News Story

Mormon Church in Kenya Celebrates 24 Years of Existence

“We acknowledge this as a blessed land", Elder Faust said in 1991 during the dedication.

It has been a remarkable 24 years since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kenya was officialy recognized. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the worldwide Church, led the dedication of the country for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1991. During the dedication meeting, more than 100 members who had been meeting unofficially were in attendance, together with Elder Richard Lindsay of the Seventy and the then Kenya Nairobi Mission President, Larry Brown.

Prior to the LDS Church implementing full proselytism for its missionaries in a given country, the country is often dedicated by a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the highest hierarchies in the Church). During the dedication, a special prayer is given. In the prayer, special blessings are pronounced on the people of the country and church members. Elder Faust was serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he dedicated Kenya. He was called to be an Apostle of the Church in 1978 and passed away in 2007 while serving as a Second Counsellor in the First Presidency of the Church. In his prayer, he said “We acknowledge this as a blessed land.” The prayer mentioned Kenya’s beauty, grandeur, and abundant plant and animal life.  Elder Faust asked that “the beasts of the earth, which have historically been native to this land, may continue to find a home.”

These 24 years have truly been incredible for the Mormon community in Kenya. The Church has steadily grown and boasts a membership of over 14,000 today scattered across Kenya in over 45 congregations. Many meetinghouses have also been constructed to host these congregations all the way from Kitale to Eldoret, Nairobi and all the way to Makueni.

Though the Church was officially recognized in Kenya in 1991, its beginnings go much further than that. American USAID employees and families who were members of the Church and working in Kenya in the 1970's held Church services in their own homes. The first African converts in Kenya were baptized in 1979. The first two missionaries, Elder Farrell and Sister Blanch McGhie, arrived in 1980, and in 1981 two branches (small congregations) were created in Nairobi and Kiboko. In 1988 the Church donated funds that were collected by means of special fasts to bring water to 15 Kenyan villages located in Chyulu areas in Makueni where hundreds of boreholes have since been built by the Church. The water systems were installed by 1989. In 1992 the Church provided food staples to Somalia and Kenyan refugees affected by severe drought conditions.

Since the dedication of Kenya, many Church programs have been implemented and have gained traction. One of these is the Humanitarian program which is implemented by LDS Charities. This program now has full-time missionaries who work with government and other NGOs in the country to find opportunities to help those in need as well as support self reliance efforts among communities. Since 1991, LDS Charities has been involved heavily in national vaccinations campaigns for immunizable diseases such as polio and measles. The Church has also donated thousands of wheelchairs, medical and school supplies, hygiene kits, sponsored and run many medical camps and trainings for doctors and nurses. These efforts have blessed both members of the Church and nonmembers.

The Church in 2005 implemented the Perpetual Education Fund which helps members of the Church gain a tertiary education. This program has improved the lives of hundreds of youth who can now support their families after acquiring better education.

Other milestones achieved by the Church during this time include opening of Seminaries and Institutes across the country, launching Family History Centers where all persons can research about their genealogies, and sending thousands of young men and women from Kenya on missions around the world.

One person who was at the meeting when Elder Faust dedicated Kenya for the preaching of the gospel is Elder Joseph Sitati. Today he serves as one of the General Authorities of the worldwide Church, having been called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 2009. Elder Sitati is the first black African to be called to this Quorum.

Despite all these milestones, one of the most remarkable observations of the last 24 years of the Church in Kenya is how lives and families have been blessed by accepting to join the Church. People’s lives have improved as they embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and strive everyday to keep the commandments. Many have found meaning in their lives as they have accepted the call to serve. Hundreds have found opportunities to serve in the Church and their testimonies have grown and leadership skills improve. Many have also delighted in their desire to serve in their communities.

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