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

Country information: Poland

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 38,483,000; Members, 1,552; Missions, 1; Districts, 2; Branches, 12; Percent LDS, .004 or one in 24,796; Europe Area.

On the Baltic Sea in east central Europe, Poland has a population that speaks Polish, and is mostly Roman Catholic.

At the close of World War II many Latter-day Saints in branches of the Church in Eastern Germany found themselves within the borders of the newly redefined Poland. Many ethnic Germans were driven out of Poland by the new government but some remained including members of the Selbongen Branch, a group of Latter-day Saints who had pooled their own money and constructed a meetinghouse that was dedicated in 1929 by John A. Widtsoe. Under the new government the town of Selbongen was given the Polish name of Zelwagi.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the first priesthood leader to visit Zelwagi after the war. Upon his arrival, more than 100 members and friends gathered in a quickly convened meeting to receive his counsel.

On 7 December 1948 government officials forbade public meetings in German and the meetings at Zelwagi were discontinued, but just before Christmas of 1950 permission was granted from the government so long as the meetings were in Polish. The branch continued until 1971 when the last branch president emigrated and deeded the meetinghouse to the government. The meeting-house still stands, but is no longer used for LDS functions.

Polish Latter-day Saints had intermittent Church visitors beginning in the late 1950s. Richard Ranglach, counselor in the North German Mission, was the first to visit in 1957. On 24 September 1962, William S. Erekson, president of the Swiss Mission, and his wife Jenne visited and brought Church manuals and other materials to the Latter-day Saints. Rendell Mabey visited on 3 September 1966 and organized a branch in Debnica Kaszub. He returned on 13-18 September 1967 with Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1975 and 1976, David M. Kennedy visited leaders in Poland several times culminating with the Church receiving recognition by the Polish Government on 30 May 1977. This recognition allowed the Church to own property and answer questions about the Church but not to actively proselyte. This prompted a visit to Poland on 22-24 August of that year by President Spencer W. Kimball.

The first missionary couple to serve in Poland, Matthew and Marian Ciembronowicz, arrived in 1977. In 1978, the Church purchased a small apartment and converted it to an information center that was manned by numerous missionary couples throughout the 1980s.

The first young missionaries, Elders Matthew Binns and Stephen Thomas, arrived in January 1988. Urzula Adamska, the first Polish missionary, was called in 1989.

The Poland Warsaw Mission was created 1 July 1990 with Walter Whipple as president. A meetinghouse constructed in Warsaw was dedicated 22 June 1991. Seminary and institute classes were introduced in 1995.

On 19 December 2000, the Church gave to Polish officials the famed Potocki Archive, which contains the history of a powerful Polish family. The records are considered a national treasure. The Church had purchased the collection from a Swiss document dealer in 1985 and housed it at Brigham Young University.

In 2002, membership reached 1,296.

Sources: Swiss Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; "New Branch Organized in Red Poland," Church News, 1 October 1966; Gilbert Scharffs, "The Branch that Wouldn't Die," Ensign, 1971; Douglas F. Tobler, "Polish Treasure Donated to National Archives," Church News, 13 January 2001; Werner R. H. Ranglach, Geschichte unserer Bruder und Schwestern in Polen, Ungarn, Tschechslowakei, 1960, Church Archives; Justus Ernst, Highlights of the German-speaking mission histories, Church Archives; Kahlile Mehr, Mormon Missionaries Enter Eastern Europe, 2002; Arnold Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 2000; Poland Warsaw Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives.

Mission — 1

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

(252) POLAND WARSAW MISSION

ul. Polczynnka 50 m 5

PL-01-337 Warsaw, Poland