Missionary work began in Kiev on 7 October 1990, as Elders Ivan Stratov and Brian Bradbury arrived in the Ukrainian capital, accompanied by mission president Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Austria Vienna East Mission. At this time, Ukraine was a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), but the “Law on the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” had just been adopted in Moscow. On 1 December 1991, the citizens of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly to proclaim independence from the USSR.
The first citizen of Ukraine to accept the restored gospel was Valery Stravichenko, who was baptized 25 November 1990 by Elder Ivan Stratov in the icy Dneper River at Kiev. Brother Stavichenko, the first ordained elder and branch president in Ukraine, led the first excursion of 22 Latter-day Saints from the former Soviet Union to the Freiburg Germany Temple on 22-29 November 1992.
Ukraine was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 12 September 1991. The Ukraine Kiev Mission was officially opened by announcement of the First Presidency on 3 February 1992, with Howard L. Biddulph already heading the Austria Vienna East Mission. On 1 July 1993, a division of the mission created the Ukraine Donetsk Mission under President Leo Merrill.
The decision to erect the Kiev Ukraine Temple, the first in the former Soviet Union, was announced by the First Presidency in the summer of 1998. By the beginning of the year 2000 there were 6,369 members of the Church in Ukraine organized into 59 branches.
[Year-end 2005: Est. population, 47,425,000; Members, 9,951; Stakes, 1; Wards, 7; Missions, 2; Districts, 5; Branches, 47; Temples, 1 announced; Percent LDS, .02, or one in 4,993; Europe East Area; Source: 2007 Church Almanac.]
Biddulph, Howard L. The Morning Breaks: Stories of Conversion and Faith in the Former Soviet Union. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996.
1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1998. 398.
“Temple to Be Erected in Kiev Ukraine.” Church News, 8 August 1998. 3.
HOWARD L. BIDDULPH
From Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 1268-69. Used with the permission of the Deseret Book Company. Copies prohibited by law.