Monday, November 24, 2014

Case Studies on LDS Growth in Indonesia

As part of work I provide for The Cumorah Foundation (cumorah.com), I have recently completed a series of case study articles that examine LDS growth in Indonesia. Indonesia has over a quarter of a billion people and has had an LDS missionary presence for over four decades. However, the Church has experienced slow growth within the past three decades and maintains a minimal presence in the country. These case study articles analyze past LDS growth trends in the country and explore opportunities for outreach expansion.

I particularly enjoyed working on this set of case studies. I hope that these case studies will educate interested readers and motivate members to do what they can to help expand the Church's presence in Indonesia.

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Stakes Created in Bahrain, Nigeria, and Utah

Bahrain
On November 14th, the Church organized its second stake in the Middle East. The Manama Bahrain Stake was organized from the Manama Bahrain District and the Abu Dhabi Stake and includes the following two congregations in non-sensitive countries: the Kuwait Ward and the Bahrain Branch. The new stake likely has four or more wards in Saudi Arabia. The Church does not report the number and location of its congregations in Saudi Arabia due to its sensitive presence in the country. The Church in the Arabian Peninsula has experienced steady membership and congregational growth within the past decade due to Latter-day Saints relocating to the region for employment purposes. The Church originally divided the Abu Dhabi Stake (originally called the Manama Bahrain Stake and before that the Desert Springs Stake) in 2011 to create the Manama Bahrain District.

Nigeria
On November 16th, the Church organized a new stake in the cultural region of southwestern Nigeria known as "Yorubaland." The Abeokuta Nigeria Stake was organized from the Abeokuta Nigeria District and includes the following eight wards: the Ibara, Idi-Aba, Ilewo-Orile, Ita-Oshin, Kuto, Lafenwa, Obantoko, and Odeda Wards. The new stake becomes the Church's second stake to operate within southwestern Nigeria outside of Lagos (the first stake in southwestern Nigeria outside of Lagos was organized in Ibadan last June). The Abeokuta Nigeria District was originally organized in 1993.

There are now 26 stakes and 20 districts in Nigeria.

Utah
On November 16th, the Church organized a new stake in Utah. The Kaysville Utah Deseret Mills Stake was organized from the Kaysville Utah West Stake and includes the following eight wards: the Barnes Park, Burton, Country Mill, Deseret, Francis Peak (Spanish), Kays, Mill Shadow, and Old Mill Wards.

There are now 574 stakes and one district in Utah

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LDS Growth Accelerating in California

The Church in California has begun to experience accelerating congregational growth for the first time in a decade. So far in 2013 and 2014, the Church has reported a net increase of 20 congregations (+21 wards, -1 branch) in California. The Church reported a net increase of seven congregations in 2013 and a net increase of 13 congregations for 2014. The last time the Church in California experienced as large of a net increase in the number of congregations occurred in 2004 when there was a net increase of 40 congregations (12 wards, 28 branches). The growth the Church in California has experienced in 2013 and 2014 has been more impressive than the growth experienced in 2004 as the majority of congregations organized in 2004 were young single adult (YSA) branches whereas in the majority of congregations organized in 2013 and 2014 have been English-speaking family wards. The Church has also organized many non-English speaking wards in California so far in 2014, including several Spanish-speaking wards and branches, a new Mandarin Chinese-speaking branch in Pasadena, and a new Hmong-speaking branch in Yuba City.

This acceleration in congregational growth in California is a surprising LDS growth development as the Church has experienced essentially stagnant membership and congregational growth for over two decades. Stagnant growth has primarily occurred due to members moving outside of the state. Recent congregational growth trends in 2014 may indicate a reduction in the number of active members moving away from the state, improvements in member activity rates, and increases in the numbers of converts joining the Church and remaining active.

The Church in California continues to have many challenges. The Church continues to operate fewer wards and branches than it did in the mid-2000s when there were as many as 1,386 congregations (compared to 1,368 at present). The Church in California has also gone through multiple cycles of organizing and consolidating congregations based on patterns of active membership moving away from the state. For example, the Church reported congregational growth until 1993 when a high of 1,353 congregations was reached, but consolidated many wards and branches until 1997 when there were 1,273 congregations reported. Congregational growth rebounded to reach a new high of 1,386 in 2004 and 2005, but declined to 1,348 in 2011 and 2012. Recent history suggests that the Church in California may continue to experience oscillations in net increases and declines in congregational growth based on the rate that members move away from the state, the number of converts who join the Church and remain active, and fluctuations in member activity rates.

Click here to access the state statistical profile for California on cumorah.com.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Stakes Created in Florida and Ghana

Florida
On November 9th, the Church created a new stake in the Orlando area. The Lake Mary Florida Stake was organized from a division of the Orlando Florida Stake and includes the following six wards: the College Park YSA, Lake Mary, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford, and Tuskawilla Wards. There are now five stakes in the Orlando metropolitan area and 28 stakes in Florida

Ghana
On November 9th, the Church created a new stake in the Accra metropolitan area. The Ashaiman Ghana Stake was organized from a division of the Tema Ghana Stake and includes the following seven wards and two branches: the Adjei Kojo, Ashaiman, Bethlehem, Kpone, Lebanon, Sun City, and Zenu Wards, and the Dawenyha and Michel Camp Branches. There are now seven stakes in the Accra metropolitan area.

The Church in Ghana currently reports 13 stakes and nine districts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Stake in Cote d'Ivoire; District Discontinued in Brazil

Cote d'Ivoire
Last Sunday, the Church organized its seventh stake in Abidjan. The Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stake was organized from a division of the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake and includes the following eight wards: the Abobo, Agbekoi, Akeikoi 1st, Akeikoi 2nd, Ile Verte, M'Ponon, Plaque, and Quatre Etages Wards. The Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake experienced unprecedented congregational growth in 2014 as the number of congregations within the original stake mushroomed from eight wards to 15 wards and one branch. Three additional stakes in the Abidjan area appear close to dividing including the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Toit Rouge Stake (11 wards), Cocody Cote d'Ivoire Stake (10 wards, 1 branch), and the Port Bouet Cote d'Ivoire Stake (11 wards, 1 branch).

There are now seven stakes and three districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

Brazil
The Church recently discontinued the Quaraí Brazil District. The former district was located in Rio Grande do Sul State on the border with Uruguay. The district has experienced rapid congregational decline within the past five years as the number of branches has declined from five to two. The retained branches now pertain to the Artigas Uruguay Stake and will likely become wards as branches have been consolidate to increase the number of active members in each congregation.

There are now 252 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Stakes Created in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

Within the past couple weeks, the Church has undergone a massive realignment of stakes within Arkansas, southwestern Missouri, and eastern Oklahoma. Three new stakes were created as a result of this realignment.

The Bartlesville Oklahoma Stake was organized from the Tulsa Oklahoma and Tulsa Oklahoma East Stakes and includes the following nine wards and two branches: the Bartlesville 1st, Bartlesville 2nd, Bartlesville 3rd, Claremore, Cleveland, Elm Creek, Independence, Owasso, and Ranch Creek Wards, and the Pawhuska and Skiatook Branches. There are now eight stakes in Oklahoma.

The Bentonville Arkansas Stake was organized from the Rogers Arkansas Stake and includes the following seven wards: the Bella Vista, Bentonville 1st, Bentonville 2nd, Centerton, Central Park, Elm Tree, and Grove Wards. There are now seven stakes in Arkansas.

The Monett Missouri Stake was organized from the Joplin Missouri and Springfield Missouri South Stakes and includes the following five wards and two branches: the Aurora, Carthage, Granby, Monett, and Stockton Wards, and the Cassville and Joplin YSA Branches. There are now 16 stakes in Missouri.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Potential New Missions in 2015

The Church appears poised to create a significant number of new missions in 2015 due to sustained increases in the number of members serving full-time missions within the past two years. There may not be much of a decline in the number of full-time missionaries once the "double cohort" ends based upon a statement recently made by Elder Russell M. Nelson regarding the impact of the recent age change for missionary service on additional family members deciding to serve missions. With over 88,000 full-time missionaries, the Church would need to operate 540 missions if it were to maintain the historical average of 163 missionaries per mission from 1977 to 2011. This would represent an increase of 134 missions from the current total.


Below is a list of potential new missions that may be created in 2015. Criteria for identifying potential new missions include recent LDS membership, congregational, and organizational (stakes and districts) growth trends, trends in new mission creations within the past decade, population size, and the boundaries of current missions.
  • Argentina Santa Fe
  • Argentina Tucuman
  • Australia Brisbane (2nd mission)
  • Bolivia El Alto
  • Brazil Aracatuba
  • Brazil Jaboatao
  • Brazil Manaus (2nd mission)
  • Brazil Porto Velho
  • Brazil Rio de Janeiro (2nd mission)
  • Brazil Sao Luis
  • Brazil Sorocaba
  • Burundi/Rwanda
  • Cambodia Phnom Penh (2nd mission)
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Canada Lethbridge
  • Chile La Serena
  • Chile Temuco
  • Colorado Grand Junction
  • Costa Rica San Jose (2nd mission)
  • Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Kananga
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa (2nd mission)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa
  • Germany Hamburg
  • Ghana Kumasi (2nd mission)
  • Guadalupe
  • Guyana Georgetown
  • Idaho Falls Idaho
  • India Hyderabad
  • Malawi Lilongwe
  • Mexico Chilpancingo
  • Mexico Juchitan
  • Mexico Tijuana (2nd mission)
  • Mexico Toluca
  • Nigeria Aba
  • Nigeria Ibadan
  • Nigeria Uyo
  • Peru Chimbote
  • Peru Ica
  • Peru Puno
  • Philippines Bacolod (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Cabanatuan
  • Philippines Davao (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Dumaguete
  • Philippines Lucena
  • Philippines Ormoc
  • Philippines Santiago
  • Poland Katowice
  • Portugal Porto
  • Samoa Apia (2nd mission)
  • Slovakia Bratislava
  • Solomon Islands Honiara
  • South Africa Pretoria
  • Spain Alicante
  • Taiwan Kaohsiung
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Tennessee Memphis
  • Texas Austin
  • Texas El Paso
  • Texas Plano
  • Thailand Bangkok (2nd mission)
  • Togo Lome
  • Tonga Nuku'alofa (2nd mission)
  • Turkey Istanbul
  • Uruguay Rivera
  • Zimbabwe Bulawayo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

District Discontinued in Thailand

Last Sunday, the Church discontinued a district in Thailand. Organized in 1989, the Khon Kaen Thailand District was consolidated with the Ubon Thailand and Udorn Thailand Districts. The former district had five branches prior to the district realignment. Missionaries report that the area is very close to having two new stakes within the foreseeable future and that the decision to close the Khon Kaen Thailand District was based on helping the two other districts in northeastern Thailand meet the minimum criteria for stakes to operate. Currently the Ubon Thailand District has nine branches and one member group, whereas the Udorn Thailand District now has seven branches (including the Vientiane Branch in Laos).

There are now two stakes and four districts in Thailand.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and LDS Growth

I wanted to make a comment about speculation made by some regarding the impact of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa on the receptivity of native populations in the region to the LDS Church.

Although LDS growth has accelerated in West Africa within the past few years, this development has not appeared to have any direct correlation with the Ebola epidemic in the region. Recent rapid growth in Cote d'Ivoire as evidenced by the doubling of congregations in the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire stake in 2014 from eight to 16, the simultaneous organization of six branches in the city of Daloa, Cote d'Ivoire in early 2014, and accelerated national outreach expansion in Ghana appear to have no correlation with the recent Ebola outbreak. All of these recent LDS growth developments began before the Ebola outbreak did. The plans and approvals for the organization of new congregations takes months, and even up to a year, to be carried out, suggesting that these developments began before the Ebola epidemic.

Please see below to find links to the LDS statistical profiles to countries in the region. These profiles clearly show that accelerated growth began several years ago.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake: A Case of Unprecedent Rapid Congregational Growth

For those of my followers who may be interested in "extreme cases" in church growth (positive or negative), the Church in Cote d'Ivoire is currently experiencing some of the most rapid growth that I have ever observed in the worldwide Church. In 2014 alone the Church has organized seven new wards and one new branch in the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake, thereby doubling the total number of congregations in the stake to 15 wards and one branch. As congregational growth serves as one of the most robust indicators of "real growth" (i.e. increasing numbers of active members, improving maturity in priesthood leaders, high convert retention), this development stands as one of the greatest successes in terms of rapid growth within the worldwide Church ever documented. I am aware of no other instance of so many wards being created within a single stake within less than a year. To make this achievement even more impressive, the Church in Cote d'Ivoire has been entirely self-sufficient in meeting its full-time missionary needs through local and regional missionary manpower. Just this last summer the Church organized a second mission based in Abidjan to help better administer recent rapid growth experienced throughout the country.

As for some history with this particular stake, the Church organized the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake in 2000. The stake was divided in 2006 along with the original Abidjan Ivory Coast Stake to create the Cocody Cote d'Ivoire Stake. No new wards or branches were organized in the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire Stake between 2006 and 2013, which may indicate that all of the recent new units organized were long overdue.

With six stakes and 57 wards in the Abidjan area, the Church appears posed to have as many as 10 stakes within the next five years.