A delegation headed by Vietnam’s Committee for Religious Affairs was in Utah this week, meeting with members of the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as government and academic leaders.
The group toured the church’s Family History Library, Welfare Square, Humanitarian Center, Bishop’s Central Storehouse and Brigham Young University during its Tuesday-through-Thursday visit.
“We have longstanding cooperative relationships with the Committee on Religious Affairs and other government officials in Vietnam,” Latter-day Saint apostle Gerrit W. Gong, who accompanied the delegation, said in a news release. “We appreciate those relationships continuing and deepening with the visit of this important delegation.”
Collectively, the CRA has several responsibilities, including its role as the principal government agency for oversight and approval of all religious activities in Vietnam.
The Utah-based faith has sent missionaries to the communist country for at least a decade, but saw little growth until 2014, when it won official recognition and created a second branch, or congregation, in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). In 2016, another mission was added in Hanoi.
Latter-day Saint membership in the Southeast Asian nation is estimated at more than 2,400, according to cumorah.com, an independent website that tracks church growth. There are now 11 branches in Vietnam.
Church President Russell M. Nelson thanked the delegation for promoting religious freedom in Vietnam and indicated the importance of such freedom for countries around the world.
The delegation included Vu Chien Thang, CRA chairman, Nguyen Huru Tuan, ministry of home affairs, as well as leaders of departments for internal relations and general administration.
The delegation also discussed the importance of families.
“Strong families make strong countries,” said Gong, the faith’s first Asian American apostle. “The focus on family and family values is something that is shared deeply by those in Vietnam and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”