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For week ended March 05, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 03Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Viacheslav Efimov, First Native Russian Mission President Dies
Kent Larsen 3Mar00 P2

Viacheslav Efimov, First Native Russian Mission President Dies

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA -- LDS Church members in Russia and the many returned missionaries who served there were saddened to learn of the death last Thursday of Viacheslav I. Efimov, the first native Russian LDS mission president and head of one of the first complete families baptized there. Efimov's commanding personality and talent for dealing with other Russians made him an invaluable asset to the Church in Russia. He was 52.

Efimov, a native of St. Petersburg, joined the LDS Church in St. Petersburg with his family soon after the Church entered Russia. An Electro-mechanical engineer, he was at that time a high-level supervisor for the St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) public transportation system, managing more than 500 employees. He soon became a branch president, and by 1993 the president of the St. Petersburg District.

According to Former St Petersburg Mission President Thomas F. Rogers, the conversion had a profound effect on Efimov and his wife Galina. One manifestation of this effect was that both the Efimov's started writing poetry for the first time in their lives, mostly about the gospel in their lives.

In his visible supervisory position, Efimov managed to influence many of employees for good. Former St Petersburg Mission President Thomas F. Rogers remembers one fast and testimony meeting where a new member stood up and said he had seen and respected a high-level supervisor in the transportation system for his honesty and forthrightness, and then was surprised and pleased after joining the Church to find out he was the president of the district.

After retiring from the public transportation system, Efimov worked for the LDS Church as a full-time missionary apartment coordinator, making sure that LDS missionaries had adequate lodging and negotiating with landlords and government officials over rents and terms. He also helped the mission during that time. Former president Rogers says, "He was my right arm. He was so street smart, besides being a man of faith." "He had the practical sense of what people need, and also the spiritual sense of what they need."

Rogers says that Efimov was also a spiritual asset to the mission. Under Rogers, the district presidents in the mission met weekly to work out common problems. Often, says Rogers, they would talk through a problem and arrive at a practical solution. Invariably Efimov would then say, wait, lets pray about it.

In 1995, he was called as the first native Russian mission president, and, along with Ukranian Alexander Manzhos, one of the first two mission presidents from the former Soviet Union. While mission president, Efimov managed to transform his mission, the then newly-formed Yekaterinbug Mission, into the highest-baptizing mission in Russia and one of the highest in Eastern Europe.

Returned missionary Justin Wright says he first met Efimov in the Provo, Utah Mission Training Center, where the Efimovs were preparing to begin their mission. Wright was so impressed by Efimov's presence that he hoped and prayed to be put into the new Yekaterinburg Mission when he arrived, instead of the Novosibirsk Mission that it was being split from. Geting his wish, Wright says Efimov had an immediate effect on the mission, "He was so charismatic that no one thought of him as a newcomer. We didn't know that a mission president shouldn't be different from that. He was able to act the part so well that we immediately respected him." According to Wright, the members too loved him, "The members were so comfortable with him . . . that they went to him with all their problems."

Former Yekaterinburg Mission President Donald Jarvis, who succeeded Efimov, agrees about his presence. He describes Efimov as a "big, burley man, very strong physically. He loved to tussle with members and missionaries, and could usually beat them." He had a good sense of humor, but was also very strict. Jarvis says that on one occasion at a picnic for missionaries and members on the missionaries' p-day, Efimov looked at his watch and announced that it was 2 p.m. and the missionaries had just one hour to get back into their suits and get back out tracting before p-day ended at 3 p.m. Like in St. Petersburg, Jarvis says that one of Efimov's strengths was his knowledge of Russian customs. "He knew which of the somewhat arbitrary Russian laws had to be followed and which ones could be ignored."

Following his mission, Efimov continued to play an important role in the Church, eventually being called as a counselor to current St. Petersburg Mission President Detweiler, a Swiss native who, at least at first, knew little Russian. In spite of knowing little English, Efimov was still able to communicate with the mission president.

Efimov is survived by his wife, Galina of St. Petersburg, his son, Piotr, also of St. Petersburg, and by a daughter, Tamara McKaine of Mesa, Arizona. While a confirmed cause of death isn't available, reports indicate that he died of complications from an asthma attack. Asthma is significantly more common in Russia due to industrial air pollution.

When the news of Efimov's death became known on e-mail lists for Eastern Europe and mission alumni sites, former missionaries paid tribute to Efimov, calling him "one of the greatest pioneers and founding fathers of the Church in Russia." They have scheduled a chat forum in his honor as a kind of memorial that will be held on Sunday, March 5th at 11 p.m. EST (9 p.m. MST). Those interested in participating can go to and click on "Gathering of Israel chat room.


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