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

Country information: Denmark

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

E-mail story

It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.

Your name and e-mail address are transmitted to the recipient. Otherwise, it is considered private information; see Privacy policy.

Jan.1, 2009: Est. population, 5,500,000; Members, 4,362; Stakes, 2; Wards, 13; Branches, 10; Missions, 1; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, .08 , or one in 1,261; Europe Area.

Located in northern Europe on the Baltic Sea, Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with a population that speaks Danish, Faroese, and Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect). The people are 95 percent Evangelical Lutherans, 2.5 percent Protestant and Roman Catholic, 2 percent Muslim, and one half-percent other including LDS.

At the October 1849 general conference, Apostle Erastus Snow was assigned to establish the Church in Scandinavia, and Peter O. Hansen was called to serve as a missionary to Denmark. Hansen, a native of Copenhagen, was one of the first Danes to accept the gospel, having received baptism while temporarily living in Boston in 1844. Once converted, Hansen moved to Nauvoo, then migrated with the Saints to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847. There, he completed the Danish translation of the Book of Mormon he had begun at Nauvoo in 1845.

When it was announced that Elder Snow and Hansen would work in Scandinavia, John E. Forsgren, a Swedish convert, petitioned and was granted an opportunity to also be called to the work. The three men left Utah in October 1849, arriving in Copenhagen the following spring.

Within two months, the elders had established the headquarters of a mission in Copenhagen. The first baptisms took place on 12 August 1850 in the Oeresund near Copenhagen. The group of converts included eight men and seven women, with Ole C. U. Moenster being the first. The first branch was organized in Copenhagen on 15 September 1850. George P. Dykes established a second branch in Aalborg on 25 November 1850. By April 1851, the Aalborg branch contained 91 members.

The Book of Mormon translation prepared by Peter O. Hansen was published in January 1851, the first non-English language into which the book was published.

Although the Danish Parliament passed laws guaranteeing religious freedoms as part of the new constitution in 1849, early missionaries and members faced significant threats, opposition, and harassment from civil authorities and citizens. In Aalborg in 1851, a mob vandalized the hall where the Saints were meeting, and persecutions against Mormon children at school became so severe that in April of that year a Mormon-sponsored school, the first established in continental Europe, began in Aalborg.

Despite opposition, conferences (districts) were established in November 1851 in Copenhagen, Aalborg, and Fredericia to accommodate the rapidly-multiplying branches. The first converts to emigrate to Utah left Denmark on 31 January 1852. Of about 26,000 Danes converted during this early period, 13,984 of them emigrated to the United States by 1930.

The missionary work in Denmark functioned under the jurisdiction of the Scandinavian Mission until 1905 when it was renamed the Danish-Norwegian Mission. On 1 April 1920, the Danish Mission was organized. During World War II all missionaries from the United States were withdrawn, but work continued through the service of local Danish missionaries. A number of members emigrated to the United States at the end of the war.

Between 1966 and 1974, convert baptisms varied from 50 to 200 each year. By 1971, Church membership in Denmark totaled 4,193 people in three districts.

The Copenhagen Denmark Stake, the first in Denmark and in all of Scandinavia, was created on 16 June 1974. On 25 January 1975, a Danish government committee classified the Church as a Christian religion, opening the way for the Church to enjoy the privileges of other Christian organizations in Denmark.

President Spencer W. Kimball spoke to 3,800 members at an area conference in Copenhagen in August 1976. Richard Swett, a Church member and two-term Congressman, was sworn-in as U.S. ambassador to Denmark on 5 September 1998.

It was announced on 17 March 1999 that, for only the second time in the history of the Church, an existing building would be remodeled to become a temple. The historic Copenhagen Branch Chapel on Priorvej Street built by the Church in 1930 would become the Copenhagen Denmark Temple. The neo-classical chapel was originally dedicated by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve on 14 June 1931. The completed Copenhagen Denmark Temple was dedicated on 23 May 2004 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The 150th anniversary of the Church in Scandinavia was celebrated in Denmark during the first week of July 2000, with a series of firesides, dances, reunions, and the presentation of two statues. The first statue, unveiled on 4 July in Denmark's only national park in the hills of Rebild, is titled "The Family," and symbolizes a Mormon family as they prepare to make the voyage to Utah in the 19th century. The second statue titled "Kristina" was unveiled on 6 July near the Copenhagen harbor where it represents early Saints who boarded sailing ships for the journey to America.

The 19th Century gathering of European converts to Zion and the sesquicentennial of the first converts emigrating from Scandinavia in January 1852 was commemorated in August 2001 in five European countries. Beginning in Denmark, eight tall sailing ships, under the sponsorship of Sea Trek Foundation, a private venture, left from the western seacoast town of Esbjerg on 7 August 2001.

In 2002, membership reached 4,457; and 4,427 in 2004.

Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Gerald Myron Haslam, Clash of Cultures: The Norwegian Experience with Mormonism, 1842-1920, 1984; Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 2000; Scandinavian Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Denmark Copenhagen Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Lyn R. Jacobs, Mormon non-English scriptures, hymnals, and periodicals, 1830-1986, 1986; "The Saints in Scandinavia," Ensign, July 1974; John L. Hart, "Prophet Visits 5 European Countries, Asks Saints to Keep Commandments," Church News, 22 June 1996; "Statesman Sworn in as Ambassador to Denmark," Church News, 5 September 1998; "Danish Chapel Will Become New Temple," Church News, 29 May 1999; Ford Stevenson, "Church Marks 150 Years in Scandinavia," Church News, 15 July 2000; R. Scott Lloyd, "Epic Atlantic Voyage," Church News, 4 August 2001; R. Scott Lloyd, "Sea Trek's Tall Ships Embark from Denmark," Church News, 11 August 2001; R. Scott Lloyd, "Sea Trekkers Make Connections in Denmark," Church News, 11 August 2001; "Denmark Crowned with Statue," Church News, 23 August 2003.

Stakes — 2

(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)

No. / Name / Organized / First President

Europe Area

945 / Aarhus Denmark / 2 Jul 1978 / Knud Bent Andersen

648 / Copenhagen Denmark / 16 Jun 1974 / Johan Helge Benthin

Mission — 1

(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)

(23b) DENMARK COPENHAGEN MISSION

Borups Alle 128, 1, tv

DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

GREENLAND

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 53,375; Members, 23; Branches, 1; Percent LDS, .04, or one member in 2,320; North America Northeast Area; Denmark Copenhagen Mission.

This very large island, slightly larger than Mexico, in the North Atlantic between Canada and Iceland is a province of Denmark under home rule. Greenland has a parliamentary government with a population that speaks Danish and Greenlandic, and most are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

During World War II a servicemen's group was organized to support men serving in the 30th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. In 1952 or 1953, another LDS servicemen's group was organized at Thule Air Force Base. Sometime in the 1960s or 70s, the group was organized as a branch, but it was discontinued in 1989, and reverted to group status. Greenland has, over time, been supervised by the Massachusetts Boston Mission, the International Mission and the Denmark Copenhagen Mission. As of 1998 a Church group of Danish natives comprised of the of Kim Hvistendahl family and one other member was meeting weekly in Nuuk, under the direction of the Denmark Copenhagen Mission president.

Sources: Correspondence from Kim Hvistendahl, 13 May 1998, Church News resource files; Servicemen's Group (30th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron : Greenland), Meeting minutes and attendance records, 1944, Church Archives; Servicemen's Group (Thule Air Force Base: Greenland), Meeting minutes and attendance records, 1959, Church Archives; Local unit history file, Church Archives; Arnold K Garr, Donald, Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 2000, 446; Thule Air Base Servicemen's Group, General minutes, Church Archives.