On 21 February 2023, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, welcomed Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to a meeting in the Jubilee House also known as the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana. Also in attendance was Elder Paul V. Johnson, of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Africa West Area, and Elder Alfred Kyungu, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency. Elder Christofferson is in Ghana during a 12-day visit to the Africa West Area.
President Akufo-Addo was first elected President in 2017 and visited previously with Elder Christofferson in 2019. Elder Christofferson congratulated him on his election to a second term.
This reconnection comes at a time of great growth of the Church in Ghana. Ghanaian citizens began joining the Church more than 45 years ago in 1978, and today the Church has over 101,000 members in 353 congregations.
One of Akufo-Addo’s major priorities as President has been his focus on education and he shared his appreciation for the efforts the Church has made to support government programs focusing on education.
“Education is the key to developing society,” the President said. “I commend the Church for its initiatives to educate and empower individuals with sought-after employable skills. With my government’s emphasis on technical and vocational education, I feel what your Church does in terms of education complements our effort.”
Elder Christofferson thanked the President for providing free education for so many children in Ghana. “As a Church, one of our key focus areas in Ghana and across West Africa is to strengthen families and help individuals become good citizens,” he noted. “We feel we can better achieve this through education. We’re grateful to find common ground to complement each other’s efforts.”
Elder Johnson followed that comment by expressing the power of education. He told the President about BYU-Pathway International, the Church’s fast-growing post-secondary online educational initiative. He added, “With Pathway, you can use technology to gain a certificate, that puts you on the path to receive an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree at affordable prices. It’s a win for everyone.”
Elder Nielsen thanked President Akufo-Addo for his efforts on behalf of the Church and shared his love for the people of Ghana. “Thank you for what you do,” he said. “In my seven months since arriving in Ghana, I have come to experience that Ghanaians are hard-working, very friendly, family-oriented, and deeply spiritual.” He added the Church is grateful to be in Ghana, “and we are here to help and work together.”
Also discussed were Gathering Places, a program to help young single adults learn vocational and technical skills in an effort to find jobs.
Teaching self-reliance principles are a priority to the Church. It has collaborated with government leaders and charitable organizations to conduct humanitarian aid throughout Ghana. In 2018-2022 the Church conducted over 231 humanitarian projects and contributed over $35 million U.S. dollars in financial support.
During the meeting, Elder Christofferson and President Akufo-Addo discussed the importance of a spirit of cooperation. “We value our relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I hope that it will continue to grow,” the President emphasized. “We will do all we can to make sure your Church succeeds in everything you do here in Ghana.”
Elder Christofferson responded, “We are grateful for the time we have spent and look forward to our continued joint efforts to bless the people of this wonderful country.”
A personalized Book of Mormon was presented to President Akufo-Addo by Elder Christofferson, who took the opportunity to share the chapter heading from 3 Nephi 11, encouraging him to prayerfully read it. He was also presented with a glass replica of the Tree of Life, which represents Jesus Christ, by Elder Nielsen. It teaches of a father whose dream was to have his children press forward with faith to seek the blessings the tree represents. These gifts were given in appreciation for the opportunity to meet again and discuss how the Church and the Ghanaian Government can continue to work together to strengthen the communities in Ghana.
Elder Christofferson began his visit to the Africa West Area on 18 February 2023 in Lagos, Nigeria meeting with church leaders. He will finish his West Africa ministry with visits to Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.