A recent news article in “Pritomnost”, a Czech publication, highlights the work of “Mormon missionaries” in the Czech Republic, and the remarkable growth of the Church there. It asks, “Why? What does the Mormon Church have keeping it afloat while many other Christian churches are sinking to extinction?” As soon as she gets over there, our Sestra Jones will be happy to tell them! :
“…statisticians predict that over 90 percent of Czechs will be irreligious by 2050. Membership in the Roman Catholic Church – still the number one religious affiliation in the country – as well as the Evangelical and Hussite churches has been steadily decreasing by half in each of the past three censuses. The promise of religious growth is looking miraculous to believers across the nation, except for those wearing black nametags on the pockets of their suit jackets.
These 20-year-old men (and women!) in suits are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints …the LDS Church is one of very few Christian churches that have, since their inception, steadily increased their membership. There are 14.4 million Mormons in the world, 2,300 of whom were baptized in the Czech Republic….
If the Church continues to increase its membership by 70 people each year, it could become one of the most widespread religious affiliations by the irreligious doomsday of 2050 with just 5000 members.
The big question is: Why? What does the Mormon Church have keeping it afloat while many other Christian churches are sinking to extinction?
… the LDS Church has been around longer than the recent media buzz and economic crises. Missionaries have been teaching in the Czech Republic since 1884, when Thomas Biesinger became the first missionary to visit Prague. Anthon Just, a man who testified against Biesinger in a trial that led to his arrest for preaching, later became the first Czech member of the Church. For the next hundred years, membership grew despite the rise of communism and totalitarian regimes, which prevented the Church from sending official missionaries.
According to President Irwin, many of the people who hold leadership positions today in the Czech and Slovak missions joined the Church as young single adults in Brno through the teachings of Otakar Vojkuvka in the late 20th century.
“The Church was not allowed to function during communist times, but the Church grew during that time much to the credit of a man by the name of Otakar Vojkuvka. He ran yoga classes, but they weren’t only yoga classes,” President Irwin said. “They would do yoga and then Otakar Vojkuvka would teach the principles of the gospel without the Book of Mormon. And when he could see that people were really attracted to it, he’d tell them where those principles were from.”
Those who wished to join the Church would go to the woods late at night and find a pond, where Vojkuvka would baptize them. The now-president of the Prague Branch, Martin Pilka, and his wife joined the Church through Vojkuvka’s yoga group. President Pilka then became the first Czech to serve a two-year mission…”
Follow the link to read this fascinating article in full!