LDS Czechs celebrate first hall

BRNO, Czech Republic — The first meetinghouse built by the Church in the Czech Republic was dedicated Nov. 11 by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Seventy and first counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency.

"Anticipation was high for both the open house and dedication," he said, "since this was the first building the Church has constructed in the Czech Republic or Slovakia. The building was full with members of the district and their friends. We felt a large outpouring of the Spirit. I feel this new building will help build a good relationship between our religion and the country."

"We needed more room and more privacy," said President C. Richard Chidester of the Czech Prague Mission. "We were able to acquire this land and build this beautiful building and we are thrilled about it. We know it is just the beginning of the growth of the Church here. It's one of the great indicators that the Church is growing and it is strong here. It will become stronger. We wanted to let the people here in Brno know how excited we were about this new building and to come celebrate this great event with us."

To promote the open house, missionaries from throughout the mission gathered in Brno in mid-October to distribute invitations. Posters were also placed in shopping centers and in public transportation. A sign in front of the meetinghouse displayed a painting of Christ and a quote by President Ezra Taft Benson, as well as an invitation to the public.

President Gad Vojkuvka of the Brno District welcomed members of the media Oct. 26 for the first open house. He gave a guided tour of the meetinghouse and spoke of its purposes. He also demonstrated the Family History Center.

Open house for the general public began Oct. 27. Some visitors asked if they could return on Sunday to "sit and listen."

The Brno Branch meetinghouse is the first of its kind to be built in the Czech Republic. The Church
The Brno Branch meetinghouse is the first of its kind to be built in the Czech Republic. The Church was granted recognition in the country in 1990. | Photo by Melanie Rasband

Dana Melicharova, a member, said, "We are very happy that this is happening because we know that this is the Lord's work and it goes forward. We know that in this time the people can come to know the gospel. They can learn how to talk to our Heavenly Father. They can be happy and that is the purpose."

President Vojkuvka recalled how the Church was recognized in 1928 in Czechoslovakia, but suffered slow growth during the Depression and World War II. Missionaries were recalled from Czechoslovakia during WWII. Missionary work resumed in 1946 only to have the mission closed in 1950.

He told how members could not live the gospel openly during this time, but his parents held meetings in their home once a month. Through the efforts of President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency, Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy and Czechoslovakia District President Jiri Snederfler, the Church was granted recognition in 1990. Soon, there were more than 200 members. President Vojkuvka said his children are now fourth-generation members.

The Czech Republic is a country with green hills and valleys, farmland and forests. Longtime members who have sacrificed much over the years express their excitement about the progress that is being made.

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