Brigham Young University

India first received the gospel through Joseph Richards, who arrived in Calcutta in mid-1851 as a short-term missionary. He baptized four people James Patric Meik and Mary Ann Meik, Matthew McCune, and Maurice White and organized the first branch of the Church in Asia. William Willes and Hugh Findlay arrived late that year and early the next, having been called by Elder Lorenzo Snow. Before the early mission was closed in 1856, 17 missionaries served in India, Burma, Siam (Thailand), and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). They preached the restored gospel in most of India’s important cities, organized a number of branches, translated and published pamphlets in five Indian languages, and bore witness to thousands of British military men and their families. Although baptisms were relatively few, some families of converts immigrated to Zion.

In the late twentieth century, India was approximately two-thirds the size of the contiguous 48 states of the United States but had a population roughly four times as large about 1 billion. The Church has never lost interest in India as a mission field, but local restrictions and international events have made advancement into that nation difficult. Beginning in 1964, baptisms were performed as requested by Indian citizens. From then until 1969, when the administration of missionary work in India was transferred to Singapore, the nation was under the Southern Far East Mission president in Hong Kong. Beginning in 1978 Church-representative couples temporarily stayed in various Indian cities. At the request of citizens, they also taught the gospel and baptized. The Church gained legal recognition in 1982, although that status did not permit proselyting of the gospel by foreigners.

In 1985 young Indian elders and sisters began active missionary work in their own country, and convert baptisms became steady. In January 1993 the India Bangalore Mission was created with Gureharan Singh Gill as president. Between 1993 and 1995 a number of foreign elders were sent into India on tourist visas. The government stopped that procedure in late 1995, leaving missionary work to be accomplished almost entirely by Indian members.

At the beginning of the year 2000, there were 2,435 members living in 4 districts and 18 branches.

[Year-end 2005: Est. population, 1,085,264,000; Members, 5,951; Missions, 1; Districts, 3; Branches, 26; Percent LDS, .0005, or one in 198,105; Asia Area; Source 2007 Church Almanac.]

SOURCE

Britsch, R. Lanier. From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998. 8-33, 506-55.

R. LANIER BRITSCH

From Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 537-38. Used with the permission of the Deseret Book Company. Copies prohibited by law.