Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established itself in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847, and in the next fifty years began to establish colonies in much of the Rocky Mountain area of western North America, including colonies in what was to become southern Alberta. No such colonies were established in Saskatchewan, but those established in southern Alberta had a significant impact on the development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this province.

Growth in the Church in Saskatchewan has come from people being converted and from Church members from other areas, primarily Alberta, coming to the province for employment or other economic reasons. The growth of the Church in Saskatchewan has been gradual. There have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saskatchewan since early in the 20th century. The earliest record of a baptism is that of George Gordon Whyte: records show he was baptized in the Moose Jaw Creek on August 17, 1913 by Valentine Knechtel, who had joined the Church and been ordained an Elder when he lived for a time in Alberta. The day after his baptism, Whyte moved to Regina, where he found employment with the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company until he retired. He became the anchor around which the Church grew in Regina.

The first branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saskatchewan was organized in Regina on April 23, 1934 with about forty members. Whyte was the branch president. Branches were organized in Saskatoon in 1944, Moose Jaw in 1945, Silver Park (which later became the Melfort Branch) in 1947, Swift Current in 1952, Weyburn about 1957, Prince Albert in 1959, Yorkton in 1966, Carry-the-Kettle in 1966, and the Kindersley Branch in 1967. The Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake, a regional organization including all of the members in Saskatchewan, was set up on November 5, 1978. Noel Burt (of Saskatoon) was called as president, with Kent Cahoon (of Saskatoon) and Kenneth Svenson (of Regina) as counsellors. There were five wards (larger, more mature congregations) and seven branches. The wards were Saskatoon First, Saskatoon Second, Regina First, Regina Second, and Moose Jaw; the branches were Swift Current, Kisbey (Weyburn), Yorkton, Melfort, Prince Albert, North Battleford, and Kindersley. Later, the Flin Flon Branch was added. The Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake was divided in October 2001, and the Regina Saskatchewan Stake was formed to oversee all units of the Church in southern Saskatchewan while the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake retained jurisdiction over all units in northern Saskatchewan. Eric Slocombe of Saskatoon was called as president of the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake and E. Gregg Wood of Regina was called as president of the Regina Saskatchewan Stake.

Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited Regina on August 3, 1998 and announced that a temple was to be built in Regina. For members of the Church, the temple is a holy place set apart from the world, whereas the meetinghouse or chapel is filled with weekday activities and Sunday worship services. In the temple sacred ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are performed. Therefore, Latter-day Saints view the temple as a spiritual centre. At the time of the announcement there were only two other temples in all of Canada: one in Toronto and one in Alberta. The Regina Temple was constructed over the next year and was dedicated on November 14, 1999.

One of the most widely known community contributions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide is the collection of genealogical records. Following this trend, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates family history centres in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Kindersley and Prince Albert; these are open to the public, and make available locally all the genealogical records that have been collected by the Church worldwide.

Kenneth Svenson