By Kent Larsen
Newly Named Area President Visits Reunion
SAINT DENIS, REUNION -- Elder Robert C. Oaks of the Africa Southeast Area
Presidency visited the tiny Indian Ocean island of Reunion last week,
attracting the attention of Le Quotidien de la Reunion. The newspaper was
surprised to discover that Oaks is a former four-star general in the US Air
Force, and used his visit to look at The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and its members on Reunion.
Elder Oaks is a 65-year-old California native who served in the Air Force
for 35 years, rising to lead the US Forces in Europe from 1990 to 1994, a
period that included both the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Persian Gulf
War. In 1994 he left the Air Force and became Vice President of Operations
for US Airways, retiring in 1998. Now Elder Oaks is based in Johannesburg,
and recently the LDS Church announced that he will be President of the
Church's Africa Southeast Area, effective August 15th.
Last week as part of a tour of that Area, Elder Oaks visited Reunion. He was
greeted by about 200 Church members in a meeting at a Hotel in Saint Gillois
and on June 15th he met the mayor of Saint Denis, Reunion, before traveling
on to the neighboring island of Maurice.
According to the Le Quotidien article, the growth of the Church in Reunion
has stalled in recent years amid misunderstanding about the Church during a
public campaign about sects. Currently the island has three branches,
located in Saint Denis, Saint Pierre and Le Port. According to District
President Alain Chion-Hock, who was the first LDS Church member on the
island, there are now about 750 members on Reunion. Eight missionaries, six
Elders and two Sisters, now serve there.
The Le Quotidien article also discusses the Church's prohibition of polygamy
since 1890, quoting Elder Oaks as saying that those that practice polygamy
are excommunicated from the Church. It also tells about the LDS Church's
genealogy program, mentioning that the program has microfilmed the French
government's vital records archives.
Visite d'un responsable mormon
Le Quotidien de la Reunion 16Jun01 D1