Reaching the Nations

Antigua and Barbuda

By David Stewart and Matt Martinich

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Geography

Area: 442.6 square km.  Antigua and Barbuda is located in the Caribbean east of Puerto Rico and comprises the small islands of Antigua and Barbuda.  Low-laying coral-based terrain occupies most areas with some volcanic hills.  Tropical maritime climate prevails year round.  Hurricanes, tropical storms, and droughts are natural hazards.  Environmental issues include fresh water scarcity and deforestation.  Antigua and Barbuda is administratively divided into six parishes and two dependencies. 

Population: 86,754 (July 2010)       

Annual Growth Rate: 1.3% (2010)    

Fertility Rate: 2.06 children born per woman (2010)   

Life Expectancy: 73.27 male, 77.35 female (2010)

Peoples

black: 91%

mixed: 4.4%

white: 1.7%

other: 2.9%

Languages: Antigua and Barbuda Creole English (80%), standard English (29%), other (1%).  Antigua and Barbuda Creole English displays many linguistic similarities with other English Creoles in the Caribbean.  

Literacy: 85.8% (2003)

History

It is believed that the Siboney Amerindians settled Antigua as early as 2400 B.C.  Arawaks replaced the Siboney and populated the islands when Christopher Columbus landed in 1493 on his second voyage.  In 1632, the English began colonizing the islands and later in the seventeenth century established sugar plantations staffed by African slaves which were emancipated in 1834.  Poor economic and labor conditions continued until the mid-twentieth century due to lack of available land, an agriculturally-based economy, and no access to credit.  A trade union movement between Antigua and Barbuda began in 1939 which in the coming decades brought about political change.[1]  Independence from the United Kingdom occurred in 1981.  Queen Elizabeth II is considered the head of state and Antigua and Barbuda pertains to the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Culture 

British and American culture is highly represented in local culture.  Most attend church on a regular basis.  Cricket is the most popular sport.  Corn, sweet potatoes, rice, fish, and fruit are common foods.[2]  Alcohol consumption rates compare to the worldwide average alcohol consumption rate.    

Economy

GDP per capita: $16,500 (2010) [34.8% of US]

Human Development Index: 0.868

Corruption Index: N/A

Tourism drives the economy, generating 60% of the GDP.  With few natural resources, Antigua and Barbuda will remain dependent on the tourism industry to grow the economy.  Limited water and a small work force limit agricultural output and hurricanes and tropical storms can damage the economy.  Services generated 74% of the GDP and employ 82% of the work force whereas industry generates 22% of the GDP and accounts for 11% of the work force.  Tourism, construction, and light manufacturing are the primary industries.  Common crops include cotton, fruits, vegetables, coconuts, and sugarcane.

Corruption is less apparent than in most Caribbean nations.  Antigua and Barbuda is a transshipment point for illicit drugs destined for the United States and Europe.  There have been isolated reports of government corruption in recent years.[3]

Faiths

Christian: 92.2%

other: 2%

none/unspecified: 5.8%

Christians

Denominations  Members  Congregations

Anglican  22,296

Pentecostal  9,196

Moravian  9,109

Catholic  9,022

Seventh Day Adventists  8,000  31

Methodist  6,854

Baptist  4,251

Church of God  3,904

Jehovah's Witnesses  475  7

Latter-day Saints  184  1

Religion

Most the population is Christian and regularly attends church.  There is a high degree of pluralism among Christians as the largest Christian denomination, the Anglican Church, accounts for 26% of the population.  Other prominent Christian groups include Methodists, Moravians, and Catholics.  Evangelicals are estimated to account for 25% of the population.  There are between 1,000 and 1,500 Rastafarians, over 200 Muslims, almost 200 Hindus, and approximately 50 Baha'is.[4]

Religious Freedom

Persecution Index:

The constitution protects religious freedom which is upheld by the government.  There is no state religion and the government maintains strong ties with the Antigua Christian Council.  Major Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays.  The government does not require religious groups to register, but religious groups must incorporate to own property, enjoy tax-exempt status, and receive other duty-free concessions.  Rastafarians complain that marijuana use is illegal and that they are sometimes discriminated against.  There have been no recent reported societal abuses of religious freedom.[5]

Largest Cities

Urban: 30%

St. John's, All Saints, Liberta, Potters Village, Bolans.

Settlements listed in bold have no LDS congregations.

One of the five most populous settlements has an LDS congregation.  45% of the national population resides in the five largest settlements.  Over 98% of the national population resides on Antigua. 

LDS Background

In 1984, West Indies Mission president Kenneth Zabriskie visited St. John's, Antigua and received permission to assign full-time LDS missionaries.  Later that year, the first missionaries were assigned and the first convert was baptized.[6]  The sole LDS branch was organized the following year in St John's.[7]  Seminary and institute began in the 1990s.  Some Latter-day Saints were among those who lost employment and housing as a result of hurricanes Luis and Marilyn in 1995.[8]  The LDS Church donated approximately $10,000 for hurricane victims in 1995.[9]  In 2002, some members from Antigua traveled to Trinidad to meet LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley in 2002.[10]  In 2007, Antigua and Barbuda was assigned to the newly created Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission.[11]  In 2010, the islands were assigned to the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.

There were approximately 70 members in 1995.[12]  Membership totaled 112 by year-end 2000.  During the 2000s membership slowly increased to 140 in 2002, 172 in 2005, and 181 in 2008.  Stagnant growth or a slight decline in membership occurred during 2006 and 2007.  Membership increased by less than 20 a year during the 2000s.  In 2009, one in 470 was LDS.  The St. John's Branch likely meets in a rented space or renovated building.   24 were enrolled in seminary or institute during the 2008-2009 school year.  Nationwide active membership is estimated at between 80 and 100, or 50%. Antigua and Barbuda are assigned to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple district. 

Opportunities

Latter-day Saints benefit from full religious freedom to worship, proselyte, and assemble.  Foreign full-time missionaries do not appear to face any restrictions.  The high degree of religious plurality in Antigua reduces challenges for Latter-day Saints to assimilate in the local culture.  The St. John's Branch is the only LDS mission outreach center on Antigua and reaches at least 32% of the national population.  With the opening of a few additional congregations in the most populous, lesser-reached urban locations such as All Saints, nearly the entire population would reside within five kilometers of an LDS congregation.  The Church has developed an ample supply of English-language LDS Internet resources, yet none of these materials have been customized to the needs of the population of Antigua and Barbuda or other English-speaking Caribbean nations.  Membership growth grates have been slow but Antigua has achieved higher member activity rates than many other Caribbean nations likely due to strong member involvement in proselytism and the teaching of investigators and new converts; the development of regular church attendance habits before baptism; and independence and self sufficiency that has arisen from isolation from mission leadership.  The homogenous black population experiences no significant ethnic integration issues.  Standard English is widely spoken and understood, reducing the need for Creole language materials although there are approximately 120,000 speakers of Antigua and Barbuda English Creole worldwide.  The informal usage of the Creole further reduces any likelihood of future LDS translations.  Increasing seminary and institute attendance in the late 2000s may indicate increases in the number of forthcoming local full-time missionaries in the near future. 

Challenges

Although regular church attendance and interest in religion remain high, receptivity to the LDS Church is modest as most are shepherded into the many denominations on the island to which they are socially and religiously bound.  Most know little about LDS teachings and beliefs and do not personally know a Latter-day Saint.  Few local leaders, moderate member activity rates, a small population, and limited missionary resources for the Caribbean challenge any advances in expanding national outreach in the coming years.  Only one or two full-time missionary companionships appear to be assigned to Antigua and at times LDS missionaries may not serve on the island at all.  Few if any local members have served full-time missions.  Local leadership remains limited and able to only staff one LDS congregation at present.  It will be necessary for male Latter-day Saints to receive the priesthood, maintain regular church attendance, serve full-time missions, and remain in their home country for additional congregations to be organized.  Organized temple trips likely do not occur and members appear to attend on an individual or family basis.  A future temple may be built one day on Puerto Rico, which would reduce travel times, but may not provide full accessibility due to visa requirements. 

Comparative Growth

Like Grenada, St. Kills and Nevis, and Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda has followed the predictable pattern of LDS growth for Caribbean islands with fewer than 200 members as membership increased between 30 and 70 percent during the 2000s and one or no new congregations were organized.  Member activity rates in Antigua appear higher than average for the region.  

With the exception of the LDS Church, all other major missionary-minded Christian groups have a strong presence in Antigua.  Generally with few members and limited outreach in the Caribbean, Jehovah's Witnesses had a robust community of nearly 500 active members organized into seven congregations in 2009.   Seventh Day Adventists rank among the island's largest denominations and operate 31 congregations.  Adventists maintain a website at http://www.antiguaadventists.org/ which provides a summary of church teachings, Adventist institutions on the islands, and the presentation of a  culturally-adapted proselytism approach which has been refined through over a century of Adventist missionary activity on Antigua.  Jehovah's Witnesses maintained seven congregations and had nearly 500 active members in 2009 but generally experience slow membership growth.  Most denominations have had a long-term presence on the island. 

Prospects

With a small population and few mission outreach resources dedicated, Antigua and Barbuda has demonstrated consistent but slow membership growth and increasing seminary and institute enrollment in recent years.  Infrequent interaction with international LDS leaders and reliance on local members to operate the Church have facilitated moderate member activity rates and self-reliance.  Growth in the number of active members and local leadership development may lead to the organization of a second congregation on Antigua over the medium term.


[1]  "Background Note: Antigua and Barbuda," Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 15 July 2010.  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2336.htm

[2]  "Cuisine of Antigua and Barbuda," Wikipedia.org, retrieved 22 January 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuisine_of_Antigua_and_Barbuda

[3]  "Antigua and Barbuda," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2006," 6 March 2007.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78876.htm

[4]  "Antigua and Barbuda," International Religious Freedom Report 2010," 17 November 2010.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148730.htm

[5]  "Antigua and Barbuda," International Religious Freedom Report 2010," 17 November 2010.  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148730.htm

[6]  "Antigua and Barbuda," Country Profile, retrieved 21 January 2011.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/country/antigua-and-barbuda

[7]  "Antigua and Barbuda," Deseret News 1995-96 Church Almanac, p. 193

[8]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Extensive hurricane damage, but LDS safe," LDS Church News, 30 September 1995.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/26611/Extensive-hurricane-damage-but-LDS-safe.html

[9]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "'Strong partnership' shared by Church, Red Cross," LDS Church News, 6 June 1998.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/30431/Strong-partnership-shared-by-Church-Red-Cross.html

[10]  "Visit to West Indies because 'We love you'," LDS Church News, 1 June 2002.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/41901/Visit-to-West-Indies-because-We-love-you.html

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

[12]  "Antigua and Barbuda," Country Profile, retrieved 21 January 2011.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/country/antigua-and-barbuda