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

Country information: Mongolia

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 3,041,000; Members, 8,444; Missions, 1; Stakes, 1: Districts, 2; Branches, 21; Percent LDS, .28, or one in 360, Asia Area.

Mongolia is located in east central Asia between Russia and China, and has a parliamentary type of government. Its religious composition: Tibetan Buddhist Lamaism 96 percent, Muslim (primarily in the southwest), Shamanism, and Christian 4 percent (1998).

In 1984, Monte J. Brough, who would later be called to the Seventy, traveled to Mongolia on a hunting trip. During his visit, he developed a love for the Mongolian people. Eight years later, in May 1992, Elders Merlin Lybbert and Monte Brough, members of the Asia Area presidency, traveled to Mongolia to explore the possibility of the Church providing humanitarian aid. Prior to this trip, the Mongolian ambassador to United States had traveled to Brigham Young University, which had paved the way for Elders Lybbert and Brough by providing positive contact with the Mongolian government.

After several months of negotiation, permission was granted to send six missionary couples to assist the country's higher education program and to teach others about the Church. The first couple, Kenneth H. and Donna Beesley, arrived on 16 September 1992. Kenneth Beesley, former president of LDS Business College, was designated as lead elder. The first sacrament meeting was held on 20 September 1992 in the Beesley's apartment. The five other missionary couples to follow were Royce P. and Mary Jane Flandro, Richard G. and Anna M. Harper, Stanley B. and Marjorie Smith, C. DuWayne and Alice C. Schmidt, and Gary and Barbara L. Carlson.

The first six young elders arrived in Mongolia in August 1993: Bart J. Birch, Duane L. Blanchard, Brett A. Hansen, Jared K. Meier, Curtis D. Mortensen and Bradley J. Pierson. The first four sisters arrived in March 1996: Natalie Romrell, Katherine Sego, Sheryl E. Mott and Marcie L. Wellman.

The first Mongolian converts, students of the missionary couples, were Lamjav Purevsuren and Tsendkhuu Bat-Ulzii. They were baptized on 6 February 1993. The Ulaanbaatar Branch was organized in September 1993.

Other cities were later opened to missionaries and branches were organized in Erdenet, Darkhan, Gorodok, Hovd, Baganoor, Sukhbaatar and Saynshand.

The Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission was officially established on 1 July 1995. The first mission president, Richard E. Cook, and his wife were serving as missioniaries in Mongolia when he was called as mission president. President Cook would later be called to the Seventy and serve in the Asia Area presidency. Before the establishment of the mission, Mongolia was overseen by the Asia Area presidency.

On April 15, 1993, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Kwok Yuen Tai of the Seventy visited Mongolia. Fifty government officials attended a reception that evening hosted by the Church. On 24 October 1994, the Church was registered with the Mongolian government. The first native Mongolians received mission calls on 11 April 1995: Sister Magsar Batchimeg (Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission) and Sister Urtnasan Soyolmaa (Utah Provo Mission).

The Ulaanbaatar Mongolia District was organized on 15 September 1996 with Togtokh Enkhtuvshin as president. Seminary and institute classes began in 1996. The translation of the Book of Mormon into Mongolian was completed and distributed to Church members in late 2001.

Also during 1996 Church-sponsored humanitarian projects included the support of the Mongolian Scout Association, training of professional accountants, cold weather housing, teaching English, and relief for victims of grass fires.

On 12 June 1997 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve visited with Dr. R. Gonchigdorj, chairman of parliament. Mr. Gonchigdorj, who had visited Utah in 1995, thanked Elder Wirthlin for the humanitarian assistance the Church had provided Mongolia.

On 6 June 1999 a building in Ulaanbaatar, widely known as the "Children's Cinema," was dedicated by Elder Richard E. Cook as the first LDS meetinghouse in Mongolia. In 1999, membership in Mongolia was 1,850 in nine branches.

In June 2001 the Darkhan meetinghouse was dedicated by Elder Richard E. Cook, the first Church-built meetinghouse in Mongolia. In the fall of 2000 the Church began construction of the Bayanzurkh Church Center, a five-story Church building to house the mission home and office, service center, meetinghouse and CES offices.

Mongolian government leaders made an appeal in 2000 for international assistance, after a severe winter, followed by the worst drought in 60 years. In response, the Church sent three shipping containers of clothing and quilts, in addition to 8,000 food boxes.

Membership in 2002 was 4,358 organized in two districts and 21 branches. In 2003, there were 5,455.

In 2005, membership reached 6,735.

Source: Mary Nielsen Cook, "A Mighty Change in Mongolia," Ensign, June 1996; "News of the Church," Ensign, Nov. 1992 and May 1999; Kwok Yuen Tai, "Go Ye Therefore, and Teach All Nations," Ensign, Oct. 1995; Church News articles, 19 June 1993 "Mongolia dedicated for preaching of the gospel," 19 September 1992, "Six missionary couples to help with Mongolia's higher education," 22 February 1997, "Testimonies burn brightly: Mongolia," 3 July 1999, "Well-known building is first meetinghouse in Mongolia"; Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission website as of 2 August 2000; R. Lanier Britsch, From the East; Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission history, Church Archives.

Stakes — 1

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

No. / Name / Organized / First President

2832 / Ulaanbaatar Mongolia West / 7 June 2009 / Odgerel Ochirjav

Mission — 1

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

(307) MONGOLIA ULAANBAATAR MISSION

UB 49 Box 242, Ulaanbaatar 210349, Mongolia