Iceland - Mormon Pond, Westman Islands
Mormon Pond received its name from the many Icelanders who were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early days of the Church in Iceland. The “Monument to the Emigrants” was erected as a tribute to the faithful Icelandic pioneers who emigrated from Iceland to Utah between 1854 and 1914.
The monument was dedicated on June 30, 2000, by Elder Wm. Rolfe Kerr, Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. David A. Ashby, President of the Icelandic Association of Utah, Inc. presented the monument to the people of Iceland on behalf of the Icelandic Association of Utah. Sigrun Inga Sigurfeirsdottir, president of the city council, Vestmanneyjar, accepted the gift on behalf of the people of Iceland.
The sculpture atop of the monument is an eight-foot-tall angel, titled “The Messenger,” by Gary Price. Each side panel has the name of all 410 emigrants, listed in both Icelandic and English. The monument also includes a biblical passage from Ezekiel 20:34. The center pedestal, also in both Icelandic and English, reads: “In Honor of the Icelanders that heard the call to build Zion and moved to Utah 1854 to 1914.”
In 1851, two natives of Iceland, Þórarinn Hafliðason and Guðmundur Guðmundsson, were studying in Copenhagen, Denmark where they came in contact with two Mormon missionaries from Utah. After careful investigation, they joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shortly thereafter, they returned to their native Iceland to spread their new faith.
In 1852, Guðmundur Guðmundsson described the valley where the Mormon Pond is located as “a beautiful little round valley, surrounded by nature’s own mountain walls. In the midst of this most picturesque valley was found a small grassy plain, as level as a floor, and containing something like 20 acres of land. We approached this place one at a time, in order to avoid being noticed by our opponents and persecutors. Here in natures pure embrace, with nothing but the blue canopy of heaven for our covering, we raised our hands and our voices ‘on high,’ and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus to bless and sanctify this lovely spot, surrounded by these romantic mountain walls.”1
1 Fred E. Woods, Fire on Ice: The Story of Icelandic Latter-day Saints at Home and Abroad, (Religious Studies Center: Brigham Young University: 2005), 19.
Guðmundur Guðmundsson’s Account of accepting and preaching the gospel
Author(s): Guðmundur Guðmundsson
Type: First-person account
Source(s): Fred E. Woods, Fire on Ice: The Story of Icelandic Latter-day Saints at Home and Abroad, (Religious Studies Center: Brigham Young University, 2005), 14-15.
“Having found the fruits of the gospel more sweet and desirable than any other fruit, I expected that every person would believe my testimony, especially my own relatives, but alas, when I arrived in Iceland I preached to…”
Articles & Resources
The Gospel in Iceland
Kate B. Carter, “The Gospel in Iceland,” Improvement Era, February 1951, Vol. 54, 88-90.
Fire on Ice: The Story of Icelandic Latter-day Saints at Home and Abroad
Fred E. Woods, Fire on Ice: The Story of Icelandic Latter-day Saints at Home and Abroad, (Religious Studies Center: Brigham Young University: 2005).
Fire on Ice: The Conversion and Life of Gumundar Gumundsson
Fred E. Woods, “Fire on Ice: The Conversion and Life of Gumundar Gumundsson,” BYU Studies, 2000, Vol. 39, No. 22, 56-72.