The massive growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa has necessitated a new Africa Central Area Office be established.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, announced the new location Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to a church press release.
“An area is an administrative unit typically composed of multiple stakes (similar to a diocese) and missions (full-time missionaries serve in a geographic area),” the release said.
With the new Africa Central Area, the church will have 16 areas outside of North America and six inside North America.
The announcement of the new area was broadcast to church employees and volunteers in in Nairobi, Kenya, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Countries in the Africa Central Area, which will be administered from Nairobi, include Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Seychelles and São Tomé and Príncipe.
The church anticipates the newly created Africa Central Area will become fully operational by August 2020.
“Growth of the Church in Africa has continued at a strong rate in the past few decades. There are currently more than 621,000 Latter-day Saints in 2,150 congregations on the continent,” the press release said.
Prior to the revelation on the Priesthood on June 1, 1978, there were relatively few members in all of Africa. Over the past 41 years, the growth of the church has been rapid. Aside from the numbers of members and congregations, there are now 34 missions, three temples and 329 family history centers.
Church membership is over 16.3 million worldwide.