Sunday, January 13, 2019

New Stakes Created in Utah (2), New District in Uganda

Utah
The Church organized two new stakes on January 6th.

The Hurricane Utah North Stake was organized from a division of the Hurricane Utah West Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: Hurricane 1st, Hurricane 2nd, Hurricane 7th, Hurricane 8th, Hurricane 12th, Hurricane 14th, Hurricane 17th, and Hurricane 25th Wards. There are now three stakes in Hurricane and 30 stakes in Washington County.

The Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Creek Stake was organized from a division of the Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Manila 2nd, Manila 3rd, Manila 4th, Manila 5th, Manila 7th, Manila 8th, and Manila 12th Wards. There are now 10 stakes in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

There are now 598 stakes and one district in Utah.

Uganda
The Church organized two new districts in Uganda. With these new district creations, the number of cities with a stake or district in Uganda has doubled from two to four.

On January 6th, the Masaka Uganda District was organized from three mission branches located in the city of Masaka, namely the Kijjabwemi, Masaka, and Nyendo Branches. Mission leaders report that 313 people attended the special conference to organize the district. Significant growth has recently occurred in Masaka over the past few years as church attendance has increased from 95 people in one branch to approximately 300 in three branches. Of the three branches in the city, two were organized in 2018. The original Masaka Branch was organized in 2011 after fortuitous efforts from senior missionaries who conducted humanitarian work in the area and made contact with members and investigators who had moved to the area. There were no plans to create a branch in Masaka originally based upon reports from senior missionaries who served in the area. However, mission leadership eventually decided to establish a member group and then a branch due to the high level of interest from members and investigators in the city.

On January 13th, the Busia Uganda District was organized from three branches in the Uganda Kampala Mission, namely the Busia 1st, Busia 2nd, and Busia 3rd Branches. Mission leaders report that 317 people attended the special conference to organize the district. The Church organized its first branch in Busia on the Kenyan-side of the city in 2009, followed by a second branch on the Ugandan-side of the city in 2012. A third branch was created in the city on the Ugandan-side in 2018. Like with Masaka, significant increases in church attendance and convert baptisms have recently occurred in Busia. The Church reassigned the Kenya-based Busia 1st Branch from the Kenya Nairobi Mission to the Uganda Kampala Mission within the past couple years to help better administered to the branches needs and prepare for the creation of a district one day.

There are now three stakes and two districts in Uganda. Prospects appear likely within the next 1-2 years for the organization of new districts in additional cities once a third branch is organized in these locations. The Church currently reports two mission branches each in three additional cities: Gulu, Lira, and Mbale.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Twelve Missions to Close, Four Missions to Open this July - Analysis

As I noted in a post last week, the Church announced plans to close twelve missions and organize four new missions in July of 2019. There will be 399 missions worldwide after these changes go into effect. Missions that will consolidate with nearby missions include:
  • Argentina Posadas 
  • California Irvine 
  • California Long Beach 
  • California Rancho Cucamonga 
  • Canada Halifax 
  • Florida Tallahassee 
  • Georgia Macon 
  • Idaho Nampa 
  • Japan Sendai 
  • Korea Daejeon 
  • New York Utica 
  • Virginia Chesapeake 
The closure of most of these twelve missions appeared likely. As I noted
in a post in December, I believed it was likely that as many as 22 missions may close this summer albeit only five of these missions I correctly predicted (six if you count California Anaheim instead of California Irvine). These mission closures appeared likely given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts serviced by the missions, and size and receptivity of populations targeted by missionary efforts in these locations. Stabilization in the number of full-time missionaries serving worldwide appears to be a major reason why some of these missions were closed, as six of these missions were organized in 2013 to accommodate the sudden increase in the number of members serving full-time missions due to the double-cohort that resulted from a decrease in the minimum age for missionary service (e.g. Argentina Posadas, California Irvine, California Rancho Cucamonga, Georgia Macon, Idaho Nampa, Virginia Chesapeake). Furthermore many of these missions appeared to be originally organized due to better capabilities of the Church in the United States to suddenly accommodate large numbers of full-time missions serving from the United States compared to other countries given the Church's well-developed infrastructure in the country. Furthermore, although eight of the 12 mission scheduled to close this July are located in the United States, there will still be 109 missions in the United States after these changes go into effect. This is a higher number of missions in the United States than at any time prior to 2013. There were 103 missions in the United States in 2012.

Missions to open this July include:
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East 
  • Guatemala Antigua 
  • Perú Limatambo 
  • Philippines Antipolo 
I provided a list of 36 missions that appeared likely to be organized within the foreseeable future. All four new mission to be organized were on this list of likely predictions. Each of these four missions will be organized in nations where there has been significant increases in the number of members serving full-time missions. Thus, the decision to organize additional missions in these nations appears related to increases in the number of full-time missionaries serving in nations within these world regions.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East Mission will likely be organized from a division of only one mission, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission. Kinshasa will be the fourth city in Sub-Saharan Africa to have two missions headquartered within the same city (the other cities being Accra, Ghana [two missions since 2013]; Johannesburg, South Africa [two missions since approximately 2014 when the Botswana/Namibia Mission moved headquarters to Pretoria]; and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire [two missions since 2014). The Church has reported a significant increase in the number of Congolese member who serve full-time missions, which has appeared to be a major catalyst for the decision to organize a second mission in Kinshasa. Also, there are now 10 stakes in Kinshasa with 1-2 more stakes likely to be organized in the near future. It is likely that the creation of the new mission will assist with the further development of the Church in Kisangani, as well as the probable establishment of an official Church presence in additional large cities in the northern portion of the country such as Bandundu where there are significant numbers of members who have petitioned Church leaders to establish an official branch (more information here). There are now four missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It appears likely that the Church will organize a third area in Africa, possibly called the Africa Central Area, within the near future to help better supervise the expansion of the Church in the region.

Guatemala Antigua
The Guatemala Antigua Mission will likely be organized from a division of Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission and the Guatemala City Central Mission. The new mission will be the Church's seventh mission in Guatemala. The Church has reported that the number of Central American members who serve full-time missions has nearly doubled in the past decade.

Peru Limatambo
The Peru Limatambo Mission will be the Church's sixth mission to operate within the Lima metropolitan area where the Church operates 44 stakes - the largest number of stakes of any metropolitan area outside of the United States. Local members report that the new mission will be organized from a division of the Peru Lima Central Mission although additional missions headquartered in Lima may also be involved. The Church also organized a larger-than-normal number of new wards in Lima during 2018 and most congregations in the city appear to have 80-200 active members.

With these changes, there will be 14 missions in Peru, and Peru will be the country with the fifth most missions in the world.

Philippines Antipolo
The Philippines Antipolo Mission will be the Church's 23rd mission to operate in the Philippines. The new mission will be organized from a division of three missions: Philippines Quezon City Mission, Philippines Quezon City North Mission, and the Philippines San Pablo Mission. With these changes, there will be five missions headquartered in the Metro Manila area - more missions in a single metropolitan area than any other city in Asia, Europe, or Africa. The Church has regularly organized new stakes and congregations in the Metro Manila area and surrounding cities during the past decade. Furthermore, there have been significant increases in the number of active members in the Philippines during the past decade. The Philippines has the fourth most missions of any country in the world.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Year in Review - Most Significant Church Growth Developments in 2018

Click here to access my annual article that highlights the ten most encouraging and ten most discouraging church growth developments during the prior year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our December 2018 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Twelve Missions to Close, Four Missions to Open this July

The Church announced the discontinuation of 12 missions and the creation of four missions today. These changes will go into effect this July. Missions to close this July include:
  •  Argentina Posadas
  • California Irvine
  • California Long Beach
  • California Rancho Cucamonga
  • Canada Halifax
  • Florida Tallahassee
  • Georgia Macon
  • Idaho Nampa
  • Japan Sendai
  • Korea Daejeon
  • New York Utica
  • Virginia Chesapeake
Missions to open this July include:
  •  Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East
  • Guatemala Antigua
  • Perú Limatambo
  • Philippines Antipolo
I'll provide more information analysis about these changes in the next couple days. The official announcement can be found here. I have been a bit behind working on the monthly newsletter as well as the top 10 most encouraging and the top 10 most discouraging Church growth developments for 2018.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Bulgaria

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Bulgaria. Perhaps the Church in no other country in the world has experienced as severe problems and decline as the Church in Bulgaria. The number of active members in Bulgaria has declined by 80% during the past 18 years primarily due to the emigration of active members. Today there appear to be no more than 200-250 active members nationwide, or a mere 10% of church membership. See below for the Future Prospects sections of the Bulgaria country profile:

A shrinking full-time missionary force, the closure of two-thirds of the Church’s branches in the past decade, and the loss of active members to emigration continue to challenge the scope and vision of Latter-day Saint missionary operations in Bulgaria. At this point, it would take considerable resources, vision, and manpower for the Church resume its previous level of outreach extended at its zenith of missionary operations in the mid- to late 2000s. Increasing materialism, negative views of the Church, and persecution have lessened the receptivity of many and will continue to present challenges despite good improvements in convert retention reported in the past few years. Long-term growth consisting of expanding national outreach, improving self-sufficiency of local membership and leadership, and increasing missionary service and active membership will require wise placement of limited mission resources as well as policies and practices directed toward these ends. The Church may reestablish a district in the foreseeable future as long as active membership stabilizes and there are sufficient numbers of church leaders to warrant the operation of a district again in the country.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Hungary

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Hungary. I believe this profile is among the best we have written to date due to many high-quality sources. Here is the Future Prospects section of this profile:

Hungary will continue to be an important nation for the Church’s establishment in Central and Eastern Europe due to the number and strength of active members and its geographical location. A future small temple in Budapest may be likely within the foreseeable future. Increasing secularism and disinterest in religion threaten membership and congregational growth. A limited number of converts scattered throughout the country challenge future ambitions for the creation of additional congregations. Cities that seem most likely to open to missionary work include Nagykanizsa, Salgotarjan, Szekszard, and Zalaegerszeg, as these cities are the most populous without a congregation or are in counties without a congregation. Additional districts in the southern part of the country in Pecs and Szeged will become more likely once additional branches are established. A branch may be reopened in Vac and additional, small branches created to reduce travel time and increase outreach in suburban areas of Budapest. Additional groups may be organized in cities with missionaries who travel to nearby cities with congregations for Sunday meetings such as Hodmezovasarhely, Kolmo, and Oroshaza. A lack of converts has contributed to no additional congregations and may continue to challenge ambitions for opening and establishing a permanent Church presence. Furthermore, current growth trends suggest little or no interest by mission and area leadership in outreach expansion given declining receptivity and fewer mission resources allocated to the region. Moreover, the Hungary/Romania Mission now services approximately 31 million people in the two countries and as a result resources have become more limited for the Church to expand outreach in Hungary. Success with the establishment of the Church in additional locations will require initiative and vision from local church leadership.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Romania

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Romania. I think the Future Prospects section of this entry sums up the current status of the Church, although I want to add that convert retention rates have markedly improved in the 2010s to 50-70% for recent converts one year after baptism:

The outlook for future growth in Romania appears poor within the foreseeable future. The Church currently reports one of the lowest member activity rates in the world in Romania and consistent efforts to strengthen local leadership and expand national outreach have yielded few results. External factors the Church faces that have posed difficulties for growth include strong cultural ties to Orthodox Christianity and societal suspicion of foreign, America-based religious groups. The closure of the Romania Bucharest Mission and the reassignment of Romania to the realigned Hungary/Romania Mission indicates a significant reduction in mission resources allocated to the two nations despite a combined population of more than 31 million. This decision appears rooted in extremely few convert baptisms in Romania since the early 2010s combined with worldwide efforts to redistribute mission resources from less productive areas to more productive ones. Thus, progress with reversing current stagnant growth trends will require greater participation from local members and leaders in proselytism and national outreach expansion combined with effective vision from mission leadership to strengthen remaining branches.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Moldova

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Moldova. There are approximately 400 members of the Church in Moldova and approximately 100 of them are active. The Church established presence in Moldova later than most countries in Eastern Europe. Although convert retention rates are good at present, the number of converts who join the Church has decreased. Furthermore, there has been no noticeable increase in the number of active members in Moldova during the past decade despite church-reported membership increasing by more than 100. All branches are led by a native branch president, suggesting some progress with local leadership development. Cultural conditions, dependence on full-time missionaries to find new investigators, and lack of active membership increase in the past decade constitute major barriers for future growth.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Potential New Missions and Mission Closures in 2019

There has been no significant change in the number of full-time missionaries serving worldwide during 2018 and this number appears to have slightly decreased. The Church currently reports 65,915 full-time non-service missionaries serving worldwide, whereas at year-end 2017 there were 67,049 full-time non-service missionaries serving. However, there appears to be significant changes to the missionary program and the distribution of worldwide mission resources coming in the immediate future although I am not able to comment more about this development at this time.

Below is a list of locations where I believe as many a 22 missions may be closed and consolidate with neighboring missions in 2019 given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts serviced by missions, and populations targeted by missionary efforts. I have used no unauthorized sources for these predictions and these predictions are based solely on my own efforts and analysis.
  • Asia
    • Combine Japan Nagoya Mission with Japan Tokyo South Mission
    • Combine Korea Seoul and Korea Seoul South
    • Combine Korea Daejeon with Korea Busan
  • Europe
    • Combine Baltic Mission with Finland Helsinki Mission
    • Combine Czech/Slovak Mission with Poland Warsaw Mission
    • Combine Norway Olso Mission with Denmark Copenhagen Mission
    • Combine Russia St Petersburg Mission with Russia Moscow Mission
    • Combine Russia Yekaterinburg Mission with Russia Novosibirsk Mission
  • Latin America
    • Combine Chile Rancagua Mission with Chile Concepcion Mission and Chile Santiago South Mission
    • Combine Mexico Guadalajara East Mission with Mexico Guadalajara Mission and Mexico Queretaro Mission
    • Combine Mexico Mexico City Northwest Mission with Mexico Mexico City North Mission
    • Combine Mexico City Southeast Mission with Mexico Mexico City Chalco Mission and Mexico Mexico City South Mission
  • United States
    • Combine Arizona Scottsdale Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine California Anaheim Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine California Rancho Cucamonga Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine California Santa Rosa Mission with surrounding missions 
    • Combine Colorado Fort Collins Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine Georgia Macon Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine New York Utica Mission with New York Rochester Mission
    • Combine Oregon Salem Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine Virginia Chesapeake Mission with surrounding missions
    • Combine Washington Yakima Mission with surrounding missions
Below is a list of 36 prospective new missions that appear likely to be organize in the foreseeable future given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts assigned to current missions, and the size of target populations. Missions in bold appear most likely to be organized in 2019.
  • Australia Brisbane (2nd mission)
  • Bolivia Tarija
  • Brazil Porto Velho
  • Brazil Sao Luis
  • Brazil Sao Paulo (6th mission)
  • Brazil Sorocaba
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Abobo (4th Ivorian Mission)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa (2nd mission)
  • Ecuador Machala
  • Ecuador Quevedo
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa 
  • Ghana Koforidua
  • Ghana Kumasi (2nd mission)
  • Guatemala City (4th mission)
  • Malawi Lilongwe
  • Myanmar Yangon
  • Nigeria Abuja
  • Nigeria Onitsha
  • Nigeria Uyo
  • Peru Lima (6th mission)
  • Philippines Antipolo
  • Philippines Bacolod (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Davao (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Dumaguete
  • Philippines Lucena 
  • Philippines Ormoc
  • Philippines Santiago
  • Rwanda Kigali 
  • Sierra Leone Bo
  • Solomon Islands Honiara
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Texas Austin
  • Texas Plano
  • Thailand Udorn/Laos
  • Togo Lome