Saturday, February 24, 2018

Young LDS Missionaries Assigned to Senegal for the First Time - Non-African Missionaries Return to Cote d'Ivoire

Within the past couple weeks, the Church assigned young, full-time missionaries to serve in the West African country of Senegal for the first time. Six Black African full-time missionaries from the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission were assigned to Senegal. All six missionaries appear to serve in the city of Dakar where the only LDS branch operates in the country. A senior missionary couple has served in Dakar for at least a couple years to provide member and leadership support. This couple has also appeared to conduct humanitarian and development work in Senegal. The Church operated a member group in Dakar for at least 1-2 years before the organization of the Dakar Branch in May 2016 with 24 members. The Church assigned Senegal to a mission, the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission, for the first time in late 2016/early 2017. LDS Apostle Elder David A. Bednar dedicated Senegal for missionary work in May 2017 when he met with the approximately two dozen local members in the Dakar Branch. Most members in the Dakar Branch were originally Black Africans from other West African countries. However, native Senegalese have appeared to begin to join the Church in the past 1-2 years. Dakar Branch members primarily speak French and Wolof. It is unclear which mission Senegal will be assigned to when the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission is organized this July. Ninety-six percent (96%) of the population in Senegal is Muslim, whereas 4% is Christian.

Senegal presents many good opportunities for future LDS growth due to widespread religious freedom, tolerance for Christian proselytism, sizable Christian minority in Dakar and southern areas of the country, and easy accessibility from other West African countries. There are 3.5 million people who live in the Dakar metropolitan area. One other city has at least one million people: Touba (1.0 million). The creation of member groups that assemble in areas distant from the current church meetinghouse appears likely in the next year due to the large geographical size of Dakar and opportunities for future growth.

For more information, refer to this case study (written in February 2014) that provides an analysis of opportunities for growth in Senegal.

Lastly, non-African missionaries from North America have begun to serve in Ivorian missions after approximately 5-6 years. North American missionaries have historically served in Cote d'Ivoire although they were evacuated during the First and Second Ivorian Civil Wars. The first North Americans to serve in Cote d'Ivoire after the Second Ivorian Civil War appeared to begin their service sometime within the past year.


Michael Worley said...

Wonderful!!! Senegal and Mali will add to the Africa West area in wonderful ways. May that area keep growing for decades.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Many missionaries who served in France, probably more since the time of Mitt Romney, have had large interactions with sub-Saharan peoples. Of the returned missionaries who spoke French in Europe (or elsewhere) I imagine there are thousands who could serve in senior missionary capacities like Senegal and Mali.
Yes, great to see this outreach.

Eduardo Clinch said...

And like my parents in Cambodia and Indonesia, it is not all local language based.
English can be part of the mission to those that they serve.

John Pack Lambert said...

This is quite an encouraging development in Senegal. With Benin City getting 2 new stakes last Sunday I am very hopeful we see at least 1 new templeof announced for the Africa West area this year, though I really hope we see 5 announced but have my doubts at seeing more than 2 announced this year.

John Pack Lambert said...

I just noticed a ward was discontinued in Visalia, California. This made me wonder how close Idaho was to overtaking California in its number of wards and branches.

I was talking to someone at stake conference today who served Spanish speaking in the New York Rochester Mission. He mentioned that in his mission all Spanish speaking units were groups under English speaking wards.

Ray said...

John, FYI since January 1 there have been 10 fewer wards and branches in California and 8 more in Idaho. Idaho actually had 9 more wards and a reduction of one branch that became a ward. California now has only 55 more wards than Idaho (1132 vs. 1077). The difference was close to 200 five years ago.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Part of the California versus Idaho discussion is that Idaho is growing by a higher percentage, right? A lot of this has to do with jobs.

The overall non-dynamic growth of LDS in California is of concern.

One year that I attended a Spanish speaking branch in San Bernardino (2004-2005), many people were baptized, maybe between 15-20. Our part of the kingdom seemed to be advancing well, but at the same time of the stronger members were looking for places in the the Inter-Mountain west to move to, and some of them did that.

John Pack Lambert said...

How much changes in California are a reflection of lower ward attendance and how much it is oart of adjustments to get higher numbers of active members per congregation is hard to say.

I know here in Michigan various economic, familial and other factors often lead to many members moving out.

It often seems Mormons who leave Michigan have little desire to return while those who come for education and work seek how to leave the fastest. Many new converts though leave for elsewhere because they find cutting their ties with non-member associates is the easiest way to keep in the faith. Coupled with this I have seen people from Michigan who joined the Church elsewhere and then returned here fall out of activity in the Church largely due to the influence of their old friends.

If the stats for the last two months keep up than Idaho will have more wards and branches than California by the end if the year.

James Anderson said...

That is a cultural issue with Michigan, people live and work there but go on vacations to Florida or Arizona, and Detroiters call anything, even if it is west of there 'up north' but reserve vacations to cabins, etc., for summers, add to that various governmental problems regardless of political affiliation of those in power, such as even road repairs and other garden variety services, and some simply want to get away from that.

John Pack Lambert said...

large scale desire to leave the state I have seen most in connection with Flint.

Ohhappydane33 said...

What's interesting to me about California is that most of the recent unit consolidations happening here have been in areas that are not all that particularly expensive. Visalia is one of the cheapest cities in the state. I didn't know California and Idaho were "competing" for the most units as John continues to assert here, but seems to fit his ongoing narrative of anti-Californiaism.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Yeah, negative trends in LDS growth in California prove that the end is near.
While Idaho proves the contrary.

David Todd said...

The end of what?

Eduardo Clinch said...

You got me, that was supposed to an inane facetious statement.
Similar to anyone being anti-Californian on this forum. A few years ago I got into a rather emotional debate on my Foxsports blog with a dude who claimed marijuana is peachy keen and causes no harm. However, his rhetoric was rather hyperbolic and rather paranoid, indicators of the same chemicals he was trying to defend. His home state was California.
Incidentally, I have at least 50, probably more, family members in the Golden State, most of them are LDS.
It's a great place, I have my wife and three California-born children from there. Good work and education there.
So maybe I was indicating the end of anti-California perceptions, which is not the end of the world.

James Anderson said...

I think there is growth, it's just possible that sometime after they join, and that time can't be quantified that easily, or an aerage can't be quantified, as to how long from when they join to when they leave the state to relocate to wherever.

Sort of like South Salt Lake where they join then move further out later. That is why so little stake growth in/close to SLC but growth is happening south of I-215 as that is about mid-valley