The Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days volumes are wonderful as an overview, but if you’re truly looking for a country-specific deep dive, here’s a Church resource you’ll want to know about.
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Under the “Church History” page on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and in the Gospel Library app, you will find a small, unassuming link titled, “Global Histories,” which opens up a whole new treasure chest of glorious, historical gems for us to enjoy.
Once opened, you’ll see a list of dozens of countries on the left-hand side of the page. By clicking on the name of a country, you’ll see section headings like “Overview,” “Stories of Faith,” “Chronology,” “By the Numbers,” and “Additional Information.” Each section under the country name will include enlightening and eye-opening stories or statistics about the history of the Church in that nation.
Here are just a few of the fun facts we came across in our quick perusing:
- Benin: In the late 1990s, missionaries from the Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan Mission began teaching the gospel over the phone to interested people in Benin. No baptisms, however, could be performed until after the Church was officially recognized in the country, which took place in 2003.
- The Philippines: The Philippines has the fourth-largest population of Latter-day Saints of any country in the world behind the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.
- Réunion: The island nation of Réunion was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on November 22, 1988.
- Wales: In 1849, Brigham Young asked John Parry Sr., a Welsh convert, to form a choir for the Church’s next general conference. Parry gathered 85 Welsh singers for the performance, and his efforts led to the creation of the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square.
- Slovakia: The first known Slovaks to investigate the Church did so during the Communist era, when Otakar Vojkůvka, his family, and others began teaching “Christian yoga” classes, combining principles of the gospel with yoga exercises.
- Mexico: In 1944 temple ordinances were translated into Spanish, and in 1945 many Mexican Saints traveled to Mesa, Arizona, to become the first in Church history to receive temple ordinances in a language other than English.
- Hawaii: The first Latter-day Saint temple built outside North America was in Lā‘ie, Hawaii, dedicated in 1919. The first stake outside North America was organized on O‘ahu, Hawaii, in 1935.
- Ecuador: Latter-day Saint missionaries began preaching in the Kichwa language in the 1970s, and the Church published a Kichwa translation of selections from the Book of Mormon in 1980.
- Australia: A Church-owned monthly periodical, Zion’s Watchman, was first published in Sydney, Australia, on August 13, 1853. Its goal was to improve communication between scattered branches and to respond to hostile press.
- India: Over 300 Europeans and Indians joined the Church thanks to printed tracts and Latter-day Saint sailors between 1849 and 1856 when the mission was officially closed. The first mission in independent India was established in 1993.
- Brazil: The Church first sent missionaries to Brazil in 1928 at the request of German members of the Church living in the southern parts of the country.
Read more in-depth stories about each country and its history with the Church on the Church’s Global Histories page.