Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Albania

Published: Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009

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ALBANIA

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 3,639,000; Members, 1,838; Branches, 10; Districts, 1; Missions, 1; Percent LDS, .05 or one in 2,545; Europe Area.

Albania, governed by a young democracy, is a small mountainous country in southeastern Europe's Balkan Peninsula. It is 70 percent Sunni Muslim, with 20 percent Greek Orthodox and 10 percent Roman Catholic. The official language is Albanian.

There was no known Church activity in Albania until April 1991 when Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Hans B. Ringger visited the country. In October, Elder Hans B. Ringger and Austria Vienna Mission President Kenneth D. Reber visited with Albanian officials and agreed to send humanitarian aid to Albania. Missionaries Theron G. Sommerfeldt and George Niedens arrived a week later but were there only a short time. Full-time humanitarian missionary couples Thales and Charone Smith and Randolyn and Melvin Brady followed in February 1992, and in June, four full-time elders Matthew Wirthlin, Mark Slaybaugh, Paul McAllister, and Beau Jarvis were transferred there from other European missions. On 25 July 1992, Blendi Kokona became the first convert baptized in Albania.

In conjunction with a visit to Albania in August 1993 by Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa visited an orphanage where Sister Charone Smith, a humanitarian missionary, was working. She presented Sister Smith with a silver medallion of Mother Teresa's order. That same month, Church activity in Albania came under supervision of the Switzerland Zurich Mission.

In 1994, the Provo Missionary Training Center began teaching the Albanian language. Prior to that time, missionaries learned the language in the field. In June 1995, responsibility for Albania was transferred to the Greece Athens Mission, where it remained until the creation of the Albania Tirana Mission on 1 July 1996. Missionaries were evacuated in March 1997 due to civil unrest. They returned to the mission throughout the summer of 1997, the last arriving in September. Another brief evacuation occurred in August-September 1998.

In November 1999 the Albanian translation of the Book of Mormon was received in the mission. The first seminary class in Albania was held on 24 February 2000 and the first institute class was held 24 March 2000.

Membership in 2003 was 1,285. In 2005, membership reached 1,498.

Sources: United States Department of State, The World Factbook, cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook..; Mehr, Kahlile, Mormon Missionaries Enter Eastern Europe, 2002; Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land, 2003. Albania Tirana Mission, Annual history, Church Archives.

(308) Albania Tirana Mission

PO Box 2984, Rr. Qemal Stafa

Vila 1 (Perballe Postes nr. 22)

Tirana, Albania