Located on the Balkan Peninsula, Albania was the last previously Communist-ruled nation in Eastern Europe to grant proselyting status to the LDS Church and missionaries. Between 1967 and 1990, the Communists banned all religious worship. Thereafter the three traditional religionsÃ¢â‚¬â€Muslim, Orthodox, and Roman CatholicÃ¢â‚¬â€were reestablished.
The first Latter-day Saint contacts were for humanitarian aid: couple missionaries serving as doctors, nurses, and educators were invited into the country in 1992, following visits by Latter-day Saint general authorities. In that same year, young adult missionaries began proselyting activities under the Austria Vienna East Mission. Following government recognition, the Albania Tirana Mission was opened in July 1996.
Church membership grew rapidly to 500, and 6 branches were organized. After weeks of economic and political unrest, 31 missionaries were evacuated in March 1997, but many returned in September. Due to continuing civil strife, the remaining 24 missionaries were reassigned to other missions in August 1998.
At the beginning of the year 2000, Albania had 789 members in 7 branches.
[Year-end 2005: Est. population, 3,563,000; Members, 1,498; Branches, 9; Districts, 1; Missions, 1; Percent LDS, .04, or one in 2,545; Europe Central Area; Source 2007 Church Almanac.]
“Church Reassigns Missionaries Serving in Albania.” Church News, 29 August 1998, 5.
Mehr, Kahlile. “Frontier in the East.” Manuscript history, Albania.
1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1998. 267.
EDWIN B. MORRELL
From Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 16. Used with the permission of the Deseret Book Company. Copies prohibited by law.