Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Central African Republic

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 4,511,000; Members, 393; Branches, 1;Percent LDS, .009, or one in 11,478; Africa Southeast Area; Ghana Cape Coast Mission.

The Central African Republic, previously known as Ubangi-Shari, became independent from France on 13 August 1960. It is a landlocked country bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Republic of Congo. French is the official language with Arabic and local dialects also spoken. Fifty percent of the people are Christian, while 50 percent follow Muslim, and tribal beliefs.

The first known Church member living in Central African Republic was Carol Forrest of the U.S. Peace Corps. A returned missionary, she arrived in June 1991. She shared the gospel with many of her associates and in September 1991, was set apart as a district missionary. Elder J. Ballard Washburn of the Seventy and counselor in the Africa Area presidency, and Robert L. Mercer, president of the Cameroon Yaounde Mission, visited Forrest and a group of investigators in September 1992.

Elder Washburn visited Central African Republic from 16-21 September 1992. On 19 September, 20 people were baptized, and on 20 September, two branches were organized. Celestin N'Gakondou was called as president of the Bangui 1st Branch, and Gaspard Lapet was called to preside over the Bangui 2nd Branch.

The first full-time missionaries, Raymond and Christianne Fourtina, from Bordeaux, France, arrived in January 1993. In July of that year, the Church received legal recognition. The seminary program was introduced in 1995. The Central African Republic was moved to the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission on 1 January 2003, and then reorganized as part of the Ghana Cape Coast Mission on 1 July 2005.

Membership was 118 in 2003.

Sources: Mary Mostert, "Medical Officer Ministers to Souls," Church News, 5 December 1992; Borgna Brunner, "Countries of the World, Central African Republic," Time Almanac 2003; Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Robert Lee Mercer, Interview, 1994, Church Archives.