Monday, October 14, 2013

Rapid LDS Growth in Ghana - Predictions for New Stakes and Districts

The Church in Ghana is currently experiencing rapid growth as evidenced by the creation of new wards and branches on a regular basis, the opening of previously unreached cities to proselytism, and significant increases to the number of full-time missionaries assigned to the country.  The number of LDS missions in Ghana has increased from one in 2004 to four in 2013.  No other country in the world had only one mission in 2004 and today has as many missions as Ghana. 

With a significant increase in the size of the full-time missionary force and strong receptivity to the Church, there are currently several areas that appear likely to have new stakes and districts organized within the next three years.  Below is a map identifying these locations.  Current stakes and districts are indicated by yellow and green markers, respectively, whereas likely future stakes and districts are indicated by red markers (with dot = stake, without dot = district).

View Stakes and Districts in Ghana (with future predictions) in a larger map


Iris and Craig said...

One of my friends got back from Ghana almost two years ago and he talked about how big and ready the missionary work is there in Ghana that they had to turn down people getting baptized because they didn't want to reach out to certain areas yet and were just taking each area slowly one at a time.

Mike Johnson said...

The Igun 2nd Ward, Benin City Nigeria New Benin Stake, was created on 13 October. There are now 10 wards in the stake:

Aduwawa Ward
Eghosa 1st Ward
Eghosa 2nd Ward
Esigie Ward
Igun 1st Ward
Igun 2nd Ward
New Benin Ward
Ogbeson Ward
Ohovbe Ward
Oregbeni Ward

The Vridi 2nd Ward, Port-Bouet Cote d'Ivoire Stake, was created on 13 October. There are now 9 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Adjouffou Ward
Gonzagueville Ward
Jean-Folly Ward
Koumassi Ward
Marcory Ward
Port-Bouet Ward
Remblais Ward
Vridi 1st Ward
Vridi 2nd Ward
Bonoua Branch
Grand-Bassam 1st Branch
Grand-Bassam 2nd Branch

The Papakura 2nd Branch (Samoan), Auckland New Zealand Papakura Stake, was created on 13 October. There are now 5 wards and 1 branch in the stake:

Papakura 1st Ward
Princes Ward (Tongan)
Pukekohe 1st Ward
Pukekohe 2nd Ward
Redhill Ward
Papakura 2nd Branch (Samoan)

The Opinion said...

In a previous post, I mentioned a quote given to the Denver North mission president from Elder Quentin Cook that in the coming years the church will be baptizing millions. I have found a report from a missionary in Santa Rosa, CA mission give a more firm number as reported by Bro Donaldson, from the missionary Dept., when he came to their mission to give the whole mission ipads and Skype access two months ago. Brother Donaldson suggest there are about 70 million people ready to be baptized and using this technology will find them faster.
The missionary also reported that they have no mission borders any more. They teach to anyone in the world via their ipads and Skype. One elder in his mission received 50 referrals in a week. He received 20 referrals in his first week. Here is his report.

Michael Worley said...

I think what the opinion's vision is will only come to pass as members do more missionary work.

Ray said...

Growth in Ghana and the rest of Africa is amazing.

With only 2.6% of the total membership of the Church, as reported for year-end 2012 totals in, the two Church Areas in Africa are responsible for 40% of the growth in wards and branches so far in 2013 (86 new units in Africa of 216 total church-wide to date in 2013).

Of the 86 new units in Africa in 2013, 67 are in the Africa West Area, as follows:
Benin + 5
Cote D'Ivoire + 12
Ghana + 15
Liberia + 3
Nigeria + 26
Sierra Leone + 1
Togo + 5

The Africa West Area alone is responsible for 31% of the church-wide growth (among 25 Church Areas).

The Opinion said...

@Michael Worley. This is not my vision, I am simply finding online what the Prophets and Apostles are teaching the missionaries and mission presidents in the past year. Bro Donaldson works closely with the Brethren (seen in another post given by the missionary) If you read this missionary's blog, you will see that they are expected to teach about 50-80 discussions a week in California with these ipads and Skype. They have no mission boundaries. These 50-80 discussions are held with people all over the world from referrals they received from their family and friends to connect with them on Facebook.

@Mike Johnson. That is amazing and I know Elder Holland said a year half ago when he visited our stake that the growth in Africa is being held back to make sure their resources do not get overrun. I am sure with more missionaries and missions that this growth will only increase.

Michael Worley said...

@The Opinion--

Sorry I simplified. My point was I feel members will help achieve growth

Christopher Nicholson said...

I don't want to be argumentative, but the "no mission boundaries" thing that Brother Donaldson keeps saying (I've heard it from him too) doesn't make sense to me. Maybe there are exceptions, but my understanding is that when proselyting is illegal in a country, that includes the Internet. I know that's the case in China and Morocco - in China, because the Church can't even make available there, and Morocco, because I personally set up a very interested Moroccan with the Facebook missionaries but they had to stop teaching him because it was still illegal. So as far as I can tell, this Internet thing mainly applies to countries that already allowed missionaries anyway.

Also, is this change really going to be in all missions worldwide? I would think that in places like sub-Saharan Africa, where receptivity is widespread but the Internet is not, traditional tracting would actually be *more* effective than Facebook.

Mike Johnson said...

Don't take the statements about "no mission boundaries" too literal. Finding occurs when people anywhere with access to the internet link up with a blog. But, quickly, they need to be transferred to missionaries in their local area. You can only go so far online. Online baptism is not possible and we need to ensure that any potential convert will have a support system in place.

That said, a lot of new converts leave the Church because of a negative experience with a local member. Online proselytizing could facilitate a new convert's understanding that they are joining something much bigger than their local ward or branch.

The Opinion said...

Here is an explanation about teaching anyone, anywhere from Brother Donaldson found in that same blog post.
"Something else the missionary department told us is that they have found that most people are online from like nine pm to 12 pm. So how will we teach those people if we are asleep? well bro Donaldson said this. " We will have to get the help of the missionaries on the other side of the world, Missionaries in japan and Europe will have to teach our people and help us out here while we sleep and then in return we will help out with their people over there while they sleep." in fact during that meeting he got a call from a mission president in japan about that exact topic."

I know that after the missionaries teach online they transfer them to local missionaries to complete the teaching and being baptized.

MLewis82 said...

The "no boundaries" mission thing could present interesting language dynamics. If it is only used for finding, I imagine the most successful finding will be by missionaries finding in their native language. People are very forgiving when it comes to a foreigner speaking their language with poor grammar, but they tend to be much less so when it comes to poor writing. As online finding will rely more heavily on writing than on speaking, the need to develop good language skills will be even more important for missionaries trying to find online in a new language.

Trading investigators between California and Japan, as was mentioned in Elder Nelson's blog, sounds great, but I wonder how practical the time zone advantages will be outside of the English-speaking world. Most missionaries in Japan will speak English, but most missionaries in California will not speak Japanese. English-speaking investigators worldwide will benefit from having missionaries available for a discussion 24-hours a day, but the Japanese-speaking investigators who are most likely to benefit from the arrangement will be the rare investigator outside of Japan who needs Japanese-speaking missionaries.

With a little coordination we could take advantage of the dozen or so Japanese-speaking missionaries in non-Japanese missions, but a dozen Japanese-speaking missionaries spread primarily across the United States covering the night shift for 700 missionaries in Japan might become pretty burdensome. Alternatively, maybe we could put the missionaries on rotations based on their language so all hours of the night can be covered for all languages.

Rolf said...

Hi Mike,

I agree with your statement: “Online baptism is not possible and we need to ensure that any potential convert will have a support system in place.” But I disagree (I don’t like to disagree) with your statement: “a lot of new converts leave the Church because of a negative experience with a local member”

I have for many years made it a habit to ask people that have had contact with the church – if they were treated well by members of the church. My reason for this is because I have often heard from the missionaries that the locals were the reason that their newly baptized investigators went inactive – either I lived in Italy, Sweden, UK or Norway – I did not find this to be true. On my own mission, I found the local members to be true “Saints” and very patient with what we as missionaries thought about who was ready for baptism.
I have talked to convert that stayed active, people that were baptized and left, students that have had assignments about our church and other visitors. I have yet to hear anyone (that I can remember) say that they were badly treated by the local members. It’s the opposite – most complement the local members for their warmth and friendly greetings and the interest shown to them. I’m sure negative things can occur, but it is the rare exception to the rule. The local members (at least where there are few of them – all of Europe) are desperate for more converts – they want more marriage chooses for their children, grand children and they want to share some of their callings with new converts.

I would go as far as saying that as many as 70-80% of those baptized never where converted – this is a very sad statement and I wish it wasn’t true, but I think I am fairly close to the truth. I have been very interested in the missionary program and its fruits since two years before my own mission in 1980. My experience shows that very few converted investigators go inactive and if they do, it is usually many years after their conversion.
A baptism is not a substitute for a conversion.

MainTour said...

For the questions about foreign languages across time zone differences. Don't forget the resource of the 15 MTC's the church now has worldwide.

The MTC's are really pushing hands practice teaching with real non-members in your new foreign language in the MTC. Using Skype can really open this up. Also missionaries waiting in the US for their Foreign Visa's can help on this.

I keep getting letters from MTC missionaries doing this bit of live teaching and I keep wondering where they find their investigators. But this is all starting to come together.

Iris and Craig said...

@Mike and Rolf I kind of disagree and agree with both of you.

It was TOO easy to baptize on my mission. Anyone could walk away easily with a hundred before their mission was over. I could of easily baptized someone with no lesson taught if not only part of one. The problem was conversion.

Having been on the mission where we baptized over 4,000 in two years, and having only split one ward out of that bunch, was because most of all of our baptisms were just that, baptisms without conversions. I won't go into details, but my mission was pretty corrupt, including mission presidents, and we got away with a lot.

Just like what Elder Ballard told us when he came down, that when it really gets down to it, that numbers are just numbers and that it really doesn't matter if they get baptized, because they will be baptized later on, if not in this life, whether they like it or not. What matters is conversion.

However, I DO know that members can be lazy and not helpful. I had two really awesome wards and the rest really were terrible and did more damage then any good. Home teaching was never performed or even talked about most of the time.

But then I also know that missionaries can have a big influence on how wards can be with missionary work either seeing it in the mission or with my own ward back home. There were friends that I had after the mission that I wanted to listen to the missionaries, but I didn't feel right or comfortable with the missionaries in my ward and I had to wait until later.

Iris and Craig said...

Elder Faust died on my mission and right before he died he told my mission president right before he ended his own mission that when it came down to it, God wouldn't be holding him responsible on how many baptisms he had, but would judge him on how his own missionaries he was over during those three years he served, were doing spiritually 30 years from now. I thought that was pretty profound and crazy to ponder about.

I know he said this because my own mission president told us this himself in tears during his last and final testimony to the mission before he left and got released.

Ed Clinch said...

The discussion about baptisms versus converts is a complicated and interesting topic.

Sorry to hear concerning the "corrupt" nature of your mission, Iris and Craig. Unfortunately, it is human nature for all of us to fall for or fall in love with ideas, movements, or people and their causes in a quick fashion and then be out of it a short time later. Missionaries sometimes think a baptism will change everything, while a true conversion to Christ our the Church does not occur. This happens to a few (or many, depending on your perspective) people in our faith, here in the United States, and in many other countries.
I know it has happened many times in Chile, where I have gone back years later and further researched and analyzed baptismal and conversion trends there.
Thousands of our converts temporarily "became enamored" of the missionaries who taught them and were baptized. Usually, only one Sunday of attendance was required before they were baptized. Many missions (I think the 10 now in Chile) have adapted this rule to two or three consecutive Sundays of participation before entering the waters of baptism.
I could share more numbers and trends from the 80s and 90s some other time, but suffice it to say that huge numbers have not always translated to great real growth, as surmised above.
More later.

John Pack Lambert said...

The mission increase is actually more extreme than the numbers suggest because back in 2004 Sierra Leone and Liberia were in the Ghana Accra Mission as well. Today they each are in their own mission.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the real growth issue, I dealt with a counselor in the stake mission presidency on my mission (they still had such things then), who would talk about how he got baptized for all the wrong reasons, and so he was very much into pushing for baptism and not waiting until others thought the person was "ready".

On the issue of offending, I have seen people say outright racist against African-American things in a lesson, and an African-American sister who was back to church for the first time in months never returned again for the 4 months I remained in the area.

The problem is that there is no way to judge outward conversion. I had a mission companion who quit smoking less than a week before he was baptized, and there are people who attend church consecutively for a month or more who still go inactive.

I think one problem is that with some people they do not have a strong support network. They revert back to the behavior they have stopped, feel unworthy, and without a friend to reach out to. It is not just friendliness they need, but a deep friend.

Iris and Craig said...

If it helps the conversation, I know plenty of stories of those who went to grave sites and got their information in order to have baptisms.

I doubt these affect Church stats in a real way, probably only that of the mission, but people fudged their weekly reporting numbers every week especially in my mission, mostly due to threats of getting sent home from the mission pres, not because of disobedience but for not baptizing enough.

John Pack Lambert said...

To try and return to the initial topic, I always wonder why the church is growing so much among populations in Africa, but not making real headway with African-Americans.

Of course, maybe I am too pessimistic on the later topic. My stake has 3 African-American members of the high council, but we also have most of the city of Detroit, which is over 80% African-American, and probably more like 92% or more African-American in the part of the city we have, in the stake. We also have several African-American majority suburbs, so I would not be surprised if 40% of the population in the stake boundaries is African-American. Still, when I was a youth in the 1990s we had no African-American members of the high council, so we have made progress.

John Pack Lambert said...

Still, I remember dealing with missionaries on my mission who would describe black people as "descendants of Cain" and having the "curse of Cain". This was from 1980-1982 so all these people were born after Official Declaration 2. However I had been exposed to some of this misguided thinking, because although my parents had plenty of church books written in the 1960s and such, they did not have anything that included Elder McConkie's "forget about the flase statements I and others have said" 1978 talk. Worse yet, although I just knew this was wrong, I did not have a good explanation to why it was wrong.

I can tell stories of racism by members in the wards too, talking about how the neighborhood would collapse if an African-American family moved in next door. Worse still my first companion told me to avoid the topic. Yet, I think it was there, the accusations "I went to your church and everyone was white" and "your Mormon, you don't want people like me" maybe needed more direct responses.

I have since been exposed to Marvin Perkins writings on Blacks and the scriptures, and come to see that even the notion of a connection between Africans and Ham is not scripturally based. I have realized that my teachers quorum advisor who was probably not racist needlessly perpetuated wrong understandings by his question "If a black person goes to get a patriarchal blessing will they be told they are the lineage of Ham". I hope he said Ham and not Cain, but don't remember. He was actually teaching no, but the assumption that that is their literal lineage is just not justified either with historical evidence, which we have some of groups in sub-Saharan Africa with Jewish roots, and also the scriptures clearly say Abraham's seed will be spread among all nations.

There are lots of other issues, but there is still too much deep seated reliance on discredited ideas, and not enough combating of the false notion of Mormon racism. Brother Bott's Washington Post interview did not help.

I have seen the church establish branches in heavily African-American areas, and later draw wards meant to cut across racial lines. I see pluses and minuses to both, and want to think the current set-up is best for this time. I want to be color blind, but I still wonder if things are really working when we have a ward where well over a third is African-American but the entire bishopric is white. Of course I don't see a problem with the only Korean sister in our relief society being the president, but I recognize that both in the church and in society generally there are issues of race relation that are involved.

Of course, I know of one primarily African-American branch in Detroit where they had a young, single white professional as branch president but then he got married to an African-American member of the branch. Whether that increased or decreased his potential to be a leader of the branch is a bit hard to say. Especially when that happened, nearly 20 years ago, there was a lot of resistance to inter-racial marriage in the black community (although I can say I have white relatives who resist it to), so this is all difficult stuff.

On my mission the one person I baptized who was ordained to the Melchezidek Priesthood before I returned home was African-American. Still, especially with mixed race couples we did not make much progress, and in one case had only met the white women so had no clue that was the issue she had with us, until we had a missionary from Brazil who people perceived as black.

Here in Michigan we have had several missionaries from Africa, as well as a few whose parents were immigrants from Ghana.

I sometimes wonder if it will be Africans who will be key to bringing large numbers of African-Americans into the church.

Mike Johnson said...

The High Desert Ward, Albuquerque New Mexico Stake, was created on 20 October. There are now 8 wards and 2 branches in the stake:

Academy Heights Ward
Bear Canyon Ward
Cherry Hills Ward
East Ridge Ward
Haines Ward
High Desert Ward
La Cueva Ward
North Valley Ward
Alvarado Park Branch (Spanish)
Nob Hill YSA Branch

The Baliwag 2nd Branch, Baliwag Philippines District, Philippines Quezon City North Mission, was created on 20 October. There are now 5 branches in the district:

Baliwag 1st Branch
Baliwag 2nd Branch
Bustos Branch
San Ildefonso Branch
San Miguel Branch

Mike Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alien236 said...

@John Pack Lambert: I had an institute teacher give the class that "curse of Cain" hogwash just two weeks ago. Or to be precise, he asked why blacks couldn't hold the priesthood before, two people chimed up with "the curse of Cain", and he agreed with them. That was enough to dissuade me from ever inviting a non-member friend to institute, because if one had been there I would have been mortified. I am trying my best to put the lingering racial folklore out of its misery, and to put historical Mormon racism into its proper context of American culture, by compiling an extensive history of race relations within the Church.

Mike Johnson said...

I think the period from 1847 (the first recorded statement by an apostle that blacks descend from Cain or Ham and as such are not worthy to led whites) to 1978, is a tough one for the Church on racial issues.

There are a number of schools of thought in the Church (and outside) about what was going on, ranging from the Lord directing it all to the leadership getting it wrong and needing a revelation to set the ship back on course.

Joseph Smith had ordained blacks to the Priesthood (Elijah Abels, plus others), but it should be noted that Abels' son and grandson (the latter in the 1920s) were ordained to the Priesthood during the time of the ban.

Because we in the Church believed that the Church was being led by God, the policy must have come from God. And thus all kinds of explanations were developed (or rather borrowed from American society at large) to explain the ban. Wrong explanations--on any topic--are sometimes hard to eradicate. People raised to believe X often teach their children X, even when the Church has been teaching--quite clearly--"Not X."

The Church is led by 15 apostles that agree unanimously on policy and doctrine. This is a conservative approach. They spend their time teaching the principles necessary for salvation, but they also interject on topics that are less important. Discussions about ending the ban were held among the First Presidency and the Twelve in the 1960s and perhaps as early as 1948 (there is some evidence of discussions that early). But, it took until 1978 when President Kimball, counselors, and members of the 12 prayed about the subject and received a strong witness. Some present have later said that President Kimball had led a similar prayer several times before without that effect.

My own experience, if you will indulge me, is that in the mid-1960s I was in Kindergarten in Indiana, where about half of my class were black, urban kids. We moved to Salt Lake that summer and the ward and schools (pretty much my entire social circle) had Latin Americans, Asians, and Native Americans, but no African Americans. Every couple of years, a lesson would be taught (in Sunday School or Priesthood) that included mention of Blacks not being able to hold the Priesthood. For me, I remembered my only exposure, my Kindergarten classmates, who spoke funny and caused trouble in class. Now, my guess is that wasn't all of them, just those that were most remembered. So, it was easy for me to accept such notions.

Things changed my Sophomore year in High School. There was a non-member girl in some of my classes, who had an adopted younger brother--an African American--who contrary to what I had remembered from Kindergarten was articulate, well spoken, and clearly not what I had remembered. This caused a crisis for me. I thought about it for much of the school year, but in the Spring I climbed the mountain behind my house and prayed about it. I told God about my feelings and wondered how it could be that individuals like this younger brother--if he had been a member--would be denied the Priesthood. I felt a very strong impression that resolved everything for me. I felt the words "Patience, it won't be for much longer." I had tears in my eyes as I returned home.

A couple of weeks later, I was in a dentist office having my teeth worked on. The dental hygenist had completed her work and the dentist was doing his thing when the receptionist came in to tell the dentist "President Kimball had a revelation and blacks can now have the priesthood." (This is the first time I remember anything about the Church mentioned in the dentist office).

As the dentist worked on me I again had tears flowing and I said a silent prayer thanking God for preparing me to accept this revelation.

Mike Johnson said...

I don't care if we are a student in the class or not, if in a Sunday School, Seminary, or Institute class something is taught that is contrary to what the 15 senior brethren (the apostles) have been teaching for decades, it is our responsibility to speak up. Otherwise, people will continue to believe it and teach it. More importantly, others in the class may adopt that view. Some may be wondering about, but not prepared to dispute it.

The Opinion said...

Just an observation, is it possible that all things that existed in all previous dispensations would exist in this one dispensation. (I could elaborate on the many things that have existed or will exist in this dispensation but will spare everyone a long list.) So is it possible that a "ban" on the Priesthood exist in our dispensation because it existed in Abraham's day.

See Abraham 1:26-27
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

Mike Johnson said...

From the Mormon News Room:

"The First Presidency has announced open house and dedication dates for the Gilbert Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The public is invited to visit the temple during an open house from Saturday, 18 January 2014, through Saturday, 15 February 2014, excluding Sundays. Free reservations for the open house can be made through the website in the coming weeks.

The temple will be formally dedicated on Sunday, 2 March 2014, in three sessions. In conjunction with the dedication of the temple, there will also be a cultural celebration featuring music and dance on Saturday, 1 March 2014."

Mike Johnson said...

That is possible, TO.

I interpret Abraham a little differently than one lineage being banned. Instead, look at the Levites, where 1 lineage (the smallest of the Israelite tribes--even with Joseph split into Ephraim and Manasseh). This wasn't so much a ban for most, as it was one small group being dedicated to serve the others in performing religious rituals. It is more likely in the days of Abraham, that he was from a small group that had been so dedicated (despite his father's wickedness). Israel was also a small group through which all nations of the world would be blessed.

That said, BH Roberts suggested Abraham might have been the source of the ban.

Now, your take is also very interesting. Perhaps it was a restoration of something in the past. Restorations don't have to last forever.

Most of our attempts to explain it, came from the rest of American culture and were derived from Genesis 9. It is interesting to see all the different interpretations of Genesis 9 throughout history. In the Middle Ages in Europe, Catholic theologians thought Japeth was the European nobility, Shem was the freemen, and Ham was the serfs. Feudalism was breaking down when slaves were being imported into what would be America and Genesis 9 went through another interpretation that Ham was the slaves from Africa.

In 1831, Nat Turner--an educated and intelligent slave--led the most successful slave revolt in US history, terrifying the white population. A lot of progressively aggressive attitudes came from the perceived need to keep the slaves from rebelling. And Genesis 9 was used to justify this reaction. And the idea that slavery was ordained of God entered into the US population at large over the next decade or so and 17 years after Nat Turner, an apostle, Parley P Pratt articulated the theory that Genesis 9 and the Curse of Ham applied to blacks from Africa. Also, scientists and scholars began to identify Japeth with Europeans, Shem with Asians, and Ham with Africans. This was actually a repeat of what Christian fathers and Jewish rabbis had said in the first centuries of the Christian era, but in the middle and late 19th century these were found and published and written about.

Now, I believe we absorbed what was said outside and used it to justify
a policy of exclusion. Throughout the 1847 to 1978 period, the LDS Church was no worse in its racial relations (and often better) than most other US churches. That said, it is still embarrassing, because we rightly hold the LDS Church to a higher standard.

There was a time where I wished that neither polygamy nor black exclusion from the priesthood had happened. There are others, but these are the most pervasive of the negative images projected on us. D&C 132 identifies 3 reasons for polygamy (1) restoration of all things, (2) replenishing the earth, and (3) for the eternities because there won't be an exact equal number of men and women otherwise worthy for exaltation. But, I have heard several speakers of late talking about polygamy as an Abrahamic sacrifice and yes, the command to sacrifice Isaac is indeed in D&C 132. This interpretation places polygamy in a new light. It was a trial for people in the 19th century (and to a lessor extent for us). Black priesthood exclusion was a trial in the 19th, but especially in the mid- to late 20th century. Both went away by revelation. Both remain as trials for us.

Faith grows when it is tried and we decide to "doubt our doubts" more than our faith. There might be something to the Abrahamic sacrifice theory (an intense trail of faith). And there might be something about a restoration of all things, good and bad, because they figure into God's plans for his people.

Adam said...

The reason blacks in Africa don't care about the priesthood ban is because often they don't even know about it/don't really care. Normally only people in first world countries know about the situation.

Blacks in America have been more sensitive to issues because such a long part of their history included segregation and racism. The pain contempt is still felt to peoples that acted that way towards them. African's for the large part (while obviously their country split geographically and had resources stolen from European whites) never had to go day in and day out of being discriminated against or even coming into contact with whites, so they don't hold the same justified hostility.

While American's serving their missions in the US always have to overcome concerns about polygamy and blacks and the priesthood, I only ran into polygamy once in the Philippines, and I was surprised and excited because I had never gotten to overcome that concern before. People just didn't know about it, and having that, plus great humility, were very open to the church.

When Yeah Samake was running for President in Mali and was doing a fundraiser here in the US he mentioned similar concerning blacks and the priesthood, people just don't know about it. By the time they are converted they feel the spirit and don't care/or are comfortable about the issue because they know the church to be true regardless.

Often we only focus on the negatives of the blacks being able to not hold the priesthood, and rightfully so because there are so many. I have tried thinking to myself why God would've allowed it for so long, even if it were true that the leaders of the church were prejudiced against blacks for a long time. If it were true that we did have racist leaders, He was more than capable of calling apostles who weren't, but he didn't.

I can think mainly of two reasons, the lesser being that in the old days if church being open to black populations would've hurt more than helped public relations and further stunted missionary work in the states. Not a very good reason, but if it might have made the difference in millions of members over the next hundred years you maayyyy be able to see why it would be beneficial for the long run of the church. I think the better reason is that it kept us from reaching Africa at a time where we really weren't that great at organizing the church in third world countries. Problems existing in Chile, Argentina, and the Philippines with retention will likely never be experienced in Africa because the church now knows best how to organize those type of areas. If church leadership had applied the same principles to growth in the Philippines that they are now using in Africa, I have no doubt there would be over a million members and 300 stakes in the Philippines, instead we have about 100,000 going to sacrament per week nationwide, and have around 80 stakes and 80 districts. Africa has the potential to be one of the strongest areas of the church (if not THE strongest) 50 years from now, and I would say that it is in large part because of their preservation through the Priesthood ban.

Matt said... has good resources and thoughts on Blacks and the Church

Mike Johnson said...

The Quito Ecuador Turubamba Stake was created on 20 October. There are 6 wards in the stake:

Argelia Ward
Asistencia Social Ward
Manantial Ward
Oriente Quiteno Ward
Solanda Ward
Turubamba Ward

The Verde Valley YSA Branch, Cottonwood Arizona Stake, was created on 20 October. There are now 7 wards and 2 branches in the stake:

Black Hills Ward
Clear Creek Ward
Mingus Ward
Montezuma Ward
Mountain View Ward
Sedona Ward
Spring Valley Ward
Rio Verde Branch (Spanish)
Verde Valley YSA Branch

John Pack Lambert said...

Elder McConkie clearly said in August 1978 that all pre-June 1978 teachings on blacks and the priesthood were false, and I wish that more people knew that. Elders Oaks and Holland, and probably others have specifically denounced some of the past teachings.

In my own experience the first African-American I can clearly remember seeing was a child in one of my early primary classes. We lived in the white suburbs but our ward stretched deep into Detroit. A few years later they formed a branch in Detroit and his family went there.

I remember when I was in 3rd grade seeing the one black kid in our entire school lined up in a different line from the other kids in his class. I do not know what was actually going on but I thought "segregation is alive and well, they are separating our black people". Even then I wondered if I was over interpreting things, but that was my first impression.

I also first got an inkling of how much Southfield was where African-Americans were moving from Detroit from a girl in our stake who did that very move I knew from stake dances.

The one time I went to EFY my roommate was African-American, although he might have been the only one there, and that was in Athens Ohio.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think reading the passages from the Book of Abraham as implying a ban is a misreading. I think what was going on is that as it was the Patriarchal Priesthood it was limited to only certain lines. You had to have male descent, the man reffered to only connected to those lines through his mother.

I used to think this somehow related to the ban, but having read the passage many times I see now clear connection at all. I know people use it to justify the ban, but I think they misread it.

Anyway, Darius Gray can prove Jesus was black. My main take away from that is descended from Ham does not mean black at all. Of course, there are those who say the ancient Egyptians were black.

Of all the things I read from Joseph Fielding Smith the one I most regret telling people in my seminary class was that Joseph ruled during the Hyksos invasion. Looking back, I think JFS mainly proposed this because he assumed that those of African descent could never hold the priesthood.

Most radically, I have realized there is a slight possibility I might have African ancestry. Probably not, but I have ancestors who were allegedly Cherokee, but there is little evidence of this. In some cases that was actually a cover for African ancestry.

John Pack Lambert said...

Africa is not a country. Nor can we generalize the condition of things in Africa as all one.

In South Africa there is clearly a legacy of the exclusion, but it has a complex relation to apartheid. Elder Soares mentioned Moses Mahlangu in his talk, and said he was not baptized because of South African government policy. This was only half true, it was a combination of Apartheid and the priesthood exclusion. That is why he was able to be baptized in 1980 even though Apartheid did not end until 1993.

Elder Dube, who spoke just after Elder Soares, did not tell us his story, but he coverted to the church in Zimbabwe at a time when almost all of the members there were white. He was introduced to the gospel by a white person whose home he worked in as a servant. He initially felt out of place, but had read the Book of Mormon enough before coming that he then felt connected.

Zambia is the one other place where black/white relations have played a big part in LDS church history. There the church existed for a time at the end of the colonial period, and then ceased to exist after decolonization there in 1965 and was not reestablished until I believe the late 1980s.

Levi Walpole said...

Nice about the creation of the Verde Valley YSA Branch, I served about 6 months in that stake.

Levi Walpole said...

Nice about the creation of the Verde Valley YSA. I served about 6 months in the cottonwood stake.

Ed Clinch said...

The conjecture about current developmentt in Africa versus past challenges/failures in S. America or Phillipines is compelling; we do not
know all the answers to the pre 2nd manifesto ban, but it would be incredibly wonderful if the delayed priesthood growth actually blessed and benefitted the multiple rich nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

MLewis82 said...

I'm not sure this is the right place for the blacks and priesthood debate, but here is a minor point. McConkie didn't say all earlier teachings were "false". There may be have been some truth to some of the earlier theories, though I don't contest the assessment provided in these comments as to the origin of most of those theories. Essentially what McConkie said was, regardless of the truth or error of those theories (he uses the term "light or darkness"), forget about them. The prophet has spoken and those theories don't matter. McConkie's actual quote is below:

There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, "You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?" All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.