Church History
“The Branch That Wouldn’t Die”
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Stories of Faith

“The Branch That Wouldn’t Die”

In the late 19th century, missionaries from the German-Austrian and Swiss-German Missions baptized the first Polish converts and established branches in Stettin (Szczecin), Breslau (Wrocław), and Sorau (Żary), all then part of Germany. On August 12, 1903, Francis M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, while traveling through the Russian Empire, stopped in Warsaw to dedicate Poland. Lyman prayed that the people “might there enjoy personal and religious freedom.”

In 1918, 20-year-old Friedrich Fischer was working as a warehouse foreman in Selbongen (now Zełwągi). Despite being happy in his career, Fischer had the overwhelming feeling that he needed to move to Berlin.

In Berlin, Fischer struggled to find employment and eventually developed an illness in his vocal cords that made it difficult to speak. Feeling lost and confused, Fischer prayed to God for the first time in his life, asking if he should just return home to Selbongen.

The next day, Fischer found a job in a factory in Berlin, where he met two women who were members of the Church. They invited him to Church meetings, and in May 1919, he was baptized. He was told that if he was faithful to God’s commandments, he would be an instrument in God’s hands. He immediately felt his voice return.

Fischer served as a missionary in the German-Austrian Mission and then returned to Selbongen to share the gospel with family and friends. At first, they rejected the message. Undaunted, he gathered the children of the village for a weekly Sunday School. Impressed with his diligence and faith, his family eventually converted and joined the Church. In 1923, missionaries arrived, and a branch was formed. Feeling that his mission was finally complete, he again left Selbongen and returned to Berlin.

After Fischer left, the Selbongen Branch continued to grow. On May 13, 1926, August Fischer, Friedrich’s brother, was called as the first local president of the branch. In 1929, the members in Selbongen erected a small meetinghouse. Fischer continued in his role as branch president for the next 16 years, serving the members in Selbongen during the dark days of World War II.