Göteborg, Sweden: A Second Harvest

    “Göteborg, Sweden: A Second Harvest,” Ensign, July 2000, 77

    Göteborg, Sweden: A Second Harvest

    In recent years in the Göteborg Sweden Stake, the Mattsson twins have taken the lead. Hans Mattsson served as stake president for several years, and upon his release his twin brother, Leif, was called as president. The twins have shared a similar goal: to lead the stake forward into a “second harvest,” a term they first heard as young missionaries in England.

    At the close of their missions, they attended a conference where Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. “In the middle of his talk,” says President Leif Mattsson, “Elder Hinckley looked right at us and said, ‘You are the Mattsson twins from Sweden who are soon going home, right? Let me say a few words to you that I want you to take home to Sweden.’ Then he lifted a glass of water and pointed to it. ‘Sweden has for many years been like this glass of water—not much action. In the middle 1800s when the first missionaries came to Sweden, thousands of people joined the Church. It was a great and mighty harvest. When you go home, I want you to tell the members that there will be a new harvest, a second harvest in Sweden, that will bring thousands of Swedes into the Church.’”

    As the Mattsson twins and others have served, growth has come to the Göteborg stake, which is located on the western edge of Sweden. “The Lord is leading this work,” says President Leif Mattsson. “It is time to get out our scythe and go out to harvest.”

    The first harvest began when John E. Forsgren, a Swedish seaman who accepted the gospel while docked in Boston, Massachusetts, was called to return to his homeland to preach the gospel.

    One of the early branches was organized in 1856 in Västra Frölunda. Today it is a ward in the Göteborg stake, and it continues to grow as the second harvest gains momentum. The active and lively group of nearly 400 members includes many youth studying to become engineers, doctors, or lawyers as well as many already established in their professions. Typical of the stake’s members are Marina and Hans Andersson. Marina is a chief physician in psychiatry at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and her husband, a former bishop, is a tax lawyer.

    In the Trollhättan Ward, the harvest is also moving forward. Elsie Hellsing Gren is thankful for finding the Church. “I felt something missing from my life,” she recalls. She asked her husband, Per, if he would accompany her to visit various churches. “One Sunday I attended a Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting and silently offered a prayer asking if this Church is true. I wondered if I would get an answer. As I looked at the speaker, his face seemed illuminated and he looked at the audience and said, ‘I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth.’ Tears filled my eyes and joy filled my heart. I decided then to be baptized.”

    “We have preached the gospel for many years in Sweden,” says President Leif Mattsson. “There are many people who have had some contact with the Church. We believe the harvest time is here.”—Erik Nilsson, Kungsbacka Ward, Göteborg Sweden Stake

    Map of Sweden

    Stake organized: 1977

    Number of units: 6 wards, 4 branches

    Number of members: 1,963

    Church Education System established: 1973

    Number of youth enrolled: 176

    Missionaries serving from stake: 30

    Temple district: Stockholm Sweden Temple

    Founded in 1619, Göteborg (or Gothenburg) is the second largest city in Sweden. Missionary work began here in the 1850s, and the Göteborg Sweden Stake was organized by Elder Thomas S. Monson in 1977. (Photo by Rolf Hägglund.)

    The Västra Frölunda Ward, of which these seniors are members, is the largest unit in the Göteborg stake. (Photo by Rachel Björklund.)