Freetown, Sierra Leone
Joe: If there’s a sense that the Church in West Africa is growing and growing sustainably, that’s probably because it is. It almost seems like a chain reaction is happening there as stakes are being established and membership numbers are increasing steadily over time.
Freetown is an alluring destination for a new temple and not just because there are 17 wards and 11 branches in the city alone, according to a manual tally from the Church’s meetinghouse locator website, but for the likely region that would feed into a Sierra Leonean temple, which has a critical mass of membership already, clocking in at about 46,000 according to Cumorah. Sierra Leone and Liberia would be the main feeders into a temple here, but should Praia, Cape Verde not get one as we’ve predicted before, it’s very likely the 14,205 members there spread across 42 units in 3 stakes and 2 districts (in and of itself more church presence than a few Canadian temple districts I can think of) would be a big contributor to a Freetown House of God.
Perhaps more convincingly, the Church has organized stakes in Sierra Leone rather quickly, going from just one stake in 2016 to five in 2017. Combine that with the four stakes in Liberia and the scattered districts throughout the region and this guess starts to look fairly robust and downright sensical!
Interestingly The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Mali all just have one branch each, but a temple in Freetown might be the best way to provide reasonable access to a temple for the scattered saints of those nations as close as possible, and close enough to make a journey for temple ordinances more possible. A Freetown temple would be both a bustling hub in its immediate area, and a reachable outpost for the hinterland branches.
Geoff: You’ve blinded me with science. Great numbers there, Angie. The trend is clearly on the up. I can only imagine that blue bar on the right in the chart will get taller and taller as the years move on. I’m all in on this one! I think we might actually get two west African temples this time out.
Per your remarks on the other countries – I wouldn’t expect a ton of growth in any of them. You’re crossing the cultural line from Christian Africa to Muslim Africa. That’s not to say the Church can’t grow in such places, but converting from Islam to any other faith can be a precarious proposition for new believers, and it will always be a barrier to entry within these communities. Regardless, sign me up for Freetown the temple, if not Freetown the movie.