The Church of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons, has erected a glimmering 42-meter high granite temple on the outskirts of Kyiv – the first in Eastern Europe and 134th worldwide. A church spokesperson refused to reveal the cost of the building project, but Mormon elder Alexander Manzhos said it would serve 31,000 believers from as far away as Kazakhstan and Armenia. The first Mormon congregation in Ukraine was launched in 1991, the year the country gained independence, and now numbers over 10,700 baptized members, over sixty congregations and numerous meeting houses, chapels and meetinghouses throughout the country. In an exclusive interview with the Kyiv Post, Manzhos fields questions about other church real estate, financial matters and the Mormons’ position in Ukrainian society.
KP: Why a temple in Ukraine?
AM: Largely due to geography. Mainly, the temple will be for those church members worldwide who can access it for certain rights. For example, Armenia. For people living in Armenia, it’s more difficult to access our temples in Germany or Finland because they have to get visas.
KP: Why on the outskirts of the city?
AM: If you noticed, the temple takes up five hectares. It’s very hard to find in the center of Kyiv or of any other city a five hectare plot.