Country information: Ukraine
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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 45,700,000; Members, 10,557; Stakes, 1; Wards, 8; Missions, 3; Districts, 4; Branches, 55; Temples, 1 announced; percent LDS, .02, or one in 4,329; Europe East Area.
The first missionaries to enter Ukraine were Elders Ivan Stratov and Brian Bradbury, both were transferred from the Finland Helsinki East Mission. They were accompanied by President Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Austria Vienna East Mission. They arrived in Kyiv on 7 October 1990 with a list of Ukrainian referrals. They quickly made enough contacts to gather 17 people for a fireside held in the Writers' Union Hall, where the first sacrament meetings were later held.
Valery Stavichenko, baptized on 25 November 1990 in the icy waters of the Dniper River by Elder Ivan Stratov, was the first Ukrainian to join the Church in Ukraine. Two years later, in November 1992, Stavichenko, his wife Tatyana, and their children traveled to the Freiberg Germany Temple as part of the first temple excursion from Ukraine.
The Kiev Branch was organized on 9 June 1991 with Valery Stavichenko as president. By the end of the month there were 44 members in the branch.
Ukraine remained under the jurisdiction of the Austria Vienna East Mission, with Howard L. Biddulph as president, until February 1992 when the Ukraine Kyiv Mission was organized and the Austria Vienna East Mission was discontinued. A year later, in July 1993, the mission was divided to create the Ukraine Donetsk Mission with Leo Merrill as president.
Prior to this time, an attempt had been made to register the Church in Kiev. By August 1991, no word on the application had been received. Concerned about the delay, Biddulph made it a matter of prayer. On the first Sunday in August, a deputy of the City Soviet (the legislative assembly for Kiev), Viktor Cherinko, attended Church services. Cherinko had heard good things about the Latter-day Saints and wanted to investigate. President Biddulph explained his desire that the Church be registered and Cherinko agreed to help. A few weeks later, Mr. Cherinko introduced a bill to register "The Kyiv Community of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," which was passed at midnight on 9 September 1991.
Two days later, on 11 September, Elders Boyd K. Packer and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, accompanied by Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, newly called to the Seventy, visited Ukraine and met with about 40 people, including members, missionaries and investigators. The following day, Elders Packer, Oaks and Neuenschwander, together with missionaries and Church members, went to a park overlooking the Dniper River and Elder Packer blessed the land.
By April 1994, the Church had grown and branches had been established in several cities. Local members had registered the Church in six Ukrainian cities. Church leaders desired to have national recognition of the Church. Ukrainian law required that the head of the Church's national organization be elected. Aleksander Manzhos was elected to be the Church's representative to the nation. Documents for national registration were filed on 6 April 1994, and two years later registration was granted.
The first meetinghouse was dedicated in Donetsk on 28 June 1998. On 7 September 2001, the first meetinghouse in Kyiv was dedicated. The following day a second meetinghouse in Kyiv was dedicated.
History was made in July 1998 when President Gordon B. Hinckley, at the dedication of the Monticello Utah Temple, announced that a temple was planned for Kiev. This was welcome news to Ukrainian Latter-day Saints. In 2002, there were more than 1,000 temple recommend holders in Ukraine, who had to travel 30 hours one way to get to the nearest temple.
Ukrainian Latter-day Saints Sergie and Laryssa Pankov were called to serve as Church-service missionaries in April 2000. They are thought to be the first native Eastern Europeans to serve as Church-service missionaries. Brother Pankov oversaw missionary housing, while Sister Pankov served in the Ukraine Kiev Mission office. They completed their mission in April 2001.
President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first president of the Church to visit Ukraine in September 2002. He met with about 3,200 Church members in the Palace Ukraine Concert Hall in Kyiv. Members came from across Ukraine, spending, in some cases, the equivalent of a month's income for train tickets. The meeting was the largest assembly of Latter-day Saints in Ukraine history. President Hinckley assured them that they were part of the great nation of God.
Membership in 2002 reached 8,627. In 2003, membership reached 8,984.
The first stake in Eastern Europe was organized in Kyiv by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve at a special conference held on 30 May 2004. Former district president Vladimir Kanchnko was sustained as president. In his remarks, Elder Nelson, reflecting on the time when he was given responsibility for establishing the Church in Eastern Europe, said, "The Lord had accomplished a miracle."
In 2005, membership reached 9,951.
The Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk Mission was organized July 1, 2007, the third mission in the country.
Sources: Kahlile Mehr, Mormon Missionaries Enter Eastern Europe, 2002; Howard L. Biddulph, The Morning Breaks, 1996; Ukraine Kiev Mission, Annual historical reports, Church Archives; Shaun D. Stahle, "Ukrainian Faith: Gospel Seeds Falling on Rich Soil," Church News, November 2002; Greg Hill, "Anchoring Odessa with Faithful Families," Church News, May 2004; Shaun D. Stahle, "4,000 Gather in Ukraine for Pres. Hinckley," Church News, 21 September 2002; Shaun D. Stahle, "Kiev Members Revere Historic Moment," Church News, 5 June 2004.
Stakes — 1
(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)
No. / Name / Organized / First President
Europe East Area
2637 / Kyiv Ukraine / 30 May 2004 / Vladimir Akimovich Kanchenko
Missions — 3
(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)
(295) UKRAINE DONETSK MISSION
Prospekt Bogdana Khmelnitskogo 67a
(274) UKRAINE KYIV MISSION
vul. Yabluneva 1
s. Sofiivska Borshahivka
Kyiv oblast 08131, Ukraine
(345) Ukraine DnIpropetrovsk Mission
27-A Karla Marksa Ave 5th fl