Monday, January 20, 2014

Young Proselytizing Missionaries Arrive in Gabon

Within the last week, missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission report that the first young, proselytizing missionaries have been assigned to the Central African country of Gabon.  The Church organized its first official branch in the country approximately a year ago and LDS apostle Elder David A. Bednar dedicated Gabon for missionary work just a few months ago.  There appear to be approximately 50 to 100 members on church records in Gabon although the Church has yet to release official membership statistics on the country.  Currently there are four young elders (two North American, two African) and one senior couple assigned to the capital city of Libreville.

37 comments:

Ed Clinch said...

So, are there any non-Muslim predominant countries left with no missionaries?

Exciting times.

Ed Clinch said...

I meant to say as a part of Africa. There are still Burma (Myanmar) Communist China, Laos, Bhutan and a few other Asian ones.

Also, how is the Church missionary presence in little places like Andorra, Lichtenstein, Faeroe Islands and others?

Pascal said...

There are no Missionaries in the Central African Republic (although it's quite evenly split between Muslims and Christians). On the more obvious side, we have no Missionaries in South Sudan and (to my knowledge, which is really surprising) none in Namibia. The first two countries are obviously in civil war and significant public unrest, but Namibia is one of the wealthiest nations in Africa, the cities having almost western living standards, and yet I don't think we have Missionaries there.

Andorra has a branch and Missionaries but the boundaries cover far beyond the borders and go well into other parts of the Spain Barcelona Mission that are situated within Spain.
Liechtenstein has not been dedicated for Missionary work and members travel to Chur, Switzerland for meetings. It's not a logistical problem though so I (as someone who is quite familiar with the Church in that area) would assume that a branch in Liechtenstein will be off the table until Chur gets too big not to split.
The Faeroe Islands have, to my knowledge, never received Mission outreach. I'd love to see that change though, maybe with a senior couple that organizes a group and gets the work going. Relatively many islands with quite small and less receptive populations are the most likely reason why no prior outreach has occurred there.

John said...

There are (or were) couple missionaries at least in Namibia - one such couple served there from my in-laws' ward.

San Marino is in the Rimini Branch, Rimini district, Italy Milan Mission. There aren't missionaries based there, but missionaries from Rimini go there to visit members, or sometimes to teach those contacts they've met in Rimini.

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

The microstates of Europe don't fit the normal outreach discussion.

All are inside a branch or ward with the meetinghouse located not far outside of the microstate. The wards and branches have 20 to 50 times the area of microstate. There are no border controls in play. Arguably, the microstates, which are economically integrated with the surrounding larger nation state, are more analogous to a city than a separate country (perhaps more like a city with charter with extensive autonomy, but still needing to align with the surrounding country’s economy).

The populations below are 2011 census reports except for France, which is an estimate for Metropolitan France in 2014.

Andorra (78,115) is inside of the Andorra Branch, Lléida Spain Stake, meeting at Carrer Comtat D'Urgell 10, LA SEU D'URGELL, LLEIDA 25700, SPAIN. Spain has a population of 46,815,916 and 80 wards and 60 branches. This means 334,399 people per LDS congregation on average.

Monaco (36,371) is inside of the Nice Ward, Nice France Stake, meeting at 5 Avenue Therese NICE, 06000 FRANCE. France has a population of 63,929,000 and 62 wards and 45 branches. This means 597,467 people per LDS congregation on average.

Liechtenstein (36,281) is inside of the Chur Branch, St Gallen Switzerland Stake, meeting at Ringstrasse 18 CHUR, 7000 SWITZERLAND. Switzerland has a population of 7,954,700 and 26 wards and 10 branches. This means 220,964 people per LDS congregation on average.

San Marino (32,576) is inside of the Rimini Branch, Rimini Italy District, Italy Milan Mission, meeting at Via Del Capriolo 12 RIMINI, RIMINI 47923 ITALY. Italy has a population of 59,433,744 and 53 wards and 50 branches. This means 577,027 people per LDS congregation on average.

In all cases, the microstate is small in both population and area to what would be expected for a congregation in the larger country.

Thus, the idea of whether they are reached by LDS outreach or not is somewhat blurred. They probably each are simply part of the area worked by a single missionary companionship.

Mike Johnson said...

The Faroe Islands are part of the Denmark Copenhagen Mission Branch.

It is unlikely that LDS maps would draw a boundary around the Faroe Islands and identify them as covered by an area, mission, or district branch if there weren't at least one group meeting there under the direction of the branch.

Grant Emery said...

Speaking of how the Church is growing in Europe, does anyone have any ideas of new units being created in France? I'd love to figure out how y'all predict these things. I mean, I can see the counting wards/branches, but how do you know how large a ward is?

I've said it recently, but I feel like this is an exciting time for France. I just heard (very much third-hand) that they've actually broken ground on the Paris Temple, though I haven't seen any news articles about it (TempleRick, it looks like you've not seen anything either, right?). I wonder if it was to keep down all of the hullabaloo that's surrounding its construction. Quote from the friend who returned from the Paris Mission recently: "When I was on my mission they said in September, when Elder Oaks came, that construction had started. Between then and when I left in December several members told me that there was significant parts of the building to be seen under construction. But to be honest I was never quite sure."

James Crowther said...

For people with a calling that has access to the CDOL (Church Directory of Organization and Leaders), there is a lot of information that is available. But for normal members, you can see Boundaries of Wards, Branches, Stakes, and Missions on www.lds.org/maps if you sign into your lds account. Also the LDS international Atlas at www.cumorah.com/ is a great resource to view units in an easier way.

That is interesting about the Paris Temple. The Last pictures posted to ldschruchtempels.com show the building demolition, so hopefully some new photos will be posted soon. I guess it is possible that they had a small ceremony, similar to what happened in Phoenix. It's not very surprising the Temple did not have a spire or Moroni, French law is pretty strict against religious symbols. I can see why they might want to keep construction hush.

Mike Johnson said...

The Sun City Ward, Tema Ghana Stake, was created on 19 January. There are now 10 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Adjei Kojo Ward
Ashaiman Ward
Batsona Ward
Bethlehem Ward
Lebanon Ward
Nungua 2nd Ward
Sun City Ward
Tema 2nd Ward
Tema 1st Ward
Tema 3rd Ward
Klagon Branch
Kpone Branch
Zenu Branch

alien236 said...

From one of Matt's other blogs it appears that the congregation consolidations in South America have been continuing unabated. At least they seem to have simmered down on the stake level.

Grant Emery said...

I actually got news from the current mission president's wife that they did not have any groundbreaking ceremony. She seemed to be under the impression that maybe the groundbreaking would happen after the foundation was laid (which she says is in progress). Seems a bit non-traditional, so I'm not sure.

I actually talked to Bishop Burton about the Paris Temple not too long ago, and he said a couple of interesting things. For one, he said the Paris Temple was the hardest approval he ever gained. Also, we talked about how one of the reasons there is no spire in the plans is because they require the horizon/treeline seen from the Palace of Versailles to remain as it was at the time of Louis XIV. So, a spire with Moroni poking above the trees would ruin that (super close to the palace). They might add an independent spire (a la Frankfort) at a future point, but I hope they don't.

TempleRick said...

My French contacts also indicate that no groundbreaking has taken place for the Paris France Temple. Demolition of the buildings that formerly occupied the site occurred in August, just before Elder Oaks' arrival, so I could see why some would say that construction had started. However, the buildings had extensive underground facilities, including parking, which left a lot of removal work to be done even after the superstructures were toppled. I have seen photographs from two months ago, and there was no evidence of a foundation going in. There was still plenty of old concrete, railings, and so forth being hauled off. There was also drilling equipment, which is used for taking soil samples. I don't think there will be actual construction of the temple until the groundbreaking is held. And one contact says that is not likely to happen until the pending litigation has been resolved—hopefully later this year.

John said...

"It is unlikely that LDS maps would draw a boundary around the Faroe Islands and identify them as covered by an area, mission, or district branch if there weren't at least one group meeting there under the direction of the branch."

It's my understanding that Church policy is that all land is assigned to some branch or ward, even if there are no members (or inhabitants) in it. (Church-produced maps used to have such a statement in a bottom corner.) And that a _______ Mission Branch is a catch-all for whatever groups or families might live in a given area. (How they deal with Antarctica is beyond me.)

Mike Johnson said...

The Iona Idaho South Stake was created on 19 January. There are 8 wards in the stake:

Iona 1st Ward
Iona 3rd Ward
Iona 4th Ward
Iona 6th Ward
Iona 7th Ward
Iona 8th Ward
Iona 9th Ward
Iona 10th Ward


The Harrisburg Ward, Charlotte North Carolina Central Stake, was created on 12 January. There are now 8 wards and 1 branch in the stake:

Albemarle Ward
Concord Ward
Harrisburg Ward
Hilliard YSA Ward
Kannapolis Ward
Matthews Ward
Reedy Creek Ward
University City Ward
Charlotte Branch (Spanish)


The Highland 10th and 12th wards, Pocatello Idaho Highland Stake, were created on 19 January. There are now 12 wards in the stake:

Highland 1st Ward
Highland 2nd Ward
Highland 3rd Ward
Highland 4th Ward
Highland 5th Ward
Highland 6th Ward
Highland 7th Ward
Highland 8th Ward
Highland 9th Ward
Highland 10th Ward
Highland 11th Ward
Highland 12th Ward


The Toril 2nd Ward, Davao Philippines Stake, was created on 19 January. There are now 9 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Bajada Ward
Davao 1st Ward
Davao 2nd Ward
Maa Ward
Matina 1st Ward
Matina 2nd Ward
Mintal Ward
Toril 1st Ward
Toril 2nd Ward
Calinan Branch
Ladian Branch
Tamugan Branch

Mike Johnson said...

The Iona Idaho Stake now contains the Iona 2nd, 5th, and 11th wards and the Lincoln 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, John. I appreciate your willingness to engage me on this topic.

I am not sure about how administrative branches work. Sure, every part of the earth is divided up. Antarctica and several inhabited islands don't show up on LDS maps as part of a branch or ward. So, I don't know why some places do and some do not, unless there are actually members organized in some way in the administrative branch.

Administrative branches don't always show up even when all of the wards and branches don't cover an entire area.

Administrative branches count toward the congregations in each country. For example, in Denmark, there are 13 wards and 10 branches. The Århus Denmark Stake has 7 wards and 6 branches. The Copenhagen Denmark Stake has 6 wards and 3 branches. These two stakes cover all of Denmark proper. And they account for all but a single Danish branch.

The Faroe Islands are the only place inside the boundaries of the Denmark Copenhagen Mission Branch boundaries. This is the 10th branch in Denmark. If all it is is a placeholder, then it shouldn't be counted as a branch or congregation. If it has 1 or more groups, it should be called a congregation. At least in my opinion.

The Denmark Copenhagen Mission also covers all of Greenland--which is a single branch and Iceland--which is split between two branches. These three branches are direct report to the Mission.

Therefore, I still question why there would be a circle (branch boundary) around the Faroe Islands if there weren't at least one group there. Groups need area presidency (or member of the presidency of the seventy) permission to create. All membership records in groups are held inside a parent ward or branch, which is the reason administrative branches are formed. Now, the branch president of an administrative branch is the district, mission, or area president, depending on whether it is a district, mission, or area branch. So, to get a temple recommend a member of a group in a mission branch would need the branch president's signature and then the mission president's signature, but they would be the same person. And I imagine a person in an area branch needs to the area president's signature in both places.

John said...

Back when there was an International Mission, the temple president was the second signature on recommends. I don't know how it would work now in area branches or districts.

Nunavut used to be shown as at least part of the Canada Montreal Mission Branch, but that branch isn't listed on CDOL now (not the only thing that isn't) and the lds.org maps show a gap there. (And that's not the only gap, either.)

Mike Johnson said...

In other words, they discontinued the Canada Montreal Mission Branch. My guess is they did so when they no longer had a group.

I admit I may be wrong and it may simply be administrative oversight, but there are plenty of areas in many countries where no congregation is listed. So, this has led me to assume that they would have to have at least a group in order to have the administrative branch, which do show up in CDOL.

Of course, there are exceptions. There is a "Falklands Administrative Branch" in LDS Maps, but not in CDOL. This branch doesn't follow the normal naming format for an administrative branch.

With districts, I understand that members have their recommends signed by the branch and mission presidents.

Having a temple president sign makes sense, I guess, in cases where the branch president and mission president are the same.

I think what had been the international mission is now the Africa North/Middle East Area. There are three types of areas:

10 North America Area where Area Seventies, Stake, and Mission presidents report to a member of the presidency of the Seventy,

14 organized areas with an area presidency

Africa North/Middle East Area, which has 4 seventies living in Utah administering it (1 1st Quorum, 1 2nd Quroum, and 2 3rd Quorum), but they aren't organized as an area presidency.

John said...

The International Mission covered everything not assigned to another mission. It predated the areas created in 1985, and eventually was divided among those areas. The remaining branches and districts were part of "area missions" for a time but later became area districts and branches.

The Middle East and North Africa went through several iterations before becoming their own area, including being carved up among various Europe areas. For a time, for instance, the Arabian Peninsula Stake (later Manama Bahrain Stake, now the Abu Dhabi Stake and Manama district) was the only stake in Europe East Area.

I do find the Falkland Islands Branch (Administrative) in CDOL. It is part of the Europe Area and is listed as being within the boundaries of the Cape Verde Praia Mission, but not as a "child unit" of that mission.

So there may not be a group or family in Nunavut right now. Or maybe it's like mainland China, where the Church doesn't want people like us to know what's up. It doesn't matter to me at the moment.

Iris and Craig said...

It's because the Nunavut are the lost tribes of Israel, that is why everything is on the down-low. ;D

Mike Johnson said...

I searched for Falklands and not Falkland, which is why I couldn't find it in CDOL.

Ed Clinch said...

Interesting discussion about the smaller LDS groups and units.

I am not familiar with the CDOL, but I guess it is possible, for instance, that the 1,000 LDS in Afghanistan in 2012 would not be recorded too stringently. That for security reasons.

Nunavut needs more people period, not just LDS.

The 12 tribes are spread around the world in the billions. We do have our patriarchal blessings.

We are they. And I happen to be 1/16 Micmac Indian, which might have some connections to Inuit of the Canadian north, who knows.

Mike Johnson said...

The Shawinigan Branch, Longueuil Québec Stake, was created on 19 January. There are now 8 wards and 7 branches in the stake:

Drummondville Ward
Lemoyne Ward
Longueuil Ward
Mont St Hilaire Ward
Québec Ward
Sherbrooke Ward
St Jean Ward
Victoria Ward (Spanish)
Alma Branch
Chicoutimi Branch
Rimouski Branch
Sainte-Foy Branch
Shawinigan Branch
Trois Rivières Branch
Victoriaville Branch

Joseph Heath said...

Speaking of the status of the temple in Paris... Does anyone know if any progress is being made on the temple in Lisbon? Ldschurchtemples.com hasn't recorded any news on it yet...

Adam said...

My mission president who served from 2010-2013 in the once newly created Philippines Iloilo mission just got called to be mission president again for the the Philippines Urdeneta Mission starting this summer. I was surprised, because for the most part it seems like you are only a mission president once. Has anyone heard of similar circumstances?

Adam said...

My mission president who served from 2010-2013 in the once newly created Philippines Iloilo mission just got called to be mission president again for the the Philippines Urdeneta Mission starting this summer. I was surprised, because for the most part it seems like you are only a mission president once. Has anyone heard of similar circumstances?

Iris and Craig said...

Found out about some great news from my grandparents who just got called on a special stake assignment a couple of months ago to the Amish group (not branch, but group) that reports to the Mount Vernon ward of the Columbus East Stake.

It's been great to hear their efforts and the Amish conversion stories. They are all very strong and the three families have been all sealed in the temple and attend twice a month. The 4th Amish family just got baptized in December. There are about 35 members that attend the group.

These four Amish families have special permission from the Stake President to meet in one of their barns there in Amish country. They have all been shunned from their Amish community obviously, so the stake has been really helpful and the ultimate goal for the group is for tolerance and outreach to the Amish community. :D

Mike Johnson said...

Very interesting about the Amish group. Sound like they might be getting close to becoming a branch. A branch in a stake needs 20 members and 4-6 active, full-tithe-paying MP holders. If three families have been sealed in the temple, the MP requirement might be close.

I am looking forward to seeing a branch in the near future.

John Pack Lambert said...

From the report they have on Cumorah.com on outreach to Inuit, it appears that for the time being the group in Nunavut has been discontinued.

Things are looking up in Greenland. We actually had a sister missionary here in the Detroit Mission from Greenland, although her family were Danish and had just been living there for several years as opposed to being Inuit.

John Pack Lambert said...

The International Mission was discontinued in the 1980s, and its functions were turned over to areas. The North Africa/Middle East Area for years was part of various European areas. Then about 10 years ago (maybe a little less) they recreated it.

The International Mission covered all areas that were not under other missions, when it was first formed that meant all of Africa outside of South Africa and what was then known as Rhodesia, Eastern Europe, most of Asia, and parts of the Pacific even. It was organized in the early 1970s.

Adam said...

The North Little Rock Stake split today. They either named it Jacksonville or Searcy, my parents didn't remember which. They had talked to my grandma about it earlier in the day. Quitman and CHocktaw meet in the same building though they will be in different stakes, with Chocktaw staying in the north Little Rock. I know they pulled in at least Paragould and Jonesboro from one of the Memphis stakes. Sorry I don't have the specifics like MJ puts out, but I'm sure it'll come out soon.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, Adam about the new stake in Arkansas. It would be interesting if the new stake is named Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville Arkansas Stake was created on 19 June 1983 and ten years later was renamed North Little Rock Arkansas Stake on 8 Jun 1993.

James Anderson said...

Just got word that in the north Phoenix area, probably Glendale above the 101 freeway they may have rearranged some units which means a new one may have been created yesterday.

J S A said...

Sycamore Ward -- St George Utah Little Valley Stake

Liberty Ward -- Peoria Arizona North Stake

Mike Johnson said...

The Iranduba Branch, Manaus Brazil Rio Amazonas Stake, was created on 19 January. There are now 6 wards and 1 branch in the stake:

Compensa 1st Ward
Compensa 2nd Ward
Glória Ward
Manacapuru Ward
Miriti Ward
Tapajós Ward
Iranduba Branch


The Junction City 3rd Branch, Salina Kansas Stake, was created on 26 January. There are now 6 wards and 5 branches in the stake:

Great Bend Ward
Hays Ward
Junction City 1st Ward
Manhattan 1st Ward
Manhattan 2nd Ward
Salina Ward
Concordia Branch
Junction City 2nd Branch (Spanish)
Junction City 3rd Branch
Manhattan University Branch (Student)
Wamego Branch


The Miri 3rd Branch (Mandarin), Miri Malaysia District, Singapore Mission, was created on 26 January. There are now 3 branches in the district:

Miri 1st Branch
Miri 2nd Branch
Miri 3rd Branch (Mandarin)


The Sycamore Ward, St George Utah Little Valley Stake, was created on 26 January. There are now 8 wards in the stake:

Coyote Springs Ward
Jedora Ward
Knolls Ward
Little Valley Ward
Meadow Valley Ward
Red Butte Ward
Silkwood Ward
Sycamore Ward

Robbie Gordon said...

That is awesome! Do you have any updates for us?