As the Church grows in Africa, changes are occurring in the Africa West and Africa Southeast areas, including legal status being granted the Church in Benin. Legal recognition was granted by government officials March 7, said Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy and president of the Africa West Area.
"We've been working for many years," he said, speaking of efforts by members and friends of the Church to obtain recognition. The U.S. ambassador to Benin and the Ghanian ambassador were among those "who put in a good word."
Benin is a French-speaking West African coastal nation between Togo and Nigeria. "We're sending a couple and four missionaries," Elder Child said. "There's a Church congregation there right now."
Some 25 members, including seven Melchizedek Priesthood holders, have been holding a Sunday School group for some time now in the capital city of Cotonou, he said. Many are from Ivory Coast who resettled in Benin. "We'll start building from that Sunday School group," Elder Child said, adding that Benin will most likely be assigned to the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission.
Other changes to the Church in Africa include the transferring of six countries from the Africa West Area to the Africa Southeast Area. As of Dec. 10, 2002, the nations of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Rwanda, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea are part of the Africa Southeast Area, under the supervision of Elder Robert C. Oaks of the Seventy and area president.
Elder Child said the change offers "better watchcare" to the members in those countries.