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

Country information: Tanzania

Published: Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 41,049,000; Members, 797; District, 1; Branches, 4;Percent LDS, .002 or one in 51,504; Africa Southeast Area; Kenya Nairobi Mission.

On the east coast of Africa, Tanzania is a republic with its people speaking Swahili and English. The people are Muslim, 35 percent; Christian, 30 percent; and the remainder follow tribal beliefs.

In the mid-1970s, expatriate Latter-day Saints moved to Tanzania to work in embassies, humanitarian aid organizations, and on construction projects. They reported to the International Mission, from which they received Church literature and encouragement. Courtney H. Brewer and his family, while living in Tanzania, received permission in 1982 to baptize an Indian family, Itty Mathew and Grace Sunny Panakkal, who were Brewer's co-workers. This was the first baptism in Tanzania.

The first Church leader to visit Tanzania was Elder J Ballard Washburn, a counselor in the Africa Area Presidency. He went to Dar es Salaam in March 1991. In July 1991 he and H. Thomas Kay, area legal counsel, returned to Tanzania, where they met with government officials to determine the requirements for registering the Church. Legal recognition was approved on 8 October 1992. J. Clifford Wallace, a Latter-day Saint and Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Diego, Calif., assisted in the process by helping to establish contact with government officials.

Tanzania became part of the Kenya Nairobi Mission when the mission was created in July 1991. The next month, Bruce Wilson and his family from Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada, arrived in Dar es Salaam. The Wilson family began holding meetings in September 1991.

Native Tanzanian Robert Muhile was baptized in Cairo, Egypt, before the arrival of missionaries in Tanzania. After returning to Tanzania, he felt a need to once again partake of the sacrament, so he traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, because he was unaware of the Wilsons holding Church meetings in their home.

On 17 January 1992, following a two-day journey and four days of wandering the streets of Nairobi, Muhile saw a sign for the Church and was soon directed to Lervae and Joyce Cahoon, a missionary couple who had just been informed that they would be the first missionaries to serve in Tanzania. Muhile served as the Cahoons' guide and translator when they arrived in Dar es Salaam in February 1992.

In October 1992 the Dar es Salaam Branch, the first in Tanzania, was created, with Bruce Wilson as president. Robert Muhile was called as Dar es Salaam Branch president on 13 March 1994.

In March 2002, members of the Church in Tanzania made a 68-hour bus trip to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, a trip that had been in the planning stages since July 2001. During the temple sessions, 27 members received their endowments and 10 couples and 10 families were sealed.

Membership was 639 in 2003. In 2005, it reached 751.

Sources: Kenya Nairobi Mission history, 1998, Church Archives; "Determined to Keep Covenants," Church News, 18 May 2002.