Africa Central Area President Ian Ardern Instructs Missionaries and Youth in Ad


On that day, the Church had just recently begun to assign full time missionaries and to organize branches in the second most populous country in Africa. In November of 2004, the Church had three small branches and six young elders and one senior couple in Ethiopia. From that small beginning, the Gospel of Jesus Christ began to roll forth.

Nineteen years later, on 24 and 25 November 2023, Africa Central Area President, Elder Ian S. Ardern, and Sister Paula Ardern instructed youth of the Church in Ethiopia in the chapel that sits near the very site where Elder Nelson dedicated the land of Ethiopia. The youth were at the Megenagna Chapel in Addis Ababa for a two-day Youth Conference with a theme drawn from President Russell M. Nelson’s October 2023 General Conference address – Think Celestial.

In Thinking Celestial, Sister Ardern taught the youth thinking Celestial requires engaging in spiritually uplifting activities that draw us nearer to God. Regular scripture study, sincere personal prayer, seminary participation, and regular church attendance are such uplifting activities.

Elder Ardern taught the youth in practical terms how to live to Be Celestial. Drawing upon wise counsel from former president of the Church Gordon B. Hinkley, Elder Ardern encouraged the gathered youth to Be Grateful, Be Smart, Be Clean, Be True, Be Humble, Be Prayerful and Be ‘Churchful.’

Joining Elder and Sister Ardern and teaching the youth at the Addis Ababa District Youth Conference, were President and Sister Cowley, the Mission Leaders of the Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission. On Sunday, 26 November 2023, the 26 full time missionaries serving in or near Addis Ababa were taught by Elder and Sister Ardern and President and Sister Cowley.  The Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission was created in July of 2020. President and Sister Cowley are only the second missionary leader couple to live and serve in Addis Ababa. The Church in Ethiopia has grown from three small branches, six young missionary elders and one missionary couple in 2004 to 1734 members, seven branches and 42 young missionary elders and sisters and five senior couples in 2023.  Within the next six months, 24 additional young elders and sisters will commence to take the Gospel forth in Ethiopia.

Elder John and Sister Laurie Barger, currently serving as a senior missionary couple in the Africa Central Area Office, were Mission Leaders of the Kenya Nairobi Mission in 2004 and were present with Elder Russell M. Nelson at the dedication of Ethiopia for the purposes of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the grounds of the Megenagna Chapel. As the prayer began, three doves landed on the eaves of the chapel, clearly signifying that the Gospel of Peace, the Gospel of becoming Celestial was about to roll forth in Ethiopia.

In looking forward to the Church in Ethiopia in coming years, Elder Ardern spoke of the Church moving from being misunderstood to becoming an influential voice for good in Ethiopia. “Christ changes lives and the Church assists in that endeavour,” said Elder Ardern. “Our hope is to see the Addis Ababa District becoming a stake, and then two stakes, and then three.” He added that with multi-generational Ethiopian families participating in the Church there will be a strong and growing cadre of missionaries from Ethiopia serving in Ethiopia and other places around the world. “These young people of Ethiopia have an abundance of faith in Christ, hope in their futures and a desire to not only think Celestial but to become celestial. These young people represent a bright future in Ethiopia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

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