What does Mormonism look like when reconstructed from texts in a non-American cultural context? The self-styled Mormon Churches that developed in West Africa during the 1960s and 1970s (prior to the lifting of the priesthood and temple ban on individuals with Black African ancestry) provide a fascinating glimpse into this question that Laurie Maffly-Kipp explored at the 26th annual Arrington Mormon History Lecture in her lecture “A Marvelous Work: Reading Mormonism in West Africa.” I didn’t get off work in time to get up to Logan, Utah and attend in person, but they did offer a live-stream of the event, which I was able to listen to, and thought I would share a summary of what was shared during the lecture. Prior to lifting the ban in 1978, the Church had very little established in Africa in the way of missions or congregations. Through exposure to the Church via Western education, a 1958 article in the Reader’s Digest called “The Mormon Church: A Complete Way of Life,” and dreams, West Africans began to develop an interest in Mormonism and sought out literature about the Church. Missionary pamphlets, James E. Talmage’s Articles of Faith, LeGrand Richards’s A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, and a Church magazine known as The Improvement Era were the most studied Mormon literature in the area, and once some individuals had read these sources, they began to preach and form congregations that were styled as Mormonism or…
Category: The International Church
One of the things almost sure to be heard in testimony meeting after someone has traveled (whether it’s across the ocean or just to the next town over) is an expression of gratitude that “the Church is the same no matter where you go.” To a certain extent, it’s true. We all sing the same hymns, although every ward congregation seems to have its particular favorites. We all read the same scriptures. Sunday meetings follow the same general format, even if the meetings are in a different order. Thanks to Correlation, Sunday School and other lesson manuals are standardized and translated into over a hundred languages, and on any given Sunday the whole worldwide Church is studying the same lesson (give or take a week or two depending on how organized the local Sunday School teacher happens to be). We’ve traveled and moved around the world quite a bit, and I’ll admit that I do appreciate the general “sameness” of Church meetings. It’s nice for my children (and for me!) to know that no matter how different the country where we live may be, when we go to Church it will feel familiar. But I also deeply relish the little differences. For example, in Italy when I arrived at Church I was greeted not with a handshake, but with kisses on both cheeks (and sometimes the top of my head too). There is nothing like being kissed thirty times in…
What I Found Interesting and Unusual in the Pew Report
For Pioneer Day, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religious & Public Life released its report on Mormonism, based on responses to its 2007 Religious Landscape Survey. I was surprised that the initial coverage was so mundane, but when I read the report, so many details were fascinating!
For some time now I’ve been planning a series of posts looking at the LDS presence in different countries around the world. But unlike what has been done elsewhere, I want to find and present information that gives a view of what life may be like for most LDS Church members in that country. I also hope to give an idea of the development of Mormon culture in the country, mention a few of the well-known or notable citizens of that country who are Mormon, as well as a brief idea of the distribution and development of the Church in the country. In honor of the yesterday’s best-known Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would start with Mexico.