This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
President Barack Obama extolled the twin freedoms of religion and assembly last month during a visit to Vietnam.
Now, the LDS Church will be able to more widely exercise those privileges in the communist country after leaders there extended full recognition this week to the Utah-based faith.
The move comes mere months after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established a Mormon mission in the Southeast Asian nation.
Mormon congregations currently meet in the capital of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to a report on the LDS Church's newsroom website.
"We look forward, gradually, over time, to establishing groups or branches for ... additional church members," said LDS apostle Gary E. Stevenson, who attended the ceremony with fellow apostle Quentin L. Cook and Gerrit W. Gong, of the faith's Presidency of the Seventy.
Independent Mormon demographer Matt Martinich sees opportunities for such expansion, especially with the new mission and non-Vietnamese proselytizers now being sent to the country.
"Ho Chi Minh City [formerly Saigon] in particular has excellent potential for many new congregations to be organized," said Martinich, the Colorado-based project manager of the Cumorah Foundation. "This city is much more receptive to missionaries than Hanoi. I know of a few cities where there are clusters of members waiting for the establishment of the church."
Mormon membership in Vietnam has been put at about 1,600.
"Our great desire is that the divine attributes of faith, hope and charity will strengthen each family and individual," Cook said in the news release. "May there be peace, prosperity and happiness for families and individuals across this great country of Vietnam."