A brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Thailand
First Missionary (1854)
Elam Luddington arrived in Thailand in 1854. This was roughly the same time that Anna Leonowens arrived in Bangkok to teach the children of King Mongkut. Three other missionaries were called at the same time, however, none of them were able to make their way to Bangkok. Elder Luddington was the first missionary to ever serve in Thailand (Siam at that time). He stayed a few months and then finding the culture and language too difficult, he returned home. It would be more than 100 years before the next missionaries arrived.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated Thailand for the preaching of the Gospel on November 2, 1966 in Lumpini park in Bangkok. This event occured at the height of the war in nearby Vietnam. It was the war in Vietnam that brought thousands of LDS servicemen to Southeast Asia and with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. [Read the prayer of dedication
Six missionaries were transfered to Thailand from Taiwan (5) and Hong Kong (1) in 1968. From left to right Alan H. Hess, Robert W. Winegar, L. Carl Hanson, Peter W. Basker, Larry R. White and Craig G. Christensen. President Keith E. Garner of the Hong Kong Mission took these six Elders to Bangkok on Ferbuary 2, 1968. They established a home on Soi 49 (Soi Klang) which was the mission headquarters in Thailand until the Asoke Chapel was completed in May 1972. [Photograph Alan H. Hess]
For the next 5 years Thailand would be a zone of the Southern Far East mission (February 1968 - November 1969) and then the Southeast Asia (Singapore) mission (November 1969 - August 1973).
Thailand Bangkok Mission Established (1973)
The Thailand Bangkok Mission was formed from the Southeast Asia Singapore Mission on August 1, 1973; with Paul D. Morris as the first mission president. President Morris and his family had been living in Bangkok for several years. He was the district president in Thailand prior to his call as mission president.
Book of Mormon Published (1976)
The Thai Book of Mormon was published in 1976. Amazingly Thai was the 24th language in which the complete Book of Mormon was published (excluding languages for which there is no version still in print). Srilaksana Suntarahut and her daughters were baptized on July 4, 1968. She became the primary translator of the Book of Mormon into the Thai language, assisted by missionaries. She was also the principal translator for the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. These books of scripture were published in 1979.
Sister Srilaksana had great command of the Thai and English languages because she was raised for 14 years (starting at age 6) by the queen Indrasakdi Sachi (wife of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) who was the son of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V)). Sister Srilaksana developed a close relationship with the Queen. The complete story of this translation of the Book of Mormon can be found in a book "Translating Scripture: The Thai Book of Mormon".
Bangkok Thailand Stake Organized (1995)
The first stake in Thailand was organized on June 18, 1995, by Elder Neal Ash Maxwell. Thipparad Kitsaward was called as the first stake president. His counselors were Suchat Chaichanaa and Seksan Siriphan. A blind man Ponchai Junthrapit was called as Stake Patriarch.
President Hinkley Visits (2000)
Gordon B. Hinkley visited Thailand on June 13-14, 2000. This was the first visit to Thailand by the president of the Church. While in Thailand an "early birthday celebration" was held on June 13, President Hinckley spoke to about 2,000 members and investigators on June 14, and also paid a visit to the prime minister. In the picture at the left he is greeting Sister Srilaksana Suntarahut at his birthday dinner.
Mission History Recalled in New Book (2006)