A joyful reunion with early Ghana pioneers

Members in Ghana honor and learn from the Latter-day Saint pioneers who helped establish the Church in Africa

A recent meeting with early pioneers, families, friends and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana brought forth many memories and emotions.

On Aug. 5 and 6, members in Ghana gathered for a reunion and to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the passing of early Church leader, Joseph W. “Billy” Johnson. The reunion was organized by the Johnson family and held near Twifo-Praso, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom.

An artist’s rendition of Joseph W. “Billy” Johnson shown on Aug. 6, 2022, in Twifo-Praso, Ghana.
An artist’s rendition of Joseph W. “Billy” Johnson

Their shared history includes much of the early history of the Church in Ghana. The first African Latter-day Saints in Ghana waited with patience and faith for the Church to be organized.

The restored gospel took root in Ghana as different groups obtained Church literature in the 1960s and felt the truthfulness of the message. Johnson gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and began organizing congregations in 1964.

The pioneers were finally able to be baptized when two sets of missionaries — the Cannons and the Mabeys — entered Ghana in 1978. A building program began in 1979. Within a year, more than 400 people had been baptized, and branches were organized. The Africa West Mission was organized July 1, 1980, and the Ghana Accra Mission July 1, 1985.

In 1989–90, the government banned the activities of several religious organizations, including the Church. This period was known as “The Freeze.” But Ghanaian Saints continued to practice their faith in their homes and, after 1990, were able to share the gospel and build the Church again.

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