Slovak-speaking Mormon congregation formed in Sheffield, UK
“This event is a miracle in itself, and a culmination of many miracles both in the individual lives of those who have served, and in the lives of those who have been served.” President Mark Dundon
A Slovak branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organised, Sunday 24th March 2013, in Sheffield, England. The branch, with worship services in the Slovak language, will serve as the fourth congregation in Sheffield.
English and Slovak speaking members of the Sheffield 1st Ward, from which the congregation of the new Sheffield 4th Branch was formed attended the meeting. The English speaking members provided transport to the meetinghouse for their Slovak brethren who, before they found a closer place to meet each Sunday, had to take multiple trams or walk four or five miles in order to get to Church.
The meeting, attended by well over 200 Church members from Sheffield, was said to have been a day of faith, miracles and spiritual power. Fero Dunka, from Slovakia, was called to serve as Branch President to approximately 60 regularly attending members. Three English-speaking couples, along with two single members, from the Sheffield Stake have been assigned to provide support as the new branch gets underway.
Mission President Jerel D. Lindley spoke on the historic formation of the branch. He said, “The Lord’s hand directs this work.” He commended the efforts of local Church leaders, particularly Greg Nettleship and Bishop Robert McEwen. He mentioned the faithful work of local missionaries, and the generous labour of the members of the Sheffield 1st Ward.
Stake President, Mark Dundon, who had previously served as bishop in the Sheffield 1st Ward, also addressed the congregation. He said, “This event is a miracle in itself, and a culmination of many miracles both in the individual lives of those who have served, and in the lives of those who have been served.”
The formation of this branch is an historical achievement, and is officially only the third ethnic minority Mormon congregation in the UK, the others being the Spanish and Portuguese branches in London and Bournemouth. Missionary work amongst the Slovak people in Sheffield has become a focus as numbers of Slovak migrants have increased significantly over the past three years.
In 2010 Ludovit Kandrač a Slovak immigrant who settled in the suburb of Darnall, Sheffield, was baptised. He shared the message of the gospel amongst friends and family in Darnall, and missionary work increased in that area. President Dundon, bishop of the Sheffield 1st Ward at the time, recounted, “One sacrament meeting a huge influx of Slovakians poured in… [and] my joy was full. They were led by a missionary who had walked with and directed them. [He] was like a little version of a modern day Moses.”
In the last year alone there have been over 30 baptisms of Slovak saints. On one remarkable occasion in December 2011, a Sabbath day congregation had as many as 26 people investigating the Church. President Dundon said the miracles in the Sheffield area have been a cause for much gratitude and rejoicing.
In 2011, as Slovak baptisms increased, President Lindley requested that a Slovak speaking missionary companionship serve in Sheffield. Elders Juráń and Šindýlek, both from the Czech Republic, served together for many months until Elder Juráń was recently transferred. They will be replaced by two more full-time Slovak-trained missionaries later this summer. The branch recently received the very first Slovak copies of the Book of Mormon, which President Lindley says will “greatly contribute to the strength of the branch and its people.”