Highlights of the Church in Scandinavia

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“Highlights of the Church in Scandinavia,” Ensign, July 1974, 48

Highlights of the Church in Scandinavia


The “Konventikel Edict” in Sweden forbids all religious gatherings except those of the Protestant Lutheran State Church.


The Swedish Constitution grants freedom to organize dissenter sects if they are recognized and approved by the government.


Several Danes join the Church in Boston.


The Danish Constitution, Signed by King Frederik VII, guarantees religious freedom. Elders Erastus Snow (Council of the Twelve) and Peter O. Hansen are called to open the Scandinavian Mission in Denmark. John Erik Forsgren volunteers to accompany them and preach in his native Sweden. He is arrested several times and finally deported.


9,854 people are baptized in Scandinavian Mission; about 25 percent (2,357) emigrate to Utah.


Fifteen men and women, including two Swedes, are baptized in Denmark in August. In September, the first branch is organized with 50 members.


In Denmark, the Bornholm Branch is organized, the Copenhagen Branch is divided. The Book of Mormon is translated into Danish, first translation of modern scriptures into a non-English tongue. On New Year’s Day, Christian Christensen becomes the first to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in the mission. First issue of the LDS periodical Skandinaviens Stjerne is published. In September, Elder Hans F. Petersen embarks for Norway with a Norwegian sea captain, Svend Larsen, whom he baptized in Denmark—first Norwegian baptized in Europe. First baptisms in Norway are performed in November.


Two American elders reach Norway, baptize six persons in June, organize the Oesterrisoer Branch with 18 members, first branch in Norway, in July. The next week they organize the Fredrikstad Branch. Some missionaries are arrested and imprisoned for several months. Scandinavians begin to join the Church in considerable numbers.


First Mormon emigrants leave Denmark and Sweden.


The first branches in Sweden are organized in Skåne. Of the 1,331 Saints in the Scandinavian Mission 1,133 are Danes, 88 Norwegians, and 106 Swedes. Christiania (Oslo) Branch formed in Norway. First Norwegian company of Saints emigrates to Utah.


Because they had taken an oath not to perform gospel ordinances until their court cases were settled, two elders witness baptisms of four converts in Drammen, Norway, by Hans Larsen, who walked 100 miles to perform the ordinances. That fall, a company of emigrating Scandinavian Saints is reduced from 680 to 500 by cholera and the rigors of travel.


A four-day conference for the Scandinavian Mission; police oppression in Sweden softens.


The Halden Branch is organized in Norway. Law of the tithe is introduced to Scandinavia.


A number of Scandinavian Saints are rebaptized in symbol of greater commitment. The mission numbers 3,353 Saints: 2,317 Danes, 726 Swedes, and 310 Norwegians. There are 623 baptisms this year. The Trondheim Branch, Norway, is organized.


The Bergen Branch, Norway, is organized. Swedish clergy and police receive royal authority to break up gatherings of dissenters. Second Danish edition of the Book of Mormon is published.


Out of 12,887 converts in Scandinavia, approximately half (6,153) emigrate.


Members number 1,000 in the Scandinavian Mission; 36 branches and five districts are organized.


First Danish Sunday School is organized in Copenhagen.


Church buys first European real estate in Oslo. Part of building dedicated as chapel. The building was replaced in 1903.


Two local elders are assigned to work in Finland from the Stockholm Conference, John E. Sundstrom, president, and I. J. Sundstrom, assistant.


First elder from Utah is called on a Finnish mission.


Missionaries are banished from Finland. Another elder is assigned to continue the work, falls ill, returns to Utah.


Elder is sent from Sweden to Finland. The first Danish Relief Society and YMMIA are organized.


Elders are forbidden to preach in Norway and are banished from several villages. Russian authorities confiscate books and pamphlets in Finland.


Elder Joseph R. Linvall of Paris, Idaho, is assigned to preach in Finland. Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association is introduced in Norway.


First Danish YWMIA is organized.


No Mormon literature is allowed in Finland. Only wrappers of Nordstjarnan, the Swedish LDS newspaper, are forwarded by postal authorities.


Stockholm District becomes the largest in Scandinavia, a distinction it still holds.


Elder John Berg of Santaquin, Utah, is sent to Finland. After he completes his mission in 1889, it is many years before other elders are assigned to Finland.


Church Historian Andrew Jenson, visiting Stockholm, finds that the Brethren know little of the Saints in Finland. Two Swedish missionaries ordain a priest in Finland so the Saints can partake of the sacrament.


Three districts are formed in Norway: Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim.


A missionary visiting the 12 Saints in Finland is denied permission to preach the gospel.


Elder Francis M. Lyman (Council of the Twelve) dedicates Finland for preaching the gospel.


Swedish Mission is organized, consisting of Finland, Russia, and Sweden. First Swedish chapel acquired in Stockholm.


First European chapel is constructed in Aalborg, Denmark.


Denmark and Norway have their best year for baptisms, converting 410. Swedish government presents a 3,000-page investigation of Mormon emigration, indicting the Church for propaganda and “white slave trade.” The Church is forbidden to advertise in newspapers and is designated as non-Christian. First Presidency publishes a Swedish hymnbook containing 209 songs.


Mission president Andreas Peterson petitions King Gustav V of Sweden in January. The King asks for a Book of Mormon. In October, four elders are given 48 hours to leave Sweden.


Intense persecution in Sweden: government appropriates 8,000 crowns to counter proselyting; the General Swedish Ministerial Association urges the deportation of Mormon leaders and strong action against native Swedes engaged in proselyting. Parliament debates the “Mormon question” of polygamy and emigration, a debate that continues for three years. The Church calls a special day of fasting and prayer.


Elder Ezra T. Benson (Council of the Twelve) holds meetings in four districts, urging the Saints to “love your enemies. …” (Matt. 5:44.)


At the outbreak of World War I, 37 missionaries are sent home. Local members replace them and continue working with the 18 missionaries who remain.


The appropriation to combat Mormonism in Sweden is cancelled. A sensational lecturer against Mormonism is rebuked in Parliament. Missionaries renew activities.


Anders P. Anderson, a missionary of one year, becomes Swedish Mission president with fewer than 20 missionaries. These missionaries distribute 169,000 tracts, visit 190,000 new homes, hold 10,000 gospel discussions, and convert 83 members.


Theodor Tobiason serves simultaneously as branch, district, and mission president due to lack of leadership in the mission.


Mormon missionaries denied Swedish visas. The Danish and Norwegian missions are organized from the Scandinavian Mission.


Stockholm Branch presidency appeals to the king for visas for missionaries. American ambassador to Sweden offers to pay expenses for a government investigation of Mormonism; offer is declined.


U.S. Ambassador to Sweden protests the no-visa policy.


Swedish no-visa policy is repealed.


Primary is organized in Sweden.


Primaries are organized in three Norwegian branches. Youth from seven districts attend first mission-wide Church Youth Conference in Stockholm.


Outbreak of World War II. Missionaries are evacuated. Local members Olaf Sonsteby in Norway and Orson B. West in Denmark become mission presidents. C. Fritz Johannsson, missionary for 10 months in Sweden, is set apart as mission president. Missionary work continues throughout the war; tithing increases by 300 percent in Sweden.


Denmark, Norway, and Finland are occupied by German troops. Swedish Saints send food and clothing.


Victor Berg is appointed president of Finland Branch; Genealogical Society is formed in Finland.


Finnish Sunday School is officially organized.


Finnish Relief Society is organized. Conference is held in Malmö, Sweden, a few weeks after the war’s end.


Nordic Conference held in Göteborg; Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes attend. European Mission President Ezra Taft Benson rededicates Finland to the preaching of the gospel. Total of eight missionaries in Finland before the year’s end; the first post-war baptism is held in November in Helsinki.


Helsinki Branch is organized with 60 members.


Finnish Mission is organized.


128 members and 41 full-time missionaries are in Finland.


165 missionaries are in Sweden, highest in history of the Swedish Mission.


Law of religious freedom is passed in Sweden. President and Sister David O. McKay visit the Swedish Saints. Finnish Mission president Henry A. Matis serves as attaché for the U.S. Olympic Committee; missionaries serve as guides and interpreters for the U.S. Olympic Team.


Phileon B. Robinson, Jr., former missionary, returns as mission president, now Regional Representative for Finland.


Tabernacle Choir sings in Copenhagen.


LeGrand Richards (Council of the Twelve) speaks to over 500 youth at youth conference.


First building missionaries erect chapel in Gubbangen, first chapel in Sweden in over 100 years.


Funen-Jutland district is organized in Denmark. Dean A. Peterson, now Regional Representative for Norway, is called as its mission president. Danish Branch is organized in Salt Lake City.


Joint Denmark-Norway-Sweden youth festival, “Festinord,” lasting four days and featuring drama, music, dance, and testimonies. Brigham Young University Folkdancers tour Denmark; also 1966, 1967.


20,747 copies of the Swedish Book of Mormon are sold.


“Festinord” is held, including all four countries. Over 600 attend. Don L. Christensen, now Regional Representative to Denmark, is called to preside over Danish Mission. Reid H. Johnson, now Regional Representative to Sweden, is called over Swedish Mission.


Danish Mission president receives official permission to perform marriages.


Permission granted by government of Faroe Islands in Denmark to microfilm records for Genealogical Society. Patriarch Eldred G. Smith gives 75 patriarchal blessings in Denmark.


Fourth Area Conference of the Church to be held in Stockholm. Church members number more than 15,600.

Danish Sunday School on an outing in 1911.

First Swedish hymnal, 1910.

Norwegian Latter-day Saints make tailoring a family business near the turn of the century.

1880 Copenhagen missionary conference. Andrew Jenson, later Church historian, seated at left.

Coin from Russian-occupied Finland, 1899.

First LDS chapel in Finland (Larsmo Branch), no longer in use.

Danish LDS youth in popular Russian folkdance.