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Swedish Mission centennial celebrated

President Monson, Elder Perry among those who gather for 100-year jubilee

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — While 1905 was a busy year in general in northern European history it was a momentous year for the Church, as the Swedish Mission was organized on June 15, 1905. The new mission covered Sweden, Finland, Russia and northern Germany, with Petter Matson from Mount Pleasant, Utah, presiding.

In historic meeting hall at Svartensgatan 3, where Swedish Mission was organized 100 yeas ago, current missionaries gather for celebration of mission centennial. The building, which has since been sold, served for many years as a meetinghouse.
In historic meeting hall at Svartensgatan 3, where Swedish Mission was organized 100 yeas ago, current missionaries gather for celebration of mission centennial. The building, which has since been sold, served for many years as a meetinghouse. Photo: Photo by Hakan Palm

One hundred years later, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed more than 100 missionaries from across the Sweden Stockholm Mission in the same building in downtown Stockholm where the Swedish Mission had been created, commonly known to Church members by its address, Svartensgatan 3. President Monson was accompanied by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Barbara, along with five former mission presidents — Max Kimball, Bo Wennerlund, Arne Hedberg, Keith Ritchie and Gary Baugh — and their wives.

Sweden is the homeland of President Monson's grandfather and the parents of his wife, Frances, and thus has a special place in their hearts. Indeed, many of the early saints came from Scandinavia. A report covering the years 1850 to 1910 showed that at the close of the year 1904, there had been 16,782 Swedish converts, of whom 7,390 had emigrated to America. A survey conducted during the Scandinavian Centennial in 1950 indicated that at least 45 percent of the membership of the Church was of Scandinavian descent, in whole or in part.

The gospel was first introduced in Sweden with the arrival of Elder John Eric Forsgren to the city of Gavle in 1850. After his arrival in Sweden, Elder Forsgren contacted his brother and found him ill with tuberculosis. Following a miraculous healing by means of the priesthood, Peter Forsgren was baptized by his brother John on July 23, 1850, the first convert in Scandinavia. John also baptized his sister Erika and two others shortly thereafter, but was soon arrested for preaching unlawful teachings and sentenced to be deported to America. But before the authorities were able to find him a ship's passage, he taught a group of emigrants embarking for America and baptized 17 of them.

It would be almost three years before missionaries were again assigned to labor in Sweden. The next missionaries were Swedes who crossed the ¬Ěresund channel from Copenhagen and began laboring in Skana in the communities of of Skonaback, Malmo, Lomma and Lund in the spring of 1853. The Church continues to grow in Sweden. There are 9,000 members in a population of about 9 million, making it one of the highest densities for Church membership in Central Europe. There are four stakes, two districts in the country, as well as a temple in Stockholm, dedicated in July 1985.

On temple grounds are, from left, President Gosta Korloff of the Stockholm stake; Elder Eivind Sterri, Area Seventy; President Max Kimball and Sister Deborah Kimball, temple president and matron; and President Thomas S. Monson, Sister Barbara Perry and Elder L. Tom Perry.
On temple grounds are, from left, President Gosta Korloff of the Stockholm stake; Elder Eivind Sterri, Area Seventy; President Max Kimball and Sister Deborah Kimball, temple president and matron; and President Thomas S. Monson, Sister Barbara Perry and Elder L. Tom Perry. Photo: Photo by Hakan Palm

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