SIERRA LEONE Jan. 1, 2012: Est. population, 6,440,000; Members, 10,084; Districts, 3; Branches, 24; Mission, 1; Percent LDS, .13, or one in 800; Africa West Area; Ghana Accra Mission.
SierraLeoneislocatedonthewestcoastofAfricaandhasaconstitutionaldemocracy. TheofficiallanguageisEnglish, buttribal languages arecommon. The ethnic make-up ofSierra Leone isdiverse: 20native African tribes 90percent (Temne 30percent, Mende 30percent, other 30percent}, Creole 10percent [descendants offreed Jamaican slaves), refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, small numbers ofEuropeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, andIndians. The major religions include Muslim 60percent, indigenous beliefs 30percent andChristian 10percent.
Michael Samura, a native ofSierra Leone, was baptized inHolland in1981, andshortly thereafter returned tothecapital city ofFreetown. He wrote totheInternational Mission requesting thattheChurch beestablished there. Though theChurch was notyetready tosendinmissionaries, theInternational Mission presidency sentChurch literature andencouraged him tolive thegospel. Samura began totell people about hisnew-found faith. Soon, groups ofpeople interested intheChurch were holding informal meetings.
Elizabeth Judith Bangura and Monica Orleans were baptized inGhana and formed a study group inFreetown inJanuary 1988. Christian L. George was baptized inGermany, given theMelchizedek Priesthood, and had been through thetemple. He returned to Sierra Leone and presided over the first approved meeting held on 18 January 1988 at Goderich, a suburb of Freetown. In May 1988 two missionary couples, Claire J.and Iliene M. Fisherand C. Erwin and Colleen Waite, arrivedin SierraLeone. On11June1988thefirst14converts werebaptized inSierraLeone.
The Goderich Branch, the first branch in the country, was organized on 7 August 1988, with Christian George as president In May 1989,Elder Richard G. Scottbecame the firstmember ofthe Quorum ofthe Twelve to visitSierra Leone. HemetwithChurch members andblessed thelandinprayerfrom thetopofLeicester Peak.
The Liberia Monrovia Mission, which included Sierra Leone, was created on 1 March 1988. The first president was J. Duffy Palmer. The mission offices were moved to Freetown in May 1990because ofthe unrest in Liberia. Later, as civil war developed, the Liberia Monrovia Mission was discontinued in February 1991, and the area was transferred to the Ghana Accra Mission.
In December 1990, Elder Robert E. Sackley of the Seventy organized the Freetown Sierra Leone District with Michael Samura as president. TheBo Sierra Leone District wasorganized inJuly 1991.
Intheearly 1990s, theChurch experimented with home group meetings. Church members living inthe same general Desenet News 2013 Cfiunch News Almanac 559
vicinity metatsomeone's home forSunday worship services. These meetings would cutdown onexpenses thatoften prohibited people from attending meetings in meetinghouses thatwere often for from theirhomes. Once a month, these groups combined for a large branch meeting. InJuly 1992 thehome group meetings were discontinued inSierra Leone. The localChurchmemberswantedtomeetinthelargerbranches.
InMay andAugust 1992,missionary couples weretemporarily removed from Sierra Leone because ofcivil unrest.By year-end 1993, 89 Sierra Leonians were serving full-time missions, including 41 from the six branches of the Freetown District.
In Februaiy 1995 missionaries once again left Sierra Leone and did not return until April 1997. However, the Church memberswerenotleftaloneduringthistime.Mission presidentLariyB. Duke flewtoSierraLeone andvisiteddistrictsin Wellington, Bo, and Freetown. During this time, missionary work by district missionaries continued and people were baptized.
After being in Sierra Leone for onlya month, missionaries were again evacuated by the U.S. military at the end of May 1997 because of riots and chaos that followed a militaiy coup.
In 1999,membership numbered 3,564. In 2001, membership was 4,265, and in 2003, membership was 4,782 in three districts and 16 branches.
Ground was broken for the first meetinghouse in Sierra Leone on 13 October 2004 in a city called Bo. Presiding at the groundbreaking was the Sierra Leone District President Mohamed Turay. He was accompanied by civic leaders and prominent tribal chiefs, who lauded the building as a great asset to the area and a symbol of cooperation and good will between the community and the Church.
Thefirstmission. SierraLeone Freetown Mission, wasorganized 1July 2007.Itwascreatedfroma division ofthe Ghana Accra Mission.