The kidnapping of two LDS missionaries in Russia has not changed the church's commitment to proselytizing in the area, according to LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.
"This was an isolated instance," said President Hinckley, who leads the 10 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."I've been with missionaries all over the world. They do their work, some of them in high-risk areas, but this was an isolated instance," Hinckley told KSL-TV during a meeting with the press while he is in Palmyra, N.Y., dedicating two buildings commemorating the church's founding there in 1830.
Andrew Lee Propst, 20, Lebanon, Ore., and Travis Robert Tuttle, 20, Gilbert, Ariz., were going to an appointment March 18 in Saratov, Russia, that was set up by someone purportedly interested in the church when they were ambushed by masked men and beaten with wooden sticks.
They were held captive for four days as their captors demanded a $300,000 ransom. The missionaries were released Sunday morning without the kidnappers receiving the money.
President Hinckley said the church never considered paying the ransom.
"We have a policy against paying ransom. If we begin that, there's no end to what might be expected," he said.
President Hinckley said Propst and Tuttle are now in Frankfurt, Germany, being debriefed by the U.S. Embassy. The church has said the two will be reassigned to missions outside of Russia, but President Hinckley said other young men will take their places in the Samara Mission.