Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Mormon Church, is going forward with plans to build a temple in Ghana.
Hinckley addressed 6,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Accra, Ghana, approving purchase of property for the temple. He spoke in Independence Square after meeting Jerry Rawlings, president of the West African nation.
The temple would be the church’s second in Africa. The first was dedicated in 1985 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mormons attend temples for baptisms, marriages and other sacred ordinances. Only members in good standing are allowed to enter.
Hinckley’s trip to Africa is a milestone for a faith that until 20 years ago excluded blacks from its priesthood. Hinckley is the first president of the church to visit West Africa.
The meeting with Rawlings was a step toward resolving an issue dating to 1989, when the government of Ghana revoked the church’s charter.
Foreign missionaries were expelled, church buildings were locked and guarded by police, and two church members spent several days in jail. Mormons could meet only in their own homes.
The ban was lifted Dec. 1, 1990, but lingering effects have slowed the development of the church’s relationship with the government.