Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Monthly Newsletter

Please click here to view our June edition of The Cumorah Foundation's monthly newsletter.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Exploratory Visits from LDS Leaders to Sao Tome and Principe and Senegal

The Church has begun to explore opportunities for missionary work in two Sub-Saharan African nations: Sao Tome and Principe and Senegal. This information was obtained through reports from senior missionaries and mission presidents. Neither Sao Tome and Principe nor Senegal has an LDS presence despite widespread religious freedom and the operation of many other missionary-focused Christian groups in both of these nations.

Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe has a Portuguese-speaking population of approximately 180,000 people. The nation shares many cultural similarities with other Lusophone African nations such as Angola and Cabo Verde. Most the population adheres to Catholicism or Protestantism.

The Angola Luanda Mission president visited Sao Tome and Principe within recent months. The mission president was accompanied by Sao Tomean members who had joined the Church in Angola. A small sacrament meeting was held with a handful of isolated members and investigators who reside on Sao Tome. No member group appears to have been organized.

Click here to read a case study I wrote in 2013 on prospective LDS outreach in Sao Tome and Principe.

Senegal
Inhabited by 13.6 million people, Senegal is a country located in West Africa that is 94% Muslim, 5% Christian, and 1% followers of indigenous religions. Dakar is the capital city and had an estimated population of 3.2 million people. French is the official language and there are three indigenous African languages spoken by more than one million people (Fulani [Pulaar], Serer-Sine, and Wolof). 

Senior missionaries serving in Accra, Ghana report a recent visit to Dakar to meet with isolated members and investigators. Missionaries reported that a member group currently operates in Dakar. The group operates under the Africa West Area Branch. However, none of the members in the group are native Senegalese. Most, if not all, members in the group appear from other West African nations. 

Click here to read a case study I wrote in 2014 on prospective LDS outreach in Senegal.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New Stakes Created in Brazil and Nigeria

Brazil
The Church organized two new stakes in Brazil.

The Betim Brazil Stake was organized from the Divinópolis Brazil District and the Contagem Brazil Stake on June 7th. Three wards from the Contagem were included in the new stake (Betim 1st, Betim 2nd, and Jardim das Alterosas). It is unclear which of the four branches in the former Divinópolis Brazil District have become wards. The Divinópolis Brazil District was organized in 2013. The Betim Brazil Stake is the Church's sixth stake in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area. Prospects appear favorable for a future temple announcement for Belo Horizonte in the near future.

The Valparaíso Brazil Stake was organized from a division of the Brasília Brazil Alvorada Stake on June 14th. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Jardim Ingá, Lago Azul, Novo Gama, Ocidental, Valparaíso 1st, and Valparaíso 2nd Wards. There are now six stakes and one district in the Brasília metropolitan area. Prospects appear favorable for a future temple announcement for Brasília in the near future.

There are now 255 stakes and 37 districts in Brazil.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in Nigeria on June 14th. The Abak Nigeria Stake was organized from the Abak Nigeria District. It is unclear which of the eight branches in the former district were organized into wards. The Church originally organized the Abak Nigeria District in 2010 from a division of the Uyo Nigeria Stake.

There are now 28 stakes and 19 districts in Nigeria.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Stake in Thailand, New District in Ghana

Thailand
The Church organized a new stake in Thailand on June 14th. The Ubon Thailand Stake was organized from the Ubon Thailand District and includes the following six wards and three branches: the Buriram, Korat, Mahasarakham, Roi-Et, Srisaket, and Ubon Wards and the Kalasin, Surin, and Yasothorn Branches. There are now three stakes and three districts in Thailand.


Ghana
The Church organized a new district in Ghana at the end of May. The Tamale Ghana District was organized from four branches in the Ghana Kumasi Mission located in the city of Tamale. These branches include the Education Ridge, Kalpohin, Kanvilli, and Vitin Branches. The first missionaries were assigned to Tamale in February 2013 and the Church organized the first member groups at that time. Startling successes has occurred in this most northern city in Ghana with an LDS presence. Today there are approximately 200 active members in the city - essentially all of whom are recent converts from northern Ghana. Implementation of a church-planting strategy called the Sunyani Model has been a key ingredient to this unprecedented development.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Newsletter

Please click here to access the monthly newsletter for May from The Cumorah Foundation. This newsletter provides updates on LDS growth developments and new resources we have posted on the site, cumorah.com.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Complete Translation of the Book of Mormon into Farsi (Persian) Completed

I received a report from my stake president yesterday in stake conference that the Church has completed the Farsi (Persian) translation of the entire Book of Mormon. The Church initially translated select passages of the Book of Mormon into Farsi in 1983. Although it is unclear when the translation will be published, it appears that it will likely be available by the end of 2015. My stake president also noted that the Church has begun to translate the Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price into Farsi.

Farsi is spoken by over 47 million people worldwide and is the national statutory language of Iran according to ethnologue.com. The Church briefly operated a mission headquartered in Tehran, Iran during the mid to late 1970s. Currently there are thousands of Iranian Latter-day Saints worldwide primarily scattered across Europe and North America. Iranians have been unique among traditionally Muslim peoples in the Middle East as they have exhibited significantly higher receptivity to LDS outreach compared to other ethnolinguistic groups in the region. Currently Farsi-speaking missionaries are assigned to areas of California and Ontario, Canada.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Stakes Created in Australia, New Zealand, and Nigeria; New Districts Created in Lebanon and Macau; Districts Discontinued in Brazil, Germany, and Venezuela

Australia
The Church organized a new stake in the Sydney area on May 17th. The Gosford Australia Stake was organized from a division of the Newcastle Australia and Sydney Australia Baulkham Hills Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Gosford, Normanhurst, Ourimbah, Toronto, Toukley, and Tuggerah Wards. There are now 38 stakes and eight districts in Australia.

New Zealand
The Church organized a new stake in Auckland on May 17th. The Auckland New Zealand Penrose Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Auckland New Zealand Mt Roskill and Auckland New Zealand Panmure Stakes. Information on the names of congregations in the new stake is currently unavailable. There are now 29 stakes and three districts in New Zealand.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in Calabar on May 17th. The Calabar Nigeria South Stake was organized from a division of the Calabar Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Egerton, Etta Agbor, Mbukpa, New Airport, Uwanse, and Yellow Duke Wards. There are now 27 stakes and 20 districts in Nigeria

Lebanon
The Church organized a new district in Lebanon in late April. The Beirut Lebanon District was organized from a division of the Amman Jordan District. The new district appears to include two congregations: the Beirut Branch and the Cairo Branch. It is unclear why the Church decided to divide the Amman Jordan District as the district had only five branches prior to its division. The new Beirut Lebanon District appears to be the first district of the Church ever organized in this nation. Prospects appear favorable for passive missionary activity in Lebanon as there is no legislation barring proselytism or changing religious affiliation. Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians among Middle East nations as 40% of the population is Christian.

Macau
The Church organized a new district in Macau on May 17th. The Macau China District is the Church's first district ever organized in this special administrative region of China. The new district includes the Macau 1st, Macau 2nd (English), and Macau 3rd Branches. The Macau 1st Branch administers Cantonese speakers whereas the Macau 3rd Branch administers Mandarin speakers. Missionaries are optimistic that the district can become a stake in the foreseeable future as there are currently 1,400 members in Macau - just 500 shy of the minimal criteria for a stake to operate. The branches previous pertained to the China Hong Kong Mission. The Church has experienced startling progress reactivating members and organizing new congregations in Hong Kong and Macau within the past year.

Brazil
The Church recently discontinued the Teófilo Otoni Brazil District. The district was originally organized in 2006 and had two branches for many years. Branches in the former district were reassigned to the Nanuque Brazil District. There are now 253 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

Germany
The Church recently discontinued the Erfurt Germany District. The district was originally organized in 2004 and had seven branches. Four of the branches were discontinued due to extremely few active members. Local members report significant problems with low receptivity and active members moving away from this economically depressed area of Germany. Retained branches were reassigned to the Leipzig Germany Stake and the Erfurt Branch became a ward in the stake. There are now 15 stakes and two districts in Germany.

Venezuela
The Church recently discontinued the Calabozo Venezuela District. The district was originally organized in 2005 and had two branches. The district had two if its branches recently discontinued. The retained branches have been reassigned to the Venezuela Caracas Mission.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Missionaries Withdawn from Burundi

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission report that all young full-time missionaries have been removed from Burundi due to civil unrest and a coup. Plans have been made for the three branches in the country to have branch missionaries continue teaching and baptizing new converts.

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Stakes in Chile and Utah

Chile
Yesterday the Church organized a new stake in Chile. The Talagante Chile Stake was organized from the Talagante Chile District and includes the following five wards and three branches: El Monte, Melipilla 1st, Melipilla 2nd, Talagante 1st, and Talagante 2nd Wards and the Bollenar, Isla de Maipo, and La Islita Branches. The Church previously operated a stake in Melipilla from 1993 to 2002 and a stake in Talagante from 1997 to 2002. Both of the stakes were downgraded to districts in 2002 and consolidated the districts into a single district in 2014. The Church in Chile has made some minor advancements with strengthening local leadership and advancing districts into stakes within the past couple years. The Church in Chile organized a new stake for the first time in 15 years in 2014 when the Coquimbo Chile District became a stake.

There are now 76 stakes and 20 districts in Chile.

Utah
The Church organized a new stake in Draper, Utah on May 3rd. The Draper Utah Meadows Stake was organized from a division of the Draper Utah Mountain Point Stake and includes the following seven wards: the Bellevue Park, Bellevue, Bridle Pointe, Brown Farm, Creekside, Lone Rock, and Willow Springs Wards. There are now 576 stakes and one district in Utah.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Full-time Missionaries to Return to Liberia and Sierra Leone This Summer

The Church announced yesterday that full-time missionaries will return to Liberia and Sierra Leone this summer. Missionaries were removed from these two nations in August 2014 as a result of the Ebola outbreak that claimed over 8,500 lives and infected approximately 22,000 people in the region. It appears that mission presidents and young full-time missionaries will restart formal proselytism efforts in July.

It was initially unclear as to whether the Church in these two nations would continue to sustain rapid membership and congregational growth following the removal of full-time missionaries and mission presidents. The Church in these two nations has historically struggled with local leadership development, member-missionary participation, member activity, and convert retention. However, the Church has appeared to experience steady "real growth" in these two nations during this period, particularly in Sierra Leone. The Church in Sierra Leone has organized seven new branches since full-time missionaries were removed. Reports from members in the nation indicate that local members have been effective at continuing missionary work despite the absence of full-time missionaries. Some congregations have continued to baptize new converts on almost a weekly basis within the past nine months.

Although it will become more clear within the next six month as to what progress the Church has achieved in these two nations since full-time missionaries were removed, membership and congregational growth trends have been encouraging and suggest that the Church may have turned a corner in developing a self-sufficient Church led by indigenous members. The advancement of districts into stakes within the next couple years will be a key indicator to assess real growth, the maturation in local leadership development, and the self-sufficiency of members and church leaders.

The Church currently reports one stake and five districts in Sierra Leone and three districts in Liberia. See below for links to statistical profiles for these two nations.