A total of six new missions will be created in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Idaho, the First Presidency has announced.
The new missions bring to 11 the number created this year and the Churchwide total to 267. The new missions, to begin about July 1, will be the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East, France Marseille, Germany Berlin, Idaho Pocatello, Kenya Nairobi, and the Trinidad Tobago missions. In the March 16 Church News five other new missions were announced, the Brazil Porto Alegre North, Brazil Sao Paulo East, Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos, Ecuador Guayaquil North and Venezuela Caracas West missions.With the new missions, the United States will have 80 missions, Europe, 36; Africa, 9; and the Caribbean, 8.
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East
The Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission will be divided to create the Santo Domingo East and Santo Domingo West missions. The new Santo Domingo East mission will have 7,655 members in one stake and a district, with a total population of about 2 million. The realigned Santo Domingo West mission will have 8,283 members in one stake and a district, among a total population of 2.2 million.
Pres. Ronald D. Jamison of the Santo Domingo Mission said the mission is "one of the most successful in the Church."
"There are two basic reasons for the success. First, the Dominican people are truly ready for the gospel. The mission is only 10 years old and we have had upwards of 40,000 people join the Church. The second reason is the tremendous hard work and commitment of the missionary force.
"By and large, the members are doing well in missionary work. They provide referrals, and we have stake and district missionaries in every stake and district of the mission."
He noted that next year will be the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. The first major island the explorer discovered was Hispaniola, on which is the Dominican Republic.
"A huge monument is being created here in preparation for the celebration of the 500th anniversary," said Pres. Jamison. "The celebration will be a big event and focus worldwide attention on the Dominican Republic." He said the role of Columbus as explained in the Book of Mormon gives the celebration a mission tie.
Missionary work began in the Dominican Republic with the arrival of an LDS family, Eddie and Mercedes Amparo, Dominicans converted in California who returned to their homeland on June 9, 1978, the day of the priesthood revelation. Two days later the John and Nancy Rappleye family of Utah arrived. Brother Rappleye was employed by the Dominican Republic government.
Among the first missionaries to the Dominican Republic were John A. and Ada Davis of Provo, Utah. The Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission was organized Jan. 1, 1981. At that time, membership was 2,500. In 1979, 354 people were baptized. By 1986, membership reached 11,000. A second mission was organized in Santiago on July 1, 1987, with membership about 13,000. A second stake was organized Oct. 16, 1988, and a third Nov. 5, 1989.
The Switzerland Geneva Mission, which includes areas of France, will be divided to create the new France Marseille Mission. The new mission, which will also include a small segment of the France Bordeaux Mission, will have 3,078 members in one stake and a district, and a total population of about 7 million. The realigned Geneva mission will have 3,534 members in one stake and two districts, and a population of 9.5 million.
The new mission takes in the French border of the Mediterranean Sea, reported Pres. Richard W. Thatcher of the Switzerland Geneva Mission.
"The Church is well-established with a stake, and we are hopeful that there soon will be two stakes. The members there are very involved in missionary work and are eager to serve. The members love missionary work and the missionaries are loved there."
He said most converts stay active in the Church. "I was a missionary here 30 years ago and and there are a lot of people I still know." Growth in the south area of France continues to do well, he continued. "Historically, it has always been that way."
The first member in France was a Welshman named William Howells, who arrived in Le Havre, France, in July 1849, and on July 30, 1849, baptized Augustus Saint d'Anna. On June 18, Apostle John Taylor arrived with Elder Curtis E. Boulton and organized a branch in Paris on Dec. 8.
The French Mission was later organized, but work progressed slowly amid severe government restrictions. The mission was eventually discontinued and not reopened until 1912. Work paused during the world wars and resumed afterward. The first meetinghouse in France was constructed in Nantes in 1962. The Paris France Stake was created Nov. 16, 1975. France now has some 21,000 members.
The Germany Dresden Mission will be divided to create the Germany Berlin Mission. The new mission, which will cover the northern half of the existing Germany Dresden Mission, will have about 2,700 members in one stake within a total population of 7.1 million. The realigned Dresden mission will have 3,167 members in two stakes and a non-member population of some 10.3 million.
Pres. Wolfgang Paul of the Germany Dresden Mission said, "We have seen good success so far."
He explained that Berlin, with 3.4 million people, is a melting pot for many cultures. "The most important thing to remember is that Berlin is no longer an island. It was an island in a socialistic state and every end had a gate or a fence. Now, people come here from many other countries. Those who join the Church here and then depart to other countries will definitely be pioneers in their countries.
"Missionaries here are learning there is no longer an east and west Germany - we are all one now. We are excited to see what will happen."
He said that with the creation of the Berlin mission, several new cities will be opened for the first time to missionary work.
"There are many spots on the map where people are just waiting to receive the gospel," he asserted.
Pres. Robert W. Peterson of the German Hamburg Mission, which included Berlin until last October, said Berlin has been a rich source of converts, particularly since the opening of the Berlin Wall.
"This has been a very exciting time for missionaries to bring the gospel to the people," he said. "It is an experience that couldn't be dreamed of a few years ago.
Pres. Peterson said that when the wall came down, it created tremendous enthusiasm among members to find opportunities to teach the people from the East. The Berlin wards held open houses that were well-attended as the people thronged west across the border.
"Crowds of people came in at that time. The missionaries presented copies of the Book of Mormon on the street. The people were so anxious and so ready to receive them that we had a hard time meeting the demand."
The influx of people from eastern Europe has also affected Hamburg. Pres. Peterson recounted that recently a few Russians came into a Hamburg meetinghouse where they were introduced to the gospel by the custodian, who happened to speak Russian. These people were baptized, and soon brought a second set of investigators from Russia. They, too, were baptized. Additional investigators attended the baptismal service. At the service, the prayers and talks were given by the first converts, who also performed the ordinances.
"What we are seeing is the literal gathering of Israel," said Pres. Peterson. "It is an exciting time."
Missionaries from America began working in Germany in the 1840s but realized little success during the first years. In the 1850s, missionary work expanded into Germany from the Scandinavian, Italian, and French missions. The German Mission was created in 1852 and that year reported a branch of 21 members in Hamburg. A highlight in the missionary work in Germany came when Dr. Karl G. Maeser and other missionaries helped bring into the Church more than 600 people in the late 1860s.
After the turn of the century work was interrupted by the world wars, and the missionaries were pulled out. Missionaries returned in 1947 and work has progressed steadily since then. Recent membership statistics indicate that there are about 36,000 members in Germany.
The Idaho Boise Mission will be divided to create the Idaho Pocatello Mission. The new Pocatello mission will have 182,114 members in 66 stakes, and a total population of 444,000. The realigned Boise mission will have 57,421 members and a population of 421,000.
The new mission will include the majority of the Church members presently in the Boise mission, with some areas from 50 percent to 96 percent LDS, said Pres. F. David Stanley. The realigned mission will subsequently have the majority of non-members.
He explained that the members in the new mission "are outstanding in missionary work. The stake presidents and ward mission leaders treat our missionaries exceptionally well. They involve lots of people in missionary work. The east side has more convert baptisms notwithstanding the fact that the west side has more non-members."
Much of the area in the new Pocatello mission was colonized by the Church in the latter half of the 19th century. By the time of Brigham Young's death in 1877, 29 colonies had been established in Idaho. The Bannock [now RexburgT Stake was created in Rexburg in 1884, the Cassia [now OakleyT Stake in 1887, the Bingham [now Idaho FallsT Stake in 1895, and the Pocatello Stake in 1898.
The Boise Mission was organized in 1974.
The new Kenya Nairobi Mission will consist of the republics of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya has 258 members within a population of 24 million. Uganda has 32 members within a population of 17 million, and Tanzania has 17 members in a population of some 25 million.
Missionary work in Kenya began in the early 1980s with the arrival of a missionary couple, according to the Missionary Department.
Creation of this mission, adjacent to the Zaire Kinshasa Mission, establishes missions across central Africa, from the South Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.
The Trinidad Tobago Mission will be created on this island nation, presently in the West Indies Mission, and includes Guyana and Suriname. These two countries and French Guiana were recently transferred to the North America Southeast Area.
The new mission will have about 600 members in three districts, and a non-member population of 2.6 million. The realigned West Indies Mission, which will include French Guiana, will have about 1,000 members in 16 branches and a population of 1.8 million people.
According to Pres. A. Dean Jeffs, work is proceeding well in Trinidad and Tobago. "A branch was organized there about 21/2 years ago, and now we have two branches with roughly 100 people attending each," he said. "It has really been a pioneering kind of proselyting.
"Trinidad is a developing country with various kinds of industry, small agriculture, and oil as resources," said Pres. Jeffs.
"The branch president in Port of Spain is a local member, and a missionary couple in the San Fernando Branch is developing local leaders.
"Missionary work goes more slowing in the other islands, but we are making continuous progress. Each island is a separate country with its own government. "Although all the people on the islands are Caribbean, their cultures and ways of the people are different."
Among the first converts in Trinidad and Tobago were Blasil D. and Felicia Borde, baptized in 1977. A branch in Port of Spain was organized June 5, 1980, as part of the Venezuela Caracas Mission. The area was transferred to the West Indies Mission in September 1983.
The first missionaries to enter Guyana were Elder Benjamin Hudson and his wife, Ruth. They arrived Aug. 8, 1988, and organized a small branch in Georgetown in March 1989. About 23 attended services at that time. Membership has since grown to about 86, and the first four elders arrived in March 1991.
The first missionaries into Suriname were Elder John Limburg and his wife, Beverly, who arrived in Paramaribo, on Oct. 7, 1988, and started the Paramaribo Branch. By the start of 1989, some 16 people were attending services. The first convert was baptized March 26, 1989, in services attended by about 25 people. Membership now exceeds 100 members.
The first missionaries into French Guiana were Edward and Sister Louise P. Schmidt, who arrived in 1989. A branch organized in Cayenne had about 23 members in 1989, and by 1990 French Guiana had two branches with fewer than 100 members.