 7–34.
  7. ^ a b c d Fletcher Stack, Peggy (10 Sep 2019). "What the LDS Church, other Western faiths are up against in Russia: a dominant Orthodox Church and a wary government". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  8. ^ Lyon, Tania Rands (2000). "The Discovery of Native "Mormon" Communities in Russia". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Salt Lake City. 33 (1): 1–24.
  9. ^ a b Hunter, J. Michael (2014). Mormonism in Europe: A Bibliographic Essay. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. pp. 42–43.
  10. ^ "The LDS Church in Russia". LDS Living. 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  11. ^ a b c Friedlander, Emma. "Russian Mormons Search for Identity and Acceptance in an American Church", The Moscow Times, 26 February 2019. Retrieved on 3 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Provo Daily Herald | 1998-03-25 | Page 1". Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  13. ^ "Report: Ex-Mormon Kidnapped Mormons". AP News. March 24, 1998.
  14. ^ "Fear And Faith Fueled Kidnapped Missionaries Knowing Ransom Wouldn't Be Paid, Mormons Urged Russian Captors To Embrace God | The Spokesman-Review". March 29, 1998. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  15. ^ Woodruff, Daniel (July 19, 2016). "In light of new law, Latter-day Saint missionaries in Russia now called "volunteers"". KUTV. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  16. ^ "Russia Chapter - 2019 Annual Report" (PDF). United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  17. ^ Luxmoore, Matthew (30 Dec 2018). "Keeping The Faith: With Missionary Work Banned, Mormons In Russia 'Just Making Friends'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  18. ^ FamilySearch: Find a Family History Center and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries, retrieved February 21, 2022
  19. ^ a b c Fletcher Stack, Peggy (10 September 2019). "Building a temple in Russia may be a heavy lift in a nation not eager to even see LDS chapels". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  20. ^ Gradual resumption of services in the meetinghouses of the Church in Russia (in Russian), retrieved March 19, 2022
  21. ^ "News archive", Russia LDS Newsroom (in Russian), retrieved March 19, 2022
  22. ^ Gadeski, Emma (February 28, 2022), "Foreign Church volunteers in Russia evacuated", The Daily Universe, retrieved March 1, 2022
  23. ^ "First Presidency Announces Mission Merge in Russia - Church News and Events". Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  24. ^ Fletcher Stack, Peggy (10 Sep 2019). "With Russia's ban on missionary work, it's up to members to keep Mormonism alive". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  25. ^ Taylor, Scott (2017-05-20). "LDS Church merging two missions in Russia". Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  26. ^ "Moscow Russia Stake organized June 5, 2011", Church News, Deseret News, June 11, 2011, retrieved 2012-11-24
  27. ^ "Church leaders visit with heads of state", Church News, Deseret News, Sep 27, 2012, retrieved 2012-11-24
  28. ^ "Elder Ballard Sees Potential for Church Growth in Russia - Church News and Events". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  29. ^ "Elder Uchtdorf Discusses Future Russia Temple". Church Newsroom. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  30. ^ Swensen, Jason (24 Jun 2019). "Elder Rasband visits Eastern Europe, reiterates President Nelson's promise that there will be a temple in Russia". Church News. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Seven Temples Announced as April 2018 General Conference Closes: Mormon temples to be built in Asia, Europe, North and South America". Newsroom. LDS Church. 1 April 2018.

External linksEdit