Africa and Temples

I noticed that the church has announced the completion of a temple in Finland here. The article mentions that there are 5,000 members in Finland. 5,000. Pretty impressive huh? The article also mentions that there are now 10 temples in Europe. Countries like Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and similar countries have memberships about the same as Finland – 5,000 or so.

With my new curiosity regarding Kenya following my parents’ mission call, I couldn’t help but notice that Kenya has 6,000 members, and that the nearest temple is in South Africa. With the number of years we have been sending missionaries to Scandinavian and European countries, one would think that there would be more than about 5,000 members in these countries, and that there would be fewer missionaries and temples given the lack of converts and numbers.

Does it not make just as much sense in terms of numbers and geography to have a temple in Kenya as it does to have a temple in Finland? What am I missing?

I make a similar case for missionaries at Blogger of Jared here.

13 Responses to “Africa and Temples”

  1. 1 J. Stapley August 28, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    Europe has kind of gotten the shaft, because all the saints left. Germany, Denmark, the British Isles (and others). They were all drained and sustained the american church…heaven knows the americans didn’t convert like the europeans.

    Still, there are families that have been in the church since before the war.

    Africa doesn’t have that history yet, though I am confident that they will have more temples soon. There is also the issue of political stability, I think.

  2. 2 Bookslinger August 28, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    1. As Elder Uchtdorf mentioned in his first conference talk, there would be hundreds of thousands more saints in Europe by now if they had not all come to America during the immigration period.

    They stopped telling people “come to Zion” during Joseph F. Smith’s presidency, and were told to build up Zion where they were. However, many still came over to escape oppression in Europe prior to WW II, because they saw the rise of Hitler.

    2. The temple in Finland is not to serve just Finland, but also one or two other Scandinavian counties, and the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), Russia, and some of Northern Europe. According to what I read, I think there are at least 35,000 members in the Finland temple district.

    3. The church is mature in Finland, with stakes, and with people capable of running and staffing and patronizing a temple. The members in Kenya are probably mostly in districts and the depth of leadership to run and staff a temple is probably not there yet. Give it time.

    There is only one mission in Kenya. In Ghana and Nigeria, where there are now temples, there are at least 8 missions, and many stakes, and lots of leadership, and more mature membership.

    4. I’m sure the Lord is quite specific with Pres Hinckley about where he wants temples. If the Lord can give revelation to thousands of bishops on who to call to ward positions, I’m sure the Lord gives revelation to Pres Hinckley on where to build temples.

  3. 3 a spectator August 29, 2006 at 1:22 am

    Having the nearest temple be in South Africa basically ensures that most Kenyans will never get there (although the church does subsidize travel). The problem: money and passports. For some reason, Kenya makes it hard to get a passport.

    Although the membership records may be 6,000, I would guess that actual attendance is closer to 10% of that. Bookslinger makes a good point that staffing the temple would be hard. My BP there had been BP for 7 years and guess what? He had been a member for 7 years, too.

    But given time, I am sure East Africa will get a temple.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson August 29, 2006 at 8:54 am

    Good points all.


    History and stability must be the main factors, which may outweigh geography and numbers. Still, there has been a lot of time since WWII. 60 years right? One would think in that time there would be more members in many of these European countries.


    Good points. I especially like the comparison to Nigeria and Ghana. But it is partly Europe I am talking about. That part of the world seems to be getting more resources than they warrent – perhaps.


    Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to the day when Kenya will get a temple and more missionaries.

  5. 5 John Mansfield August 29, 2006 at 10:40 am

    J. Stapley, keep in mind that preaching in most Latin American countries began in the 1950s and 1960s. (I think Mexico, Brazil and Argentina are the only ones with pre-war branches or missionaries.) Do you think the 19th and early 20th Century migration of German, Danish, and British saints and others removed their decendents from the population that would have converted in those countries in the mid to late 20th Century had proselytizing begun then?

  6. 6 Kim Siever August 29, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    A ratio of 5,000 members per temple? Canada needs 26 more. đŸ™‚

  7. 7 Bookslinger August 29, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    What the GA’s and Stake Presidents tell people is that you have to have X number of tithe-payers and Y number of temple-rec holders in a proposed temple district in order to get a temple.

    So the numbers are not based on total membership of the country, or state, or even total membership of the proposed temple district.

    And, when you reach the X and Y numbers yourself, you have to do so without stealing so many people from surrounding temple districts that they fall below their X and Y.

    For instance, Indianapolis got the short end of the stick in terms of getting a temple. And, we’ve been told it’s because we didn’t have enough X and Y.

    We are surrounded by 6 temples within a 5 hour drive: Louisville Kentucky (“our” temple) is 2.5 hours, Columbus Ohio 3.5 hours, Detroit MI 4.5 hrs, Chicago IL 4 hrs, Nauvoo IL 5.5 hrs, Franklin (Nashville) TN 5 hours.

    And in Tennessee, there are two temples, one east and one west.

    Those other areas grew faster in terms of X and Y than we did.

    Now, our X and Y, “per stake” have increased, because we’d have to have that number without “stealing” too many stakes from other temple districts in order to have our temple.

    There’s more to it too. You not only have to have X and Y, you have to fill the seats in the temple.

    If all the temple-rec holding saints in those 6 temple districts filled every seat for every session, then yes, they’d consider another temple somewhere.

    I’ve heard wonderful stories of inspiration about where to build chapels. I’m confident that the Lord would be just as involved, perhaps more so, in where to build temples.

  8. 8 Bookslinger August 29, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    From one viewpoint, bringing early converts from Europe to the United States saved many of their descendents from having to go through the horrors of World War I and World War II.

    Those two wars brought tremendous suffering upon the civilians of almost all European countries.

    I’m the first LDS in my family. My Jewish grandfather came to the US from Poland as a boy, prior to WW I.

    My father was born in the United States in the early 1930’s. I sometimes think of what would have happened had grandfather and his family not come here.

    One of my father’s first cousins married a man who survived a Nazi concentration camp as a teenager. I met him at my sister’s wedding in Florida. One day he wore a short-sleeved shirt. You could still see the numbers tattooed on his forearm.

    I’m only in my late 40’s. The Holocaust is not that far removed.

    And there are other many other holocausts that have transpired since WW II, and are still occurring throughout the world.

    The August Ensign has a story of an LDS sister who has been working with the child survivors of the holocaust in Bosnia.

  9. 9 Eric Nielson August 29, 2006 at 2:43 pm


    Thanks for stopping by. I think you get my point. It seems that Finland is getting a heck of a deal. I’m happy for them. I hope to see a day when there are 1,000 temples.


    What you say here sounds pretty good. It makes sense that things would go by all kinds of numbers. I am sure it is not a simple decision.

    It is also interesting about ‘poaching’ for a temple. The Chicago temple is near vacant quite a bit. Many of the temples of the midwest have taken from their numbers.

    Thanks for your thoughts about those who joined in Europe in the early days. The Lord works in mysterious ways. It just seems a little odd to me how few members there are in many Scandanavian and European countries even with the exodus from those nations prior to WWII.

  10. 10 Anonymous September 14, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    Name the only city in the world with TWO temples…..

    Nadroj Htuos

    Read it backwards. The existing Jordan temple and the announced Daybreak temple are both within the city’s boundary.

  11. 11 xhenxhe October 2, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    I served in South Africa (Cape Town) from 96-98. At the time we were more concerned about getting some chapels built rather than temples! The church is growing rapidly among the black people. Temples will dot the land there eventually, but right now they need chapels and more priesthood leadership as I understand it. In the 5 months I spent in the township of Mdantsane, we were meeting in very run-down, vandalized public buildings. We went from an average sacrament attendance of 150 to 250, and from 6 missionaries to 10 – all within those 5 months. They also announced while I was there that they wanted to build two chapels in that township. I think it took nearly two years before they got past all the old apartheid laws that prevented them from doing so. Now they have those chapels, one of them is a Stake Center.

    But like someone here mentioned earlier, you need to have tithing payers and recommend holders. This will come in time. Most of the growth there was among the youth and women. As time goes on they strong youth will continue to build the church in those areas.

    While I was in Mdantsane, they had their frist missionary return home and one in the field. I used to take a young man by he name of Puhmlani Nqosi on splits every day. He got called to the Sale Lake City mission. We had him over for dinner and he said when he left, there were 30 other young men that left with him! WOW!

  12. 12 xhenxhe October 2, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    anon: That temple trivia was a trick question. South Jordan only has one temple. They new on is not built yet.

  13. 13 Eric Nielson October 2, 2006 at 12:25 pm


    Thanks for your comment. I look forward to following the church growth over there!

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