Church History
Iceland: Overview

“Iceland: Overview,” Global Histories: Iceland (2019)

“Iceland: Overview,” Global Histories: Iceland

map of Iceland

A Brief History of the Church in



Guðmundur Guðmundsson and Þórarinn Hafliðason, the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to preach in Iceland, were Icelanders who had recently converted in Denmark and returned to their homeland in 1851. After Þórarinn’s untimely death, Guðmundur preached alone for almost two years. In 1853, despite ongoing opposition, he organized a branch on the Westman Islands.

Although Icelanders continued to join the Church, immigration to North America sometimes left Iceland with no established branches. Recent converts often led the Church with the assistance of Icelandic members who returned as missionaries. Missionary work in Iceland was discontinued at the outset of World War I.

By the end of World War II, the Church had slowly rebuilt its presence in Iceland. US servicemen stationed near Keflavík formed a small congregation in 1945. In 1975, Byron and Melva Geslison were called to reopen missionary work in Iceland, and a branch was organized in Reykjavík the following year. The Book of Mormon was published in Icelandic in 1981, and the first meetinghouse constructed in Iceland was dedicated in 2000 in Garabær for the Reykjavík branch. A branch was organized in Selfoss in 2007. A third branch was organized in Akureyri in 2018. In 2023, a Spanish-speaking branch was organized in Reykjavík.

Although the number of Church members in Iceland remains small, Icelandic Saints form a close-knit community and recognize that “the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:110).

Quick Facts

  • Official Name: Iceland/Ísland

  • Capital: Reykjavík

  • Largest City: Reykjavík

  • Official Languages: Icelandic

  • Land Area: 102,775 km2 (39,682 mi2)

  • Church Area: Europe

  • Missions: 1 (Part of the Denmark Copenhagen Mission)

  • Congregations: 4