Reaching the Nations

Dominica

By David Stewart and Matt Martinich

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Geography

Area: 751 square km.  Bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, Dominica is a small, lush island between Guadeloupe and Martinique.  Known as the most mountainous island of the Lesser Antilles, Dominica possesses unique geographic features such as Boiling Lake, the world's second-largest thermally active lake, and  boasts a network of natural parks that protect the environment  Terrain principally consists of rugged, volcanic mountains that are subject to tropical climate marked by heavy rainfall and moderated temperatures from trade winds.  Flash flooding and hurricanes are natural hazards.  Dominica is divided into ten administrative divisions.

Population: 72,813 (July 2010)       

Annual Growth Rate: 0.213% (2010)    

Fertility Rate: 2.08 children born per woman (2010)   

Life Expectancy: 72.82 male, 78.87 female (2010)

Peoples

black: 86.8%

mixed: 8.9%

Carib Amerindian: 2.9%

white: 0.8%

other: 0.7%

Nearly the entire population trace their ancestry to freed African slaves who arrived in the eighteenth century.  Carib Amerindians are concentrated on the east coast and are the only pre-Colombian population remaining among the islands of the eastern Caribbean.  Slow population growth has occurred primarily due to emigration to more prosperous nations.[1]

Languages: Dominican Creole French [patois] (80%), English (19%), other (1%).  English is the official language.  Dominican Creole French is mutually intelligible with Saint Lucian Creole French.  

Literacy: 94% (2003)

History

The Caribs forcefully removed or eradicated the indigenous Arawak population in the fourteenth century and deterred the Spanish from colonizing the island due to their fierce, warlike demeanor.  French rule began in 1635 and the first Europeans to reside on the island were French missionaries.  Both France and Great Britain agreed to abandon Dominica and St. Vincent in 1660 due to Carib hostility.  No European power claimed Dominica for the following century.  During the eighteenth century, France claimed the island and began a settlement but lost control of the island to the British following the Seven Years' War in 1763.  France invaded in 1778 and captured the island but the island was returned to the British in 1783.  Additional unsuccessful French invasions occurred in 1795 and 1805.  In 1838, Dominica became the only British Caribbean colony to have a black-majority legislature.  Rivalry intensified as the white minority appealed for greater British control; by the end of the nineteenth century the black legislature had disappeared.  Dominica was included in the Leeward Island Administration in the mid-twentieth century followed by the West Indies Federation.  Dominica became a United Kingdom associated state in 1967 and won independence in 1978.  Since independence, Dominica has struggled to cope with successive hurricanes, an underdeveloped economy, and fluctuating banana prices.[2]

Culture 

Sporadic French rule during the seventh and eighteenth centuries greatly contributed to the evolution of Dominican culture, leaving its footprint in continued widespread usage of Dominican Creole French and most of the population adhering to the Catholic Church.[3]  The population exhibits a high degree of religious participation and plurality among Christian denominations.  Music occupies an important role in society and features an agglomeration of genres found in the region, such as Afro-Cuban, European, African, and Creole music.  Cuisine is representative of most Caribbean nations; common foods include mutton, beef, fruit, and vegetables.[4]  Alcohol consumption rates compare toworldwide averages. 

Economy

GDP per capita: $10,500 (2010) [22.2% of US]

Human Development Index: 0.814

Corruption Index: 5.2

The traditionally agriculturally-driven economy has diversified in recent years due to government restructuring efforts to develop tourism, banking, and geothermal energy.  Consequently, strong economic growth occurred in the mid-2000s which ended as a result of Hurricane Dean and the global financial crisis in the late 2000s.  Lumber, hydropower, and arable land are natural resources.  Agriculture employs 40% of the labor force and generates 18% of the GDP whereas services employ 28% of the labor force and generate 50% of the GDP.  Common crops include bananas, citrus, mangos, root crops, coconuts, and cocoa.  Industry accounts for roughly a third of the GDP and labor force.  Soap, coconut oil, and tourism are major industries.  Primary trade partners include Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Trinidad and Tobago.  Dominican is among the least corrupt nations in the Caribbean.  There have been some accusations of government corruption in recent years. 

Faiths

Christian: 91%

Rastafarian: 1.3%

other/unspecified: 1.6%

none: 6.1%

Christians

Denominations  Members  Congregations

Catholic  44,707

Seventh Day Adventists  6,175  31

Pentecostal  4,078

Baptist  2,985

Methodist  2,694

Church of God  874

Jehovah's Witnesses  461  10

Latter-day Saints  143  1

Religion

Catholics comprise 61% of the population.  The 2001 population and housing census reported that Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostals each account for six percent of the population.  Nine percent of the population does not follow Christianity; most non-Christians are nonreligious.[5]  

Religious Freedom

Persecution Index:

The constitution protects religious freedom which is upheld by the government.  There is no state religion.  The government recognizes major Christian holidays as national holidays.  Religious groups must register with the government as nonprofit organizations and are required to register meetinghouses and buildings.  Registration permits public meetings and the status of missionaries.  There have been no reported instances of societal abuse of religious freedom.[6]

Largest Cities

Urban: 74%

Roseau, Portsmouth, Canefield, Marigot, Grand Bay , Mahaut, Atkinson, Salisbury, Saint Joseph, Wesley.

Cities listed in bold have no LDS congregations.

Two of the ten largest cities has an LDS congregation.  51% of the population resides in the ten most populous cities.

LDS History

The first Dominican joined the LDS Church in the early 1960s in England.[7]  In 2004, some members in New Jersey were immigrants from Dominica.[8]  One of the first Dominican Latter-day Saint families to join the Church in the mid-2000s were former Seventh Day Adventists.   LDS full-time missionaries were first assigned in 2006.  Created in 2007, the Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission administered Dominica in 2007.[9]  Seminary and institute began in the late 2000s.  In 2010, Dominica was assigned to the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.

Membership Growth

LDS Membership: 143 (2009)

The Church did not report membership totals before 2007.  There were 77 Latter-day Saints in 2007, 100 in 2008 and 143 in 2009.  In 2009, one in 509 was LDS. 

Congregational Growth

Wards: 0 Branches: 1 Groups: 1

There were three branches in 2007 headquartered in Portsmouth, Roseau, and Marigot.  In 2010, the Roseau and Marigot Branches were discontinued due to inadequate local leadership and reliance on full-time missionaries for administrative tasks, with the Roseau Branch becoming a group.  It is unclear whether a congregation continues to operate in Marigot.  In early 2011, there were at least two LDS congregations: The Portsmouth Branch and the Roseau Group.  Both congregations reported directly to the mission president.

Activity and Retention

There were six students enrolled in seminary during the 2008-2009 school year.  In 2008, church attendance for the Portsmouth ranged from 30 to 60.  The Roseau Group had approximately 15 active members in mid-2010; church attendance increased to 30 in early 2011.  Nationwide active membership is estimated at 75, or 50% of total membership. 

Language Materials

Languages with LDS Scripture: English, French

All LDS scriptures and most church materials are available in French.

Meetinghouses

The Portsmouth Branch meets in a rented space or renovated building whereas the Roseau Group meets in a missionary apartment. 

Humanitarian and Development Work

The Church has donated clothing for the needy.[10]

 

Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects

Religious Freedom

Latter-day Saints benefit from full-religious freedom allowing worship, assembly, and proselytism.  It is unclear whether the LDS Church has full government recognition. 

Cultural Issues

Notwithstanding Dominica's small population and traditionally Catholic population, many have been receptive to outreach-oriented Christian denominations as nearly all proselytizing Christian groups have a presence on Dominica. 

National Outreach

35% of the population resides in the two administrative divisions with LDS congregations.  The small size of the population and limited numbers of full-time missionaries worldwide make opening additional areas to missionary work unfeasible by the assignment of full-time missionaries.  Senior missionary couples may facilitate expansion of national outreach by holding cottage meetings periodically in each administrative division and organize groups in more receptive locations.  As of early 2011, there was no Dominica-specific LDS Internet outreach although an ample supply of materials were available online in English. 

Member Activity and Convert Retention

The Church in Dominica has achieved modest levels of convert retention in recent years and moderate member activity despite strong reliance on full-time missionaries for administrative functions.  Member activity levels have fluctuated in recent years.  The introduction of seminary may lead to lasting increases in member activity rates. 

Ethnic Issues and Integration

There are few ethnic integration issues as most are black or of mixed ethnicity.  Some cultural and socio-economic challenges may be presented by Caribs and whites assimilating into predominantly black LDS congregations. 

Language Issues

Widespread use of English and the small number of speakers of Dominican Creole French worldwide reduce the need for translations of church materials.  Full-time missionaries teach in English and report few language issues at present.  

Missionary Service

In early 2011, there were two senior missionary couples and a handful of young, full-time missionaries.  Few if any local members have served missions.  The introduction of seminary in the late 2000s provides some missionary preparation which may increase the number of local members serving full-time missions.

Leadership

Full-time missionaries appeared to staff the leadership for the Roseau and Marigot Branches prior to their closure.  Limited numbers of full-time missionaries assigned to the mission, the need to reduce reliance on missionaries for administrative tasks, and limited local member participation were likely the primary reasons for the closure of the two branches.  The lack of qualified, trained leaders is indicative of  the recent arrival of the Church in the mid-2000s as most members joined the Church in the late 2000s.  Many recent converts have remained active and some have received the Melchizedek Priesthood, offering potential for future self-sustaining leadership.  However, membership strength and local leadership remain too limited to have justified the continued operation of branches in Roseau and Marigot.

Temple

Dominica is assigned to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple district.  No temple trips appear to have occurred as of early 2011.  Few if any local members have attended the temple due to transportation costs, long travel distances, and most members joining the Church during the late 2000s.    

Comparative Growth

Dominica experienced the second most rapid membership growth rates among nations in the Caribbean during the late 2000s and appears to have one of the highest member activity rates in the Caribbean.  Dominica experienced congregation consolidations like many other islands in the region, such as Aruba, Guadeloupe, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.  The percentage of Latter-day Saints in the population is lower than most Caribbean islands. 

Seventh Day Adventists are one of the largest Protestant denominations and perform mission outreach nationwide with over 30 congregations.  Jehovah's Witnesses report slow membership growth but maintain excellent national outreach with ten congregations. 

Future Prospects

The outlook for LDS Church growth appears favorable in the coming years due moderate levels of receptivity, consistent mission outreach, and efforts by mission leaders for local members to rely less on full-time missionaries.  A member-missionary and church planting approach to proselytism will be required for additional advances in national outreach due to the island's tiny population and limited missionary resources in the region.  Leadership development and increases in active membership may result in the reorganization of the Roseau Branch in the years to come.    


[1]  "Background Note: Dominica," Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 23 July 2010.  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2295.htm

[2]  "Background Note: Dominica," Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 23 July 2010.  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2295.htm

[3]  "Background Note: Dominica," Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 23 July 2010.  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2295.htm

[4]  "Dominica," Wikipedia.org, retrieved 31 January 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominica

[5]  "Dominica," International Religious Freedom Report 2010, 17 November 2010.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148750.htm

[6]  "Dominica," International Religious Freedom Report 2010, 17 November 2010.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148750.htm

[7]  "'Do you know the steps of prayer?'," LDS Church News, 31 May 2003.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/43848/Do-you-know-the-steps-of-prayer.html

[8]  "International ward sponsors family fair," LDS Church News, 20 November 2004.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/46506/International-ward-sponsors-family-fair.html

[9]  "New missions bring total to 347," LDS Church News, 10 February 2007.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/50112/New-missions-bring-total-to-347-New-missions.html

[10]  "Projects - Dominica," Humanitarian Activities Worldwide, retrieved 1 February 2011.  http://www.providentliving.org/project/0,13501,4607-1-2008-206,00.html