Monday, November 9, 2015

Senior Missionaries to Begin Service in Senegal

The Church has appeared to approve the assignment of a humanitarian senior missionary couple to the West African nation of Senegal. The Church recently announced the future opening of an assignment in Dakar, Senegal in its weekly Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin. Senior missionaries serving in the Africa West Area headquarters noted earlier this year of an investigatory trip to Dakar, Senegal. These missionaries also reported that a member group now operates in Dakar to provide worship services to foreigners residing in the city. It is likely that a senior missionary couple assigned to Dakar would not only engage in humanitarian work, but explore opportunities for the ultimate assignment of young, proselytizing missionaries. The Senegalese population is 94% Muslim and 5% Christian, with most Christians concentrated in the Dakar area. There are no restrictions on religious freedom. Other missionary-focused Christian groups such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained a presence in Senegal for many years.


Ryan Searcy said...

Looks like the Catalonia region has plans to secede from Spain by 2017. Catalonia has 3 stakes - Barcelona, Hospitalet, and Lleida.

Mike Johnson said...

Catalonia is different from Scotland. The Scotland referendum was done under a law passed in Westminster (London) authorizing the Scottish government to hold an independence referendum that would be binding on the US by the end of 2014. In contrast, Madrid is opposed to Catalonia holding a referendum. The newly elected leadership in Catalonia is committed to the referendum that Madrid has called illegal. So, it remains to be seen what will happen. It is not clear if either side will backdown.

Rafael H. Rojas G. said...

Is about Senior Missionaries to Begin Service in Senegal, no that Catalonia has plans to secede from Spain.

Bryce said...

Great news! Will be interesting to follow what happens, been hoping for something new in Senegal for a long time! So does this represent a change in Area policy in favor of expanding to more countries? Or is this perhaps an exception?

Bryan Dorman said...

I believe it has to do with the fact that there are more and more African missionaries.

Cote D'Ivoire at this pace will overtake DR Congo pretty soon in membership and stakes. Both countries are self sufficient when it comes to missionary forces, and more and more are called from those countries.

Senegal being a Francophone country seems natural to go into next considering there is already a small group there. And don't forget Yeah Samake's presence in Mali, or the fact that Guinea borders Ivory Coast as well as Sierra Leone and Liberia.

John Pack Lambert said...

I would assume that the decision to expand to Senegal was made because it is felt that the Church has strong enough roots in all the countires in the area it currently has a persence in, including Togo and Benin, to be able to use resources in another country. The fact that the Church has managed to establish itself in northern Ghana where the population is majority Muslim and in some of others in west Africa, including in Abuja in Nigeria, with Muslim majority populations, may have also caused the Area Presidency to be willing to move into another heavily Muslim area.

However if there is one country that suggests that there is a good chance of success for the Church in Senegal it is Ivory Coast. Wikipedia gives the breakdown of religions in Ivory Coast as 38% Muslims, 32% Christian, 16% non-religious, and 12% followers of indigenous religions. The article mentions Latter-day Saints as one of the Christian groups, with the whole reference being "and a number of smaller mission churches such as the Latter-day Saints also exist." The article on Christianity in Ivory Coast identifies LDS membership as 42 congregations and 16,000 members. This was the start of 2012 figure. The figures I get from the Church Newsroom are 27,000 members and 94 congregations. I am pretty sure they are as of Jan. 1, 2015. I am pretty sure there are over 100 wards and branches in Ivory Coast by now.

Ivory Coast was only about 13% Christian in the 1980s, so Christianity has made major inroads there in the last 30 years.

Just to put things in perspective there are an estimated 2.8 million baptized Catholic in Ivory Coast, and a total population of 24 million. So Latter-day Saints are still under 0.5% of the population. In fact, they are just over 0.1% of the population. Some of the districts Ivory Coast is divided into still have no branches in them, and others have one branch.

Still Senegal will represent the first outreach into such a heavily Muslim nation in Africa.

On another note Sudan has been transferred to the Africa South-east Area and added to the Uganda Kampala Mission's area of responsibility. I am wondering if it might make sense to transfer Chad to the Congo Brazzaville Mission.

I hope the Church opens up work in Burkina Fasso soon as well.

Ryan Searcy said...

My opinion:

Sudan - Sudan has been a part of the Uganda Kampala Mission for quite some time.

Chad - I believe the Church might open up in Chad if a mission was created in Cameroon (which would cover Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Chad). Presently, Chad is part of the Africa West Area.

Burkina Faso - last I heard, Burkina Faso has had recent issues with their government and who represents the country. The Church might expand if the country were more stable. It would most likely join the Ghana Kumasi Mission.

Senegal - I have high hopes for Senegal, as it will provide future opportunities for all countries surrounding it (Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Mali). I heard that Mauritania is the only country in the world where slavery is legal, so progress there may be hampered for now. I am curious to which mission it would be assigned to: Cape Verde Praia Mission is the closest, but it will most likely be a part of the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission (especially if Gambia joins too).

John Pack Lambert said...

It appears that parts of South Africa are in the Botswana/Namibia Branch, including the Mabopane and Pretoria Stakes in South Africa. The Capetown and Johannesburg missions only include parts of South Africa. The Pretoria Stake appears to be drawn very oddly, with the furthest east ward and branch in the stake connected only to the rest of the stake by 30 or more kilometres of road with the surrounding land being in the Botswana/Namibia Mission Branch.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here is a Deseret News article about the death of Raelene B. Hill, who was presiding with her husband over the Accra Ghana West Mission.

Eduardo Clinch said...

It is notable that LDS missionaries go to Senegal before The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. Perhaps related to better economic conditions or simply government approval.
Sister Hill has touched thousands of lives and will be forever remembered, a true Mormon pioneer in Africa. We suppose President Hill will be replaced till next July ('16)?
Great stuff happening, thanks for sharing via this forum.

Mike Johnson said...

Matt references the 7th Day Adventists in Senegal.

The Western Sahel Union Mission (52 churches, 13,018 adherents) is headquartered in Dakar, Senegal. The Union Miss9on has five components:
Cabo Verde Conference (32; 7,698)
Guinea-Bissau Mission (4; 2,785)
Mali Mission (5; 1,639)
Senegal/Mauritania Mission (6; 616) (headquartered in front of a public movie theater)
Gambia Mission Station (5; 280)

Cape Verde is the only one with an LDS presence as reported by the Church's statistics page (11,898 members,1 mission, 36 congregations, 2 family history centers). We know there are several stakes there. But, none of the areas have an LDS presence--well Mali had a mayor/presidential candidate who is LDS).

Hopefully, Senegal will be the doorway to these other locations.

Joseph said...

Unit Update
25 Oct
Quixadá Branch, Brazil Fortaleza East Mission (3 Branches, 1 District, 7 Stakes)

8 Nov
Accra Ghana Ofankor Stake (2 Branches, 5 Wards)
Adoagyiri Branch
Nsawam Branch
Achimota Ward
Amasaman Ward
Chantan Ward
Kwabenya Ward
Ofankor Ward

Raleigh North Carolina South Stake (7 Wards)
Fuquay-Varina Ward
Garner Ward
Harris Lake Ward
Holly Springs Ward
Knightdale Ward
Swift Creek Ward
Zebulon Ward

Celina Ward, Frisco Texas Shawnee Trail Stake (9 Wards)
Chalco Hills Ward, Omaha Nebraska Stake (1 Branch, 12 Wards)
Desert Canyon Branch (Correctional Facility), Glendale Arizona North Stake (1 Branch, 10 Wards)
Iguatu Branch, Brazil Fortaleza East Mission (3 Branches, 1 District, 7 Stakes)
Oquirrh Lake 11th Ward, South Jordan Utah Oquirrh Lake Stake (11 Wards)
Orangewood Branch (Spanish), Hacienda Heights California Stake (3 Branches, 7 Wards)
Pacific Ridges Ward, Omaha Nebraska Stake (1 Branch, 12 Wards)
Volgograd Russia District Branch, Volgograd Russia District (5 Branches)

YTD 557(12.38/week 44) +12 (net 3)
Africa 161, 28.9% (Middle East/Africa North Area Added)
Asia 18, 3.2%
Europe 27, 4.8%
North America (w/ Caribbean) 148, 26.6%
Pacific 46, 8.3%
South and Central America 62, 11.1%
Utah & Idaho 95, 17.1%

I'm not sure these are updating correctly in sync with the unit creations
Totals no-sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 148 418 3,159 545 22,508 7,367 34,170
Us/Can 10 81 131 1,594 10 12,554 2,067 16,447
US n/a 73 124 1,547 7 12,217 1,916 15,884
Utah n/a 15 10 579 1 4,689 326 5,620
Canada n/a 8 7 47 3 337 151 553
Out 15 67 287 1,565 535 9,954 5,300 17,723

With Sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 148 418 3,159 556 22,512 7,458 34,276

John Pack Lambert said...

It looks like we may see an additional stake in Nebraska soon.

BYULAW said...

I was wondering if someone could tell me the rationales behind aggressive or conservative growth stake and ward divisions within the United States. For example, it would seem that the San Antonio area could easily support two additional stakes, Manhattan, Boston, and Omaha/Council Bluffs could support an additional stake. However, there are some areas where as soon as there are 10 wards then the stake splits with two stakes of 5 wards each. I am particularly interested in why the church delays creating new stakes when it seems like they could be supported.

Jim Coles said...

I live in the Omaha Nebraska Stake in the newly named Winter Quarters Ward (the winter quarters temple is in our boundaries after the boundary realignments). The changes actually led to our stake having an additional unit. (12 wards 1branch). The other 2 stakes in the metro area are the Papillion Nebraska Stake to the south with 9 wards and 1 branch and the Council Bluffs Stake to the east with10 wards and 1 branch. I was just discussing with a friend the other day that there are definitely enough wards in the area for another stake to be created in the near future. This is the 2nd time in 2 years that the boundaries have been realigned. In the 6 years, we have lived here we have been in 3 different named wards without having ever moved.

Matt said...

When my wife and I attended a ward in Boulder, Colorado during the late 2000s we had two men from Mali join the Church. Both previously adhered to Islam and required special interviews with the mission president to be baptized. One of these converts served a mission in Arizona during the early 2010s and was one of the first members from Mali to serve a full-time mission. Contacts these converts had with some of the first converts from Mali indicate that requests made to open Mali to missionary work were denied during the 2000s due to the Church's concern that there remain many unreached areas in countries with an established LDS presence so the opening of additional nations would be delayed until greater progress has occurred establishing the Church in previously unreached cities and provinces in other West African nations. I believe that most unreached West African nations - Burkina Faso, Mali, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal - all present good opportunities to have an LDS presence established. Delays in doing so may result in the Church missing its window of opportunity to establish a church presence, especially if political conditions change.

BYULAW - I have also wondered why the Church has such dramatically different outcomes with creating new stakes with the minimal number of wards versus with more wards than is needed. It seems that this variability is due to a variety of factors, particularly the goals and vision of the stake president and presiding area authority. Generally the Church seems to more aggressively create new stakes if there are many inactive members on the records (due to meeting the numerical qualifications for the number of members and also a focus on reactivation such as with the recently created Marana Arizona Stake or Miami Florida Stake) or there are the high expectations for growth (such as with the two new stakes in Accra). Sometimes the creation of stakes is delayed even in areas with rapid growth though until there are 14 or 15 wards in a stake due to shortages in more seasoned church leaders who are capable of serving in stake callings (such as in some areas of Sub-Saharan Africa). Also, the number of active members in the wards also makes a big difference. It is easier to split a stake with 10 or 11 wards if each of the wards have large numbers of active members, but more difficult to split a stake with 13 or 14 wards if many of the wards have the minimum number of active members to operate as wards.

Mike Johnson said...

There are three criteria for stakes:

1. Active Full Tithe Paying Melchizedek Priesthood Holders (24 + 15 required for each ward and presumably those required for any branches).
2. Membership (3000 in North America; 1900 outside of North America).
3. At least five wards.

When a stake splits both resulting stakes need to meet these criteria.

Wards require 15 AFTPMPHs and branches in stakes 4-6 and wards require 300 members in North America and 150 members outside of North America.

I have wondered why stakes in the 10 North America areas require more membership than elsewhere. I really don't know, but it is possible that there is more mobility in the United States and Canada and fairly dramatic departures can occur in areas and thus an added buffer is used, or maybe it has been experience so that fewer stakes need to be eliminated with the higher criteria.

My own stake has 13 wards and 2 branches. Several years ago, just as we were approaching the previous membership requirement (2500 for each stake or 5000 in the stake before splitting, the numbers were raised to 3000 each or 6000 would be needed to split the stake without help from another stake). We are now about 5600 members and hope to soon reach the threshold--we are well beyond the other two criteria.

So, it isn't just number of wards, but it is also AFTPMPHs and total members.

Reed said...

Mike, I'm not sure what your last entry means. What does 24 + 15 allude to, and what is "stakes 4-6"? I think several posters assume we all understand the shorthand comments made in their posts.

Also, for all of us, it would be helpful if each comment was checked for typos and clarity before sending off. I don't want to limit the comments, but I do want to know what each one means. Thank you! Reed

Mike Johnson said...


Per Handbook 1, each ward has a minimum requirement of 15 "active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders." The stake needs an additional 24 "active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders." There needs to be enough "active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders" to staff all of the wards and the stake.

So, to have a stake of six wards, one requirement is 24 + 6x15 = 114 active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the proposed stake. A new stake of seven wards has a minimum requirement of 24 + 7x15 = 129 active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the stake. And so on.

I complicated matters by extending the discussion to "branches in stakes." I have have seen stakes created with four wards and two branches, which seems to violate the 5 ward minimum unless, I suppose, if the branches combined to be equivalent to a ward, then it doesn't violate the ward requirement for a stake. Also, a lot of stakes have are created with branches as well as wards and I don't believe that the minimum of 4-6 "active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders" in those branches would count toward the 24 for the stake, but Handbook 1 doesn't specify.

There are different requirements for branches depending on whether they are "in stakes" or "in missions" (missions including districts). The priesthood requirement for "branches in stakes" is listed in Handbook 1 as 4-6 active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders. I am not sure why there is a range between four and six. Of course, these are the minimums and stakes, wards, and branches can and often do have more. Also "branches in stakes" need a minimum of 20 members. Branches in missions only require one Melchizedek Priesthood holder and at least 6 Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood holders in total, thus a lower requirement and no minimum membership requirement is set for "branches in missions."

There are also different criteria for YSA branches (minimum 50 members) and wards (minimum 125 members).

I was just trying to point out that there are three requirements for a new stake and not just number of wards to answer the questions posted earlier.

John Pack Lambert said...

The branch my girlfriend is in was organized in my stake back in 1993 with just one Melchezidek Priesthood holder in the branch.

Do stakes ever have administrative branches that allow for groups to be organized directly under the stake?

Mike Johnson said...

John, that is possible. The requirements have been increased over time. I am only familiar with Handbook 1 during the time I had access in 2013 and 2014.

I have never seen stake administrative branches. But, dependent branches have been created in wards possibly serve a similar purpose.

Mike Johnson said...

The administrative branch president is usually the mission, district, or area president and has one or more groups under it. The administrative branch and its groups may be thought of as a district and its branches in embryo.

phxmars said...

Manhattan has not divided because of the transient nature of several of its wards (I think there are 3-4 YSA wards) and members. Many members come and go quickly (2-4 years) OR come and move out to the suburbs once their children are approaching school age.

John Pack Lambert said...

Additionally since YSA wards only need 125 members they contribute less members overall so you will have more units with wards of this type. In some ways YSA wards should largely be excluded in comparing the size of those stakes that have them with those that do not. This is probably also a reason why the Cambridge Massachusetts stake has not divided despite its large number of units.