During a historic ceremony on May 31, government leaders in Vietnam granted official recognition to the Church in Vietnam.
“On behalf of the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members here in Vietnam and across the world, we express gratitude and appreciation for the official full recognition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and its Representative Committee in Vietnam,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the recognition event held in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 31.
The historic event was attended by Mr. Bui Thanh Ha, Vice Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs; Honorable Le Ba Trinh, Vice President of the Fatherland Front; and other distinguished officials and friends of the Church. In addition to Elder Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy represented the Church at the event.
Elder Cook said Latter-day Saints “rejoice that ‘an effectual door has been opened’ (Doctrine and Covenants 112:19) for religious activities of the Latter-day Saint believers in Vietnam, under the laws of Vietnam.”
“Many years ago, then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, accompanied by Elder Marion D. Hanks, pronounced an important blessing for Vietnam and its people. Elder Hinckley later spoke of ‘a silver thread, small, but radiant with hope,’ and ‘his certain faith’ in anticipation of this day,” Elder Cook said.
The decision for “the recognition for the Representative Committee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Vietnam,” follows other recent milestones for the Church in the country.
Earlier this year, the Church created the Vietnam Hanoi Mission from the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission, which for several years has included Vietnamese-speaking representatives who serve in Vietnam. Often called branch builders in Vietnam, elders and sisters in the Vietnam Hanoi Mission are continuing to strengthen local members and branches.
At a Church invitation, a high-ranking Vietnam delegation from Hanoi, led by then-Chairman Pham Dung, visited Church headquarters in October of 2015. And earlier, in July 2015, the Church helped welcome H.E. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Washington, D.C.
In 2014 Vietnam government leaders officially recognized an interim committee of Vietnamese Latter-day Saint leaders, giving them legal status to represent the Church in the country.
Over the years, the Church has also conducted a number of humanitarian activities in Vietnam through LDS Charities.
Elder Cook first met with the Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Fatherland Front and other senior Vietnamese leaders — including Mr. Ha and Mr. Trinh — in February of 2011.
“As the Vietnam press reported, I expressed appreciation for the attention of the Government and Vietnam Fatherland Front to the religious activities of the LDS Church in Vietnam. I introduced the history and development of the LDS Church. And I affirmed the LDS Church always obeys the laws of all nations and the law of Vietnam, promotes tolerance, harmony and social solidarity, family unity, while paying attention to social and charitable projects, and to the poor and the disadvantaged in many countries throughout the world.”
During the recognition event on May 31, Elder Stevenson said “there is much to be grateful for today.”
Church leaders are grateful for congregations that currently meet in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to the law, he added.
“Beyond Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, LDS Church followers live in several places across Vietnam,” he said. “According to the law and working closely with local Vietnam authorities, we look forward, gradually, over time, to establishing groups or branches for these additional Church members.”
Elder Gong said that some colleagues and friends during the event were also present in May 2014 when the Church and its Interim Representative Committee, chaired by Hanoi District President Hoang Van Tung, received recognition. “Thank you for today’s full official recognition.”
Elder Gong noted that the Church has followers in nearly every country and territory, and organized Church units in 188 of the world’s 224 countries and territories.
“In each country, we teach our LDS Church followers to honor, obey, and sustain the law and to exemplify the fine traditions and values that are shared by Vietnam and the LDS Church, such as respect for ancestors, commitment to family, education, honesty, diligent hard work, and service.
“I express again great appreciation for our friendship and deepening mutual understanding and respect, with a wish and prayer for your every health, happiness, and peace.”
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