Nigerian converts, Mormon missionaries, and the priesthood revelation: Mormonism in Nigeria, 1946-1978
Hurlbut, D. Dmitri
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INTRODUCTION On October 24, 1946, the Office of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) received a letter from an unlikely place—Nigeria, a British colony that would gain its independence in 1960. Written by O.J. Umondak, the letter requested missionaries and literature about teachings of the LDS Church. After discussing its obligations to preach the gospel to the world, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second highest governing body within the church's hierarchy, decided to delay responding to this letter, because the church had actively avoided proselytizing among "Africans of the black race" since 1830. This long-standing policy had its roots in two assumptions. First, Mormons conceived of Africa as a gloomy and forbidding continent dominated by sorrow and tyranny. More importantly, Mormons believed that Blacks were ill suited for conversion, because dark skin was the symbol of a divine curse in Mormon scriptures, a punishment for transgressions in a pre-mortal existence. The Apostles' attention, however, was called to Umondak's letter the following year when, on October 9, 1947, a missionary in Los Angeles wrote to church headquarters in Salt Lake City to ask about the church's attitude towards "negroes."4 The council once again... [TRUNCATED]
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 268
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