LDS Church halts sending North American missionaries to Russia

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Greg Fessia
    Sept. 18, 2008 9:38 p.m.

    If religion is considered the opiate of the masses, that is because it is required to alleve the pain caused by the effect that institutions counter to the Lord's teachings have brought to pass.

  • Roman
    Sept. 15, 2008 5:42 p.m.

    Well, I am a convert to the Church in Russia. I just love this Church and I know this is true. Well, as for the visa problems, you know members in Russia are ready to accept the changes, we know we're not going to have anymore american missionaries at leats some following years, but we are ready to do the Lord's work. The missionaries were great examples to us, w ehave our testimonies and we have great russian leaders. Yeah, it is also kind of hard for people to be converted to the Church because then you have friends and relatives saying that you are not Russian anymore, you are a traitor. We face problems with some local leaders and Russian Orhthodox Church but we have our testimonies and trength to overcome all the obstacles and trials. We care about our american and russian missionaries and we know they Gospel will go forth =) And ow we know that we have to keep this work here, not the missionaries, we have to convert people and send our native missionaries. Yeah there are not many of us here, but we can do it.

  • TWarren
    Aug. 1, 2008 11:30 a.m.

    I served in Russian from 2000-2002. We went to Finland to renew our Visas. We only had to be out of country for as long as that took, and that was less than half a day. The Lord will take of the Russian Saints.

  • karl marx
    July 24, 2008 12:07 p.m.

    religion is the opiate of the masses.

  • NY Member
    July 18, 2008 2:39 p.m.

    When I read this story, my first thought was "Great! PLEASE send these missionaries to Brooklyn!" Missionaries don't have to go TO Russian to teach the Gospel to Russians. I believe that Brooklyn, NY has the largest population of Russians outside of Russia itself. Thousands and thousands of people from all over the former Soviet Union now live here in an area sometimes referred to as Little Odessa. Many of them still speak their native language and not much English. My ward in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn once had many Russian-speaking members and a pair of Russian-speaking missionaries, but when the missionaries were pulled a few years ago, that membership fell away. But we have a few Russian-speaking members who would LOVE to work with missionaries in their community. PLEASE send the Russian missionaries to us! Brooklyn is a field white for harvest.

  • Tellie
    July 16, 2008 9:22 a.m.

    What, are they afraid that they'll have rocks chucked at them in Russia now? Just because it happens everywhere else doesn't mean it will there. Give them a chance.

  • Peter
    July 16, 2008 7:27 a.m.

    Our Son was called to a Russian Mission. Last Sunday he was told about his reasingment with tears in his eyes he accepted. Whatever the reason he is willing to serve. By the way we live in Europe so it does not only effect North American missionaries

  • Not aimed at the U.S. or LDS
    July 15, 2008 10:23 p.m.

    The changes in the visa regulations were NOT aimed at the US and definitely NOT aimed at LDS missionaries. Russia simply got tired of their citizens being treated differently for visa purposes by European countries than the Europeans were treated by Russia. So, Russia adopted visa regulations that are essentially a mirror image of the European regime. The difference is (as it impacts LDS missionaries) that most European countries have a readily-available temporary residence permit, which has the effect of taking the missionaries out of the 90-day in/90-day out cycle imposed by the European and Russian long-term visa protocols. It is much easier for an US citizen to get a visa to Russia than for a Russian to get a visa to the US (the reason being that there is not much risk of US citizens overstaying their visa in Russia whereas the contrary is not true). By the way, contrary to what the article states, Russia is enforcing the limitation restricting days in Russia to 90 days in any 180 day period. That limitation, however, does not apply to the short-term (90-day) visas being used by LDS missionaries since the onset of the October 2007 visa amendments.

  • John Lambert
    July 15, 2008 7:44 p.m.

    To in the game,
    You may be right that these new regulations were not specifically aimed at missionaries, but I doubt it.
    You have to consider the long standing nature of oppression of foriegn religious dating back to the 1998 laws and beyond. You have to consider the protests against the church building anywhere. You also have to bear in mind the overbearing rules to register the church in any new area, and the constant denial of applications on the most trivial of grounds, forcing five resubmissions or more.
    It is not just the LDS Church Russia's leaders are trying to suppress, they hate the Jehovah's Witnesses as much if not more.

  • weird
    July 15, 2008 6:35 p.m.

    When I went to California all I had to do is dump out my fruit

  • Irrelevent
    July 15, 2008 5:24 p.m.

    This is funny, I don't even think Russia knows whom the mormon church is. Once again it is not all about you, there are far more serious concerns with this policy rather than keeping the mormon church out. I would doubt that the mormon church was even an after thought with this decision. How mighty you think you are! This situation falls very nicely into the mormon churches decisions to cut back on missionaries throughtout Europe due to floundering results and declining membership.

  • Many here site expense...
    July 15, 2008 4:58 p.m.

    as a reason why the church is not sending missionaries to Russia currently. Aren't the people of Russia important enough? Why all this worry about money to send missionaries to renew their visas when you have $1.5 billion for a mall in SLC?

  • Head on the Nail
    July 15, 2008 4:44 p.m.

    Re: John Lambert, again. I didn't complain. I pointed to examples where if we are not careful here, we may find a similar course as our friends in Russia. I appreciate the offer to study what the separation of church and state means, but I have already, and from that perspective, we already in Utah hit 2 out of the 4 negative aspects you point out in your latest post--the domination of an individuals conscience and spirituality. I realize you don't see it that way, or may not find it a concern. Others do, and to them it's not an academic issue, but an everyday concern. Anyway, thanks for the chat and for the record, I wrote "North State" street, not North Temple. The capitol is as far as one travels north on State.

  • In the Game
    July 15, 2008 3:46 p.m.

    Russia's new visa laws aren't really aimed at controlling immigration. They are being implemented for two primary purposes: One, to weaken NGOs that the Russian government sees as a challenge to its authority; Two, as a diplomatic move against the US due to strong disagreements over the concept of a missile shield based in East Europe (seen as a threat to Russian national security).

    It is likely that the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is becoming even more powerful, is fully on board with this move. Humanitarian NGOs, to include missionary efforts, are not viewed kindly by the Orthodox Church.

    While this may be a challenge to spreading the Restored Gospel in Russia, the Lord knew it was coming. If we continue to do our part, the Gospel will continue to roll forth.

  • jTo Head on the Nail(again)
    July 15, 2008 2:21 p.m.

    I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't possibly be frustrated about living among Mormons, with the influence "North Temple" might have on the way that they vote, run businesses, etc.
    The combination of Church and State is a much deeper issue, one that inhibits and even makes illegal the right of citizens to follow their own religious beliefs, or to develop new ones, thus dominating an individuals conscience and spirituality. There is much to this subject, and I suggest you learn about what the separation of church and state means and why we really have it in our consitution, on your own time.
    You obviously think you have something to complain about, and maybe you do. But it is not the separation of church and state.

  • Head on the Nail
    July 15, 2008 2:14 p.m.

    Re: John Lambert.
    Granted, the comparisons were not apples and oranges. However, again, the consequences are similar in either a state sanctioned religion, or one in which a religion still comes to extreme power within a state. Of course club memberships do not rise to equal a protest or jail time. But they are imposed on a religious minority nonetheless. Do you think what is taking place in Russia started at this chapter or do you think it took time and practice to attain such arrogance? I do not defend the Russian state or church, I merely suggest we look nearby honestly. I appreciate that you and others hearken to Ballards words. So many others do not. As they continue in that thought, and as they continue to gain power and abuse that power, then it really is time to look in the mirror. Anyway, was this visa thing aimed only at the LDS? I don't think so (Russia has far more serious issues with it's Muslim neighbors, issues ignored on this blog and therefore don't take it so personally.

  • Russian RM
    July 15, 2008 2:07 p.m.

    The visa regulations are not directed towards Mormons or Americans. It is an immigration issue only! There have been serious issues with illegal immigration from the Caucuses and other regions and the government cracked down on it. It is just like the same big immigration debate in America only Russia decided to do something about it, not just argue about it like our politicians do. It just so happens that it affected our missionaries too and it is no big deal it'll all work out. The Lord is in it all. Continued...

  • John Lambert
    July 15, 2008 1:58 p.m.

    I was remembering wrong. President Podvodov, the new president of the Russia St. Petersburg Mission, is actually from Ukraine. However he is from Donetsk, in the far east of Ukraine where many people consider themselves Russian. This area is the political base of those in Ukraines government who favor allignment with Russia.

  • John Lambert
    July 15, 2008 1:51 p.m.

    To Courtney,
    Your point is very good. What people have to remember is your mission was one of the closest to the border in Russia. I know people who served in the Novosibirsk mission and it can take 36 hours by train to get to the mission headquarters from some parts of the mission.
    On a different note, I just remebered that at least one of the newly called mission presidents was Russian.

  • John Lambert
    July 15, 2008 1:45 p.m.

    To head on the nail,
    To compare having free access to an inebriating substance to limits on missionary activities is the most stupid and insincere analogy I have seen.
    I have on multiple occasions denounced people who say that those who disagree with them should leave. One more time, please read Elder Ballard's talk about being kind to your neighbors. Please start living it.
    I also feel that some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric is just as bad if not worse than Russian attacks on foreigners.
    However I do not think that head on the nail knows anything about real oppression. The Hare Krishnas have a temple outside of Spanish Fork and I even saw flyers for activities there posted at BYU. When was the last time LDS Church leaders organized a protest against baptists? When have Provo city leaders met to consider what punishments they will inflict on baptist and other evangelical missionaries, such as throwing them in jail. When has a psychiatrist in Provo claimed that baptists "literally zombize people on the street"? All these things have happened in Russia with the Orthodox Church and city governments.

  • Bickertonite from Michigan
    July 15, 2008 1:34 p.m.

    "For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, OF THEIR OWN NATION AND TONGUE, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that HE seeth fit that they should have;" [Alma 29:8]

    It appears that the time has come for the native Russians to step forward and fill the ranks in these challenging times.

    "There are no great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet."

  • John Lambert
    July 15, 2008 1:29 p.m.

    To Vienna RM,
    Well your comments might explain why the church has consolidated the mission in Austria into the Germany Munich Mission.

  • Mom
    July 15, 2008 12:46 p.m.

    Thanks, Sushka for your comment. I have one son serving in Russia, and another called to the Ukraine. We were hoping he wouldn't experience the same visa problems as his brother

  • Harmonincal
    July 15, 2008 12:42 p.m.

    Remember what it was like for the Church in Communist East Germany? The Lord will find a way, and sometimes that "way" surprises us.

  • to natalie
    July 15, 2008 12:34 p.m.

    Thank heavens that God provides ways for us to learn and to grow, whey does someone feel inspired to marry someone and then that person leaves the church or gets into some deep sins? God has blessed us all with agency and things will change as a result of good or poor use of that agency. When there is a poor use of agency, then we that are involved need to make proper choices and sometimes adjust to changes. The people of Russia and the missionaries were prepared that one day the agency of this country's leader would change the situation. As long as the doors were open, the callings were made, and now that the doors are starting to close again, then the church is now adapting to it. There are times when missionaries are removed from a country due to wars and violence, but isn't it important to have them their as long as possible. There are people in Russia that are embracing the gospel, maybe that last Elder that was able to get into Russia will convert a future bishop, stake president of General Authority. But we have to respond to a country's agency and move forward.

  • Courtney
    July 15, 2008 11:21 a.m.

    I served in St Petersberg mission 2 years ago. My mission president and wife just got home and we discussed this issue. Although the Russian govt has made it more difficult for US missionaries to serve, the work will continue to go on and that is what is most important. I for one am glad. I know from first hand experience that Russians more willingly listen to fellow Russians, as well as Ukrainians, Moldovians, etc. It may even remove the stigma that the LDS Church is an American church. I think this is the way it should be. The Russians I met and came to love make great missionaries. They are strong in their conviction. Lastly, I know what it's like to travel to the city and take a bus to Estonia for a Visa. It is distracting to the work and the missionaries. This doesn't have to be a bad thing.

  • Josh
    July 15, 2008 11:18 a.m.

    I served in Samara from Aug 03 - 05. When I first arrived the current missionaries left once a year to renew their visas. About 2 months into my time in Russia they changed the law that you had to leave once every six months. Each of these trips consists of about 4-5 days outside of your area depending on how far away from Samara you were, and when the mission covers 3 times zones that can be a ways away. More importantly than the cost of simply traveling for a visa is all of the other costs involved. The cost of logistics, shuffling around companions while their companion is on the visa trip. If you think about a mission of 100 missionaries and you have groups of 15 leaving every 2 weeks or so there would be constant problems. Leaving your area for 4-5 days can be very costly in terms of relationships built with your investigators. To my understanding some of the Slavic countries surrounding Russia are not controlled by such regulations.

  • Alex
    July 15, 2008 11:01 a.m.


    "Why would God tell the presidency to send missionaries to the MTC to be trained to go to Russia when he knew that they wouldn't be able to go? "

    Because we need people to go there until they can't anymore. Knowing the exact minute when this would happen is not needed here, especially since all that needs to be done to fix the problem is to reassign them.

    A knowledge by revelation that we need to preach the gospel in Russia is sufficient enough of a revelation for me to move forward in the work. The point is that the missionaries go where needed. I went where called, and I'll do so again. I went to New Jersey and could have been transferred any old place. I served and was blessed for doing so. It wouldn't have mattered where I was sent. The Lord made my mission experience what it became.

  • AH
    July 15, 2008 10:47 a.m.

    Natalie, the scriptures, both ancient and modern, have _numerous_ examples of God giving commandments or revelation which does not immediately or always come to pass because of the agency or circumstances of men, women, families, and governments.

  • To Vienna RM
    July 15, 2008 10:41 a.m.

    Actually, the Church is in the process of lessening the number of missionaries in Europe and the eastern US and increasing the number of missionaries in the western US, Mexico, Central and South America.

  • natalie
    July 15, 2008 10:36 a.m.

    Why would God tell the presidency to send missionaries to the MTC to be trained to go to Russia when he knew that they wouldn't be able to go?

  • l
    July 15, 2008 10:12 a.m.

    This will be a good incentive for the local members to step up to the plate and see what they can do themselves. Native missionaries are always going to be better than foreigners if they're spiritually prepared enough, since they already have the language and culture down. This just may be a test of the Russian Saints and Eastern European Saints to see how they will respond.

  • Head on the Nail
    July 15, 2008 10:00 a.m.

    Re: Head on the Nail/9:17 You're right, I don't know what it's like to live in a small town baptist community. I miss the point, but believe it may be the same as a baptist living in Provo. I live Utah. Deep Mormon roots. Living in Utah is witness to as close a marriage between church and state as I ever wish to see. It's not superficial. It's real here and you know it. The degree may differ, but the techniques of imposition and the consequence of such are not different at all. Just read these posts each day for evidence of how many of us don't want any newcomers here at all and who want those who disagree with us to leave. Read how we delight in making it difficult for them to even move about (quick example, private club memberships). How is that so different, in the end, than what is taking place in Russia? In both cases they want to protect their own "purity" and power.

  • Sharon in Mississippi
    July 15, 2008 10:01 a.m.

    I served in the Russia Samara mission in 1994-1995 and found teaching opportunities as well as baptisms to be plentiful.

    The government was corrupt then, too, with an especially strong mafia influence.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that OUR government has gotten more corrupt and arrogant over the past 13 years in its policies toward other countries? Does anyone besides me see a possible connection here? What goes around, comes around ...

  • Sushka
    July 15, 2008 9:34 a.m.

    I lived in Russia and served in Ukraine. Honestly the registration betwen the two is like night and day. I used to have to make the yearly trip to Finland to get my new visa. I'm very proud of Ukraine for not doing this.

  • It's not the Russian people...
    July 15, 2008 9:26 a.m.

    It's the Russian government!

  • Alex
    July 15, 2008 9:17 a.m.

    From friends of mine, I heard about a missionary couple in Russia, actually Siberia, who finished with their mission there a few years ago. They came home and missed it so badly that they decided to return there to live so they could could continue to strengthen and support the members. (Kind of like Ammon.) This new situation make it difficult for them.

  • To Head on the Nail
    July 15, 2008 9:01 a.m.

    I do not believe you have ever lived in a nation that had a state religion, neither do you know what it is like to live in a small town southern baptist community. The comparision you draw between these situations and North Temple are very superficial.
    It would do a lot of good in this world if there was a separation between church and state. Not only in Russia, but India, Iraq, Israel, and some South American Countries,too.

  • eric
    July 15, 2008 8:53 a.m.

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the tensions between the US and Russia over what is going on in Georgia. Its almost like a mini-cold war.

  • To: Anonymous @ 6:52
    July 15, 2008 8:34 a.m.

    Your comments made me smile, thank you for your warm testimony. It's so true, every single new member to join the church is cause for rejoicing, and no matter what country the missionaries come from, the work will continue to grow in Russia and everywhere else.

  • Russian Missionary Mother
    July 15, 2008 8:23 a.m.

    My son is one of the American missionaries that has the priviledge to remain in Russia to finish out his mission. The church is growing over there. His district had 7 baptisms last transfer. He loves the Russian people.

  • Russian RM
    July 15, 2008 8:22 a.m.

    While I was there in Russia about 10 years ago, our mission's focus was to prepare members for the day that North American missionaries would not be in the country. We all knew it was only a matter of time before American missionaries left the country. The members have been prepared and will sustain the church.

  • Ryan
    July 15, 2008 8:21 a.m.

    I served in Moscow from 98-00. Even then, the visa troubles were ratcheting up, as were the registration issues. I was in the office for a time, and I oversaw the real estate matters for our mission. It truly became a ridiculous hoop-jumping exercise. I could almost hear the government fat cats laughing at us from across town. They'll get theirs in time.

    I'm also confident in the foundations that have been laid in that country. The local leadership is strong enough to continue on their own until these barriers are once again broken down. It was incredibly challenging, but I only wish I could go back a second time and do it all again!

  • RL
    July 15, 2008 8:13 a.m.

    Right on Anonymous!!!

  • Just a thought
    July 15, 2008 7:57 a.m.

    Russia needs the church badly, maybe they have enough internal members to pull it off themselves.

  • again
    July 15, 2008 6:53 a.m.

    No one stop north Americ miss. to enter

  • Anonymous
    July 15, 2008 6:52 a.m.

    )(Sorry for my English)Mission is a cacrifice. It does not metter how many money it takes, or time, but it,s worth anything. Human souls have no cost. (In Russia or anythere else). And missionaries are the same (awesome)wether they are from USA, Russia, Latvia or anywhere else. Gods work will continiue, I think its just temporale trials. As ussually. No offense.

  • just thinking II
    July 15, 2008 6:14 a.m.

    my son served in the novosibrisk mission about 6 years ago, he had a lot of baptisms. As many as i did in Brazil in the 60s. the Brazilian gov. stop north americans from entering Brazil in the 80s. they call brasilians to serve as missionaries and the work got a boost. now those missionaries are stake pres. and bishops and the church has more than a million members in Brasil. the same thing will happen in Russia. bring it on.

  • Adan, your kidding right?
    July 15, 2008 3:33 a.m.

    Hard to get into the US? Just look around you. A homogenious society we are not, not any where in this large land of ours. I can't go anywhere and not find foriegn nationals. I know your kidding. I live in Boston and I work with people from countries I've never heard of before I met my co-workers. They come to attend our excellent universities here in the Boston area and have no trouble staying. No one leaves every three months to renew a visa. And I'm talking legal aliens, not illegals.

  • Not a bad rate
    July 15, 2008 3:18 a.m.

    One poster commented on a missionary there in Russia who has participated in 4 baptisms in 13 months. I will tell you that is A LOT higher conversion rate than here in Oklahoma :)

  • Bookaholic
    July 15, 2008 2:30 a.m.

    State Religion--I don't think the evangelical right controls the Republican party. They might wish they did, but I don't see that they do.

    They are definitely a pretty fair fit as Republicans because they don't believe in offing inconvenient babies, they do believe in the right to keep and bear weapons, plus limited government, a strong defense, and lower taxes. I don't have trouble with any of those things myself although I am far from an evangelical.

    As far as what's happening in Russia, the problem is definitely a corrupt government and the fact that a lot of the population is stuck in the Russia of the past. I am heartened by the comments here by the returned missionaries. Hopefully, the natural-born members will step up to the plate, and provide the missionaries and leadership the country needs.

    It's actually astonishing to realize how few years back that teaching the gospel in Russia would have been completely unthinkable. Now, if the doors to China and the Mideast would open so people in those areas could find peace, too. I don't think it's simply numbers that matter. The gospel of Christ is transformative for the people, the country and the culture.

  • East Europe issues.
    July 15, 2008 1:32 a.m.

    I also served in Ukraine and have many many friends that served in Russia. I thought the visa regulations were tough in the UA. But Russia sounds downright ridiculous. What a difference was made in the 2 years that I was in Ukraine. The work was really moving forward. The wonderful Russian people will be fine. They've had a lot of adversity in their lives and this is nothing new for them. I'm sure it will prove to be an enormous growing experience for the Church in Russia and many strong spiritual leaders will come out of this.

  • Vienna RM
    July 15, 2008 12:08 a.m.

    I was in Austria during the 1980s. We didn't have any visa problems, but the conversion and retention rates were horrendous. Half of our missionaries returned without baptisms. This is true to one degree or another throughout Europe, western, central and eastern.

    I still don't understand why the LDS Church sends so many missionaries to Europe. In Austria, we had so many missionaries and so few teaching appointments that we would usually tract out an area every three months. At least half of the mission did not put in a full day's work because they just couldn't see the point in doing so.

    When people ask me about my missionary experience in Austria, I tell them it's a great place to learn German.

  • MoJules
    July 14, 2008 11:32 p.m.

    I can remember what a miracle it was to have the iron curtain down, to have these Eastern European countries to open the door to missionaries. But like many areas, the door may only be open for a short time and then closed again. I can see this happening in Russia, Putin is not the nice person he use to pretend to be, he makes me very nervous. Russia now has a foundation and if the work has to be done from inside, it will happen. Don't forget, this is the Lord's church and he opens and closes the doors as needed or when needed. Boy, I sound like the Sound of Music :) When I was growing up, if you had told me that we would have freedom to come and go in Russia, that there would be missionaries there, I know one family that sent three sons there, but who would have believed this? I think it is totally awesome that there are now 20,000 members there, they have come a long way and they will continue.

  • Missmom
    July 14, 2008 11:24 p.m.

    My son is currently serving in Russia as a missionary and is well aware of the cost of renewing a visa. His first trip was to Mongolia, then Estonia and now has to travel to Spain to renew his is an overwhelming cost to the Church...however heard from a mom who picked up her son recently from Russia and met 3 Elders, native Russians heading to the MTC and then back to serve in their homeland...what an awesome thing that is taking place. Great things are happening in Russia even if it seems otherwise. Glad my missionary is able to stay with the people and the land he has grown to love!

  • Head on the Nail
    July 14, 2008 11:02 p.m.

    Re: To State Religion/10:15 -- Russia. Greece. Check and check. But don't forget Serbia, Armenia, and other countries that have strong Orthodox roots. Telling members of that faith--the oldest and in their eyes the truest of Christian faiths--that there exists another "true" church is counter to anything they have ever thought or believed. To them it's laughable and heresy. LDS Missionaries working those cultures get a similar reception as do non-LDS here in Utah when it comes to religion. If you want to see the consequence of what happens when states and religions become too cozy, you don't have to go to Europe. Just visit North State Street.

  • Russia RM
    July 14, 2008 10:51 p.m.

    I served in the Moscow & Samara Russia missions from 1992 to 1994. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The Russian people are wonderful. I agree with the previous comments from "Served in there 14 years ago..." regarding the strength of the membership in Russia. It's unfortunate that these visa roadblocks are getting worse. However, I think visas and the church's status in Russia have always been tenuous. While I was there they had the attempted coup against Yeltsin with tanks firing on the Russian white house. We also had constant pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church as described by "State Religion." I'm just happy that the church is still allowed to openly exist in Russia. It could and has been MUCH worse. It is still a MIRACLE that missionaries were ever allowed to enter the country! P.S. It's wonderful to hear from Pres. Browning. He is one of the most wonderful men I've ever known. No one loves the Russian people more than Pres. Browning.

  • Kiev RM
    July 14, 2008 10:50 p.m.

    Anybody who says this is a conversion rate issue simply has no idea what they are talking about, and it's obvious they have never been to Eastern Europe (specifically as a missionary). The government in Eastern Europe is corrupt and still extremely large and controlling. This is purely a governmental issue. Nothing more, nothing less. Meanwhile, members in Ukraine will be enjoying their temple very soon!!! The Lord's work will continue to roll forward, even in Russia!

  • RM
    July 14, 2008 10:47 p.m.

    When I went on my mission some years ago, we had visa problems getting into Mexico. This happens in many places. I think that the trend is and will be, to keep North American missionaries mostly in North America, and have missionaries from other countries serve in their own lands. This only makes sense. They already know the language and culture and can become effective more quickly than missionaries who have to spend sometimes half their mission learning to teach effectively in a new language. This isn't a criticism because I've "been there, done that." It's just a reality. I served with all native companions, and they were able to quickly connect with the people we taught. This announcement may turn out to be a positive thing.

  • metamoracoug
    July 14, 2008 10:42 p.m.

    My son is presently serving in the moscow west mission. He has participated in 4 baptism in about 13 months. He has grown to love the people, but hates the regulation. If he leaves his apartment without his documentation he can be arrested. He was just yanked last week from his area because some governmental agency complained about a regulation not being followed. So, he packed up all his stuff and had to stood in line for an hour at the train station to trade in the ticket he purchased to go to Moscow the next day so he could get out of town ASAP. It was necessary for him to take a six hour bus ride through the night to Moscow where it was uncertain if he'd be able to return or not.

    Each transfer means hours in line waiting to fill out the necessary paperwork.

    The 90 day leave the country to renew your visa is expensive. But it is also very inconvenient because companions don't leave together. That means missionaries must be shuffled around to fill the in for absentees. That means bus and train fares, lost time for the work.

  • To State Religion
    July 14, 2008 10:15 p.m.

    You nailed it right on the head, buddy. It's the same with the Greek Orthodox Church. To many Greeks, changing religion is similar to changing their nationalities too. That is why Greece is so similar to Russia, in that regard. Excellent analogy.

  • Russian speaking missionaries
    July 14, 2008 10:05 p.m.

    still being called to serve in Ukraine (three missions), the Baltic states, and Belarus-so when the time comes to re-open the Russian visa process, there will be many that may be transferred back in to the various Russian missions.

    The work shall go unhallowed hand!

  • State Religion
    July 14, 2008 9:42 p.m.

    For people who have lived in the united states it is very difficult to understand that other countries have national religions. Think of the Church of England. For americans it would be very odd to think of "The Church of The United States of America" Russia has the Russian Orthodox Church. To many Russians, changing religion is similar to changing nationalities. You don't just decide that you're not Russian anymore than you'd decide you're not Russian Orthodox. The barriers to conversion can be very high. In the past several years the state has been moving from the ultra secular to the more religious oriented. Similar to the Evangelical Christian Right influence in the republican party in the united states. As the Russian orthodox church gains more political influence, the other churches face more hurdles to jump through in order to convert others. At least that's my two cents...

  • Idea
    July 14, 2008 9:28 p.m.

    Maybe Travis Hansen (former BYU b-ball-er) could go talk to Putin. He plays over there now and has been given citizenship so he can play on their olympic team. Maybe he should boycott until Russia fixes this...

  • Sarah
    July 14, 2008 9:26 p.m.

    You know, I was initially a little saddened after reading the article, but after the comments from the returned missionaries who served in the area, I'm beginning to see what a truly inspiring set of circumstances this could be. I appreciate those posters that helped show the other side of this, thank you.

  • Served in there 14 years ago...
    July 14, 2008 9:15 p.m.

    I served in Moscow from '93-94 (sister) and I remember when Elder Wirthin came and told us that we needed to find strong members that could carry on the the church in Russia w/out us in case the missionaries ever had to leave. Hmmmm....I'm not suprised by this at all. Also, I have a friend (from my mission) who works for the church in Moscow and she has told me that this would happen. Remember Putin and now Medvedev are both hard-liners. My friend told me that they have fewer freedoms now than when I was there. The members are great in Russia are AMAZING and they will do just fine! I have complete faith in them!

  • To Shuuurrre
    July 14, 2008 9:04 p.m.

    If this was an issue of conversion rates then why is this happening now? The number of baptisms is drastically going up, at least in the Samara Mission I know it is. You are correct that Russia in general has a pretty low rate, but that is no reason to stop sending missionaries from North America (which make up 80% or more of the missionaries in some Russian missions) when there is still so much potential in the country. The reason is the expense.

    It was very expensive and time consuming to send missionaries out of the country every six months to the Baltic Countries like was done in the past, I can't even imagine the expense to send them every three months to places like Prague. Talk to those who have been doing it the last few months and they will tell you it isn't cheap and it disrupts the missions. It's too bad that this is happening and that the Russian government is making it harder and harder. Hopefully the number of missionaries in Russia won't decline too much and those from European countries can fill in.

  • Jake
    July 14, 2008 8:51 p.m.

    Truth, you said a real mouthful,but what do you mean???

  • is it just me?
    July 14, 2008 8:47 p.m.

    I thought the goal of every mission was to have missionaries from their own area, language and culture. Although I doubt that there are enough Russian missionaries to staff all of the missions, isn't is a step in the right direction to have missionaries from at least the same hemisphere serve there?

  • Truth
    July 14, 2008 8:42 p.m.

    Any common sense would lead to agreement with To: Shuuurrre! | 8:19 p.m. July 14, 2008. Any other style of thinking is wrong and is proven so by its own statement of disbelief. To state that a group is false or lying without statistics, facts, intelligent basis which is supported still by other facts is only to condemn ones self. By doing this there is open acknowledgment of bias. The bias of refusing actuality to substitute with a pretended reality is proving itself false. It is a simple I am open... or I have already made up my mind about what ''I think' they are really doing...and by the way, I have nothing to prove it; I'm just right.'

    The logic not only proves itself false but proves that it is more likely an agenda motivated bias. Now more likely isn't enough to support a claim. I merely bring this point into context with the proving statement- your title. "Shuuurrre!", which shouldn't include an "h", alone by its modern sarcastic meaning, proves the agenda claim; which the elongated spelling defines the the audible tone required to pronounce the word this way.

    In defense of my religion and true intelligence.

  • Some thoughts...
    July 14, 2008 8:38 p.m.

    Elder Holland visited our mission in Ukraine in late 1997. He told us in very strong words that we were not there to baptize large numbers of people. Our specific assignment was to find and establish a strong leadership base for the future, and that rapid growth would only come after a generation had grown up in the church, served missions, and came home prepared to be strong local leaders. Ukraine is still very welcoming to foreigners and foreign missionaries, but it looks like the time may be coming to truly test the local leaders in Russia.

  • interesting
    July 14, 2008 8:26 p.m.

    Interesting. In my trip to Biisk, south of Barnaul, working for uncle sammy, I met a catholic priest who was trying to establish some catholicism in that area. The russian ortho. church was just plain awful toward the catholics. Awful.

    Apparently Putin has made more deals with the russian orthod. to save it any competition.

    and so it goes...........

  • BeenThere
    July 14, 2008 8:22 p.m.

    Do the math--There have been 20,000+ baptisms in Russia in less than 20 years. That puts the Russian missions way ahead of Western Europe. This has nothing to do with baptisms. It's all about politics, and the Russians are getting uppity. The church is very careful about entering countries through the front door. In this case, the entry fee is getting way too high. The same-day processing fee for an American to get a Russian visa is $300. Next-day service is $200. Add in the travel and lodging costs, and the ongoing visa renewals cost about as much or more than the ongoing cost of living. Visa renewals for EU citizens are half the price, and CIS citizens don't need any visa at all. If the missions can be staffed from those countries, then do it!

  • To: Shuuurrre!
    July 14, 2008 8:19 p.m.

    If low conversion rates were the criteria for sending or not sending out missionaries - then most, if not all, of European missions would not have any North American missionaries! Plus several other nations on different continents!

    I know of missionaries serving in some of the European missions, and if their success was measured in baptisms (or, numbers for the cynical), then they are unsuccessful!

    I also know of missionaries in Russia being arrested on the street, just for being missionaries! so it is not surprising that Russia is making it difficult, if not impossible, for North Americans and other foreign nationals, to obtain visas, and then fulfill the requirements to stay in the country!

  • jmg
    July 14, 2008 8:10 p.m.

    love the jonh lennon comment!!!!!!!
    now we know what other people has to go trough when they come to America.

  • Adan
    July 14, 2008 8:05 p.m.

    I would feel angry, but Russia's visa laws aren't all that different from our own. Russia, like the US, seeks to discourage foreigners from coming in.

  • UkrainianRM
    July 14, 2008 7:59 p.m.

    I think that it is sad the the Russian gorvernment is being so unworkable. I'm sure the Lord new this would happen and that's why there is a temple underconstruction in Kiev, Ukraine and not Moscow.

  • person
    July 14, 2008 7:14 p.m.

    If the church was taking missionaries out because of low conversion rates, they would just do it without saying a word and not cover it up with some loud announcement.

    July 14, 2008 6:50 p.m.

    I'm sure glad that in this country we have freedom of speech. It's always interesting to read the people who gloat, swagger and state their overbearing pride of arrogance. When there's a story about the chuch in the news.

  • Re: shurre
    July 14, 2008 6:50 p.m.

    I doubt the LDS church would withdraw because of a low conversion rates. Why do people insist the church only cares about numbers? They didn't say there won't be missionaries or that they are closing the missions they just won't be staffed by North American missions. But thanks for your negativity.

  • J. Lennon
    July 14, 2008 6:49 p.m.

    Imagine that there were no borders.

    Imagine a world that didn't discriminate because
    of where one is born.

    Imagine a world with-Out so much "Red Tape".

    I know i'm just a dreamer, but I'm not the only

  • Not Uncommon
    July 14, 2008 6:37 p.m.

    When I was in Croatia, we had to exit the country every three months to renew our visas. We were lucky enough that we had borders nearby we could cross and return all in one day. It can be a long process and take days, especially if there are no nearby borders. There are other countries where no North American missionaries serve with lower conversion rates than Eastern Europe.

  • Hermana C
    July 14, 2008 6:31 p.m.

    However, in other countries, renewing the visa does not require 3-4 days and the long, expensive journey. That's valuable time. I served in the Montevideo West Mission but was assigned to a branch over the river in Argentina. All we had to do was cross the border every two weeks into Uruguay and we could return immediately to Argentina with our stamped passports. So we would go to Uruguay for district meetings. There is a huge difference between the two.

  • Shuuurrre!
    July 14, 2008 6:21 p.m.

    Right- It's due to Visa problems. Truth is, other countries have the same hoops to jump through. The conversion rate in Russia is one of the lowest in the world!