Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 2016 Monthly Newsletter

Please click here to access the January edition of monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Stakes Created in Brazil, Honduras, Peru, Texas, and Washington; District Discontined in Chile

Brazil
The Church organized a new stake in Alagoas State, Brazil on January 24th. The Maceió Brazil Colina Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Maceió Brazil Stake. Information on congregations assigned to the new stake is currently unavailable.

There are now six stakes in Alagoas State. There are now 257 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil.

Honduras
The Church organized a new stake in northern Honduras on January 24th. The Palermo Honduras Stake was organized from a division of the San Pedro Honduras El Progreso Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Bendeck, La Sarrosas, Las Palmeras, Palermo, and Santa Rita Wards and the Morazan Branch.

There are now 24 stakes and seven districts in Honduras.

Peru
Local members in Peru report that the Church organized a new stake in the Lima area on January 17th. The Barranca Peru Stake was organized from the Barranca Peru District. No information is currently available on which branches in the former district have become wards. Established in 1979, the Barranca Peru District numbered among the oldest in the Church in Peru.

There are now 101 stakes and 19 districts in Peru.

Texas
Two new stakes have been organized in Texas.

The Church organized a new stake in El Paso on January 17th. The new stake was organized from the El Paso Texas and the El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the El Paso 1st, El Paso 3rd (Spanish), El Paso 4th, El Paso 12th (Spanish), Hondo Pass, and Transmountain (Spanish) Wards and the Chaparral Branch (Spanish). There are now three stakes in El Paso.

The Church organized its seventh stake in San Antonio on January 24th. The new stake was organized from a division of the San Antonio Texas Hill Country and San Antonio Texas West Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards and one branch: the Boerne, Fair Oaks, Kerrville, Leon Springs, Leon Valley, Parkwood, and San Antonio 9th Wards and the Balcones Branch (Spanish).

There are now 67 stakes and three districts in Texas.

Washington
The Church organized a new stake in the Vancouver area on January 24th. The Ridgefield Washington Stake was organized from a division of the Vancouver Washington North and Vancouver Washington West Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Alpine Heights, Battle Ground 1st, Battle Ground 2nd, La Center, Ridgefield, and Salmon Creek Wards.

There are now 58 stakes in Washington.

Chile
The Church discontinued a district in southern Chile. The Los Lagos Chile District was discontinued and its five branches were reassigned to the Valdivia Chile and Valdivia Chile Calle Calle Stakes.

There are now 77 stakes and 17 districts in Chile.

The Church will organize at least 10 stakes during the month of January based on reports I have received - the largest number of stakes organized during the month of January since 1995 (11 new stakes were organized in January 1995). The largest number of stakes ever organized during January was set in 1988 when 16 stakes were organized (primarily due to the organization of seven new stakes in Lima, Peru in one weekend). The second most stakes ever organized during the month of January was in 1995 (11 stakes) and the third most stakes ever organized during the month of January was in 1982 (10 stakes).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Updated Full-Time Missionary Figures

A recent article in the Deseret News reported that the number of full-time missionaries serving has decreased to 75,000. This indicates that the full-time missionary force has decreased by 10,000 (12%) within the past year as Church reported 85,147 missionaries at year-end 2014. Church leaders initially speculated that the full-time missionary force would decrease into the high 70,000s following the end of the double cohort of missionaries that resulted from the reduced age of missionary service. A larger decrease in the number of full-time missionaries than expected suggests that the Church may be struggling with consistently increasing the number of members serving full-time missions despite the reduced age for missionary service. Fewer missionaries serving than expected has also likely delayed the organization of additional missions as plans for only three new missions have announced for 2016. However, this most recent figure of 75,000 full-time missionaries may indicate an end of the double-cohort surge that temporarily raised the number of missionaries serving to approximately 90,000 in late 2014.

Church leaders nonetheless remain optimistic that the number of full-time missionaries serving will increase in the near future. LDS apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speculated in early 2015 that the Church may reach 100,000 full-time missionaries serving by 2019. If correct, this increase would indicate significant growth and progress increasing the percentage of young adults in the international church who serve full-time missions.

As for my prediction, it is my opinion that we will likely see a return to steady increases in the number of full-time missionaries serving comparable to the early 2010s. The Church appears likely to exceed 80,000 missionaries within the next one to two years and 90,000 missionaries by 2021. The Church may focus on greater redistribution of mission resources in the near future from less productive to more productive or recently opened areas of the world, such as in Africa and Asia.

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Stakes Created in Florida, Nevada, Taiwan, Texas, and Uganda; Stake Discontinued in Utah; District Discontinued in Bolivia

Florida
The Church organized a new stake in south Florida on January 10th. The Vero Beach Florida Stake was organized from a division of the Cocoa Florida, Sarasota, and Stuart Florida Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Fort Pierce, Palm Bay 1st, Palm Bay 2nd, Sebring, and Vero Beach Wards, and the Lake Placid and Okeechobee Branches.

There are now 30 stakes in Florida.

Nevada
The Church organized two new stakes in Nevada in December.

The Las Vegas Nevada Skye Canyon Stake was created from a division of the Las Vegas Elkhorn Springs and Las Vegas Nevada Lone Mountain Stakes. The new stakes includes the following six wards and two branches: the Centennial Pointe, Egan Crest, Grand Teton, Providence, Skye Canyon, and Valley Crest Wards, and the Beatty and Indian Springs Branches.

The Las Vegas Nevada Shadow Mountain Stake was organized from a division of the Las Vegas Nevada Tule Springs and the Las Vegas Nevada Highland Hills Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Aviary Park, Copper Crest, Deer Springs, Los Prados, San Miguel, and Waterfall Wards.

There are now 37 stakes in Nevada.

Taiwan
The Church organized a new stake in southern Taiwan on December 20th.

The Kaohsiung Taiwan North Stake was organized from a division of the Kaohsiung Taiwan East (renamed Pingtung Taiwan Stake) and Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Chishan, Kangshan, Nantzu, Sanmin, and Tsoying Wards.

There are now 16 stakes and one district in Taiwan.

Texas
The Church organized its sixth stake in the San Antonio area on January 10th. The San Antonio Texas Cibolo Valley Stake was organized from a division of the San Antonio Texas East Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Cibolo, Converse, Garden Ridge, Live Oak, Randolph, Schertz, Universal City, and Woodlake Wards. One or two additional stakes appear likely to be organized in the San Antonio area within the near future.

There are now 65 stakes and three districts in Texas.

Uganda
The Church organized its second stake in Uganda on November 29th. The Jinja Uganda Stake was organized from the Jinja Uganda District (organized in 1993). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Bugembe, Iganga, Jinja, Mpumedde, and Njeru Wards, and the Lugazi and Walukuba Branches. Missionaries report preliminary plans to organize a third stake in Uganda from a division of the Kampala Uganda Stake (organized in 2010) although the stake currently lacks a sufficient number of wards to create a second stake in the city (7 wards, 5 branches) unless several branches become wards.

Utah
The Church discontinued a stake in Salt Lake City in early January. The Salt Lake Sugar House Stake was discontinued and its wards and branches were reassigned to surrounding stakes. The Salt Lake Sugar House Stake is the twelfth stake in Utah to be discontinued since 2002. Stake growth in Utah nonetheless remains steady despite a dozen stake consolidations within the past 13 years. 111 new stakes have been organized in Utah since year-end 2001.

There are now 579 stakes and one district in Utah.

Bolivia
The Church recently discontinued the Titicaca Bolivia District. The five branches that previously pertained to the district now directly report to the Bolivia La Paz Mission. These branches operate in Aymara-speaking rural communities on the southeast shore of Lake Titicaca. The decision to discontinue the district appears attributed to problems with local leadership development and member inactivity.

There are now 27 stakes and nine districts in Bolivia.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Three New Missions Announced

Today the Church announced the formation of three new missions in Africa and Asia "on or before July 1, 2016."

Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission will be organized from a division of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Missions. Based on maps provided in the official news release, the new mission will include three stakes (Kananga DR Congo, Katoka DR Congo, and Luputa DR Congo) and two districts (Mbuji-Mayi and Mwene-Ditu). The Church has experienced some of its most rapid growth in the international church in the central DR Congo within the past decade. The Church has significantly expanded its missionary operations in western areas of Central Africa during the past six years. The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa initially included the entire DR Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea in early 2010, whereas today the Church operates the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission (organized in 2010) to service the southern DR Congo and Burundi and the Republic of the Congo Brazzaville Mission (organized in 2014) to service the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. The realigned Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission will service all seven stakes in the Kinshasa metropolitan area as well as mission branches in Matadi and Kisangani. The realigned Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission will include three stakes (all in Lubumbashi) and two districts. The country of Burundi will also continue to be assigned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission.

By July 2016, there will be three LDS missions headquartered in the DR Congo.

Nigeria
The Nigeria Owerri Mission will be organized from a division of the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission. Based on maps provided in the official news release, the new mission will include the Nigerian states of Abia and Imo where there was a combined population of approximately eight million people as of 2011. Six stakes and two districts currently operate in Abia and Imo States. The realigned Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission will service the Nigerian states of Bayelsa and Rivers where there was a combined population of approximately eight million people as of 2011. Rapid LDS growth has occurred within the current boundaries of the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission within the past decade. Three stakes and two districts operate in Bayelsa and Rivers States.

By July 2016, there will be six LDS missions headquartered in Nigeria.

Vietnam
The Vietnam Hanoi Mission will be organized from a division of the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. The new mission will include the entire country of Vietnam where over 94 million people reside. The Church currently operates one district (Hanoi Vietnam - organized in 2010) that administers the four branches in the country. The Church obtained official recognition from the Vietnamese government in 2014 and has assigned Vietnamese-descent members on full-time missionaries to Vietnam since the mid-2000s. Prospects appear favorable for the establishment of official branches outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where currently there are no official congregations of the Church.

The Vietnam Hanoi Mission is the first LDS mission ever to be organized in Vietnam.

Friday, January 1, 2016

December 2015 Monthly Newsletter

Please click here to access the December edition of our monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Third LDS Mission in the DR Congo to be Organized in July 2016

Missionaries serving in the DR Congo report that the Church will organize the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission in July 2016 - the third mission to operate in the DR Congo. The new mission will be created from a division of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Missions. Some of the most rapid growth in the international church during the past decade has occurred in the central DR Congo. The Church reported only one district in the region in 2005, whereas the Church currently reports three stakes and two districts in the region.

Friday, December 18, 2015

At Least 66 New Stakes in 2015 - Highest Number Since 1998; At Least 32 New Districts in 2015 - Highest Number since 1994

With the announcement of three new stakes created on December 13th, the Church in 2015 has organized the largest number of new stakes since 1998. Accelerated stake growth in recent years has resulted from the organization of new stakes by dividing previously operating stakes and the advancement of districts into stakes. Slight accelerations in congregational growth rates have also prompted larger numbers of new stakes. Of the 66 stakes organized in 2015, 22 were created from member districts. In 2014, 20 of the 64 stakes organized were created from districts. The net increase of stakes in 2015 was lower than 2014 as the Church has discontinued seven stakes in 2015, whereas only one stake was discontinued in 2014.

District growth has also significantly accelerated in 2015. The Church has reported at least 32 new districts organized in 2015 - the largest number reported by the Church since 1994 when there was a net increase of 62 districts (and as many as 74 districts may have been organized in 1994). However, the Church has thus far reported a net decrease of three districts in 2015 as 13 districts were discontinued and 22 districts advanced into stakes.

These developments signal a modest improvement in "real growth" trends for the Church. It is important to note that the Church experienced its greatest numerical increases in stakes and districts during the late 1970s and in the 1990s notwithstanding fewer missionaries serving and fewer members of the Church. In the past couple years, stake and district growth has accelerated in Sub-Saharan Africa,  Asia, and Oceania, but has slowed or has stagnated in Latin America and Europe.

Final, official numbers for the number of stakes and districts at year-end 2015 will be available in April 2016 when the Church presents its annual statistical report.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Stakes Created in Arizona, the DR Congo, New Mexico, Nigeria, and Taiwan

Arizona
The Church organized a new stake in the Tuscon area on December 6th. The Tuscon Arizona South Stake was created from a division of the Sahuarita Arizona, Tuscon Arizona, and Tuscon Arizona Rincon Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Cienega, Corona, Los Reales (Spanish), Midvale, Vail, and Valencia Wards and the Tucson Wilmot Branch (Correctional Facility). The Church recently organized another new stake in the Tucson area in October 2015 (Marana). Local members report the creation of these two new stakes has been to help focus on reactivation efforts in the Tuscon area.

There are now 100 stakes in Arizona.

DR Congo
The Church organized a new stake in the central DR Congo on December 13th. The Katoka Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake was organized from a division of the Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Katoka 1st, Katoka 2nd, Katoka 3rd, Malandji, Ndesha 1st, and Ndesha 2nd Wards. The Church organized its first stake in Kananga in 2011.

There are now 13 stakes and four districts in the DR Congo. The Church also recently announced the groundbreaking for the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple in February 2016. With no Angel Moroni and an apparently smaller building size than most temples, these accommodations appear attributed to the limitations the Church has with low levels of economic development and limited skilled labor in the country.

New Mexico
The Church organized a new stake in the Albuquerque area on December 6th. The Albuquerque New Mexico North Stake was organized from the Albuquerque New Mexico, Albuquerque New Mexico West, and Rio Ranch New Mexio Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Academy Heights, Bernalillo, Cibola, Enchanted Hills, La Cueva, and North Valley Wards.

There are now 14 stakes in New Mexico.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in Abia State on December 6th. The Aba Nigeria South Stake was organized from a division of the Aba Nigeria Stake (renamed Aba Nigeria North Stake). The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Aba Central, Eziama, Ohabiam, Osusu Aba, Umungasi, and Umuocham Wards and the Asa Amator Branch.

There are now 33 stakes and 19 districts in Nigeria.

Taiwan 
The Church organized a new stake in Taipei, Taiwan on December 13th. The Taipei Taiwan North Stake was organized from a division of the Taipei Taiwan East and Taipei Taiwan Central Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Peitou, Shihlin, Taipei (English), Tanshui, and Tienmu Wards.

There are now 15 stakes and one district in Taiwan.

Monday, December 14, 2015

30,000 Congregation Milestone Reached

The Church reached 30,000 official congregations this month for the first time in its history. This milestone has taken a significant amount of time to reach due to decelerating congregational growth rates in the 2000s and early 2010s. The number of official congregations reached the 10,000 milestone in 1979 and the 20,000 milestone in 1992. Congregational growth has slightly accelerated in the mid-2010s although both numerical increases and percentage growth rates remain significantly less than in the 1980s and 1990s. In additional to official congregations, hundreds, if not thousands, of semi-official member groups also operate throughout the world.

For more information on LDS congregational growth rates, please refer to this article on cumorah.com.