Mormonism in Africa

Jehu J. Hanciles, Professor of Global Christianity at Emory University at the 2014 meetings of the Mormon History Association, shared his research on the growth of Mormonism in Africa:

Mormonism remains a predominately American phenomenon.  The LDS Church lags behind virtually every other branch of Christianity in the area of inculturation.

The growth of Mormonism in Africa . . . has been quite modest, and compared to other traditions, disappointing.

Hanciles spoke of the advantages and disadvantages the Church has in regards to its missionary program (this summary is based on a post by J. Stuart).  Doctrines and policies conducive to LDS missionary work in Africa include:  food storage, prophetic gifts, gifts of the spirit, and the celebration of family and kinship relationships.

However, Mormonism does a poor job of adapting to local circumstances by requiring local congregations to adapt to a neo-colonial version of a church service.  Things that are not helpful to missionary work include:

  • insistence on using American hymnbooks,
  • not making allowance for local dress and tradition, and
  • not allow for enough participation from the congregants.

I’ve attended LDS Church services in 4 different cities in Uganda (eastern Africa).  I generally agree with Hanciles’ assessment.  His information and conclusions, from my limited perspective, are accurate.

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