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

Country information: Liberia

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Population, 3,442,000; Members, 5,039; Branches, 11; Districts, 2;Percent LDS, .15 or 1 LDS?in 683; Africa West Area.

Records in the Church Archives indicate that a small group of foreign Latter-day Saints was meeting in Monrovia in the mid-1970s. Every month they reported their sacrament meeting attendance, which sometimes was as high as five, to the International Mission.

In the early 1980s, two small branches were formed, one in Monrovia and the other at Cuttington University College, also in Monrovia, to meet the needs of foreign Church members working in Liberia. The International Mission did not encourage these members to do any missionary work because the Church had not yet expanded into Liberia.

In 1985, Edwin C. Shipp, a tour guide on Temple Square, noticed two Africans in the Visitors' Center. They were both police chiefs from Liberia visiting Salt Lake City for a convention. He felt a desire to talk with them and get their addresses. A short time later he wrote a follow-up note thanking them for their visit. Upon his return to Liberia, one of the men, Kadalah K. Kromah, gave Shipp's address to Joe C. Jarwhel, who was operating a school for underprivileged children. Jarwhel wrote Shipp asking for information about the Church. Shipp referred the letter to the International Mission because Liberia was not yet part of any mission. Elder John K. Carmack, president of the International Mission, sent Jarwhel a copy of the Book of Mormon. In a later letter, Jarwhel informed Elder Carmack that he was using the Book of Mormon to teach his pupils and their parents.

Meanwhile, Thomas Peihopa, a Church member from New Zealand, arrived in Monrovia to work in April 1985, and while looking for a school, met Jarwhel. Jarwhel introduced Peihopa to some of his friends, one of whom was John Tarsnoh, who, in February 1986, had organized a Sunday School known as The Temple of Christ's Church, and who was teaching Church doctrines as best he knew. Peihopa attended and began to teach this group the gospel. Toby Wleboe Tweh, the future first stake president in Liberia, was a member of this Sunday school

Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve visited Church members in Monrovia and blessed the land on 2 September 1987.

Previous to this, on 3 July 1987, the first LDS missionary couple, J. Duffy and Jacelyn Palmer, arrived in Liberia. Philander and Juanita Smartt joined the Palmers in August. John Tarsnoh was baptized on 22 August 1987. A week later, 47 people were baptized, many from the Tarsnoh congregation. The Congo Town Branch, with U.S. citizen Steven Wolf as president, and New Kru Town Branch, with Thomas Peihopa as president, were organized on 23 August 1987.

In February 1988 Joseph Forkpah was called as the first Liberian branch president. A month later, on 13 March, he became the first Liberian to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. On 1 March 1988 the Liberia Monrovia Mission was organized with J. Duffy Palmer as president.

Throughout most of the 1990s, Liberia suffered from civil war, which disrupted missionary work and progress of the Church. On 8 May 1990, missionaries serving in Liberia were transferred to Sierra Leone because of civil strife. In April 1991, the mission in Liberia was closed due to civil war and responsibility for the Church transferred to the Ghana Accra Mission. Da Tarr, first counselor in Monrovia District, was left in charge. Of the 1,200 Latter-day Saints, 400 remained in Liberia, 400 fled to other countries, and 400 were missing. Missionaries did not return to Monrovia until 10 March 1999.

On 4 July 1999, the districts in Monrovia were combined in preparation for organization of the first stake, the Monrovia Liberia Stake, on 11 June 2000 with Toby Wleboe Tweh as president.

In 2001, membership was 3,394, which increased to 3,871 in 2002.

Sources: Miles Cunningham Oral History, 17 September 1993, Church Archives; Correspondence from James C. Palmer, Bill K. Jarkloh, Da A. Tarr, June1994, and from Richard Woolley, 17 August 1998 in Church News files; Harvey Dean Brown papers, Church Archives; Harvey D. Brown, oral history, March 1999, Church Archives; The Ghana Accra Mission, "The Church in Liberia," Church Archives.

Stakes discontinued

2562 Monrovia Liberia 11 Jun 2000 Toby Wleboe Tweh Sr.

Discontinued 2 Jun 2007