Church Organization in Isolated Areas

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Isolated Areas


 

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The Church tries to provide opportunities for members to participate in sacrament services and have access to priesthood leaders wherever they are serving throughout the world. In Iraq and Afghanistan, branches or groups have been organized at most locations where Church members are stationed. Diplomats, civilian workers, and humanitarian volunteers are generally able to attend Church services at military installations depending on security concerns and civilian accessibility to the military bases.

Priesthood leaders should contact Military Relations if service members in their stakes or districts are preparing to deploy or if their members will be working for contractors in Iraq or Afghanistan.

To obtain current information on locations for Church worship services and contact information for priesthood leaders at a specific location, contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org.

Iraq

The Baghdad Iraq Military District was organized in 2009. When the US military forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the district was dissolved and there is only one branch in Baghdad remaining. Diplomats and civilian workers routinely are able to attend Church services along with the few military advisors who are stationed there. Contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information. 

Afghanistan

The Kabul Afghanistan Military District was organized in 2008. There are five branches and 28 service member groups. Diplomats and civilian workers routinely are able to attend Church services. A small but functioning Relief Society is organized in the district to assist sisters. Contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information.

Persian Gulf Countries

The Manama Bahrain Stake has responsibility for Church units in the Arabian Peninsula. There are service member groups at several military sites in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Diplomats, expatriates, and civilian workers meet in established wards and branches. Most service members meet in service member groups on the military installations, but some attend established wards and branches. Contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information.

Djibouti

There is a branch at the military base in Djibouti. The branch reports to the Uganda mission president. Latter-day Saint service members who are deploying to this location can contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information.

Kyrgyzstan

There is a military service member group that meets on Manas Air Base. The group reports to the Kabul Afghanistan district president. This is a transitory base with personnel moving in and out on a regular basis. Latter-day Saint service members who are deploying to this location can contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information.

Other Isolated Locations

There are Latter-day Saint service member groups in other isolated countries including Kosovo, Morocco, Sudan, Diego Garcia, and Turkmenistan, as well as aboard most Navy ships. Contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at Military-PST@ldschurch.org for additional information.


Cultural Orientation

We recommend that everyone going to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other Persian Gulf countries review the cultural orientation documents provided through the following links. They cover a variety of topics from geography and climate to religion and traditions. 


General Information

Many Church members and priesthood leaders have asked questions regarding the following topics: sharing the gospel, calling service member group leaders, processing membership records, paying tithes and offerings while deployed, and renewing temple recommends. Responses to these questions are provided below.

Sharing the Gospel

There are specific restrictions regarding sharing the gospel in countries listed above and many other isolated countries. Service members, civilian workers, and other must be very sensitive to the laws of the land and military orders governing this issue. Please contact local priesthood leaders at the deployed location for specific guidance. Military Relations at Church headquarters can provide contact information for the priesthood leaders at these locations.

Calling Service Member Group Leaders

When Latter-day Saint service members are assigned to Reserve and National Guard units, group leaders should be called to hold Church services during drill weekends, during the two-week annual training, and in case they deploy on contingency operations. However, when these Reserve and National Guard units deploy to locations where there are established Latter-day Saint branches or service member groups, as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, the newly arriving group leader will become a regular member of the existing branch or group and will no longer serve as the group leader unless appointed to do so by the district president. This also applies to active duty units if Latter-day Saint group leaders have been called prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Processing Membership Records

Membership records for all military members should be retained in the home ward or branch where they resided prior to deploying. Membership records for diplomats or civilian workers should be retained in the home ward or branch for those serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Follow standard procedures for transferring membership records to new wards or branches for civilian Church members living in Arabian Peninsula countries. See the Church unit directory for the wards and branches in the Manama Bahrain Stake.

Paying Tithes and offerings

There are three ways for deployed military members to pay tithes and offerings.

  • Continue to pay tithing to the home ward bishop or the home branch president where membership records are retained.
  • Send tithing directly to Church headquarters at the following address:

Corporation of the President
Finance & Records Department
Room 1521
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150

  • Make electronic donations directly to Church headquarters through a bank account (similar to bill payment service). Please contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at PST-Military@ldschurch.org for specific guidance.

Renewing Temple Recommends

We encourage all military members and civilians whose temple recommend will expire while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other isolated locations to have the recommend renewed before departing to these areas. If endowed members are unable to renew their recommends before deploying, priesthood leaders in both Iraq and Afghanistan can issue new ones on a limited basis. Renewing recommends in other isolated locations is much more difficult. Please contact Military Relations at 801-240-2286 or at PST-Military@ldschurch.org for specific guidance.