Country Profile

United Kingdom

The first missionaries to go overseas were sent to Britain in 1837, only seven years after the Church was founded. A total of seven missionaries were sent, including two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the highest governing body of the Church). The group arrived in England on July 19, 1837, preached in Preston on July 23, and held baptismal services for nine new converts on July 30 before an audience of more than 8,000 curious onlookers. By the next week, 50 more converts were baptized. The teachings of the Church attracted more than a thousand converts in the first few years in the United Kingdom, despite mounting opposition from ministers and the press.

Between 1837 and the turn of the century, as many as 100,000 converts emigrated to join the main body of the Church in the United States. In fact, by 1870 nearly half of the population of Utah were British immigrants. Missionary work in the United Kingdom has continued to be successful in the 20th century despite setbacks during World War I and World War II. In the 1950s, Church membership in Britain increased as Church leaders encouraged new members to avoid further mass emigration and to build the Church in their native lands.

In the late 1950s, a temple was dedicated in London. In June 1998, another temple was opened in Preston, the site of the first preaching more than 150 years ago. Preston is the home of the oldest continuous branch (a small congregation) of the Church anywhere in the world, dating back to 1837.

In April 2000, the rebuilt Gadfield Elm Chapel, the oldest chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ in England, was rededicated by Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In July 2012, the historic Hyde Park Chapel in London has been rededicated after remodeling for worship services and as a visitor’s center. The building was rededicated by Erich W. Kopischke, General Authority Seventy and President of the Church in Europe.

The first official Church Pageant outside of North America was hosted in the United Kingdom in July 2013. The British Pageant titled “Truth will prevail” was performed in the grounds of the Preston Temple. Jeffrey R. Holland from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited the United Kingdom in June 2015. During his visit, he addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords. He also met with missionaries and spoke at a devotional to young single adults of the Church.

In September 2016, Elder Holland was invited by Baroness Emma Nicholson to participate and speak at a conference at Windsor Castle addressing religious persecution and its role in forced migration.

In June 2017, D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to students, faculty and academics at the University of Oxford about ethical conscience and integrity relating to his experiences as a law clerk during the Watergate trials more than 40 years ago. M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited, among other global church leaders, the United Kingdom in August 2017 to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the opening of the Church’s first mission to the British Isles. He attended the second British Pageant which was part of the celebrations.

In October 2019, RootsTech held its first ever family discovery conference outside of Salt Lake City, Utah at the ExCeL Convention Centre in London. A total of 42 countries was represented with nearly 10.000 attendees from around the world. Among the special guests were David A. Bednar and Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied by their wives Susan Bednar and Mary Cook. Among the Keynote Speakers were Dan Snow, British historian and television presenter, Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox and Entertainer Donny Osmond.

For Journalist Use Only

Malcolm Adcock
Europe Area Public Affairs Office
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)121 712 1161
Mobile: +44 (0)7801 685 258

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.