Jan. 1, 2012: Est. population, 49,052,000; Members, 57,546; Stakes, 12; Wards, 78; Branches, 73; Districts, 4; Missions, 3; Temples, 1; percent LDS; .1 or one in 1,020; Africa Southeast Area.
In August 1852, a conference was held in Salt Lake City where Jesse Haven. Leonard I. Smith, and William H. Walker were calledtoservemissionsintheCapeofGoodHope,Africa,aBritishcolony. TheyarrivedinCapeTownon19April1853. A month later, on 23 May. the missionaries ascended The Lion's Head, a mountain near Cape Town, and organized the mission with Haven aspresident. The first convert. Henry Stringer, was baptized on15June 1853.
As people began to join the Church, the missionaries organized branches. The first in Africa was organized on 16 August 1853atMowbray.fourmilesfromCapeTown. Threeweekslater,on7September,asecondbranchwasorganizedat Newlands.sixmilesfromCapeTown. Atthatmeeting.ThomasWeatherheadwassustainedasthefirstlocalbranch president.
Inspiteofagoodbeginning.ChurchgrowthslowedduetoLatter-daySaints'emigrationtoUtah. TheSouthAfrican Mission wasclosed from1865to1903withnoofficial reasonsgiven byChurch authorities.
On 25 July 1903, Latter-day Saint missionaries once again arrived in Cape Town: Warren H. Lyon, who was called to presideoverthemission.GeorgeA.Simpkins[alsospelledSimkins).ThomasL.GriffithsandWilliamR.Smith. Theyfounda fewLatter-daySaintswhohadkeptthefaithduringthelongabsenceofmissionaries. Themissionariesbaptizedtheirfirst convertson16October1904. In1905,PresidentLyonbaptizedanAfticannamedDunn,whosefatherwasaScotsmanand hismotherZulu. ThoughDunndidnotstaywiththeChurch,hewasmostlikelythefirstblackAfticanbaptizedinAfrica.
The first person of color in South Africa to join the Church and remain active in the Church was William Paul Daniels who wasbaptizedon30May1915whilevisitingfamilyinUtah. BeforereturningtoSouthAfrica,DanielsmettwicewithChurch President Joseph F. Smith, who gave Daniels ablessing that someday, perhaps in the next life, he would hold the priesthood.
After returning to South Africa. Daniels felt uncomfortable meeting with the white Church members because of South Africa'sbanonthemixingoftheraces. Themissionpresident.DonMackDalton,assignedmissionariestovisittheDaniels' home eveiy Monday night. Daniels died on 13 October 1936, firm in the faith. Alice Daniels Okkers, William P. Daniels' daughter,wasalivewhenthepriesthoodwasgrantedtoallworthymales. She.too,hadkeptthefaithandwaspresentinthe Salt Lake Temple when her parents' temple work was performed by former South African Mission president Evan P. Wright in 1980.
Following the re-establishment of the South African Mission in 1903, more missionaries were called to serve in southern Africa. MissionaiyworkexpandedthroughouttheareathatisnowSouthAfrica,thoughthemissionariestendedto concentrate their efforts inthecities and towns populated byBritish colonists. Many oftheinhabitants oftheinland settiementsspokeonlyAfrikaans,anobstaclefortheEnglish-speakingmissionaries. InhislastlettertoChurchauthorities, dated 7 April 1908, returning mission President Ralph A. Badger mentioned the two other obstacles facing missionaries in southern Africa: theissue ofrace —missionaries were discouraged from teaching blacks about theChurch until 1978 — andtheimmense sizeofthemission, bothofwhich would concern mission presidents forthenext70years.
Nicholas G. Smith, later called asanAssistant tothe Quorum ofthe Twelve Apostles in1941, presided over the South African Mission from 1913 to1921. When hearrived inCape Town, there were only 15missionaries inthefield. During WorldWar1.missionariesleftSouthAfrica. InOctober1916,SmithpurchasedavillainMowbraythathenamed"Cumorah," whichbecamethe mission homeand Church headquartersfor SouthAfrica.
For the last year and a half of Smith's tenure and the first seven months of Smith's successor. J. Wiley Sessions, the South African Mission president had no missionaries because the government had imposed restrictions on foreign nationals enteringthecountry. PresidentSessionsworkedhardtogainpermissionformissionariestoonceagainlaborinSouth Africa. WiththehelpofU.S.Sen.ReedSmoot,Sessionswassuccessful. Thefirstmissionaiy.GoldenW.Harris,arrivedin October 1921. The government, however, established a quota of 25 LDS missionaries in the mission. Iteventually rose to
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60missionaries by1967, butwould hinder theprogress oftheChurch until itwas lifted inthe1980s.
DuringPresidentSessions'administration,ameetinghousewasbuiltinJohannesburg. Muchofthefundsneededfor constructionweredonatedorraisedbylocalChurchmembers. Thebuildingwasdedicatedon1Februaiy1925andnamed "Ramah." ThisbuildingservedasChurchheadquartersinSouthAfricawhenthemissionofficewasmovedfromCapeTown to Johannesburg in 1960.
To meet the needs ofthe Latter-day Saints scattered throughout South Africa, the mission began publishing the "Cumorah Monthly Bulletin" on15June 1927. Itsname changed briefly to"Cumorah's Southern Cross," and later to"Cumorah's Southern Messenger," a name it retained until publication stopped in1970.
Richard E. Folland, president of the South African Mission from 1938 to 1944, presided over a total of only 50 missionariesduringhisentiretenurebecauseofWorldWar11. Soonafterhisarrival,henoticedthatthemissionarieswere doingmostoftheadministrativeandleadershipwork. OneofFolland'sfirsttaskswastohelplocalmembersassume leadershippositionsinthebranchesanddistricts. On11October1940,becauseofWorldWarII,allthemissionarieswere calledhome. FollandandhisfamilywereaskedtoremaininSouthAfrica. Healsoinstalledlocalofficerstotakechargeof branches.
JuneB.SharparrivedinCapeTowninAugust1944asthenewpresidentofthemission. Becausethewarwasstillraging inEuropeandthePacific,Sharpspenthisfirsttwoyearswithoutanymissionaries. Hetraveledaroundthecountryvisiting branchesandlookingfor'lost"Churchmembers. On16October1946,missionariesarrivedonceagaininSouthAfrica.
Asmentionedearlier,theAfrikaanslanguagewasconsideredoneoftheobstaclesfacingmissionariesinSouthAfrica. In 1949,missionPresidentEvanP. WrightaskedtheFirstPresidencyforpermissiontotranslatetheBookofMormoninto Afrikaans. HeestimatedAfrikaanswasspokenby68percentofwhiteSouthAfricans. By1951,onetractwastranslated into Afrikaans, laying thegroundwork for more AWkaans translations ofChurch literature. The Afrikaans translation ofthe Book ofMormon was introduced tothe South African Latter-day Saints on 14May 1972.
Forseveraldecades,membersinSouthAfricawantedtobevisitedbyGeneralAuthorities. Theirdesireswerefinally realized when David 0. McKay, president ofthe Church, arrived in Cape Town on 9January 1954, the first General Authority to visit the African continent.
In1953,therewereonlytwoChurch-ownedbuildingsinSouthAfrica,CumorahandRamah. LeroyH.Duncan,whowas missionpresidentfrom1953to1957,beganarrangingtohavemanymeetinghousesbuilt. Amission-widebuildingfund was organized in1949 andchapels were constructed inSprings in1954, Port Elizabeth in1956, andDurban in1956. The buildingprogramcontinuedduringthepresidencyof0.LaytonAlldredge,whoservedfrom1960to1964. Heplanned14 new meetinghouses andremodeled four ofthefive existing buildings.
Elder Marion G. Romney oftheQuorum oftheTwelve organized thefirst stake inSouth Africa 22March 1970 with Louis P.Heferaspresident ThenextlandmarkeventinthehistoryoftheChurchinSouthAfricawasthe1978revelationgranting thepriesthoodtoallworthymales. ThemajoritypopulationofSouthAfricawasblackor"coloured." Withtherevelation, the gospel could betaught toall citizens ofSouth Africa. Within six years ofthe revelation, three more stakes were organized: Sandton in1978, Durban in1981, andCape Town in1984.
Upuntil1984SouthAfricanMissionpresidentspresidedoverthewholeofSouthAfrica. Withtheliftingofthe missionary quota, the South African Mission was divided on 1July 1984, creating the South Africa Johannesburg and South Africa Cape Town missions. TheSouthAfrica Durban Mission was createdin 1988.
South African Latter-day Saints had to travel to England orthe United States to attend the temple, until the Johannesburg South Africa Temple was completed and dedicated on 24 August 1985 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
In 1990, the Africa Area was organized with Richard P. Lindsay ofthe Seventy asfirst Area President. He and his counselors, Robert E. Sackley and JBallard Washbum, also ofthe Seventy, moved to Johannesburg todirect the work ofthe Church throughoutAfrica, whichis the first time General Authorities lived in Africa.
On 4 November 1991, Julia Mavimbella, a member ofthe Soweto Branch who joined the Church in1981, became the first blackwomanelectedbythewhitemembersoftheNationalCouncilofWomentothatorganization. Thisoccurredonlytwo monthsafterthe repealofapartheid.
President Gordon B. Hinckley visited South Africa in February 1998 and held three conferences to meet as many of the SouthAfricanLatter-daySaintsaspossible. Hemetwith5,500membersinJohannesburg,makingitthelargestgathering ofChurchmembersinSouthAfrica. HealsovisitedChurchmembersinDurbanandCapeTown.
During 2003, the 35,000 members oftheChurch inSouth Africa celebrated 150 years since the first missionaries arrived. Ayear of activities and service projects began with 91 members of the Cape Town South Africa Stake gathering on Signal Hill on19April 2003 ontheanniversary.
In 2005, membership reached 42,569.
Atemple was announced for Durban, South Africa, byPresident Thomas S. Monson on1 October 2011.