The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized in a small log cabin in upstate New York (U.S.A.) in 1830.
It took 117 years — until 1947 — for the Church to grow from the initial six members to one million. Missionaries were a feature of the Church from its earliest days, fanning out to Native American lands, to Canada and, in 1837, beyond the North American continent to England. Not long after, missionaries were working on the European continent and as far away as India and the Pacific Islands.
The two-million-member mark was reached just 16 years later, in 1963, and the three-million mark in eight years more. This accelerating growth pattern has continued with about a million new members now being added every three years or less. Growth consists both of convert baptisms and natural growth through the birth of children.
Church membership today is over 15 million.
The consequences of this rapid and sustained growth are seen in many places in the world where the Church operates. Congregations that are grouped into geographical areas known as wards are periodically divided as they become too large to administer, or to worship in a chapel or meetinghouse all at once. New buildings are being completed and others are leased virtually every day of the year in order to house growing membership.
Growth rates vary significantly across the world. Many other factors contribute to the strength of the Church, most especially the devotion and commitment of its members.
Members have been in Ghana since 1978. In the 1950s the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Bible, along with various pamphlets about the Church found their way to Ghana. These were read by many Ghanaians who were converted to the gospel and used them as a basis to start their own Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations. In 1964 Joseph W. B. Johnson gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and provided leadership in organizing and directing congregations consisting of hundreds of followers. In 1978 two missionary couples entered Ghana from Nigeria and baptized many of Johnson's congregations. A building program began in 1979.
Within a year more than 400 people had been baptized in Ghana and branches (small congregations) were organized. By 1981 seven branches were functioning. All converts were taught the gospel in their own language and trained in leadership skills.
On June 14, 1989, Ghana's government expelled the missionaries and banned the Church. Members were permitted to hold services in the privacy of their homes, however. Eighteen months later the government expressed satisfaction that the Church teaches members to be obedient to government laws and promotes racial harmony, and on December 1, 1990, Ghana permitted Church activities to resume. By the end of 1990, membership was more than 9,000.
In 1998, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley met with Ghana's Head of State, Mr. Rawlings, who apologized for the action taken by the government in 1989. President Hinckley informed Mr. Rawlings that the Church would build its first temple in West Africa in the capital city of Accra. He also met with thousands of members in Accra and announced the plans to build the temple.
Facts and Statistics
(as of April 2014)
57,748 Total Church Membership