Monday, February 17, 2014

Unprecedented Membership and Congregational Growth in West Africa

An article published in the LDS Church News this past weekend provided what appears to be year-end 2013 membership statistics for the seven countries in the Africa West Area with an LDS presence.  The article indicates that there were nearly 20,000 convert baptisms in the Africa West Area.  See below for an analysis of membership growth numbers of these seven countries provided with annual percentage growth for 2013.
  • Benin - 1,400+ members - more than 29.5% annual increase
  • Cote d'Ivoire - nearly 23,000 members - no more than 23.6% annual increase
  • Ghana - 57,000+ members - more than 8.8% annual increase
  • Liberia - 8,000+ members - more than 19.2% annual increase
  • Nigeria - 118,000+ members - more than 7.3% annual increase
  • Sierra Leone - 13,000+ members - more than 11.5% annual increase
  • Togo - 2,300+ members - more than 23.6% annual increase
To emphasize the significance of recent membership and congregational growth in the Africa West Area, I have created graphs for all seven of these countries that display membership and congregational growth trends since the establishment of the Church in each country.









Grant Emery said...

What's up with Liberia? Those wards that all suddenly appeared and then suddenly were replaced by branches? Did requirements for wards change? Or did we lose the ability to have missionaries there temporarily and the wards declined? Curiouser and curiouser.

Mike Johnson said...

The Monrovia Liberia Stake existed from 11 June 2000 to 2 June 2007. My guess is that the criteria for a stake changed. Without the stake, there can't be wards.

Mike Johnson said...

From the LDS online almanac:

"Throughout most of the 1990s, Liberia suffered from civil war, which disrupted missionary work and progress of the Church. On 8 May 1990, missionaries serving in Liberia were transferred to Sierra Leone because of civil strife. In April 1991, the mission in Liberia was closed due to civil war and responsibility for the Church transferred to the Ghana Accra Mission. Da Tarr, first counselor in Monrovia District, was left in charge. Of the 1,200 Latter-day Saints, 400 remained in Liberia, 400 fled to other countries, and 400 were missing. Missionaries did not return to Monrovia until 10 March 1999.

On 4 July 1999, the districts in Monrovia were combined in preparation for organization of the first stake, the Monrovia Liberia Stake, on 11 June 2000 with Toby Wleboe Tweh as president."

It looks like the decision to discontinue the stake was about the same time as the decision to reestablish a second district. The creation of the stake may have been premature given the problems of stability in Liberia.

The period from 2000 to 2007, when the stake was there, was a period of strife that eventually led to the dictator fleeing to Nigeria. An election was held in October 2005 and the country appears to have stabilized by 2007. It could be that conditions were such for the Church that it made more sense to have two districts under a mission supported from the outside, rather than a stake on the inside in what was a pariah state.

Grant Emery said...

Great info. Thanks!

Mike Johnson said...

The Washington Fields 14th Ward, St George Utah Washington Fields Stake, was created on 16 February. There are now 11 wards in the stake:

Washington Fields 2nd Ward
Washington Fields 4th Ward
Washington Fields 5th Ward
Washington Fields 7th Ward
Washington Fields 8th Ward
Washington Fields 9th Ward
Washington Fields 10th Ward
Washington Fields 11th Ward
Washington Fields 12th Ward
Washington Fields 13th Ward
Washington Fields 14th Ward

Ed Clinch said...

I guess Sierra Leone became a Muslim dominant country in the last few generations; when my folks lived there in the 1960s I don't think the rate was as high.

Now my nephew is there as an Elder and is doing really well. The Church is growing quite a bit, as indicated. Liberia has had its struggles while some neighboring nations up the coast and to the north have few or no missionaries at all. Guinea Bissau and Guinea and The Gambia seem good candidates.

Ray said...

I checked online and the source there said that in 1960 the Muslim population was 35%, then grew to 60% in 2000, and 71% in 2008.

Mike Johnson said...

The Gbeuliville Branch, Yamoussoukro Cote d'Ivoire District, Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission, was created on 16 February. There are now 8 branches in the district:

Agbanou Branch
Bouafle Branch
Gbeuliville Branch
Habitat Branch
Koko Branch
Kokrenou Branch
N'Zuessy 1st Branch
N'Zuessy 2nd Branch

Pascal said...

The German version of reports that the Langen Branch, Frankfurt Germany Stake, matured into a ward last Sunday. This is a significant accomplishment since the city only has a population of 37,000.

Independent of this development, there has been a significant increase in baptisms in the Frankfurt Stake and convert retention seems to be good. With several large wards and potential to split them, a second stake in the Frankfurt area (Darmstadt? Wiesbaden?) might be possible within the next ten years.

Also, great to see what's happening in the Africa West Area. 2013 might just have been the beginning of a period of significant growth. A lot of cities, regions and even countries remain unreached and it would be great to see if we finally use the Missionary surge to assign more Missionaries in this part of the world.

Ray said...
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Ray said...


Thanks for the information about the Langen Branch becoming a ward. I had just noted a change in Germany from branch to ward and was curious where it was.

It's interesting to note that Germany has 172 wards and branches and that Ghana has 170, even though it has about 20,000 more members. That being the case, the Ghana units must be rather large. There are also several groups in Ghana that won't show up as Church units yet.

I recently talked to a returned missionary who served in eastern Germany in a branch in a small city there similar to Langen and she mentioned that many of the new converts are immigrants, including some from the Middle East.

Pascal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray said...

This kind of growth reminds me of the early years of the Church in Latin America, the Philippines, Pacific Isles, even Britain in the 1830s and 1840s