Joseph: This is an altogether new one for me. I admit I’ve never heard of The Democratic Republic of Congo’s second largest city before, and I consider myself fairly well versed in geography. Yet here was a blind spot. How colonial of me. Call me Charles Marlow, I guess. (Points if you get that reference)
Here’s what I find incredible about the DRC when it comes to planning for church growth. Only nine of the 25 cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in DRC have an LDS congregation. And according to one source at the Cumorah Project, only 17% of the population of DRC is served by access to LDS worship. So, with the success rate of growth and church expansion despite that percentage of reach, it would appear the odds are in the church’s favor for continued growth.
Looking at Lubumbashi specifically, the Church in this area is extremely young, The first stake was organized in 1997, and a second one came in 2009. Now, there are 4 stakes in Lubumbashi and another just outside, with three districts in the surrounding area. All of which is to say, arguments have been made with less. And that’s not all. There’s another five stakes and one district in the region that could adhere to a Lubumbashi temple district.
Lubumbashi is an absolute vanguard on the front lines of church growth in the heart of Africa. But it’s not scant, by any stretch. As it is, meetinghouses are bulging at the seams, sometimes as many as four wards to one building. This is Wasatch Front-level swell. Outfitting that vanguard not only with a temple, but the training and facilities that often come with it, would be a strategic move for the future as much, if not more than a reflection of the viability for a temple currently.
Again from the Cumorah Project, “once growth in Lubumbashi continues and matures, a temple may be announced to serve members in the southern portion of the country along with neighboring African nations.”
I guess we’ll see if Lubumbashi has matured to that point.
Geoff: I’ve also seen Lubumbashi kicked around in these discussions, and what I think would make this extra special is that the first temple in the DRC, in the capital, Kinshasa, will be dedicated the weekend after this coming General Conference. What a fun boon to the nation, a former Belgian colony racked by civil war, to have another temple announced before the first one is even completed!
Your point is well taken. The numbers are there and they are growing. Neighboring Zambia only has one stake and two districts, both of which will presumably be part of the Harare Zimbabwe Temple when crews complete it.
But what I really like about Lubumbashi is its central location with respect to the rest of the region. While the DRC occupies a huge swathe of land in the center of Africa, Kinshasa is located far on the western edge of the country, directly across the river from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. In sum: Kinshasa is not central. It’s great for everyone over there, but travel from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa takes 37 hours on a poorly developed highway system. The saints there can drive to Johannesburg, South Africa, home to another temple, in less time.