UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 304,060,000; Members, 5,974,041; Stakes, 1,438; Wards, 11,289; Branches, 2,074; Districts, 12; Missions, 106;Temples in use, 62; under construction or announced, 7; Percent LDS, 2, or one in 51.
A few stakes and missions have headquarters in states other than that for which they are named. To simplify this listing, these stakes and missions are listed in the states for which they are named. Numbers preceding stakes and missions are their chronological numbers assigned at the time of creation. Letters are added if number has been used previously.
(* Stake name changed 14 Jan 1974 or as indicated otherwise.)
Jan.1, 2009: Population, 4,662,000; Members, 33,968; Stakes, 6; Wards, 42;Branches, 30; Missions, 1; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, 0.7 or one in 137.
The first known missionary to visit Alabama was Lysander Davis, who preached on the Montgomery County courthouse steps on 7 October 1839. Benjamin L. Clapp, a native of Alabama, baptized a relative, Samuel Turnbow, on 2 March 1840. The first concerted missionary work began on 24 April 1842, when James Brown and John U. Eldridge were sent to do missionary work there. Brown organized branches in Tuscaloosa and Perry counties in August 1842. Brown is credited with baptizing some of the first African-Americans into the Church, including two men named Hagar and Jack, on 24 October 1843. Eldridge baptized his brother, wife and mother-in-law, probably in early spring 1842. On 10 April 1843, Benjamin L. Clapp, John Blair, Wilkinson Hewitt and Lyman Omer Littlefield were sent to labor in Alabama by Joseph Smith.
John Brown, among the early missionaries dressed in ragged clothing and looking younger than his 22 years, visited an inn at Tuscumbria on 27 August 1843. When he asked for lodging as a preacher, he was thought to be a common cotton picker. His host gathered a small group to be entertained at the expense of hearing a supposed cotton picker preach. After he began, however, “they were as motionless as statues of marble.” None was baptized, but the young preacher was well-treated afterward.
A slave, Samuel D. Chambers was baptized at age 13 in 1844. Though unable to read or write and without Church direction for more than 26 years, Chambers and his wife, Amanda Leggroan, eventually joined the main body of Saints in Utah. They saved for five years after receiving their freedom at the end of the Civil War, and arrived in Utah on 27 April 1870, where they became prosperous vegetable farmers.
Most early members migrated to the West to join the body of the saints and to avoid persecution. Some Alabama members were among the group of “Mississippi Saints” that emigrated under the leadership of John Brown and William Crosby, departing Mississippi on 8 April 1846.
Missionary work resumed in the South after the Civil War with the creation of the Southern States Mission. However, persecution was widespread during the 1880s. As early as 1880, some residents asked the governor of Alabama to force missionaries from the state. By 1894, the persecution subsided to some extent.
By 29 April 1896, there were five Sunday Schools organized. On 19 December 1897, the first known branch was organized in Deer Springs. A Sunday School was organized on 22 August 1911 in Montgomery. In the early days, converts were baptized in the Alabama River. In 1930, membership in the state was 2,516, with branches in Bradleyton and Lamison, and Sunday Schools in Bessemer, Birmingham, Camden, Clayton, Decatur, Dothan, Elmont, McCalla, Mobile, Pine Hill, Selma and Sneed.
Missionary Theron W. Borup recalled that in the mid-1930s, Sunday School groups existed in Elkmont (which had a small chapel), Gadsen, Birmingham, McCalla, and Montgomery. Branches were eventually organized from these Sunday Schools. On 23 September 1937, an east-west boundary was drawn through the Alabama District, dividing it into the Alabama and North Alabama districts.
During this period, attitudes held by many people against the Church softened. In 1940, the Montgomery Branch staged a pioneer parade that attracted thousands.
On 24 November 1941, Elder George Albert Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at the Alabama district conference in Birmingham. Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve visited in Mobile on 28 November – 2 December 1951 and spoke at the Alabama district conference.
Many Latter-day Saint servicemen were stationed in the state during World War II, and helped strengthen the branches. After the war, the branches began to grow. A chapel was completed on 30 May 1954 in Montgomery. Alabama’s first stake was created in Huntsville on 3 March 1968. The military and the space industry brought in an influx of members during this period. One of the speakers at the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Church in Alabama was Chief Justice Ernest C. “Sonny” Hornsby of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The Alabama Birmingham Mission was created on 1 January 1979. In the 1990s, members served their neighbors in the aftermath of hurricane Opal, and helped rebuild community chapels burned by arsonists. A temple in Birmingham was dedicated on 3 September 2000 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
In 2002, membership reached 28,808.
Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; LaMar C. Berrett, History of the Southern States Mission, 1831-1861, thesis 1960; Frank W. Riggs III, Sesquicentennial Star, 1989; Lee Warnick, “Alabama: The Northern Saints of a Southern State,” Church News, 9 April 1988; “Members Rally to Help Hurricane Victims,” Church News, 12 August 1995; R. Scott Lloyd, “LDS Render Service in Wake of Opal’s Rage,” Church News, 14 October 1995; “Helping Rebuild Burned Chapels,” Church News, 9 Nov. 1996; Church News, 18 April 1998; Julie A. Dockstader, “God is Smiling Down on Us,” Church News, 9 Sept. 2000, Southern States Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives.
Stakes — 6
(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)
No. / Name / Organized / First President
North America Southeast Area
1362 / Bessemer Alabama / 12 Sep 1982 / Robert Henry Shepherdson
678 / Birmingham Alabama / 2 Feb 1975 / Fred M. Washburn
1588 / Dothan Alabama / 2 Mar 1986 / Ned Philip Jenne
452 / *Huntsville Alabama
Alabama / 3 Mar 1968 / Raymond D. McCurdy
964 / Mobile Alabama / 8 Oct 1978 / Dean Arthur Rains
717 / Montgomery Alabama / 2 Nov 1975 / Gayle Dorwin Heckel
Mission — 1
(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)
(166a) ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM MISSION
3100 Lorna Road, Ste 101
Birmingham, AL 35216