Sunday, October 18, 2009

Javno Profiles LDS Church Membership And Activities In Zagreb, Croatia

The Croatian website Javno published a brief profile of the membership and activities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Zagreb, Croatia on October 18th, 2009. The English translation of the article is a bit awkward, but still informative.

The article also contains a brief historical overview of the Church. They even correctly state that the term "Mormons" does not represent the official name of Church members, but merely a nickname drawn from the Book of Mormon. The Church has approximately 500 members in Croatia. While most live in Zagreb, others live in the communities of Zadar, Karlovac, Rijeka, Osijek and Varaždin. The LDS Church Growth website also lists a congregation in Pula. Official LDS statistics indicate that at the close of 2008, there were 513 members scattered among six congregations in Croatia (does not include Pula). The nearest temples to Croatia are in Bern, Switzerland and Freiberg, Germany. The official history of the LDS Church in Croatia dates back to 1975, when the then-Yugoslavia first recognized it as a legal entity. An official Croatian language LDS website is available HERE.

The most famous LDS Croatian is Kresimir Cosic, who attended and played basketball at Brigham Young University, and subsequently became a member of the Church. Cosic returned to Yugoslavia to coach and to play on the Yugoslavian Olympic Team, earning a gold medal in 1980. In 1992, Cosic was appointed the deputy ambassador to the United States from Croatia.

Ana Hundrić, listed on the LDS website as the official LDS media contact for Croatia, was interviewed for the article. Hundrić says she was a Catholic until she turned 18. She discussed the language courses offered by the Church in order to facilitate genealogical research. They've even offered free car washes to the public in the parking lot of their chapel as another means to promote the Gospel, although there's no arm-twisting.

In response to the question as to why the LDS religion is sometimes stigmatized, Hundrić said that the problem is that the people still don't know much about it, so they assume it's all about a sect. They're afraid of the unknown. But she emphasizes that all the commandments and they way to live are actually the same for everyone.

Ana Hundrić also succinctly summarized the LDS belief in eternal progression in one paragraph:

A complete spiritual and earthly human life can be divided into a pre-earthly life after which we all go through - a some sort of "veil"; underneath we simply do not remember of the previously happened events. This is the moment when we come to our "completion and the fall". Afterwards, we have this earthly life in which we should believe in Jesus, repent, baptise, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and persevere until the very end. It's only then when the physical death comes to life. Afterwards, we enter the psychic [spirit] world where we possibly reach the ascension and the final judgment, reaching additionally Celestial, Terrestrial or Bodily [Telestial] kingdom
.

In the final analysis, Hundrić stated that the aim of Church members is to live life according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep the body temple holy by avoiding harmful substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and coffee, and refrain from sexual intercourse before marriage. Uplift the mind and the spirit through education.

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