Historic moments for the Church in Ukraine

He was eyewitness to three key events in LDS annals


When Ivan Stratov received his call to serve in the Finland Helsinki East Mission he had no way of knowing he would become so much a part of Church history that his name would show up in the Deseret News Church Almanac.

Ivan Stratov, one of first two LDS missionaries to Ukraine, returned for the dedication of the Kyiv
Ivan Stratov, one of first two LDS missionaries to Ukraine, returned for the dedication of the Kyiv Ukraine Temple; he was present when President Boyd K. Packer dedicated Ukraine in 1991. | Photo by Gerry Avant

In the 2010 edition, on page 593 under the heading "Ukraine," the first paragraph reads: "The first missionaries to enter Ukraine were Elders Ivan Stratov and Brian Bradbury; both were transferred from the Finland Helsinki East Mission. They were accompanied by President Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Austria Vienna East Mission. They arrived on 7 October 1990 with a list of Ukrainian referrals. They quickly made enough contacts to gather 17 people for a fireside held in the Writers' Union Hall, where the first sacrament meetings were later held."

A second event in Church history in which Elder Stratov took part occurred on Sept. 12, 1991, as he stood among the 41 people gathered on a hillside in Kyiv (then spelled Kiev) overlooking the Dnieper River as Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve offered a prayer of dedication on the land of Ukraine and blessings upon its people.

Last August, just 20 years after he first entered Ukraine, the returned missionary traveled from his home in Australia to witness yet another major milestone in Church history. On Aug. 29, he attended the dedication of the Kyiv Ukraine Temple.

The Kyiv Ukraine Temple was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson on Aug. 29, 2010.
The Kyiv Ukraine Temple was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson on Aug. 29, 2010. | Photo by Gerry Avant

Meeting with the Church News after one of the dedicatory sessions, Brother Stratov looked up at the statue of Angel Moroni that tops the new temple. With a broad smile and a shake of his head, he expressed what he described as "amazement" over what has transpired in Ukraine since he arrived here as a missionary.

"When you see Moroni — his statue — peering across probably the entire city of Kyiv and millions of people here, when you see the wonderful grounds, the grass, the flowers and the trees and the wonderful people, you feel the love in their hearts, the blessedness of these people. To walk around this building brought tears to my eyes. I came around the side of it and just looked up at the very height of it and I thought, 'It's amazing this building is here.' I saw the Nauvoo temple get dedicated. To see this was something else."

Brother Stratov said that when Ukraine was dedicated there were 91 members who had been baptized.

"To hear within seven years that President (Gordon B.) Hinckley had announced that a temple would be built in this land, in this very city, was amazing," he said. "And now, just 12 years after that announcement in 1998 to see this edifice constructed and a prophet of God here now to dedicate this temple is really an amazing fulfillment. To think that all this could transpire in two decades is certainly wonderful."

Brother Stratov spoke of the day he completed his mission in Ukraine. "A man with a tear in his eye came to me and said. 'What are we going to do without you?' "

Brother Stratov looked around the temple grounds filled with hundreds of people and said, "This — this! — is what they have done. Just think how the Lord has blessed these people, how the strength of the gospel has just permeated their souls and led to this. As I see people from all parts — from Minsk, Odessa and Russia and other parts of the old Soviet Union — to see how this has come to fruition … I don't know if it is a dream or just a fantasy or a reality that has come true."

It is, Brother Stratov concluded, "a moment in Ukraine's history, a moment in the history of the Church."

To see a video of a Church News interview with Ivan Stratov, please go to

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