Scriptures in Estonian: Bible, Book of Mormon (Jan 2000)
Church officially registered: Apr 1990
First baptism in Estonia: Dec 1989
First baptism in Estonia: Dec 1989
Mission: Lithuania Vilnius Mission
THE CHURCH IN ESTONIA
There are currently 467 members in Tallinn Estonia District which covers the entire country. In 1998 50 new converts joined the Church. Today there was a district conference and the number was just announced. There are about 50 Melchizedek priesthood holders and about 180 people attend Sacrament meeting every Sunday. There are two branches in Tallinn and one in Tartu. One branch is Russian-speaking as Russians are the biggest minority in Estonia. The Church was officially established in Estonia in 1990, however the missionary work began in fall 1989.
This year seems to be very important for Estonian saints. In April the first issue of Estonian Church magazine will be issued (Called LIAHOONA), at the time before Christmas we are expecting the long-waited Estonian Book of Mormon (the translation process is completed) and our own meetinghouse (the construction should begin soon!) (the site has been purchased by the Church). In summer the translation of Estonian D&C and Pearl of Great Price should begin.
The Church is quite well organized in Estonia with majority of local leaders. The District was created in 1997, now there are two District Conferences per year plus Branch Conferences. Since April 1996 the members have been privileged to enjoy the broadcasts of two General Conference sessions in their native language. If you have any questions concerning the Church in Estonia, please do not hesitate to contact me. Brother Almar Pihelgas (Branch President of Stroomi Branch) has also created an Estonian web-page about the Church related issues. The address is http://my.tele2.ee/lds/ .
Erki Kõiv, Sunday School President, Stroomi Branch, Tallinn Estonia District
ESTONIA NEWS UPDATE - March 30, 1999
The long waited issue of LIAHOONA (the name of the Church Magazine in Estonian) has been published. Last Sunday the members in Tallinn and Tartu were able to pick up full-colored magazine in their native language. It features in addition to the regular translated International Magazine articles the local news. Members were able to get more information about the beginning of the Church in Estonia, as it will be 10 years this fall when the first missionaries entered to Estonia, get more familiar with the neighboring countries which all belong to the Baltic Mission, etc. This begins the series of blessings for Estonian Saints this year. In fall publishing of Book of Mormon and finishing the first meetinghouse are expected. Quote from the recent magazine: 'The Church is as strong as are its members. Members are those who bring Spirit, charity and warmth to the Church. Estonians have been throughout the history endurable and firm. This is how they look also at Church. I think that the Church will stay and grow mostly for its strong members.' - Almar Pihelgas, Branch President of Stroomi Branch.
Erki Kõiv, Sunday School President, Stroomi Branch, Tallinn Estonia District
Tallinn Estonia Chapel
Tallinn Estonia Chapel: Ädala 6, Tallinn, Estonia.
Completed: September 1999 Dedicated: 7 Nov 1999 by Johan Wondra
Photo Copyright 1999 by President Almar Pihelgas. Posted with permission.
TALLINN, ESTONIA - 25 Nov, 1999 by Erki Kõiv The Saints in Estonia have been blessed with new beatiful building in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The new building, which was dedicated on 7th of November can seat up to 160 people. It is the first building in Estonia that has been built up from scratch. It took approximately 5 month to build. It is meetingplace for two branches in Tallinn - Stroomi and Sõle.
This year will be 10 years from beginning of spreading the Restored Gospel in Estonia. First baptisms took place just 10 years ago. What a marvelous gift for that occasion. On November 5-6 there took place an Open House. Many visitors toured the building and got an insight of the techings of the Church. Among the visitors were also local journalists. The occasion was shown in favourbale manner by three local TV stations in their prime News program. The first time true story about the Book of Mormon was told. People watching the News were told that the nickname Mormons comes from the book, which is actually named after one of the ancient prophets, called Mormon. The biggest newspaper in country featured the new building along with brief overview of the Church and its beliefs (see http://www.epl.ee/artikkel.php3?ID=3&grupp=9&kuupaev=1999-11-05). Johann Wondra from the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy dedicated the chapel on Sunday, 7th of November. It was a marvelous meeting, many people with tears in their eyes. They had waited for that day for many years, it was unbelievable that we all stood in that building! Early members recalled that the Church had had so far 9 meetingplaces, what it had rented during these 10 years. Now we had our own House of worship. In dedicatory prayer President Wondra said: '... We pray that everyone at this place will join us in making it a center of love and of frienship, of an open heart and an outstreched hand...'
The first meeting was held a week earlier, when General Conference Satellite broadcast was viewed. There are currently about 500 members in Estonia, three branches are working in Tallinn and Tartu. 34 missionaries are serving in Estonia. To find out more, please visit the homepage of the Church in Estonia: http://my.tele2.ee/lds/
Copyright 1999 Erki Kõiv. All rights reserved.
I think everyone who participated greatly enjoyed the online Estonia
forum with Erki Koiv, one of the Estonian-language LDS church
translators, President Almar Pihelgas of the Stroomi Estonia Branch,
Andres Märtinson, and some of the early missionaries who served in
Estonia. Here is a summary of a few items from the Estonia forum, along with my personal notes [in brackets]. In the future, Erki Koiv will be organizing monthly online LDS Estonian-language chat sessions. We will do this for other languages, countries, and missions as well. Let me know if you have a special request.
ESTONIA FORUM NOTES
-There are about 500 members in Estonia, of whom about 20-25% are active according to Pres. Pihelgas.
-The greatest need of the church in Estonia: Obedience of members to the gospel, according to Pres. Pihelgas.
-There were 13 baptisms in the Stroomi (Estonian-speaking) branch in Tallinn in 1999. Retention among this group (as of December 1999) is currently about 80%.
-Erki also mentioned that the number of active members at church in Tallinn now is about the same as before his mission about five years ago. The majority of active members were baptized in 1994 or before. The membership 'on paper' has increased substantially, but the number of active members has not.
[Interestingly, I've heard this in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and other places as well, that church attendance is currently about the same or even slightly lower than it was five years ago. Except in newly-opened areas, most of the active members in many areas were baptized in 1994 or before. This is less true in some parts of Russia and Ukraine, and more true in much of the rest of Eastern Europe. Starting in late 1993/early 1994 there was a big drop in baptisms across most of Eastern Europe as the novelty of religious freedom began to wear off and national religions struck back at foreign missionaries.]
-There have been relatively few member referrals lately in Estonia.
-Returned missionaries and others interested in learning Estonian will be interested in the Estonian LDS international magazine, the Liahoona. One issue a year is published and subscription costs only one dollar. In the next issue there will be a feature on the Estonian translation of the Book of Mormon. To subscribe, visit www.lds.org and click on 'member resources' and then 'church magazines.' You can also call 1-800-537-5971 or 1-801-240-2947 in the US and Canada to subscribe to the international magazine in Estonian or any other available language.
-General conference talks have been translated into Estonian since 1996 [Eventually they will make it online to www.lds.org].
-There was an early Estonian-language translation of Gospel Principles. However, according to the Estonian members, this is a poor translation that is barely readable. [This reminds me of the Ukrainian translation that was done in 1985 for Ukrainian members in Canada. There are 5-10 typos on almost every page. It appears to have been typed by someone who was not familiar with the cyrillic alphabet. Missionaries who served in Western Ukraine have told me that members in Western Ukraine who hate speaking Russian begged for the Russian version of Gospel Principles because the Ukrainian version was so poor.]
-Other church materials are being translated into Estonian at the rate of about about a thousand pages a year. So far Sunday school manuals are available, but no church books.
-The Estonian translation of the Book of Mormon is due in January 2000.Apparently the translation was started in the early 1990s, then stopped for a prolonged period (reason unknown), and then restarted again more recently. According to Erki Koiv, it is a 'very good' translation.[Interestingly, the Polish and Czech translations of the Book of Mormon are said to be poor by many local members. The Russian translation is mediocre, while the Ukrainian translation is felt to be more faithful by many Ukrainian members.
-Several Estonian members commented on the irony that there are more Estonian members than Russian members in Estonia, although there is no Book of Mormon in Estonian at this date (12/99) while all of the core Church materials are available in Russian.
23.01.2000 TALLINN, ESTONIA
by Erki Koiv
The long waited volume of Scripture in Estonian (language belonging into Finno-Ugric group, related to Finnish and Hungarian, spoken by about 1,000,000 people) is published. The Saints in Estonia have been waiting for that day many years. Every year Christmas were approaching people started to discuss about the Book of Mormon in their native language. It has been a great achievment to read the scriptures every day in a foreign language. For most Estonian members the Finnish Book of Mormon was the source of their testimony. But there were many who couldn't really read the foreign languages. It is hard to imagine their joy!
Today at the Sacrament meeting Tarmo Lepp, Tallinn Estonia District President, read the letter from First Presidency announcing the Book of Mormon in Estonian. Following that he placed the first copy at the pulpit for use by the following speakers. That was a day waited for so long. people were thrilled with joy. At the special meeting held after Sunday School, members were encouraged to read it and share with their friends together with their testimony of it. Special testimony meeting was held, were many being involved in the translation process testified.
It surely shows that the work will move on in this part of the Lord's vineyard. The Estonian Saints are all thankful for our Heavenly Father. This was a special gift introducing the new year - year 2000!