President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, created the first stake in the Czech Republic on Sunday, May 15.
There are currently 2,500 members, one mission, two family history centers and 13 Church units in the Czech Republic.
It was also a homecoming for President Uchtdorf where he returned to the country of his birth in an area now called Ostrava in the former Czechoslovakia. The Ostrava Ward is part of the new stake.
“We’re happy to be here and be close to the Saints,” he said in a public affairs video.
The Czech Republic has come a long way in receiving recognition to allow the Gospel in the country.
When the German army occupied the country in 1939, regular missionary activity stopped. However, the Church was kept intact by a young convert, Josef Roubicek, who converted 28 new members. Missionary work continued in 1946 before it ceased again in 1950.
According to Church News, by April 1950 the members were prohibited from publicly worshiping or keeping regular contact with the Church for more than 40 years.
By 1990, the Church was approved for recognition through the efforts of President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy and then-Czechoslovakia District President Jiri Snederfler. LDS missionaries also reentered the country in 1990, which had 345 members.
Mormon Newsroom reported, “President Uchtdorf said for him to be present at the creation of this stake was truly a special blessing. He hoped all members would likewise cherish this historic moment. He promised the members that blessings would come by living the gospel, being examples of kindness, and reaching out to others.”
Hundreds of Latter-day Saints gathered at the Žofín Palace in Prague for the creation of the first stake in the Czech Republic. During the special worship service, the members sustained Martin Pilka as the first president of the Prague Stake.