Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Church In Papua New Guinea
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I realized the other day that I have not written very much about the Church in Papua New Guinea. Unlike many countries where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is established, most members do not know about the Church's presence in Papua New Guinea. I have had a hard time finding information about missionary work currently occurring in the country and most of the information I have gathered comes from the Church's official websites and the LDS Church News.
The first congregation of the Church in Papua New Guinea was created in 1979. The Church was recognized by the government two years later and was dedicated for the preaching of the Gospel in 1983 by Elder L. Tom Perry. In 1992 the Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Mission was created from the Australia Brisbane Mission and three years later the first and only stake was created in Port Moresby when there were around 4,000 members in the entire country. When the Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Stake was created, Elder Merrell challenged the members to do what they needed to create a second stake the following year (which did not happen). Since then membership has grown to about 16,600 members organized in one stake, seven districts and 53 congregations. Some of the greatest factors limiting growth of the Church in Papua New Guinea include high unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. Nearly all the missionaries serving in the country are natives and most mission presidents who have served in the country are Polynesian.
Papua New Guinea is currently the country with the most members with only one stake (the country with the second most members with one stake is Thailand). This is likely due to growth in the past 10 years in remote areas of the country as well as inactivity around the capital. The most recent district was created last year in Rigo, which is about 50 miles southeast of the capital. In a recent article in the Church News on the Daru Papua New Guinea District, the mission president reported that the district is preparing to become a stake after the Isumo District was combined with it last year. Daru has been an example of rapid growth in remote areas of the country. Located on a small island near the border with the Indonesian side of the island, the Church was first organized there back in 1991. A city in the country which I believe is most likely to see a new district in the future is Angoram, located in the northern portion of the island. I do not think we will see a temple announced for Papua New Guinea until several more stakes are organized.
This is all the information I have about the Church in Papua New Guinea. If you have current information about the Church in this country not mentioned above, please leave your comments.