Jan. 1, 2012: Est. population, 8,210,000; Members, 4,334; Stakes, 2; Wards, 13; Branches, 4; Percent LDS, .05, or one in 1,948; Europe Area; Alpine German-speaking Mission.
Austria, aparliamentary democracy located insouth-central Europe, is98percent German-speaking. Some 78percent of thepeople areRoman Catholic, 5 percent areprotestant with17percent comprising Muslim andotherfaiths.
ThefirstLatter-day Saint to visitAustria wasOrson Hyde whopassed briefly through Vienna on hiswayto Palestine in 1841.
OrsonPrattandWilliamW. RiterarrivedinAustriaon18January1865.TheyremainedthereuntilSeptemberwhenthey werebanished and returnedto London reporting that missionary workwouldbe difficult becauseofexising laws. Thefirst Austrian convert, Joseph A. Gheim, was baptized on 22 January 1870, in Munich, Germany, by Karl G. Maeser. The first convert in Austria was Paul Haslinger, who was baptized on 25 November 1883.Thomas Biesinger and Paul E. B. Hammer arrived in Vienna in November 1883and baptized a fewconverts. Fearing arrest,Biesinger wentto Prague and Hammer left Austria a few months later.
In 1899,an Austrian convert, Martin Ganglmayer cameto Haag am Hausruck and met Johann Huber, who was baptized on27April 1900 inMunich. Through Huber's influence, several others were baptized inHaag amHausruck, andby1902 a branch was established there.
In 1903, missionaries returned to Vienna as well as in several other cities. In 1909, Royal Eccles formed a branch in Vienna which was closed by police in January 1914.
BecauseofWorldWar1missionarieswere evacuatedand manylocalmembers enlistedfor militaryserviceleavingthe branches withfewmembers. Consequently, Church activity forthoseyearsdiminished dramatically. Missionaries returned in1920 andreorganized thebranches. Theyears between World Wars 1and11 marked aneraofdramatic growth forthe Church in Austria as the Church enjoyed full religious freedom and missionaries found people more receptive to their message.
Missionaries were withdrawn again duringWorld War11 and local members carried on. Full-time missionary work resumed in 1946 when Ezra Taft Benson established the Austrian District The Austrian government officially recognized the Church in 1955. In 1960 the Austrian Mission was created. Duringthe 1960s many meetinghouses were built and dedicated to holdthe growing branches. In 1965, the centennial ofthe Church in Austria wascelebrated.
In the 1970s, Austria became the center for fledgling Church work in Eastern European countries, including Czechoslovakia andHungary andparticularly, Yugoslavia. ItwasinVienna in1974where missionaries firstworked among Yugoslavian guest workers. AYugoslavian Sunday school was formed inJanuary 1975. To accommodate thelarge number of international workers in Austria, the Vienna International Branch, now the Vienna 4th Ward, was formed in March 1975. Austrians celebrated the foundingofthe first stake in Viennaon 20 April1980.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Austria Vienna East Mission supervised developing areas in Eastern Europe. During the subsequent difficult economic times in various countries, including the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, members donated food and clothing for relief.
TheChurch's 2,300thstakewascreatedinSalzburg 19January1997.TheAustria Vienna Mission wasconsolidated on1 July 2002, withthe Germany Munich Mission to form the Germany Munich/Austria Mission.
428 Deseret News 2013 Church News Almanac
ElderL. Tom Perryofthe Quorum ofthe Twelve, servingas presidentofthe Europe Central Area, joinedwithmembers in Vienna to commemorate 50 years of religious freedom in the countiy and official recognition of the Church granted on 27 September1955.ElderPerry'stwo-day visit. May 6-8,2005,included meeting Dr. Heinz Fischer, presidentofAustria, in the famed Hofburg Palace.
Membership In 2003 reached 4,038.