A new meetinghouse located on a busy street corner in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is helping the Church become better known and understood. The stately structure is a firm declaration that the Church has a promising future in this Balkan country.
Members of the Church in the Balkan country of Slovenia are enjoying a season of interest and friendship among their countrymen since the dedication in September of the Church's first meetinghouse in Ljubljana, and an open house a month later.
Missionaries report that people they contact recognize them from the variety of media broadcasts highlighting the new meetinghouse, said Dora Cimerman, national director of public affairs for the Church in Slovenia.
The two-day open house held Oct. 17-18 welcomed 418 visitors that included the mayor and about 30 other civic and community leaders, as well as 19 media representatives. Thirty visitors requested missionary visits, while other friends of members attended sacrament meeting the next day.
This first meetinghouse in Slovenia is a stately building reflecting local architectural designs. It is situated on a busy street corner where, Church leaders say, it is becoming recognized as a landmark in the city.
"The meetinghouse is helping bring the Church out of obscurity and is impressing the residents of Ljubljana that the Church is an earnest religion," said Sister Cimerman.
In addition to a chapel, classrooms and offices, the facility also houses the Outreach Center for young single adults and the Family History Center.
Elder Eivind Sterri, an Area Seventy from Norway, dedicated the building Sept. 21 at the conclusion of the district conference. Others attending were: President David Henry Hill of the Slovenia/Croatia Mission, and his wife, Dana; President Matjaz Juhart, current district president; a former mission president, Kenneth D. Reber (1991-93) and his wife, Janet; and Albin Lotric, the first member of the Church in Slovenia and former president of the Ljubljana Branch and former district president, with his wife, Boza.
Growth in the Church has been painstakingly slow since the first missionaries arrived in March 1990. Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in the summer of 1991 after a tense 10-day war. A few months later, on Dec. 22, 1991, the first branch was organized.
From this humble beginning of 10 members, Church membership has grown to more than 180 in Ljubljana and 380 throughout the country.
"I feel so happy and lucky because of the tender blessings of Heavenly Father," said District President Matjaz Juhart. "Wishes and prayers of many past years have been answered since the establishment of the first branch in Slovenia. I attended that meeting as a guest an investigator. I was baptized about a month later, on January 25, 1992." Shaun Stahle