Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stakes and Districts in Africa

One of the best indicators of growth and activity in the Church is the presence and increase of stakes. Africa now has 46 stakes and 41 districts. As you can see in the map above (yellow squares are stakes; green squares are districts), the Church is strongest in Nigeria and Ghana. Even in these two countries, members are found in "pockets" among a large population. Working in just one or two cities in an entire country allows missionaries to train leadership while building up a large member population. A returned missionary from Madagascar explain this was the case in his mission, with almost all the missionaries serving in Antananarivo. "Building centers of strength" was the motto for missionary work in Madagascar and is a method used in many other poor, unstable countries for security issues as well. This is one of the reasons why we can see now five stakes in the Kinshasa-Brazzaville metropolitan area, and not even a branch of the Church in cities with over 100,000 people in the surrounding region. Before a new city opens for missionary work and a branch established, there usually needs to be active members currently living there.

Recently some members of the Church and others in academia have criticized the Church for being too American/Western European in Africa and have stunted growth. Examples of attacks made are missionaries wearing suits, no drums being used in worship services and a lack of native culture being integrated into LDS beliefs. The Church does not prohibit members from taking part in cultural activities and traditions. It does seek to keep the doctrine of the Church intact as possible. Based on countless missionary blogs from Africa as well as around the world I have never encountered a statement like "if only we had drums in our worship services more people would join the Church here." The statements that I find center on wanting more senior couple missionaries to help train local leadership and compliants on travel between cities that constrain training and mission resources.

Something interesting that have developed in the past five years in Africa is a trail of stakes and districts stretching from the center of the DR of Congo to South Africa. Considering this area has a large population, it could quite possible prove to become the powerhouse of Africa in the Church in the coming 10 years.

1 comment:

John said...

Love the updates on the church around the world. Keep it up!