The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Liberia

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As of 2016, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) reported 8,929 members in one mission, with 24 branches[1] in Liberia.[2]


The LDS Church gained a formal presence in Liberia on 3 July 1987 with the arrival of J. Duffy Palmer and his wife, Jocelyn Palmer, as the first full-time missionaries of the LDS Church in the country.

The origins of the LDS Church in Liberia go back about two years farther. Joe C. Jarwhel received the address of a missionary at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah from a fellow Liberian who had just returned from a visit to Salt Lake City for a police convention. Jarwhel sent a letter seeking more information about the LDS Church; this letter was forwarded to John K. Carmack, who was at the time president of the LDS Church's International Mission. Carmack sent Jarwhel a copy of the Book of Mormon. Jarwhel was a school teacher and used the Book of Mormon in his teaching.

Jarwhel's associate, John Tarsnoh, also learned of the Book of Mormon and created an organization called the Temple of Christ's Church, which began teaching the doctrines found in the book. Sometime in 1986, Thomas Peihopa, a Latter-day Saint from New Zealand who was employed in Monrovia, came in contact with this group. Peihopa taught them more of the doctrines of the LDS Church.

Due to the preparation for preaching that was laid by Jarwhel, Tarsnoh and Peihopa, the Palmers were able to quickly establish the LDS Church when they arrived in Liberia. Tarsnoh was baptized on 22 August 1987 and 47 others, mainly fellow members of his Temple of Christ's Church, were baptized in the next week. The following day two branches of the church were organized, one presided over by Peihopa and the other presided over by Steven Wolf, an American citizen working in Monrovia on a military assignment. The country was not formally dedicated for the preaching of the gospel until the next month by Apostle Marvin J. Ashton.

In February 1988, Joseph Forkpah became the first Liberian citizen to serve as a branch president. In March 1988, the Liberia Monrovia Mission was organized with J. Duffy Palmer as president.

As civil war broke out in 1990, missionaries were transferred to Sierra Leone. Most of these missionaries were Liberians, but conditions were so bad in the country that it was felt to be safer to send them elsewhere. In 1991, the Monrovia mission was combined with the Ghana Accra Mission. Dr. A. Tarr, who had been a member less than four years and had been serving as the first counselor in the district presidency, became the church's presiding leader in Liberia with the departure of the mission president and most foreign nationals. In 1999, missionaries were able to return to Liberia. At the height of the civil war in 1992 about 70% of church members had fled the country. LDS Church leaders instructed those remaining to only hold small gatherings. Over the next seven years many church members returned, most of the eight branches that had existed at the time the war broke out were reorganized, and 43 Liberians managed to serve full-time missions in other countries, primarily Sierra Leone and Ghana.

In June 2000, the Monrovia Liberia Stake was organized with Toby wleboe Tweh Sr. as president. Tweh had been among the members of Tarsnoh's Temple of Christ Church prior to joining the LDS Church. In June 2007, the Monrovia Stake was discontinued and divided into two mission districts. The next July a new mission, the Freetown Sierra Leone Mission, which covered Sierra Leone and Liberia, was organized. Liberia was converted into its own mission in July 2013. It currently has one stake, the Bushrod Island Stake, which was organized on November 27, 2016.

Membership History[edit]

Year Membership[3]
1993 1,400a
1995 1,600a
1997 2,000a
1999 2,694b
2001 3,394b
2003 4,016b
2005 4,357b
2007 4,910b
2009 5,039c
2011 5,447c
2012 5,863c
2013 6,709
2014 8,081
2015 8,929[4]
  • a Estimated membership for December 31 of the respective year
  • b Actual Membership for December 31 of the respective year
  • c Actual Membership for January 1 of the respective year


  • Bushrod Island Stake


  • Monrovia Liberia District
  • Caldwell District
  • Paynesville Liberia District


The Liberia Monrovia Mission was announced to be created July 2013.[5] It is currently an active mission under President Arvid A. Carlson and his wife Kelly L. Carlson, who began their service in July 2015.

2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak[edit]

After two LDS Church members died during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the LDS Church required its missionaries remain in their apartments as a precautionary measure.[6][7] Then on August 1, 2014 the LDS Church announced that it would transfer all of its 274 missionaries out of Sierra Leone and Liberia, thereby closing the Liberia Monrovia Mission for the duration of the outbreak.[6][7][4] In July 2015, new mission presidents returned to Liberia to reopen the mission. New missionaries were called and a number or current missionaries were reassigned to the Liberia Monrovia Mission to assist in reopening the mission.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Religion in Liberia


  1. ^ LDS Meetinghouse Locator
  2. ^ LDS Newsroom (Statistical Information)
  3. ^ "Country information: Liberia", Deseret News Church Almanac (multiple almanacs from various years), Deseret News 
  4. ^ a b Walch, Tad (1 August 2014). "Ebola outbreak prompts evacuation of LDS missionaries from two African nations". Deseret News. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  5. ^ New mission presidents by area for 2013
  6. ^ a b "Official Statement: Missionaries Serving in Two African Nations are Reassigned". Church News. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. a August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ a b Stack, Peggy Fletcher (a August 2014). "Mormon missionaries leaving Sierra Leone and Liberia". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 5 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

see also