LDS Church denies misdeed

A priest in Bulgaria reportedly said two missionaries had to be removed from church

The Salt Lake Tribune/June 10, 2008

The LDS Church said an Orthodox Christian priest's allegations that Mormon missionaries interrupted a religious service and had to be removed are "erroneous."

"Two missionaries serving in Burgas, Bulgaria, did nothing to disrupt the services of a local church, and when asked to leave, did so immediately," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement. "The missionaries were invited to attend the church service by a member of the congregation."

Church spokesman Scott Trotter declined Monday to answer questions about the incident reported in Saturday's edition of The Sofia Echo, a newspaper in Sofia, Bulgaria.

According to the report, the Rev. Zahari Dachev, of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Burgas, Bulgaria, told Bulgarian media that missionaries entered the church Thursday during services for the ascension of Christ and "interrupted the service by talking to people."

Dachev reportedly argued with the missionaries and had them taken out, then later filed a complaint with Bulgarian authorities and asked for the the LDS Church to be banned in the eastern European country, where it claims more than 2,000 members and a single mission.

A representative of the newspaper could not be immediately contacted Monday.

The LDS Church emphasized in its statement that "missionaries and members of the church are brought up to show respect and tolerance to the doctrines and members of other religions."

It added the church is officially registered in Bulgaria and said its missionaries follow all laws.

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