Freetown Sierra Leone
Joseph: I think we may be entering a temple era for Africa, and nowhere is that going to continue to feel more evident in the short term than along the western coastal nations of that continent.
According to the Church’s newsroom, there are 19,413 members in Sierra Leone. That feels like a lot. Is that a lot? It’s dramatic to follow how that breaks down, as well. For example, there are 66 congregations: 29 wards and 37 branches. You can see why this was a previous guess, right? Oh, oh, and there are eight family history centers. EIGHT!! I mean, clearly, they laboring to build a foundation for temple work there.
Interestingly, looking at the history of the church in Sierra Leone, it all began in 1988 when members who were baptized in the Netherlands and in Ghana returned and formed a study group in Freetown. I’d wager there are thousands of Sierra Leonean members living abroad. Those I knew on my mission in the Netherlands became the bulk of whom I worked with as a missionary. (Oh, we made some tasty food together.) And should any of them return, they would expand the already growing numbers of members in this burgeoning coastal country.
Geoff: Yes, we have dabbled in Freetown before, but I think the momentum is behind it this time. You spoke of actual congregations, but stakes are typically a good indicator of the Church’s growth, and all three of Freetown proper’s stakes have been organized since 2012. The nearby Kossoh Town district came about in 2014. The Church organized two stakes in Bo in 2017 as well as a district in 2014.
That’s to say nothing of the great location – still within the growing region of West Africa, but just a shade removed from the nearest growth hub, Cote d’Ivoire, because of skipping over Liberia and eastern Guinea. A temple in Sierra Leone would be a strong hub for the Christian edge of Africa and hopefully help stimulate the work in neighboring countries. Neighboring Liberia has four stakes in Monrovia alone.
On a personal note, my bishop is from Sierra Leone, and while he is already a very excited, jolly fellow, I would love to see him explode with joy if a temple was organized in his home country.