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

Country information: Ghana

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 23,832,000; Members, 38,224; Stakes, 7; Wards, 48; Branches, 48; Missions, 2; Districts, 5; Temples, 1; percent LDS, .16, or one in 623; Africa West Area.

Ghana is located on the south central west coast of Africa and has constitutional democracy. The official language is English, but tribal languages are common. The ethnic make-up of Ghana is diverse: black African 98.5 percent (major tribes — Akan 44 percent, Moshi-Dagomba 16 percent, Ewe 13 percent, Ga 8 percent, Gurma 3 percent, Yoruba 1 percent), European and other 1.5 percent (1998). The major religions include indigenous beliefs 21 percent, Muslim 16 percent, Christian 63 percent.

In the early 1960s, R.A.F. Mensah obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and was converted. In February 1964 he introduced his friend Joseph William Billy Johnson to the Book of Mormon. Mensah and Johnson began to organize unofficial LDS congregations as best they knew from the minimal Church literature that they had. They actively participated in missionary work and prayed for the day when the Church would send missionaries to West Africa.

In August 1978, two months after the revelation extended the priesthood to all worthy males, Merrill J. Bateman (now of the Seventy) and Edwin Q. "Ted" Cannon were sent by the Church to West Africa on a fact-finding trip. Three months later, on 8 Nov. 1978, Cannon, with his wife, Janath, and Rendell N. and Rachel Mabey arrived in Nigeria as Church representatives. They entered Ghana 9 Dec. 1978, and, on Dec. 12, baptized Mensah, Johnson, and 123 others who had been prepared by Mensah and Johnson and taught by the Mabeys and Cannons.

The Africa West Mission was organized on 1 July 1980. It included Ghana and Nigeria, with Bryan Espenschied as president. The Ghana Accra Mission was organized 1 July 1985 with Miles H. Cunningham as president.

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve became the first apostle to visit Ghana on 4 June 1983. During his visit, he met with Church members and missionaries and blessed the land.

The government expelled the missionaries and forbade Church operations on 14 June 1989, including missionary work and Sunday meetings. This time of trial became known among the Ghanaian Latter-day Saints as "The Freeze." Members were permitted, however, to hold services in the privacy of their homes. Faithful Latter-day Saints demonstrated to the Ghanaian government that Church members were good citizens and loyal to their country, and in November 1990, the government permitted Church activities to resume. The government expressed satisfaction that the Church taught members to be obedient to government laws and promoted racial harmony.

On 21 April 1991, five months after "The Freeze," the first two stakes were organized in Ghana with Emmanuel Ohene Opare as the president of the Accra Ghana Stake and Kweku Prah Ghartey as president of the Cape Coast Ghana Stake.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, visited Ghana for the first time in May 1993. Less than two years later, on 1 Jan. 1995, the first young North American missionaries arrived in Ghana: Tyson P. Newmann, Tad R. Raban, and Daniel J. Graham. In July 1995, Preston and Barbra Brooksby of Salt Lake City, Utah, were called as the first family history missionaries to serve in West Africa. They were headquartered in Accra.

A gathering of 6,000 members welcomed President Gordon B. Hinckley on 16 Feb. 1998, the first visit of a Church president to West Africa. During the visit, President Hinckley announced that the first temple in West Africa would be built in Ghana. He also met with Ghana President John A. Kufuor.

Ground was broken for the temple on 16 Nov. 2001. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve presided at the event. Many current and former members of government attended the groundbreaking ceremony. On the same day, Elder Nelson visited with Ghana President John Ageykum Kufuor. The meeting was covered by numerous television and newspaper reporters. President Kufuor said to Elder Nelson that the Church was "a part of Ghana."

The first missionary training center in Africa was built in Tema, Ghana, and dedicated on 17 May 2002. It serves missionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Uganda and Togo.

On 17 Sept. 2002, President Kufuor met with the First Presidency during a visit to Salt Lake City and expressed appreciation for the Church's humanitarian and religious contributions to his country. In the past 15 years, the Church sponsored 142 humanitarian projects in Ghana, valued at $7.5 million.

Emmanuel Ohene Opare was the first Ghanaian called as an Area Authority Seventy during April 1998 General Conference. Another early Ghanaian convert, Dr. Emmanuel Abu Kissi, who operates a clinic in Accra supported by friends of the Church, was called as an Area Authority Seventy at April 2002 General Conference.

Church President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Accra Ghana Temple on 11 Jan. 2004, the first to be built in West Africa. The Ghana Cape Coast Mission was organized 1 July 2005, and consisted of the English-speaking western portion of Ghana, as well as French-speaking Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Central African Republic. Membership was 23,738 in 2003.

In 2005, membership reached 29,315.

Sources: Janet Brigham, "Nigeria and Ghana," Ensign, February 1980; E. Dale LeBaron, "Pioneers in Africa," Church News, 21 September 1991; Steve Fidel, "Pres. Hinckley announces plans for first temple in West Africa," Deseret News, 16 February 1998; "Meeting Ghana president," Church News, 1 December 2001; Shaun D. Stahle, "First 54 missionaries enter first training center in Africa," Church News, 25 May 2002; Julie Dockstader Heaps, "Saints in West Africa await temples," Church News, 21 September 2002; Church News, March 1, 2003; Ghana Accra Mission, Papers, 1967-1988, Church Archives; Emmanuel A. Kissi, Walking in the Sand, 2004; Rendell N. Mabey, An African Legacy, 1998; James B. Allen, "Would-Be Saints: West Africa before the 1978 Priesthood Revelation," Journal of Mormon History, v. 17, 1991.

Stakes — 7

(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)

No. / Name / Organized / First President

Africa West Area

2407 / Accra Ghana Christiansborg / 9 Nov 1997 / Emmanuel Ohene Opare

1792 / *Accra Ghana Lartebiokorshie / 9 Nov 1997

Accra Ghana / 21 Apr 1991 / Emmanuel Ohene Opare

2768 / Accra Ghana McCarthy Hill / 16 Jun 2007 / Philip K. W. Y. Xaxagbe

1791 / Cape Coast Ghana / 21 Apr 1991 / Kweku Prah Ghartey

2499 / Kumasi Ghana / 22 Nov 1998 / Kwaku Annoh

2351 / Takoradi Ghana / 18 May 1997 / Kenneth Kobena Andam

2716 / Tema Ghana / 23 Apr 2006 / Daniel Yirenya-Tawiah

Mission — 2

(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)

(183a) GHANA ACCRA MISSION GHANA CAPE COAST MISSION

P.O. Box 2585 Main 79 Nkanfoa Rd

Accra, Ghana Third Ridge, Ghana