The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is making moves to merge it's missions in Russia. The church made the announcement Saturday that it would combine the southeast Vladivostok Mission and the southern Novosibirsk Mission, effective as of July 1. The merger reduces the total number of missions in the country from seven down to six.
The move is in direct response to a law passed by the Russian government and praised by Russia's President, Vladmir Putin, that placed severe restrictions on religious practices, in an effort to combat terrorism. In order to comply with the law while still furthering their outreach, the church stated they intended to continue to send missionaries to the country, but that they would abide by the restrictions set in place and would refrain from proselytizing publicly. They would also not be referred to by their traditional titles of "Elder" or "Sister," but would instead be designated as "volunteers."
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