Lome Togo Stake Organization

Lome Togo Stake Organization

Members from twelve branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lomé, Togo, gathered in their recently dedicated church building on Sunday, December 8, 2013, to witness the creation of Togo’s first stake.

Togo, a sliver of land located on the Gulf of Guinea, is sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east.  Its national capital and main port is Lomé, nestled in the extreme southwestern corner of this friendly country of nearly 7 million residents.  

Elder Terence M. Vinson, First Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency, organized the Lomé Togo Stake with the assistance of Elder Norbert K. Ounleu, an Area Seventy from Cote d’Ivoire.

“The members of the Church in Lomé have shown wonderful love for the Lord and have demonstrated a marvelous commitment to living the gospel. They now have the privilege of being a stake,” Elder Vinson said.

“From the small district that was formed less than four years ago, there are now eight wards and four branches in the newly formed Lomé Togo Stake.  This historic event took place because of significant and rapid growth.  But where rapid growth sometimes comes at the cost of maturity and depth, that is not the case in Lomé.  The mission president, Robert F. Weed, and the just released district president, Komlan Amegandji, have led the saints of Lomé by teaching them the principles of conversion and focusing on leading them to an increased understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The beginning of the Church in Togo traces back to the late 1980s after several Togolese people who had been baptized abroad gradually returned to their homeland to find no established congregations in the country.  Dieudonné Attiogbe, baptized in London in 1989, was unable to find other members of the Church in Togo. 

In response to his letter to the Church’s African headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, the office sent Attiogbe a list of several Togolese people who had been baptized abroad, along with their addresses.  Eventually Attiogbe, together with Koffi Afangbedji and Agnon Didier, began meeting with a small group of members in Togo around 1996.  African Area President James O. Mason officially organized the Lomé Togo group in July 1997.  By this time about 25 Latter-day Saints were living there. 

In February 1999, Togo came under the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission.  That same month, the first missionary couple, Dermoine A. and Joyce Findlay, began missionary work in Togo and the Lomé Branch was organized, with Dieudonné Attiogbe as its first president.  Legal recognition of the Church was granted in July 2000.  The first district in Togo was created in 2009.         

In 2011, to better align resources to changing needs, the Benin Cotonou Mission – comprised of Benin and Togo – was created from part of the former Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission.  When President Robert and Sister Rebecca Weed arrived to lead their new mission in July of that year, there were just 5 branches of the Church in Lomé, Togo.

“Now there are twelve units in Lomé and there have been 310 baptisms in the last year alone,” Elder Vinson reports.  “The future for the Church in Lomé is bright.  The new stake president, Kcodgoh Laurent Edgeweblime, has a vision of continued growth for the Church in Togo.  As an economist by profession and as the incumbent Deputy Dean at the University of Lome, he knows something about growth and what it takes to maintain it.  But more importantly, he knows about inspiration and divine guidance and the love and dedication that his fellow Church members have for the Savior.  The future is indeed bright for this relatively small and little known French speaking country of West Africa as far as their knowing the Lord and His work.”

President Weed added, “The fruits of the hastening of the work of salvation are evident in the creation of the first stake in Togo.  In a few short years the Church has grown from 5 branches to a stake of Zion.  The maturity of leadership in such a new group of Latter-day Saints is a testament to their incredible faith, love, and devotion.  Prophecy is being fulfilled as they ‘lay the foundation of this Church’ and bring it ‘out of obscurity and out of darkness.’” (D&C 1:30)

The stake center was filled to capacity as over 800 members of the Church, missionaries, investigators, media and local tribal leaders listened to the new presidency address the congregation.  President Edgeweblime, Anani Kouegan (first counselor), and Boevi Edem Lawson (second counselor) all expressed deep appreciation for the gospel in their lives and for the opportunity to help the work move forward.

“We may not see the importance of it now, but the formation of the Lomé Stake will be a great blessing to Togo,” the new stake president said.  “There are millions of people in our country who need to hear the word of God.  The growth of the Church in Togo is a testament to how the gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading throughout the world.”

Members and missionaries alike, many of whom arrived long before the momentous occasion, enthusiastically shared their thoughts about the events of the day.

“We have waited for this day for some time.  I wanted to be present for the organization of the stake of Lomé, the first in the history of the Church in Togo.  I came really early to save a place to sit with my family because I am so very happy and proud of this occasion.  I thank our Heavenly Father for this day where we have our humble stake.”                                                                                                                                                                      Ahokpe Y. Blaise, 2nd counselor in the Attiegou Ward

“A stake of Zion is a spiritual stronghold for the world.  When great events such as this happen, it allows members and missionaries alike to realize the truthfulness of this work.  We are gaining more and more momentum to take on whatever the adversary throws at the strengthening armies of God.” Elder Haggard (Provo, Utah)     

“This event has left me with feelings that have grown once again and I smile at the level of my testimony.  I can only say thank you to my Heavenly Father.”                                                                                                         

Amegninou Messanh

“I am very thankful to our Heavenly Father for this marvelous day that He has given us.  I am very happy to now have a stake and its leaders.”                                                                                                                                   

Bishop Bakan, Be-Kpota Ward

“I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that He leads this church, which is why I am going to be baptized this Saturday!”            

 Chantal Aziamagnon

“My heart is filled with joy at this moment to serve as a missionary and be a part of the Lord’s work in Togo.  I have noticed that “it is by the small and simple things that great things come to pass.”                                           

Elder Imoukhuede (Benin City, Nigeria)

“As you can see, the members in Togo are so faithful.  That is why the work is progressing.  I am so lucky to be a part of it.”                                                                                                                                                                    

Elder Ringle (Logan, Utah)

Elder Ounleu, Area Seventy for the French speaking countries in West Africa, commented that when he first came to Togo to help organize the new mission, he had the impression it would be very successful.  He expressed sincere gratitude for President and Sister Weed, noting that “they are for me angels sent to help do all this work.”

“My thoughts about this wonderful event are simple – God loves His children,” said Elder Ounleu.  “I have seen His hand helping us during the conference.  It is just the beginning of the growth of the Church in Lomé, Togo.  We have faithful members who will move the Lord’s business forward.  I have seen during the conference mothers, husbands and children being overjoyed.  They strongly believe the stake will change their lives and protect their country.”

In his concluding remarks, Elder Vinson thanked the released district leaders, President Amegandji and his counselors, Mathieu Gbedevi and Koffi N’Sougan, for their wonderful service to the members of the Church in Lomé.  Members of the congregation were reminded that, even though a new stake has been formed, there is still much to do and that their new stake presidency has been called by God to lead and direct them.

“To have the opportunity of presiding at the creation of Togo’s first stake was a marvelous experience,” Elder Vinson said after the conference.  “To feel the Lord guiding myself and Elder Ounleu in the identification of the man the Lord Himself had already chosen to be the president of the stake is a wonderful privilege.  Although it happens regularly in the Church, I never cease to be in awe of it still.  What a blessing we have as members of the Church to be the recipients of ongoing revelation in both our callings and our families.”