Thursday, August 27, 2009

Temple Closure For The Aba Nigeria Temple

Various online news sites have reported that the Aba Nigeria Temple has been closed indefinitely due to violence in the region. Senior missionaries who served as temple workers in the temple reported that threats have been made and bullet holes left in doors in the temple complex.

I want to be quick to point out that all temples temporarily close frequently, often for several weeks, for maintenance and cleaning. When a temple is remodeled it is typically closed for 12 to 24 months. The instance in Aba Nigeria is unusual but not ridiculous. My personal belief is that the temple will likely stay closed anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. The reason for why the temple closed was likely more due to the fact that the temple relies heavily upon senior missionaries serving in the temple to function and the Church felt that the senior missionaries were at higher risk for violence than local members. Otherwise the Church would have pulled missionaries serving in the country or have cancelled worship services on Sundays. The Church has suspended worship services for several weeks before in various Latin America countries recently due to government regulations on large groups of people assembling for fears on Swine Flu spreading more rapidly.

Violence involving religion is not uncommon in Nigeria. This violence most often occurs in northern Nigeria where the predominantly Christian southern provinces border the predominantly Muslim northern provinces. The Church has attempted multiple times to establish missions in this region where the population transitions from predominantly Christian to predominantly Muslim, but has discontinued missions due to threats of violence. The area in which the temple is located in Nigeria is one of the safest areas of Nigeria. The Church did not err in the location for the temple due to its stability as well as its central location for most of the stakes in the southeastern portion of the country. Young North American missionaries do not serve in Nigeria and most missionaries are from Nigeria or neighboring African nations.

Remember that a temple has only existed in Nigeria for four years, and in many nations where a temple has not existed long there are multiple senior couples serving in the temple teaching and assisting local members perform their temple ordinances. Furthermore many of the Nigerian members do not live close to the temple (such as in Benin City or Lagos), or live within a hundred miles of the temple but cannot travel easily to get to the temple frequently. During the period of closure the Church will probably look toward reopening the temple with only native Nigerians serving as temple workers or wait until conditions in the area improve to have senior couple missionaries return.

We still do not know much about the situation. So far it seems to have escalated beyond what what it really is. I strongly disagree with the idea that this event would dampen the prospects of future temples in the DR of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire or other somewhat unstable nations in which we see a rapidly growing Church. In order for the Church to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people we will likely see an increase in these sort of events.

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