Reaching the Nations

Luxembourg

By David Stewart and Matt Martinich

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Geography

Area: 2,586 square km.  Landlocked in Western Europe, Luxembourg is among the smallest nations in Europe and borders France, Belgium, and Germany.  Wooded rolling hills account for most of the terrain, with more mountainous areas in the north.  Continental temperate climate prevails, characterized by mild winters and cool summers.  The largest rivers include the Sauer and Moselle.  Air, water, and soil pollution are environmental issues.  Luxembourg is divided into three administrative districts.

Population: 491,775 (July 2010)       

Annual Growth Rate: 1.172% (2010)    

Fertility Rate: 1.78 children born per woman (2010)   

Life Expectancy: 76.07 male, 82.81 female (2010)

Peoples

Luxembourger: 63.1%

Portuguese: 13.3%

French: 4.5%

Italian: 4.3%

German: 2.3%

other ethnicities found in the European Union: 7.3%

other: 5.2%

Luxembourgers descend from Celtic tribes which populated the region in antiquity.  Non-natives constitute over a third of the population.  Luxembourg experiences some of the most rapid annual population growth rates in Europe due to heavy immigration. 

Languages:  Luxembourgish (59%), Portuguese (13%), French (4%), Italian (4%), German (2%), other (18%).  Luxembourgish is the national language; German and French are administrative languages.  Most natives are trilingual, speaking Luxembourgish, German, and French. 

Literacy: 100%

History

Celtic tribes ruled modern-day Luxembourg until conquered by Rome in the first century B.C.  After Roman rule ended, local powers erected Luxembourg Castle which later became integrated into the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.  In 1815, the Congress of Vienna granted Luxembourg Grand Duchy status after 400 years of foreign occupation under Habsburg rule.  King William I of the Netherlands granted political autonomy in 1839, allowing for internationally-recognized sovereignty.  Perpetual neutrality was recognized by 1867, yet Luxembourg was occupied by Germany during both World Wars.  In 1949, Luxembourg became one of the charter nations of NATO and two years later participated in the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community (today known as the European Union) in 1951.  Stable economic growth and modernization occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century.  In 2010, Luxembourg was the only Grand Duchy in the world, ruled by constitutional monarchy under Grand Duke Henri.[1]

Culture 

Luxembourg shares many cultural similarities with Belgium, France, and Germany due to close proximity and adoption of foreign languages and customs.  Medieval castles and churches stand as historical and cultural reminders of Luxembourg's past.  The influence of the Catholic Church has waned as secularism has spread.  Cuisine is heavily influenced by France and Germany.  Luxembourg has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates worldwide.  

Economy

GDP per capita: $79,600 (2009) [172% of US]

Human Development Index: 0.960

Corruption Index: 8.2

With the highest GDP per capita in the European Union, the Luxembourgish economy is highly integrated into neighboring Belgium, France, and Germany.  Industry originally blossomed through steel production, but in recent years industrial activity has declined due to strong growth of the financial sector.  Services employ 81% of the labor force and generate 86% of the GDP.  Industry accounts for 17% of the labor force and generates 14% of the GDP.  Primary industries include banking, iron and steel production, information technology, telecommunications, and transportation.  Limited agricultural activity consists of cultivating grapes, grains, potatoes, and fruit, and raising livestock.  Primary trade partners include Germany, Belgium, France, and China.  Luxembourg experiences some of the lowest rates of corruption worldwide.

Faiths

Christian: 95%

other: 5%

Christians

Denominations  Members  Congregations

Catholic  428,000

Orthodox  5,000

Jehovah's Witnesses  1,994  32

Latter-Day Saints  291  1

Seventh Day Adventists  less than 200  1

Religion

More than 90% of the population is nominally Roman Catholic, which has historically been the dominant faith of Luxembourg.  The largest Protestant groups include Lutherans and Calvinists.  Many Protestant denominations have a small presence.  There are as many as 9,000 Muslims, 5,000 Orthodox Christians, and 1,000 Jews.[2]   In 2005, only 44% of citizens reported a belief in God.[3]

Religious Freedom

Persecution Index:

The constitution protects religious freedom which is upheld by the government.  There is no state religion.  Several religious groups receive government funding, most prominently the Catholic Church.  Several Catholic holidays are recognized by the government.  Students choose whether to pursue religious education in public schools.  There have been no reports of the religious freedom of others being infringed by the government or society.[4] 

Largest Cities

Urban: 82%

Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Pétange, Dudelange, Ettelbruck, Kayl, Mersch, Bettembourg, Mamer, Mondercange.

Cities listed in bold have no LDS congregations.

One of the 10 largest cities has an LDS congregation.  62% of the national population resides in the 10 largest cities.

LDS History

The LDS Church first assigned missionaries to Luxemburg in 1963 and created the first branch in the mid-1960s.  Prior to the discontinuation of the branch in 1971, church attendance typically consisted of six missionaries one to three members.[5]  The branch appears to have been was reestablished in the 1980s.  Over 1,000 attended a nine-day exhibit about the LDS Church organized by local members and missionaries entitled "The Origin of Man" in 1989.[6]  After 2000, the Europe West Area administered Luxembourg, which was consolidated with the Europe Central Area to create in the Europe Area in the late 2000s.  The Belgium Brussels Mission included Luxembourg until its consolidation with the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission in 2002.  Luxembourg was transferred to the Switzerland Geneva Mission in the 2000s.

Membership Growth

LDS Membership: 291 (2009)

Latter-day Saints numbered around 100 for much of the 1990s.  In 2000, there were 162 members.  Membership nearly doubled in the 2000s, reaching 194 in 2003, 252 in 2005, and 290 in 2008.  Only one year during this period experienced membership decline (2001).  Annual membership growth rates ranged from -4% to 19%.  Membership has generally increased by 20 per year, largely due to the immigration of Latter-day Saints as few convert baptisms occur.  Portuguese immigrants appear to account for a sizeable portion of Latter-day Saints in Luxembourg.  In 2009, one in 1,690 was LDS. 

Congregational Growth

Wards: 1 Branches: 0

The Luxembourg Branch became one of four branches in the Metz France District, which was organized in 1994.[7]  Luxembourg joined the Nancy France Stake in the early 2000s and in 2007 the Luxembourg Branch became a ward. 

Activity and Retention

14 were enrolled in seminary or institute during the 2008-2009 school year.  Active church membership appears to have increased proportionally to nominal church membership.  Nationwide active members is estimated at 100, or 35% of total church membership. 

Language Materials

Languages with LDS Scripture: French, German, Portuguese, Italian 

All LDS scriptures, most church materials, and monthly issues of the Liahona magazine are translated into French, German, Portuguese and Italian.  Most immigrant groups have church materials in their native or second languages. 

Meetinghouses

Sunday meetings for LDS members were held at the Hotel Kons in the 1960s and early 1970s.[8]  In 2010, Church meetings were held in northern Luxembourg city. 

Humanitarian and Development Work

There have been no large-scale humanitarian and development projects in Luxembourg due to a lack of natural disasters and high standards of living.  Service activities are limited to weekly service hour assignments by full-time missionaries and activities headed by local members. 

 

Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects

Religious Freedom

Latter-day Saints face no religious freedom restrictions.  Foreign missionaries regularly serve in Luxembourg and proselyte openly. 

Cultural Issues

Secularism is the greatest cultural barrier as most are unreceptive to LDS mission outreach and have not developed religious habits or routines.   Traditional adherence of most Luxembourgers to the Catholic Church can create challenges for some to join the LDS Church.  Mission outreach will need to accommodate those without a belief in God in order to reach the majority of the population.  Heavy alcohol use creates additional challenges. 

National Outreach

26% of the national population resides in Luxembourg city, the only location with a mission outreach center.  The two unreached administrative districts (Diekirch and Grevenmacher) account for 27% of the national population and have had little or no past LDS mission outreach.   

Distance from mission headquarters, a small secular population, limited numbers of full-time missionaries, and few convert baptisms have reduced mission outreach resources allocated to Luxembourg by LDS mission leaders.  Prospects appear poor for greater mission outreach with full-time missionaries.  Increasing local Latter-day Saint involvement in member-missionary efforts may help increase national outreach without additional full-time missionaries, particularly in the suburbs of Luxembourg city and in unreached areas in Diekrich and Grevenmacher.

Member Activity and Convert Retention

Few convert baptisms occur in Luxembourg and convert retention rates appear modest.  The number of active members has been large enough to staff the needed administrative callings required for a ward to function since 2007. 

Ethnic Issues and Integration

The large number of foreign Latter-day Saints creates assimilation challenges with Luxembourger members due to cultural and language differences.  However, the large influx of immigrants in recent years is a demographic issue which natives encounter daily and is unlikely to manifest conflict at church.  There appear to be no major challenges with differing ethnic groups attending the same congregation at present.

Language Issues

The large number of non-native members communicate and work with local members in French, German, or occasionally English.  Greater growth in active membership may lead to the creation of a Portuguese-speaking congregation.  There are no LDS materials translated into Luxembourgish, which has few Christian materials, likely due to the lack of monolingual speakers and few total speakers worldwide.  Competency of most in French or German reduce the need for Luxembourgish LDS materials. 

Missionary Service

Few Luxembourgers have served full-time missions and Luxembourg depends on foreign full-time missionaries to staff its missionary force.  At least four LDS missionaries were assigned in 2010.  Emphasis on institute and seminary attendance may help increase the number of local full-time missionaries and returned missionaries over time.

Leadership

The small Latter-day Saint leadership base continues to meet the requirements for a ward to operate.  Foreign members hold many of the callings in the ward, especially Portuguese immigrants.  The creation of additional congregations may not have occurred due to reliance of native membership on foreigners to fill administrative callings.

Temple

Luxembourg is assigned to the Bern Switzerland Temple district.  Temple trips occur regularly.  There are no likely prospects of a temple significantly closer to Luxembourg due to few Latter-day Saints in bordering areas and low church growth rates in the region.  

Comparative Growth

In the 2000s, Luxembourg experienced the most rapid membership growth rates in Western Europe primarily due to immigration.  Luxembourg possesses one of the largest LDS populations for European nations with fewer than one million inhabitants.  The percentage of Latter-day Saints in the population compares to neighboring Belgium and France.

Missionary-oriented Christian denominations report slow growth and no significant breakthroughs reaching the native population.  Immigrants constitute a large portion of the membership of many non-Catholic churches.  A large number of Seventh Day Adventists are Portuguese immigrants.  Jehovah's Witnesses appear one of the few Christian groups to attract a large number of natives and develop self-sustaining leadership staffed by Luxembourgers.  

Future Prospects

Prospects for future church growth appear mediocre due to low receptivity among the indigenous population, reliance on immigrant convert baptisms or new move-ins to increase church membership, lack of native full-time missionaries, distance from mission headquarters, and limited LDS missionary resources dedicated to Europe.  Member-missionary activity concentrated among the associates and families of local members may help reverse the many decades of low convert baptism rates.  Original and creative methods for finding investigators and fostering interest in the LDS Church among the native population is needed.


[1]  "Background Note: Luxembourg," Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, 24 September 2010.  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3182.htm

[2]  "Luxembourg," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127322.htm

[3]  "Religion in Luxembourg," Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9 October 2010.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Luxembourg

[4]  "Luxembourg," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127322.htm

[5]  "From around the world," LDS Church News, 9 July 1994.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/25332/From-around-the-world.html

[6]  "Luxembourg," Country Profile, retrieved 9 October 2010.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/country/luxembourg

[7]  "Luxembourg," Country Profile, retrieved 9 October 2010.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/country/luxembourg

[8]  "Luxembourg," Country Profile, retrieved 9 October 2010.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/country/luxembourg