MAPUTO, Mozambique — Mozambique, one of four countries comprising the expansive South Africa Johannesburg Mission, was organized in January 2005 to create the Mozambique Maputo Mission, the 339th mission of the Church.
The new mission includes the nearly 30 million people in the two Portuguese-speaking countries of Mozambique on the east coast and Angola on the west. The countries are on the opposite sides of the southern tip of South Africa separated by Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Since the first baptisms in Mozambique in 1996, the number of missionaries serving in the country has grown to about 30. Membership, likewise, grew at a steady, incremental pace tallying nearly 2,800 in 2004. The 810 baptisms last year were nearly evenly divided between the two districts of Maputo and Beira.
With no missionaries serving in Angola, membership of the single Luanda Angola Branch is about 600.
The South Africa Johannesburg Mission now includes the northern area of South Africa and the neighboring countries of Lesotho and Botswana. The mission comprises the six stakes of Bedfordview, Benoni, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Roodepoort and Soweto with a membership of nearly 19,000.
After gaining legal recognition in Mozambique in 1996, the first branch was organized in Beira in January 1999, then under the direction of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission.
In May 2000, missionaries reported teaching 69 first discussions in four days to people in the village of Marromeu, some waiting all day outside the huts to hear the missionaries.
Since the land was dedicated by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve on Oct. 29, 1999, membership in Mozambique has doubled three times in five years. There are now 11 branches in the Beira and Maputo districts. Two branches are located in Marromeu.
Another indication of the growing strength of the Church in Mozambique was evident during the Maputo District Conference held Nov. 21, 2004, when 40 men were presented to receive the Melchezidek Priesthood.
The first Church-built meetinghouse in Mozambique should be completed in early 2005 in Beira. Additional land is being considered for future buildings. Meetings are now held in remodeled houses, a former movie theater and a renovated chicken coop.