Full-time missionaries serving in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission report a recent surge in convert baptisms and church attendance necessitating the creation of five new branches this weekend in the Liberia Monrovia Bushrod Island District. As a result of the organization of the new branches, the number of branches will double in the district from five to ten. Missionaries report that proposals are also underway for the organization of additional branches in the the neighboring Liberia Monrovia District to the south which currently has six branches. Following the creation of the five new branches there will be 18 LDS branches in Liberia.
The LDS Church experienced rapid church growth following its initial establishment in Liberia in the late 1980s as the number of branches increased from two in 1988 to eight in 1990. By 1995, two districts functioned in Monrovia which were consolidated to create the Monrovia Liberia Stake in 2000. Church growth slowed dramatically in the 2000s as the number of congregations remained unchanged for nearly the entire decade and annual membership growth rates dropped to as low as 2.6%. In 2007, the stake was discontinued and the two districts were reorganized due to persistent challenges maintaining local leadership and low member activity rates. Within the past couple years, full-time missionaries have reported a greater maturation of local leadership, success from reactivation efforts, and higher convert retention due to increased stewardship and focus from the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. Since its organization in 2007, the mission has increased the number of full-time missionaries serving in Liberia, reintroduced non-African missionaries, and also just assigned the first full-time sister missionaries to Monrovia. Missionaries were also assigned to Kakata and Harbel for the first time recently and the Monrovia Liberia District may become a stake in the near future.
The organization of five new branches within a single district at the same time is very uncommon. The only other area of the world in which the LDS Church has experienced as prolific of congregational growth within a small geographical area as the Monrovia Liberia Bushrod Island District is in Papua New Guinea in two newly organized districts based in Sogere and Suki. Long-term progress in retaining converts and improving member activity rates in Liberia will be manifest by the organization of a stake within the next few years, steady increases in the number of congregations, and increasing numbers of local members serving full-time missions.
Below is a map of LDS branches in Liberia at present from a newly-created LDS International Atlas which we will be launching on cumorah.com in the near future.
View Branches in Liberia in a larger map