Regional Church News
- 12-30 March 2019 : Temple Open House for the newly completed Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple
- 13 April 2019 : Temple Youth Devotional for the newly completed Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple
- 14 April 2019 : Temple Dedication for the newly completed Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, Belgian Congo, Zaire, or simply the Congo. It is the southernmost country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. The DRC borders the Central African Republic to the north; South Sudan to the northeast; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia to the south; Angola to the southwest; and the Republic of the Congo and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is the second-largest country in Africa after Algeria (the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa) by area and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world.
Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.
The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.
On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later as President by his son Joseph.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index. As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union and COMESA.
A wide range of cultures are practiced by the hundreds of ethnic groups with little influence from Europeans. The use of alcohol in celebrations is common, but overall alcohol consumption rates are low compared to the world average. Cigarette consumption rates are among the lowest worldwide. Polygamy is common, but polygamous unions are not legally recognized. Occupation and wealth define social class in Kinshasa. Some men in the larger cities highly regard the wearing of expensive European clothing for social acceptance. Music and woodcrafts are well recognized aspects of culture.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is richly endowed with abundant natural resources yet has an undeveloped economy. The wide open spaces of the country could feed most of Africa's people if cultivated. Due to war and political instability, no economic progress occurred throughout the country until the mid 2000s. Recently, mining began for precious minerals and metals, especially cobalt, gold and diamonds. Instability in the eastern portion of the country threatens economic growth, which slowed in 2008 and 2009 due to the global economic crisis. Rapid urbanization in Kinshasa and other large cities challenge government's ability to develop infrastructure. Half of the country's GDP comes from agriculture, whereas services account for a third of the GDP and industry makes up the remainder. Foreign investment has not come to fruition in the past couple decades due to war, instability, and corruption. Most of the populace lives in poverty. The Democratic Republic of the Congo's largest export partner is China, accounting for 44.7% of all exports. Other export and import partners are predominantly from Europe and nearby African countries.
Corruption is perceived as widespread and among the most severe among African nations. Financial institutes are vulnerable to money laundering due to a lack of supervision on the banking system. Human trafficking for prostitution and forced labor is a major concern and is often linked to rebel groups. The government's overall inability to maintain order throughout the countryside has facilitated corruption and political instability.
Most Congolese are Christian, with 50% belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants make up the second largest religious group (20%). Kimbanguists (a Christian group with similarities with Baptists), Muslims and other religious groups each make up 10% of the population. Syncretism between Christian and indigenous beliefs is common. Weekly attendance at church or other religious meetings is widespread as up to 90% of the population attends a religious service on a weekly basis.
The constitution protects religious freedom which is upheld by the government. Government allows those in the country to practice their religions as long as it does not disturb social norms and order. Religious groups are requested to register with the government but this mandate has not been enforced. Violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo does not appear to discriminate on religious grounds. There have been some acts of violence targeting those accused of practicing witchcraft.
The first efforts to establish the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were directed under the International Mission, which operated between 1972 and 1987. Legal status was granted to the Church on February 12th, 1986 when only a handful of members lived in the country. Elder Marvin J. Ashton dedicated the country for missionary work in 1987. The Zaire Kinshasa Mission was organized that same year from the International Mission. The first young woman's conference also occurred the same year in Lubumbashi. In 1991, seminary and institute commenced. In 2010, a second mission was organized in Lubumbashi. In early 2011, the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa Mission administered western and northern areas of the country, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, and semi-officially included Gabon whereas the Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission included southern and eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.
The first stake was organized in Kinshasa in 1996 and included eight wards and one branch: The Bangu, Binza, Kasa-Vubu, Kinsuka 1st and 2nd, Limete, Ngaba and Ngaliema Wards, and the Mont Amba Branch. The new stake was created from the Kinshasa Zaire and Kinshasa Zaire Ngaliema Districts. The following year a second stake was created in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Lubumbashi with six wards. By 1997, there were 26 congregations, including 15 wards.
A second stake was created in Kinshasa in 1999 from the original Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake and the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Masina District with five wards and four branches. By 2000, there were 37 congregations, including 23 wards. Rapid congregational growth occurred in the 2000s as the number of congregations increased to 56 in 2002, 62 in 2004, 64 in 2006, 70 in 2008, and 95 in 2010. By mid-May 2011, there were 103 congregations. The number of wards rapidly increased in the 2000s from 31 in 2002 to 37 in 2004, 39 in 2006, 45 in 2008, and 61 in mid-May 2011.
During the 2000s, three new districts and four new stakes were organized. New stakes were organized in Kinshasa Ngaliema (2003), Kinshasa Mont Ngafula (2008), Katuba [in the Lubumbashi metropolitan area] (2009), and Kinshasa Kimbanseke (2009) whereas new districts were organized in Likasi (2002), Kananga (2003), and Luputa (2006). In late 2010, a new district was organized in Mbuji-Mayi. By early 2011, there were seven stakes and five districts.
At the opening session of the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced rapid membership growth since the first stake of the Church in Kinshasa was created in 1996. There are currently 10 stakes in the combined conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville with a total of 18 stakes and 4 districts in the countries of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo. The Saints of this region, where long-distance travel is exceptionally difficult, live over 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away from their assigned temple in Johannesburg, South Africa. The temple will be a tremendous blessing to the thousands of Church members spread throughout the vast region of Central Africa.
The free public open house will begin Tuesday, March 12, 2019, and continue through Saturday, March 30, 2019, except for the Sundays of March 17 and 24. Dedicatory services will be held Sunday, April 14, 2019, and a youth devotional with Church leadership is planned for Saturday, April 13, 2019. It will be broadcast to all congregations of the Church in the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple District. Additional details regarding the temple dedication will be announced at a future date.
This will be the fourth operating temple in Africa. The three other temples currently operating are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Accra, Ghana; and Aba, Nigeria. The Durban South Africa Temple is under construction. Plans have been announced to build temples in Harare, Zimbabwe; Nairobi, Kenya; and the Abidjan Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire).
- Congo, Reaching the Nations - Cumorah Project
- DR Congo, Case Study - Cumorah Project
- Africa List of Stakes of the Church
- LDS Church in Africa
- Facts about the LDS Church in DR Congo - MormonNewsroom.org
- Dedication blesses two African nations," LDS Church News, 5 September 2009. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57850/Dedication-blesses-two-African-nations.html.
- "Democratic Republic of Congo," USAID, retrieved 16 May 2011. http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/Countries/africa/congo_profile.pdf
- "Church Helps Bring Water to African Community," News Release, 17 April 2009. http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-helps-bring-water-to-african-community
- "Projects - Congo, The Democratic Republic of the," Humanitarian Activities Worldwide, retrieved 16 May 2011. http://www.providentliving.org/project/0,13501,4607-1-2008-241,00.html
- Patton, Robert. "'You did the baptism for her grandmother'," LDS Church News, 19 August 1989. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/18937/You-did-the-baptism-for-her-grandmother.html
- Church Announces Kinshasa Temple Open House