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The LDS Church on Sunday officially organized its first stake in Russia.
Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presided over a meeting establishing the Moscow Russia Stake. More than 900 people attended the session, held in the city's Amber Plaza auditorium on a warm, sunny day.
A stake is an administrative unit composed of numerous congregations called wards and branches within a specific geographic area. The LDS Church operates 2,926 stakes worldwide.
The Moscow Russia Stake encompasses six wards and three branches and is led by Yakov Mikhaylovich Boyko, the stake president.
The church's history in Russia goes back nearly 170 years. In 1843, church founder Joseph Smith called two men Elder Orson Hyde and George J. Adams as the first two missionaries to Russia. However, the 1917 communist revolution, and its atheist leanings, stalled establishment of the Mormon faith in Russia for more than seven decades.
In January 1990, following the fall of the Soviet Union, religious restrictions had eased, and LDS missionaries arrived in Leningrad. In May 1998, Russia formally recognized the LDS Church.
Today, the faith has more than 21,000 members in Russia spread throughout 116 congregations, according to the church.