Saturday, July 20, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Brunei

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Brunei. With a small population of less than half a million, Brunei has a predominantly Malay population and some of the most significant religious freedom restrictions in Southeast Asia. The Church had two member groups in Brunei approximately 10 years ago, although it is unclear whether these groups both continue to operate. The Church's district based in Miri, East Malaysia administers to Church members in Brunei. See below for the Future Prospects section of this updated article:

With a small population and heavy government restrictions on non-Muslim faiths, Brunei is unlikely to experience significant church growth in the medium-term future. No other Muslim nation in Southeast Asia is as intolerant towards Christians. Government restrictions and Malay cultural customs limit missionary efforts among religious minorities to personal contacts of Church members in Brunei. Prospects exist for groups to mature into independent branches under the Miri East Malaysia District if foreign members with leadership experience remain active and stay in the country for extended periods of time. Greater progress will not occur until local members join the Church in greater numbers. Additional foreign members who relocate to Brunei may help strengthen congregations if they are able to locate them. Information on meetinghouse locations accessible upon request to Church Headquarters or mission headquarters may have a tremendous impact on better organization and accounting of members in the country, and help establish a more permanent Church presence in the long term.


John Pack Lambert said...

I was at the NAACP meeting where President Nelson spoke. He mentioned his friendship with the head of a missionary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City who participated in the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma voting rights March. He also praised Medgar Evers. His message was very well received. He even quoted from the Book of Mormon.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

That's awesome that you got to be there, John!

Tony said...

Did he apologize for the church teaching on black people pre 1978? When I was on my mission in 1975 we were told not to knock on black people door and if we did by mistake we had to pretend we got the wrong door! Bruce Mckonkie told us were not to take exit the gospel to people with Negro blood!

Michael Worley said...


Tony said...

Michael changing your mind later doesn't make up for the tears, heartache and pain. I lived in London before the ban was lifted and there were quite a few black members. We had black women married to white men. He could go to the temple do his endowment. She couldn't and couldn't be sealed to him or their children! Can you understand that heartache and pain? While we went to priesthood meeting the black male members had to sit outside! While we went to the temple and served missions they couldn't! While we had many different callings they were restricted to Sunday school president or teacher! Can you comprehend how that made people feel. I sat with people who broke their heart because they were good members but because of their skin colour they couldn't be full members!No retro fitting of history changes that trauma but an apology would help!

Michael Worley said...

Whether there ought to be an apology is between God and his prophets.

James Anderson said...

There was a fake website last year that appeared even before the meeting with the NAACP that faked the oficial newsroom site, that pretended to be an official 'apology', the site had a main page and just the one 'story', was set up by antis.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


With all due respect, I can to a degree understand that pain. I am not a black person, but I am a single man in his late thirties. Because of my single status, I've been denied visiting my nieces and nephews in primary and made to wait outside due to the teachers thinking I'm a "weirdo" or a "pervert" due to my single male status. I was released from my calling in the young men leadership as soon as a new bishop was called, because that bishop was prejudiced against me due to my single status. Before the release, he would sit in our classes, micro-manage and interrupt each time I would try to speak, despite the fact I was trying to bear testimony or share uplifting experiences from my mission. This same bishop refused to allow me to go on a temple trip to Manti with my own teenage nieces and nephews, not because of any worthiness issues on my part, but because in his own words, having me as a single adult man in his thirties on the trip would be "innapropriate."

He's not the only bishop or congregation to treat me this way, either. When I was 33, I went to the closest YSA ward I could find to my house (I had just moved) and was rudely told I didn't belong there due to my age.

The Stake President's wife in my current stake asked me if I needed to have a worthiness interview with her husband because I had made the offhand comment that I, "wasn't in a huge hurry to get married."

As a YSA and an older single adult, I've been handed pamphlets from prophets and apostles condemning me for being single - accusing me of not having my priorities straight, not being eternally minded, being lazy, shiftless, or a "menace to society." I've sat through lectures from Institute teachers, Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Apostles and Prophets during the Priesthood Session of General Conference accusing me of being unworthy, sinful, not honoring my priesthood, etc., simply because of my social status, and not based on the actual thoughts and intents of my heart.

For years, these experiences taken together filled me with bitterness and anger towards the church, and severely tried my faith. However, through a long difficult period of personal reflection, prayer, and scripture study I've come to realize a few things:

One is that you can't sit around waiting for other people to apologize to you (no matter how justified you are in your position). As a follower of Christ, your first responsibility is to love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good unto them that despitefully use you. Jesus didn't say, "Refrain from doing good until you've managed to cast the mote out of someone else's eye." We know what he did say, and it involves changing the mind and the heart of the one person you have control over - yourself.

On my mission, when Elder Eca from Nigeria was handed a copy of the Church News pertaining to the 25 year anniversary of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, he bore his testimony about it. He served in the inner city in Louisville Kentucky, and he was constantly asked about the priesthood ban.

His response?

"I don't care. We didn't have it then, but we have it now, and that's what matters."

The 1978 revelation is retroactive, as is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All who didn't receive the blessings who are still living can now go to the temple and be baptized and be sealed. We have African and African Americans who hold the priesthood now and are serving as general authorities of the church. And all who died before receiving these blessings will receive them by proxy through temple work. This is stronger than a verbal apology. This is action to right the wrongs of the past. Besides, Christ himself already made the ultimate apology, he apologized to the Father for all our mistakes, including the mistakes made by our leaders. All of these injustices are swallowed up in His infinite Atonement.

Ohhappydane33 said...

Johnathan: While I admire your turn the other cheek attitude, I also hope you haven't become a doormat in putting up with these types of behaviors. There is nothing inherently wrong in standing up for yourself and sometimes in life, it is essential to do so lest you begin to lose your mind. Too often in life, and particularly in the Church, things get swept under the rug.

Henry Ponnefz said...

During the old testament times, only the songs of Levi were allowed to have the priesthood and in ancient Israel, the gospel was kept from the gentiles.
all other males to have the priesthood. Besides that, even when blacks could not hold the priesthood, the lord allowed all other members to hold the priesthood?
Plus, the last shall be the first and the first shall be the last. Look haw fast the church is growing in Africa, the Dominican Republic, the coast of Colombia, Parts of Brazil, Haiti, many many wards and branches in Europe are full of Black people, wonderful people who I hope continue to join the church by the millions on the future so they can receive all that our Father has.
My patriarch back home is black and he could careless about the priesthood not being given to them. The pure in heart will come into the kingdom from whatever place. Remember all these places and divisions are temporary, just like this planet and our circumstances. All those things are secondary. In fact, because of where I grew up no one was refereed to by the color of their skin but by the feelings of the heart. I think when we speak to divide we are not doing anyone any favors and those who do perhaps should know that the trial of every individual is different. As for me I am excited about the prophet going there and speaking to that group and the more bridges built the more love and understanding there is.

James said...

I know that there are a lot of people who have described being hurt to varying degrees over the prior priesthood restriction. That still has a role today in negatively impacting the way some people view the Church. And while I would not try to sweep such feelings from anyone under the rug, I am reminded of some things which have been said about the doctrine of the Church. Wilford Woodruff was quoted as saying that the Lord will not permit any President of the Church to lead it astray, and that if any Church President attempted to do so, the Lord would remove such a person from their place.

So what does that tell us regarding the former priesthood restriction? It seems to me as though, if that restriction had not been the Lord's will for His people at that time, the restriction would not have been alliowed to take hold, or to remain the status quo until 1978. The thought crossed my mind that the restriction itself was perhaps a similar type of test to what Abraham experienced with Isaac in the Old Testament. The Lord gave the commandement "Thou shalt not kill." But then He instructed Abraham to offer his son up as a sacrifice unto Him. In that case, the willingness to make the sacrifice showed the Lord that Abraham would be obedient, even if he had to lose the son he'd wanted so long because of such a commandment.

James said...

It could very well be that the racial restrictions were a similar type of test from the Lord, not just of the faithfulness of the Church members and their families who were negatively impacted thereby, but also as a test for the groups of apostles that grappled with that question. And if that was the case, then, as we saw, the right group of apostles was in a position and of a mindset to put aside tradition in favor of ascertaining the will of the Lord. And although many people are similarly also affected to this day by issues such as that restriction, the addresses given during the "Be One" Priesthood Revelation Anniversary Celebration directly dealt with how Church members should and should not view the issue of the racial restrictions, and the rescinding thereof through that 1978 revelation. The broadcast is well worthy of review:

That being said, I too have a degree of experience with being misunderstood, misjudged, and not valued. As someone who has dealt with life-long health conditions, including cerebral palsy, from the time I started walking until the summer between my junior and senior years of High School, I basically used my entire body anytime I needed to walk. And, unfortunately, some little children can be very cruel about thinks like that. But as I got older, I found more people were willing to ask me about my health, and it helped to be able to explain what I was dealing with.

James said...

Additionally, I have mentioned before that, since roughly a year after my wife and I moved to our current home in October of 2015, we have been inundated with numerous additional challenges with our health and general situation. As a result of my having to be essentially homebound for the better part of the last 2 years or longer, I have not actively been able to attend Church with any regularity within that time. When our health issues began to worsen initiatlly around 2 years ago, some of the people in our ward seemed to get the idea that we had voluntarily gone inactive, including, unfortunately, some even among the ward leadership who should have known better, or bothered to ascertain the facts rather than making assumptions.

And given that our ward has such a high rate of turnover in the non-permanent housing units, those who have been in the congregation for at least a decade or more are generally more closely-knit and connected than those of us who are more recent transplants. So there have definitively been times when both my wife and I have felt that the gravity of our situation is not truly understood, and when we have felt very isolated from the rest of our congregation. Aside from once-a-month contact with the bishop, and weekly contact with the young men presidency (who have, for the most part, been great about ensuring we get the Sacrament, if nothing else), the remainder of the ward members are either not aware of our ongoing plight, or don't seem to care about it if we are not attending Church every week, or assumes we have gone inactive.

From these experiences, I have learned that while I cannot change or control how others respond to or view situations, what I can do is control my own response thereunto. That is why I strongly agree with what was said in the Priesthood Revelation Commemoration: that it is time for the Church to stop living in and focusing on the past issues that kept the restriction in place for as long as it was, and to look forward in perfect and complete faith to doing whatever each of us can do to "be one" in the common cause of Christ.

I apologize if the length and tone of this comment is offensive to anyone, but take this from someone who knows: focusing on past misunderstandings, persecutions, or oversights is as futile as chasing down and killing a rattlesnake after it bites you, since that only allows the poison to take hold in your system. Better to take the time to get the poison out before it destroys you. FWIW, these are just some htoughts from me on this subject. Hope they are helpful to some of you.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


Very true, and I appreciate your concern, too.

While I do believe there are times to turn the other cheek, I recognize there are times to defend oneself, also.

However, one of the main things I'm wary about in myself (or in others who have been wronged) is developing a victim mentality because of the injustices performed against us.

A few years ago, I had a bishop who I felt was being unfair with me. He'd cut me off when I'd speak to him, wouldn't let me elaborate or explain my situation, and only gave me questions in interviews that I could answer with, "Yes, sir!" I got tired of that behavior after a while and made clear to him that he was being manipulative. He apologized, and respected me after that.

Recently, regarding the bishop I mentioned in my previous comment who wouldn't allow me to go on the youth temple trip to Manti, I confronted him about his treatment of me (and others in my ward who had special needs), as well. Unfortunately, he is a military person who acts constantly like, "It's my way or the highway." I was so upset with him for a while that I actually was worried that I might get in a physical fight with him. I can be a fiery tempered person, and so I have to watch myself and my temper.

After a lot of consideration, prayer, and talking with family and friends about what to do about the situation (I was prepared to take my concerns to the stake president or higher), the words of a scripture I'd memorized years earlier kept coming back to me:

"The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:14)

I felt that I needed to step back, forgive the man (let go of all the anger I had towards him - despite the fact that he wasn't changing his behavior as fast as I would have hoped), and see how the Lord would handle it.

Fortunately, that story has a happy ending (at least for now).

About six months ago our Stake boundaries were rearranged and I was placed in a different ward from him. That solved my problem, but I was still worried about other members of his ward (some who were friends of mine) who had also had problems with him. Luckily, he was released (two-years early) from the bishopric about two months ago. I had also found out through the grapevine that some members of the ward were possibly taking their case against him to the church's legal department, which may have lead to the release.

Yes, sometimes we need to fight, and other times it's better to follow the example of Zion's Camp, where we initially think we have to fight, but really the Lord is testing our patience and wants us to "Stand still, and know that I am God."

For every bishop and ward member who has been a jerk to me, I can name other bishops or ward members who've been kind or friendly or considerate. And I've even seen some of those jerks come around and let go of their old prejudices through time and patience.

I'm not saying that what happened with that last bishop of mine will happen in every case of a leader we disagree with, but I do advocate for taking each scenario one at a time and turning to the Lord for specific answers.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

One thing I forgot to mention was how the Priesthood Revelation has affected me personally.

Because of it, I'm now sealed to two members of my extended family with black heritage: a cousin-in-law from Nigeria, and a sister-in-law from Brazil (who has probable African roots, as well as probable native-indian Brazilian roots).

Additionally, I've dated African and African American women in the past (both named Keisha, coincidentally), and wouldn't be against someday marrying a black woman if I happen to meet one I'm compatible with.

James Anderson said...

New ward possibly in the northwest part of the Houston, Texas area, heard of it from someone just called as the music chair in the initial organization of it. This would be Harris County, possibly Cypresswood or Cypress areas.

John Pack Lambert said...

3 new Spanish speaking branches have been organized in Nebraska.

Here in metro Detroit we had an African American Sunday School superintendent in the early 1960s.

To properly understand the 1978 revelation one has to start with the understanding that it declares the will of God, revelation and doctrine and no pre-1978 pronouncements did

That said as a missionary from 2000-2002 I knew too many other missionaries who would make such false undoctrinal statements as that blacks are descended from Cain or that black skin is a curse. I also had a youth leader that made the false statement that Blacks are descended from Cain.

Nothing in any scripture implies that modern Africans are descended from either Cain or Ham.

I very much like the Churches pronouncement on Race and the priesthood.

The reasoning behind pre 1978 policies and their actual implementation on an interpersonal level too varied and race relations then too charged to make any st decision tement that meaningfully deals with them other than the essay on race and the priesthood problematic.

Those of us born after 1978 are tired of the Church's role with African Americans being framed through a policy ended before our birth instead of its huge work to advance Afrixan-American family history, the building of a temple in Philadelphia, and efforts like my state's personal storehouse project seeking huge uplift of African Americans.

We are tired of all our efforts being sidelined and our coherent theology being ignored by people who want to fight one way or another over a theology that was wiped away in a bold breaking of light in 1978.

John Pack Lambert said...

Please do not bring up the Levi analogy. African Americas especially with a world perspective object to it as just wrong. Pre-1978 every ethnic group except those of black African descent could be ordained to the priesthood. That story does not work and causes outrage when brought up to African Americans

John Pack Lambert said...

As many of you know my wife is African-American and we were married in the Detroit Temple.

The reasons that the Church struggles to grow among African Americans while growing the fastest among the populations of Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the DR Congo are constantly before my mind.

Mass conversions of whole congregations in Nigeria have a place. However even more does not having racist members who make statements in Sunday School class implying that African-Americans are the most guilty of breaking the law of chastity or having the constant draw back of trying to recruit black members when almost all Church members and especially leaders are white.

In some ways though it is a hard to understand struggle.

It was not till after I returned from my mission I ever met a black member of a high council.

I am so glad we now have an African American general authority.

I still wish the Mormon Tabernacle Xhoir was not so white. I also wish our missionaries here in Detroit we not so overwhelmingly white boys from Utah.

The gospel topic essay on race and the priesthood is a truly game changing work.

What we need now is more understanding of the growth of the Church in Nigeria.

Christopher Nicholson said...

Unfortunately the old theology was not "wiped away" in 1978. As you indicate, several members of the Church have continued to believe and repeat it for decades. As recently as 2015 I heard some of it from an institute teacher. The Church as an institution didn't officially and publicly disavow it until 2012 when a BYU professor created a scandal by sharing some of it with the media. He claimed he was misquoted, but students said he had taught similar ideas in his class. If anything, I would say the explanations for the ban have been more harmful then and now than the ban itself.

Re: Johnathan Whiting. There is a horrific double standard in our culture. When a man in single, it's his fault and he should be condemned. When a woman is single, it's a man's fault and she should be pitied. What if we all minded our own business?

Christopher Nicholson said...

But a factor almost as large, if not even larger, in the Church's lack of success among African Americans is our very white music and worship style. It's a huge sacrifice for many of these converts to leave behind a louder and more energetic style that they prefer. (See, for example, the "Be One" celebration.) Gladys Knight even teased President Hinckley about this. Even President Nelson's request to not shout with joy at temple announcements drew complaints and laments from African American members. And I'm as white as they come but I think our current style is often unnecessarily dull and uninspiring too.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts with us, James. Your perseverance through your trials is an inspiration to us all.

Eduardo said...

Jesus focused on teaching and converting the Jews. Peter changed that policy. Has Christianity had to apologize for tons of wrongs? Yes, but not for the Sinless One.
Brigham Young and others will account for their policies implemented as prophets, seers, revelators. I think he on up to Harold B. Lee will be okay. Will you? Will I?
I feel terrible for the history of racism against innocents in the United States: native Americans, African slaves and their descendants, millions of Latinos, at times Asians and other racial minorities. Minorities suffer many trials and injustices. Including religious minorities.😌
I don't know all the mysteries of history or Christ's Church, but all offenses and wrongs will be righted. Of that I am confident.
A few hundred thousand Union troops DIED to help free our slave brothers and sisters. Will they be taken care of by God? Of course.
Much pain and sorrow, even till today. The Church of Jesus is here forever to help us know Him, who will heal all wounds. God bless the races of our planet, all of them.

Hey, has anyone seen lately? Did it didappear? Yikes!

Brunei: we will baptize there someday.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Christopher Nicholson:

Very true. And I'm well aware of the disparity between how male and female singles have been talked to and treated for years in the church.

I've heard all women praised from the pulpit for being beautiful, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy, or being sweet spirits, whereas the same speaker has cast doubt as to there being any single man living his priesthood to be worthy enough for them.

I've had a bishop who would excitedly welcome ever single woman in the YSA ward with a big hug (as if they were his granddaughters), but when I walked up to talk to him and introduce myself, he kept his distance and stared at me like I was a drunken hobo who'd wandered in from the street. And that's not just the first time I met him, that happened on several occasions while I was in his ward.

I had a Stake President sit us all down as an Elder's Quorum and give us a lecture about how it was our duty to "date every girl in the ward." Not taking into account the individual worthiness of these women, or the strength of their testimonies, or whether or not they had any social skills, or dressed or acted in a way to attract the opposite sex, or were good conversationalists, or whether or not any of us had chemistry with them at all. To clarify, this was not a ward where dating wasn't happening. This was a typical Idaho Falls YSA where dating and marriage were happening all the time, and I was a prolific dater in the ward. When I didn't have a steady girlfriend in that ward, I was still asking someone out at least once a month. But we still got the blanket sweep of, "You need to be dating all these sweet spirits, you lazy slobs!"

And it wasn't just from the leadership, either. I and some other men in the ward had a conversation with three of the ladies where they told us their perspective was, "Every woman deserves to be chased." (Not "chaste," but "chased.") As in, pursued by suitors. Yet, these women were themselves picky. I later asked all three of them on dates at separate times: one stood me up; another went with me to a movie, then never spoke to me again; and another went with me on a date, then didn't speak to me again for months (luckily, she and I became friends a lot later, but she did end up marrying someone else). And they were picky with other men, too.

To be fair, though, it hasn't always been condemning the men. I've heard talks (particularly from institute teachers) where they've said, "If none of you single people (men and women) make it to the Celestial Kingdom, it'll be your own fault!" And another where a man got up and chastised his daughter (who wasn't present), for dumping the boyfriends he thought were perfect for her, so in his mind that meant she now had to "settle."

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

I bring these things up, not to condemn these leaders or teachers, but to point out an interesting phenomena I've noticed in the church. I call it the "parents' goggles" or the "grandparents' goggles." Many single people out there will know what I'm talking about. Your parent or your grandparent or your bishop has been happily married for decades, so all they remember now is the good times they had courting their sweetheart, and the happiness they've enjoyed since that union. They've completely forgotten all the heartache they went through from being rejected, stood up, having their love unrequited, or all the searching and struggling they had to do before they found someone compatible for them (and who the Lord also approved of). Additionally, many of them were young in a time period where dating had a more universally accepted social-infrastructure. The rules were clearly set out. The man courted the woman by doing such and such, and the woman either accepted or rejected by doing such and such. I'm not saying it was a better system - just that the gender roles were more generally accepted by the parties involved, so you didn't have as many question marks as to how you were supposed to approach courtship. A lot of the older generation still think dating is just as simple as it used to be, so they're frustrated and blame us singles, assuming that we're just lazy because the process itself should be so simple and straightforward.

One last problem is getting talks from people who married young or who married their "high school sweetheart." These can be the worst in my opinion. A lot of these guys/gals were the prom king or the captain of the football team, and the girls were a cheerleader or the homecoming queen (insert other popular teenage social positions at your discretion). Yeah! Dating was so easy! I was attractive and popular, so members of the opposite sex just kept lining up to go out with me, so I had to beat them off with a stick! These people generally have no concept of what it was like to struggle with dating as a teenager, let alone struggle through all of your twenties alone, let alone struggle through most of your thirties (and beyond) alone. Dating is completely different for me now in my late thirties than it was when I was fresh off my mission at 22. And people who got married in their early twenties straight off their missions can't grasp that.

Understand, I'm not trying to be negative. Talks condemning all singles for being unworthy, or ones that talk about how easy the dating process should be, used to really upset me. As a person who has actively dated and tried to get married throughout my entire adult life, anymore I just kind of turn a deaf ear to the talks that don't apply to me, and look for the ones that are more sympathetic to singles in general, or the ones from speakers who I can see actually have been through the trenches with dating and do understand what we go through. And I try to understand that many of these speakers are just seeing us through the distorted lens of "grandparents' goggles," and forgive them for it.

Eduardo said...

Random thought about tithing versus alcohol consumption: I think there is some truth in it.
Money brings commitment, dedication, and real results to a belief or principle. Active members of our faith abstain from alcohol and by default save a lot of money, but pay 10 percent of their income in tithing, which considered quite a sacrifice. Those who imbibe spend more of their budgets on alcohol, are probably not tithe payers to our Church but may donate to many faiths or causes very charitably and generiusly; good for them. And all the world.
I think the Lord wants us to give more expendable income on our less privileged, and abstaining from alcohol can help in that vain. I am not saying that they are 1 to 1, but we Church members have different priorities and habits, for sure.
Hopefully this makes us more like the Good Samaritan, who ultimately is the Holy One.
Keep going to the temple, avoiding booze and other frivolous expenses, and pay your tithing and fast offerings.
God bless us all, especially those in spiritual and temporal need.

Eduardo said...

About the way we sing: I think we ought to stand more in sacrament meetings, especially for the rest hymn, in July in the US for a patriotic song, or a pioneer song. July more than any other month here. In Chile more likely September. Too bad the national hymn (anthem) could not be sung at church there. Or is it?
God Bless America is in our hymnal, but Britain, Spain, or Mexico ought to have their own... Or do they?
I found my wife at age 29 after a long period of searching. I empathize. My wife was 26 and was tired of the dating game. Me, I felt like a satellite returning to earth (symbolizing marriage), circling the earth at times impatiently or frustrated but knowing that I eventually would come through the atmosphere. But years passed not knowing when, exactly. Each relationship seemed to make me better/more prepared for the marriage and family despite those factors cited: angst, unrequited love, rejection, i.e. "dating".
Best of luck and keep the faith!

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Thanks, Eduardo. :)

James Anderson said...

The patriotic songs will go with the new hymnbook, some pioneer songs also, but will be aqvailable to print off and use, but in practice may not due to the time it takes to print enough copies beforehand, the entire present hymnbook for that matter will still be for that purpose.

Just this last Sunday we had a pioneer day theme, heard about the plan for the topic two weks before, and as ward music chair wanted to do something related to the restoration and the future rather than have all-pioneerthings. We planned one anyway as a backup in case my plan failed. Both me and my choir director were hesitant as we have mostly students, married, in our ward so they tend to go near major holidays. But I said, 'we can only try', and planned the backup.

Enough people showed up for practice that next Sunday and all were going to be there this last Sunday to sing it, so we green-lighted putting it in the meeting. Ran through it just before, and sang it.

Did not know how the speakers would treat the Pioneers subject,so here is the program as it came out.

Opening 36
Sacrament 190
First speaker - Early pioneers up to mid-20th Century
Ward Choir 42
Second speaker - today's pioneers in the church and the future
Closing 30

The backup in hte event we could not do the choir was 255

42 is rarely sung but the text was written roughly three years either side of the year the Church as a church was founded and was written by a man that may never have heard about the restoration. But the text speaks heavily of things in our teaching of the restoration, the desert blossoming, and 'millions returning'

Anonymous said...

While those with Priesthood Keys have the right to set standards for Church services, Jesus Christ alone is the author of His Gospel. My allegiance is to Him first if I were to perceive anything in His Church to be less than 100% aligned with His Gospel. I believe the ideal is for His Church to align perfectly with His Gospel, but alas, the Church is filled with humans with varying degrees of understanding and godliness.

Regarding the “behaviors” or “practices” of worship, including types of songs, etc., I say: Study the doctrine and various appropriate ways will flow naturally and be guided by the Holy Ghost.

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Emphasis on “how”.

Adam said...

I don't buy that God simply allowed racist leaders to govern the church and thus is why blacks weren't allowed the priesthood or temple blessings. That seems like lazy logic. He could've risen up and called ones that weren't racist if he really wanted to. He didn't. Since this is a church growth blog, let's look at it from that angle, and the long game that God plays. He did, after all, permit the 12 tribes to be enslaved in Egypt for over 200 years so that they could be in ripe conditions to rise to become a mighty nation. The priesthood ban, and thus the delay to spreading the gospel in Africa, will have similar effects.

Africa has the majority of countries with a high fertility rate, while it is more or less below replacement level in every other region around the world besides the middle east. The church is already essentially flat-lining in areas around the world with negative birth rates. The world is expected to add another 3.5 billion people before peaking at 11 billion towards the end of the century. 3 billion of that increase will take place in Africa. Africa is the future for growth in the church. Not only are they often a spiritually superior people compared to other regions of the world, they also have best demographic advantage for growth.

Hypothesizing if the ban had never been put into place, and had Africa been a focus of missionary efforts even 20 years earlier, it isn't unlikely that they would experience the same growth issues plaguing other developing regions such as Chile even to this day. Instead, Africa has the strongest foundation of priesthood anywhere in the world, has the highest rates of family history use, and the only solid exponential growth left to be found anywhere in the church. The church isn't sitting on 35 billion in just stocks to subsidize the United States, they are doing it in preparation for the expansion of the church into Africa.

James said...

An additional thought or two on the priesthood restrictions, if I may offer them. God clearly gave as one commandment through Moses, "Thou shalt not kill." But years before, He had instructed Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice unto Him. And in the Book of Mormon, Nephi recounts how he was constrained by the Spirit to kill Laban, but the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" gave him pause in following that instruction, and it was only when the Lord reminded him of the higher purpose at stake that he followed the instructions he was given.

Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, the Lord instructs us on the conditions under which polygamy should be practiced. And receiving the instruction to reinstitute plural marriage gave Joseph Smith such pause and hesitation that the Lord sent an angel empowered to take his life if he failed to do as instructed. From these examples, we can see that things the Lord asks His prophet to do can be a real test of their faith, and of the faith of those over whom they have stewardship. I am sure that there were some apostles along the lines through Church history who felt action should have been taken on the priesthood restriction sooner, but where there was no unanimity in that opinion, it was not until the late 1970s when the right group of apostles willing to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers, and when there was unanimity, the policy was rescinded successfully, and the Church has since disavowed the motivations for it.

My point in mentioning all of this is that sometimes, there is more going on in conjunction with the actions of prophets and apostles than we might at times acknowledge. The fact that there was a racial restriction for as long as it existed was a test of faith for the Saints and many leaders during the time it was in force, and it continues to be a test of faith for many members and prospective investigators in the Church today. The Lord reminds us that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. And someday, anything that doesn't make sense now will. All any of us can do is the best we can with the knowledge we now have, and sometimes, it isn't easy. But He never said it would be easy, He only said that this mortal sojourn, such as it is, will be worth it.

Eduardo said...

Who made the "racist leaders" argument? All these ideas are great to speculate, and could be right. As I was implying, Jesus chose Jews to teach and Peter expanded the policy to Gentiles. Neither of them were racist. Was Brigham Young? Or was he simply doing God's bidding. We might be accepting the same realities here, but lumping accusations to them through personal interpretations. Biased, yes, each of our hypothesizing, which certainly can lead to lazy logic. Again, who argued racism against the prophets?

Eduardo said...

Outrage and offense occurs a lot, all the time. Some people are outraged that women cannot have the priesthood. Some people now are offended that they cannot choose their own gender, not just their orientation or attractions but their very identity. Which may even change from day to day.
Offense happens all the time. Some are continually offended by the police and their behavior.
Outrageous practices and beliefs are certainly relative to the perspective of the beholder. Like beauty.
Is there one standard for beauty, like truth? God seems to like diversity, repentance, and forgiveness. Redemption. Love.

John Pack Lambert said...

Do you know even one person who quit coming to Church/didnt get baptized because of music? Because what I have seen is hang ups so basic on ideas about the priesthood ban they are not addressed, people stopped by being on probation and parole and law of chastity and word of wisdom hang ups.

John Pack Lambert said...

I still wish Debra Bonner and her choir got more coverage.

Not once on my mission did I confront someone who said they wouldn't come to Church because they disagreed with our music style. I did meet people who didnt want to be the only black person there, and such.

John Pack Lambert said...

The music issue in no way explains why the Church is growing by leaps and bounds in Accra and Port Harcourt and Benin City in ways we are not seeing growth in Detroit.

Many of the people the Cannons and Mabeys baptized came from a Pentecostal background.

I have known several members of African American origin. Their stories are complex but music as a hold up can be over stated.

John Pack Lambert said...

The state of the Church today is linked to the restriction in many ways.

One thought I had is that to grow the Church needs leaders. We have some African American ones like officer Richard Knox of the Detroit police who I saw at the NAACP meeting. However we need a new narrative since those likely to be leaders are most educated.

That said the work being done with the NAACP is being done out of a sincere desire to help.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another thought, the opening of 1978 was really only in Ghana and Nigeria. Ivory Coast came later built on leaders who first joined the Church while abroad in France and Germany.

The Church did not have any non-English stakes until 1961. I think we do not really understand how truly young the international Church is.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


"Hypothesizing if the ban had never been put into place, and had Africa been a focus of missionary efforts even 20 years earlier, it isn't unlikely that they would experience the same growth issues plaguing other developing regions such as Chile even to this day."

That's a good point that I hadn't considered. I'm glad you brought that up.

It may be true that, had missionaries used the same quick baptism techniques in Africa as they did in Chile and other parts of Latin America, that Africa might today be experiencing the same levels of inactivity we see in those other countries, rather than flourishing as it is.

OC Surfer said...

Effective August 1, 2019, Mongolia is being transfered from the Asia Area to the Asia North Area.

Asia North Area, headquartered in Tokyo will serve Japan, South Korea, Guam, and now Mongolia.

Chris said...

@OC Surfer, Thank you for the update.

The change from Asia Area to Asia North Area is already in Classic Maps.,128.357139&z=3&m=google.hybrid&layers=area&q=Asia%20North%20Area&find=area:790249

Chris said...

With the change in Area from Asia to Asia North, I believe the Mongolian Stakes and District would be reassigned also from Hong Kong China Temple to the closer Seoul Korea Temple.

L. Chris Jones said...

I think Mongolia has a closer rail route to Hong Kong. I don't know price and time by air to Seoul vs Hong Kong. Or price of rail vs air.

L. Chris Jones said...

I'll have to ask my wife's family about Mongolia. I'm not sure, but I if I recall correctly, I think it's easier to legally travel to China than get a visa for Korea.

James said...

For those curious, verification of Mongolia's transfer from the Asia to the Asia North Area can be found in the following article from the Mongolian Newsroom:

I'd just add that the romanized characters of Mongolian text for that website appears in the web address above, but that following that exact link will take you to the article in question. I had also thought that within the next year or two, the Church might merge the Asia and Asia North Areas into a singular Asia Area, but based on Mongolia's relocation from the Asia Area to the Asia North Area, such a merge may not be necessary anymore.

Interesting information on that change, of which I had not been aware. Thanks again, everyone!

Christopher Nicholson said...

I've thought about the priesthood ban in the context of keeping the gospel out of Africa too, except my thought is the Church there would have grown too fast and then totally apostatized like the ancient church due to lack of infrastructure and communication technology. I've read more than once that leaders even today deliberately limit growth in parts of Africa below its potential so it doesn't become unmanageable, and I've read more than one account of how misunderstandings or incorrect cultural practices get incorporated into the Church and take time and patience to weed out.

It's surely also relevant that church leaders *tried* to set up a mission in Nigeria in the early sixties because thousands of West Africans were begging to be baptized. They failed because the government of Nigeria thought (not without reason) that the Church was racist and refused to issue missionary visas. Less than three weeks after they gave up trying, the Nigerian Civil War broke out. LaMar Williams wrote, "The war was in the very area that I had been doing missionary work or trying to establish the Church. I would have been right in the center of that conflict had I remained. It wasn't until then that I felt the Lord had something to do with getting me out of Nigeria. It wasn't the time for the Church to be established. I was on a plane traveling with President Lee from Los Angeles when he made this statement, 'LaMar, it's just a matter of time in establishing the Church.' And he was right. The time was not right."

I think "mistake" versus "the Lord's will" is an oversimplification and false dichotomy sometimes. I feel that the Lord has guided the trajectory of my life even though it's included countless mistakes, some of them serious. If the ban was a mistake, then the Lord corrected it, but not until exactly when He wanted to. President McKay tried really hard to end the ban during his tenure and eventually said, "I’ve inquired of the Lord repeatedly. The last time I did it was late last night. I was told, with no discussion, not to bring the subject up with the Lord again; that the time will come, but it will not be my time, and to leave the subject alone."

Christopher Nicholson said...

This article says three more stakes in Mozambique are anticipated within the next year. Also has some interesting info about a group in a remote village.

James Anderson said...

LDS social media sites outside the official ones did not exactly erupt over the NAACP speech like they do over some other things we have and will yet see. Saw a post or two, few comments, even the official sites and the Church News site from the Deseret News had few comments.

James said...

Christopher Nicholson, I saw the article on Mozambique yesterday. Interestingly enough, a temple for Maputo is on the list of potential temple prospects I have put together for the October 2019 General Conference. The one thing I keep going back and forth on is where exactly to prioritize that pick among other prospects for the Africa Southeast Area. I currently have 6 such prospects for that area, with Mozambique currently listed as the fourth most-likely of those 6. But based on that article, which highlights tremendous growth in Mozambique, I may have to rethink that. Just an interesting tidbit from me, for what it may be worth to anyone who reads it.

John Pack Lambert said...

The growth of the Church in Mozambique is very encouraging. Mozambique did not have any organized Church presence until the 1990s.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

I really hope Mongolia gets its own temple soon. I've known a few missionaries from there - both on my own mission and ones that served in my hometown in Montana.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another round of trying to delete articles on General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Wikipedia has begun. The article on O. Leslie Stone seems likely to survive with added sourced. The very well detailed one of Octaviano Tenorio is in more trouble. I pulled out all the stops to try and save it, but instead posted the whole contents to my blog.

I also wrote a reaction to President Nelson's speach to the NAACP, along with mention of how key the intro by Amos C. Brown is. I do not think I quite get the later fact. Here is the link

George Garwood said...

I served in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for it 7 years being 1 of 3 black males we also had 4 sisters who were African American in the choir doing that time . I joined the church in 1972 at the age of 16 in Tooele. I was among the 1st black missionaries call by the church. I served in the Oakland California mission for 2 years. There has never been easy to be a member of the church of a different color. There have been many times that I was offended and felt like the church was not for me and in those times I've always return to prayer and it has given me the answer that the church is true I often say death if I was offended enough I would have left the church long ago.

Ray said...

George, thank you for your post about your service with the Tabernacle Choir and as a missionary in the Oakland California mission. It was very nice to hear about the several African American members of the Choir, who add so much to the beauty and musicality of the Choir.

I have been well acquainted with Brother Dorias Gray who has said much of what you have written concerning the challenges of African Americans who have joined the Church. He organized the Genesis Group where members of African American descent can meet monthly to share their testimonies and experiences with one another.

Thank you for your service in the mission field and as a member of the Choir.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@George Garwood:

Thank you for your example to us of faith and perseverance.

Eduardo said...

Focusing on the past and racial policies has its place. Working on the present and not being burdened by the past and race has for most of us a bigger place. The future is bright: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is definitely about the present and futire. It takes in all the past.