Church History
South Africa: Chronology

South Africa: Chronology

1852 • Cape Town, Cape Colony, South Africa

Joseph Richards preached in Cape Town while en route to his mission in British India.

August 28, 1852 • Salt Lake City, Utah

Brigham Young called Elders Jesse C. Haven, Leonard I. Smith, and William H. Walker to open a mission in South Africa.

May 23, 1853 • Cape Town

About one month after their arrival in Cape Town, Haven, Smith, and Walker climbed Lion’s Head to dedicate the country for missionary work.

May 26, 1853 • Mowbray, Cape Town

Joseph Patterson and John Dodel, the first converts in South Africa, were baptized.

July 5, 1853 • Cape Colony

Johanna Langeveld Provis was baptized. She was the first of a few early converts of mixed race as well as the first of a few early Dutch or Afrikaans–speaking converts in Cape Colony.

August 16, 1853 • Mowbray

The Mowbray Branch, the first branch in Africa, was organized.

August 3, 1854 • Cape Colony

Jesse Haven, in his role as mission president, published a Dutch translation of his tract A Warning to All to launch an effort to reach Afrikaners.

November 1854 • Cape Town

Haven organized the Perpetual Emigrating Fund at the Cape of Good Hope. Within two years, about 200 South African converts immigrated to Utah.

December 15, 1855 • Cape Colony

As the first group of missionaries to serve in South Africa left the country, they left behind six operating branches.

1857–73 • Cape Colony

Additional groups of missionaries continued preaching in Cape Colony. Eli Wiggill, the last missionary to serve in the Cape in the 19th century, left in March 1873.

1903 • Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange River Colonies

Missionaries returned. Within three years, they preached in all four of the colonies that would soon merge into the Union of South Africa.

August 17, 1908 • Cape Town

At the urging of a Zulu convert, South African Mission president Ralph Badger wrote a letter seeking permission to begin missionary efforts among black South Africans. Church leaders responded that black converts should be welcomed into the Church but declined to launch active missionary efforts.

1916–17 • Mowbray

The first meetinghouse in South Africa was constructed as an addition on the mission home, a building members called “Cumorah.”

1918 • Cape Town

During an influenza pandemic, mission president Nicholas G. Smith and a missionary named Aaron U. Merrill traveled through the city blessing and ministering to members.

December 22, 1921 • South Africa

The Relief Society was introduced in South Africa under the direction of Annie M. Funk Sessions.

July 19, 1930–November 7, 1932 • South Africa and Rhodesia

William and Janetta Brummer of Johannesburg served as the first missionary couple called from South Africa.

South Africa: William Daniels

December 14, 1931 • Cape Town

Mission president Don Mack Dalton set apart William Daniels, who was not ordained to the priesthood, to preside over a small branch of black members that met in Daniels’s home. Clara Daniels was set apart as Relief Society president.

August 11, 1932 • Cape Town

Johanna Fourie, then unbaptized but interested in the Church, accepted a calling to organize the first Primary in South Africa. Almost two years later Fourie was baptized and set apart to preside over Primaries throughout the mission.

1940–46 • South Africa

Mission president Richard E. Folland released all missionaries due to war conditions in Europe and elsewhere. In their absence, South African Saints played a larger role in administering the Church and performing missionary work. During the war years, fast offering and tithing donations more than doubled.

May 26, 1948 • South Africa

The National Party, campaigning on a platform of apartheid, won the general parliamentary election. Four and a half decades of racial segregation and limited rights for nonwhite South Africans followed.

1948–54 • South Africa

The Church required all male members to certify that their ancestry was completely from outside of Africa before being ordained to the priesthood. President David O. McKay lifted this requirement when he visited South Africa in 1954.

January 1954 • South Africa

David O. McKay visited South Africa—the first visit by a General Authority to the country.

February 7, 1966 • South Africa

The first young missionaries from South Africa—Alexander Comrie from Pretoria, Gerald de Wet from Johannesburg, and Brian Miller from Durban—departed on their missions.

1968 • Soweto

Moses Mahlangu, the leader of a small group that had found and accepted the Book of Mormon in the early 1960s, established contact with Church members and mission leaders in Johannesburg.

March 22, 1970 • Johannesburg, South Africa

The Transvaal Stake, the first stake in South Africa, was organized, with Louis P. Hefer as president.

1972 • South Africa

The Book of Mormon was published in Afrikaans.

December 2, 1973 • South Africa

The Republic of South Africa was rededicated for preaching the gospel. President Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered the dedicatory prayer.

June 8, 1978 • Salt Lake City

The First Presidency announced that all worthy men could “be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color” (Official Declaration 2).

October 26, 1980 • Chatsworth, Natal Province

The first majority Indian branch in South Africa was organized in Chatsworth.

February 21, 1981 • KwaMashu, South Africa

The first majority black branch in South Africa was organized in KwaMashu.

April 1, 1981 • Salt Lake City

President Spencer W. Kimball announced plans for a temple in Johannesburg.

August 24, 1985 • Johannesburg

President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency dedicated the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. During the dedication, he prayed that “those who rule in the offices of government [would] be inspired to find a basis for reconciliation among those who are now in conflict.”

1987 • South Africa

The Church published selections from the Book of Mormon in Zulu. A full translation was published in 2003.

April 1994 • South Africa

General elections allowing citizens of all races to vote were held. Nelson Mandela was elected the Republic of South Africa’s first black president.

2000 • South Africa

The Book of Mormon was published in Xhosa.

Golden Jr., Christoffel

March 31, 2001 • Salt Lake City

Christoffel Golden of Johannesburg was sustained as a General Authority Seventy.

2003 • South Africa

The Book of Mormon was published in Tswana.

2009 • South Africa

Church membership in South Africa reached 50,000.

April 3, 2010 • Salt Lake City

T. Jackson Mkhabela of Soweto was sustained as an Area Seventy.

October 1, 2011 • Salt Lake City

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church, announced plans for a temple in Durban.

January 27, 2012 • South Africa

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland issued a letter to Church leaders and members across Africa, announcing that the Church would recognize customary or traditional monogamous marriages, allowing people in customary marriages to receive ordinances.

February 2014 • Salt Lake City and Soweto

Dorah Mkhabela of Soweto was called to the Church’s nine-member Young Women general board—in the same month her daughter Nyikiwe joined the Young Women organization.