Country information: Slovakia
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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. Population, 5,463,000; Members, 139; Branches, 4;Czech Republic Prague Mission; percent LDS, .0025 or 1 LDS?in 39,302; Europe Area.
The Slovak Republic, also known as Slovakia, is located between Poland on the north and Hungary on the south. It includes territory comprising the eastern half of the former state of Czechoslovakia which was split on 1 January 1993, creating the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy with a population that speaks Slovak, Czech, and Hungarian. It is 60 percent Roman Catholic, 10 percent atheist, 8 percent Protestant, 4 percent Orthodox, and 16 percent other.
On 24 July 1929, the Czechoslovak Mission was formed with Arthur Gaeth as president. Most missionaries were assigned to labor in Prague and other cities which are now within the Czech Republic.
President Gaeth performed limited missionary work in a portion of Czechoslovakia now within the Slovak Republic, working in Bratislava in 1929. In January 1931, Joseph I. Hart traveled to Bratislava where he taught a family and may have baptized a few converts before his return to Prague.
After the democratization of Czechoslovakia in 1989-1990 following the communist era, missionaries were allowed to return. On 21 February 1990 the new Czech government officially recognized the Church, and on 2 May 1990 the first full-time missionaries arrived. On 1 July 1990, the Czechoslovakia Prague Mission was created with Richard W. Winder as president.
The first known member to live in the area that became the Slovak Republic was Valreie Ruzenia Fantiska Zizkova. She was born to Latter-day Saint parents and was baptized on 20 July 1939, just before the missionaries departed prior to World War II. She regained contact with missionaries for a brief period after the war, and then due to restrictions imposed by the government, again lost contact with the Church. She later married and moved to central Slovakia. It was not until 1992 that she renewed contact with the Church.
Other Slovakians were introduced to the gospel outside their country. Alzbeta Domotorova was baptized in Germany in 1977, and Pavel Pirovits, who had requested political asylum in Germany prior to the fall of the communist regime, also joined the Church in this era. Other influential converts, including Peter Vaclav, had been baptized in March 1991 after having contact with Church members in Moravia. His wife Hanka joined the Church several months later.
The first Church meeting in Slovakia in the 20th century was held in October 1991 at Trencin in the home of the Vaclavs.
David F. Backman and Christopher J. Williams of the Czechoslovakia Prague Mission arrived in Slovakia to work in Trencin on 29 March 1992. Among their earliest converts were Martin and Zuzana Blaskova who were baptized 25 July 1992 at Trencin.
Ten months later, on 24 January 1993, mission President Richard W. Winder directed the formation of the Trencin Branch, the first branch formed in Slovakia. At about the same time, a group of members began meeting in the capital city Bratislava. A second branch was created there on 11 July 1993.
In 1993, Czechoslovak television producer Radim Smetana and reporter Premysl Cech visited Salt Lake City to make a documentary about the Church for broadcast in the Czech and Slovak republics.
On 30 April 1994, a translation team with Marcello de Oliveira as coordinator began translating basic Church materials into Slovak, including the Book of Mormon. In January 1999, the book Gospel Principles and the pamphlet Joseph Smith's Testimony were published in Slovak. They were followed by the publication of a Slovak hymnal in March 1999.
In July 1999, the Slovak Republic president visited a Church meeting place in Bratislava where he received a Czech translation of the Book of Mormon.
In 2002, membership reached 110.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve blessed the land of Slovakia for the preaching of the gospel on May 12, 2006. On a hill overlooking the ancient castle of Tencin, he led a group of 56 members and friends to a clearing among the large trees. Growth has come slowly, said Elder Uchtdor, "but it will grow strong with a firm foundation."
Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Czechoslovakian Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Czechoslovakian Mission, Record of members, 1930-1939, Church Archives; "Czech Broadcasters See Church Close Up," Church News, 22 May 1993; Alysa Hatch, "Church Hosts Picnic for Diplomats, Church News, 15 October 1994; Gloria T. Wilkinson, "Diplomats Welcomed By Elder Maxwell to Festival of Lights," Church News, 10 December 1994; Kathryn Baer Newman, "Foreign Diplomats Enjoy Outing with Western Flavor In Virginia," Church News, 17 October 1998; Sarah Jane Weaver, "Finding Hope In Gospel Message: In Eastern Europe, Seminary, Institute Programs Thriving," Church News, 16 January 1999; "Slovakia dedicated," Church News, 9 Sept. 2006.