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

Country information: Moldova

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 4,321,000; Members, 285; Branches, 2;Percent LDS, .006, or one in 15,161; Europe Area;

Moldova, formerly a republic in the Soviet Union, became an independent nation in 1991. Following the Soviet Union's demise, Moldovans were able to travel abroad. A few joined the Church.

Vitalii Volosin met missionaries in Moscow, Russia, while on a business trip. He was given a Book of Mormon. Upon his return to Moldova, he read it and wanted to be baptized. He discovered that the nearest missionaries were in Russia, so he traveled there to be baptized in June 1995. Contact between the American Latter-day Saints in Chisinau and Volosin, who lived in Balti, was established with the help of the Area Presidency. Volosin traveled two hours to Chisinau as often as he could to participate in worship services with other Church members.

Sylvia Vacarciuc was baptized on 3 April 1994 in Odessa, Ukraine. On 20 November 1995 she was set apart as a missionary, the first Moldovan to serve. She was called to the Russia St. Petersburg Mission. Lilia Carasciuc, while studying in southern California in 1996, met Latter- day Saints and was converted to the Church. She was baptized in May 1997, shortly before returning to Moldova.

The American Latter-day Saints who were meeting together moved to Moldova to work. In September 1995, Paul and Betty Morris arrived in Chisinau, where Paul worked in the U.S. Embassy. In June of that year, John Nielson, a private contractor doing development work, arrived in Moldova. And in May 1996, Janet Jasen, a nurse with the Peace Corps, began her tour in Chisinau. These four Latter-day Saints met each week.

On 11 September 1997, Elder Charles A. Didier, a member of the Seventy and president of the Europe East Area, and Romania Bucharest Mission president, Robert F. Orton, traveled to Chisinau and met with Moldovan and American Latter-day Saints and friends. This was the first visit of a General Authority to that country. The meeting was held in the Morris home. It was announced that the first branch was shortly to be organized and missionaries were to be assigned to labor in Moldova, under the auspices of the Romania Bucharest Mission.

Five weeks after that visit, on 18 October 1997, Elders Brett M. Williams and Frederick D. Wadsworth, missionaries serving in Romania, were sent to Chisinau to begin missionary work. At that time, missionaries could not wear name tags or openly proselyte; rather, they provided service and taught people who had been referred to them by Church members or waited for people to ask them about the Church. On 11 November of that same year, five people were baptized in the bathtub of the Morris home, the first baptisms in Moldova. On that same day, a branch was organized with Paul Morris as president.

After missionaries arrived, with the small membership growing, the branch was moved into rented facilities, the Artists Union Hall in Chisinau in November 1997. A year later, on 30 November 1998, Ion Virlan was called as the first native branch president in Moldova.

On 23 December 1998, the first complete translation of the Book of Mormon in Romanian arrived. This "special Christmas gift" was a blessing to the majority of members in Moldova who could now read the Book of Mormon in their native language.

In 2003, membership reached 218.

Sources: Ukraine Kiev Mission, Annual historical reports, Church Archives; Romania Bucharest Mission, Annual historical reports, Church Archives; Sylvia Vacarciuc, Interview, Church Archives; Janet Jasen, Interview, Church Archives; Brett M. Williams, Papers, Church Archives; Frederick Wadsworth, Interview, Church Archives; Lilia Carasciuc, Interview, Church Archives.