Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Updated List of Countries of the World and Year Opened to LDS Missionary Work

The opening of several additional countries to full-time missionaries within the past few years has prompted me to update the list of countries that have had LDS missionaries assigned. Any corrections or feedback would be appreciated. Countries that no longer have an LDS presence are listed in red and provided with the last year of an LDS presence. Notes are provided clarifying when an LDS presence was first established, any previous attempts to begin missionary activity earlier on, and setbacks requiring the removal of all missionaries.
  1. United States - 1830
  2. Canada - 1830
  3. United Kingdom - 1837
  4. Australia - 1840
  5. French Polynesia - 1844
  6. Denmark - 1849
  7. France - 1849 (missionaries served inconsistently in France until 1946)
  8. Switzerland - 1850
  9. Germany - 1851 (first branch created in 1843)
  10. Norway - 1851
  11. Sweden - early 1850s
  12. Ireland - 1850s (missionary work began in late 1830s but closed due to famine and emigration)
  13. New Zealand - 1854
  14. Netherlands - 1861
  15. Finland - 1870s (more permanent, consistent missionary activity began in 1947)
  16. Mexico - 1875
  17. Austria - 1883 (year first Austria baptized in Austria; missionaries periodically visited years earlier)
  18. American Samoa - 1888 (previous attempt to establish church in 1862 but unsuccessful)
  19. Belgium - 1888
  20. Samoa - 1888 (previous attempt to establish church in 1862 but unsuccessful)
  21. Tonga - 1891 (missionaries removed from 1897 to 1907)
  22. Syria - late 1890s-1951 (closed due to political conditions and emigration of Armenian converts)
  23. Japan - 1901 (mission closed in 1924 and reopened in 1946)
  24. South Africa - 1903 (missionaries also served from 1853-1865)
  25. Argentina - 1925
  26. Brazil - 1928
  27. Czech Republic - 1929 (missionaries removed in 1950; reintroduced in 1990)
  28. Israel (Palestine) - 1933-1939, 1946-1951, 1970s-mid-1980s (closed due to BYU-Jerusalem agreement with government)
  29. Cook Islands - 1946 (previous attempt to established church in 1899 unsuccessful)
  30. Costa Rica - 1946
  31. Guatemala - 1947
  32. Uruguay - 1947
  33. El Salvador - 1949
  34. Hong Kong - 1949 (previous attempt to establish church in 1853 unsuccessful)
  35. Paraguay - 1950
  36. Zimbabwe - 1950 (missionary visits began as early as 1930)
  37. Honduras - 1952
  38. Niue - 1952
  39. Nicaragua - 1953 (missionaries withdrawn for most of the 1980s)
  40. Fiji - 1954
  41. South Korea - 1954
  42. Chile - 1956 (previous attempt to establish church in early 1850s unsuccessful)
  43. Taiwan - 1956
  44. Peru - late 1950s (first branch created in 1956)
  45. Philippines - 1961
  46. Luxembourg - 1963 (no missionaries appeared to be assigned in the 1970s)
  47. Bolivia - 1964
  48. Macau - 1964
  49. India - 1960s (exact year missionaries assigned unknown; some missionary activity in 19th century)
  50. Ecuador - 1965
  51. Lebanon - 1965-1975 (LDS presence remains, but no proselytism missionary at present)
  52. Panama - 1965 (first LDS presence established in 1940s among military)
  53. Bermuda - 1966
  54. Colombia - 1966
  55. Italy - 1966 (some missionary activity occurred in the mid-19th century)
  56. Venezuela - 1966
  57. New Caledonia - 1968 (first branch created in 1961)
  58. Singapore - 1968 (missionaries removed for much of the 1970s)
  59. Thailand - 1968 (missionaries briefly assigned in 1854, LDS presence established in 1950s)
  60. Spain - 1968-1969
  61. Indonesia - 1970
  62. Malaysia - 1972
  63. Puerto Rico - early 1970s (time when Puerto Rico assigned to a mission; missionaries visited in 1940)
  64. Portugal - 1974
  65. Iceland - 1975 (LDS presence and missionaries assigned from 1851-1914; reintroduced in 1975)
  66. Iran - 1975-1979 (missionary work closed due to Iranian Revolution)
  67. Kiribati - 1975
  68. Northern Mariana Islands - 1975 (LDS presence among military first established in 1940s)
  69. Vanuatu - 1975 (first branch organized in 1973)
  70. Federated States of Micronesia - 1976
  71. Guam - 1977 (year first native baptized; LDS presence since 1944 but among military)
  72. Marshall Islands - 1977
  73. Trinidad and Tobago - 1977
  74. Croatia - late 1970s (at the time part of Yugoslavia; dedicated for missionary work in 1985)
  75. Serbia - late 1970s (first missionary visited in 1899)
  76. Curacao - 1978 (missionaries removed same year, reassigned in 1982; first branch created in 1979)
  77. Ghana - 1978
  78. Jamaica - 1978 (previous attempt to establish church in 1840s and 1850s unsuccessful)
  79. Namibia - 1978
  80. Nigeria - 1978
  81. Palau - 1978
  82. US Virgin Islands - 1978 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1976)
  83. Bahamas - 1979
  84. Barbados - 1979
  85. Dominican Republic - 1979 (country dedicated, first branch organized in 1978)
  86. Mauritius - 1979 (one missionary was assigned for two months in 1856)
  87. Papua New Guinea - 1979 (year first branch was organized; first converts baptized in 1980)
  88. Reunion - 1979
  89. Belize - 1980
  90. Haiti - 1980 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1978)
  91. Kenya - 1980 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1979)
  92. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 1980
  93. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten - 1983
  94. Antigua and Barbuda - 1984
  95. Guadeloupe - 1984 (first branch created in 1982)
  96. Martinique - 1984
  97. Saint Kitts and Nevis - 1984
  98. Grenada - 1985
  99. Tuvalu - 1985 (year first branch and convert baptisms occurred; missionaries removed 2005-2010)
  100. Cayman Islands - 1985 (church services began in 1982)
  101. Greece - 1986 (first branch created in the 1960s;  (some limited missionary activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)
  102. Aruba - 1987 (first branch created in 1986)
  103. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 1987
  104. Liberia - 1987 (missionaries removed in 2014 due to Ebola and anticipated to return in 2015)
  105. Swaziland - 1987 (first branch created in 1986)
  106. Cote d'Ivoire - 1988
  107. Guyana - 1988
  108. Malta - 1988 (previous attempts to establish church occurred in the 1850s and 1979)
  109. Poland - 1988 (sporadic missionary efforts occurred for nearly 100 years before this time)
  110. Sierra Leone - 1988 (missionaries removed in 2014 due to Ebola and anticipated to return in 2015)
  111. Suriname - 1988
  112. Cape Verde - 1988-1989
  113. Hungary - 1988-1989 (sporadic missionary presence around 1900, first convert baptisms in 1988)
  114. French Guiana - 1989
  115. Lesotho - 1989
  116. Botswana - 1990
  117. Bulgaria - 1990
  118. Estonia - 1990
  119. Romania - 1990 (missionaries were assigned periodically from 1903-1933)
  120. Russia - 1990
  121. Slovakia - 1990 (some missionary activity occurred in the 1930s and 1940s).
  122. Slovenia - 1990
  123. Uganda - 1990
  124. Ukraine - 1990
  125. Armenia - 1991 (year country dedicated for missionary work; first branch organized in 1994)
  126. Madagascar - 1991 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1988)
  127. Republic of the Congo - 1991-1992
  128. Albania - 1992
  129. Andorra - 1992 (first convert baptism; unclear exact year first missionaries were assigned)
  130. Cameroon - 1992 (young missionaries not assigned until mid-2000s)
  131. Latvia - 1992 (some missionary activity briefly occurred in 1903)
  132. Lithuania - 1992
  133. Mongolia - 1992
  134. Tanzania - 1992
  135. Zambia - 1992 (missionaries briefly assigned in 1960s)
  136. Belarus - 1993
  137. Cyprus - 1993 (year country dedicated for missionary work; unclear when first missionaries assigned)
  138. Ethiopia - 1993
  139. Pakistan - 1993 (first LDS presence established in 1970s)
  140. Cambodia - 1994
  141. Solomon Islands - 1995 (year first senior missionaries assigned; missionaries withdrawn for much of the 2000s
  142. Moldova - 1997 (missionaries withdrawn from 2004 to 2007)
  143. Sri Lanka - late 1990s (time when first proselytizing missionaries from Singapore Mission assigned, no young, full-time missionaries assigned from 2008 to 2014)
  144. Benin - 1998 (year senior missionaries first assigned and first baptism; first branch organized in 2003)
  145. Malawi - 1999 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1992)
  146. Mozambique - 1999 (first branch created in 1996)
  147. Togo - 1999
  148. Saint Lucia - 2003 (year branch was reestablished; brief missionary presence from 1983-1986)
  149. Kazakhstan - mid-2000s (exact year unknown; country dedicated in 2003)
  150. Vietnam - mid-2000s 
  151. Dominica - 2006
  152. Georgia - 2006
  153. Laos - 2006 (young missionaries removed same year; young missionaries returned in 2013)
  154. Angola - 2008 (first branch created in 1996)
  155. Turks and Caicos Islands - 2008-2009
  156. Burundi - 2010 (young missionaries briefly served in 1993)
  157. Kosovo - 2011
  158. Bosnia and Herzegovina - 2012 (first branch created in 2011)
  159. Macedonia - 2012
  160. Montenegro - 2012
  161. Turkey - 2012 (some limited missionary activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)
  162. Rwanda - 2012 (some limited missionary activity from 2008-2012)
  163. Burma (Myanmar) - 2014 (very brief missionary activity occurred in the mid-nineteenth century)
  164. Gabon - 2014

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trib Talk Discussion

For those of you who may be interested, I am about to participate in an online forum to discuss prospects for the LDS Church to diversify its international church leadership. Access the discussion here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Stakes in Argentina, Chile, Idaho, South Africa, and Taiwan; New Districts in Aruba, Mexico, and Russia; Stake Discontinued in Oregon; Districts Discontinued in Malaysia

Argentina
The Church organized a new stake from the Olavarría Argentina District on June 21st. The new stake includes the following five wards and four branches: the Independencia, Mariano Moreno, Tandil 1st, Tandil 2nd, and Urquiza Wards and the Azul, Bolívar, Rauch, and Villa Aguirre Branches. The Church consolidated the Olavarría Argentina and Tandil Argentina Districts in 2014 in preparation to create the new stake. There are now 74 stakes and 29 districts in Argentina.

Chile
The Church organized a new stake from the Valparaíso Chile West District and the Valparaíso Chile Stake. The new stake appears to include just four wards: the Edwards, Levarte, O'Higgins, and Quebrada Verde Wards. Problems with an inadequate number of Melchizedek Priesthood holders appeared to delay the reestablishment of a stake from the Valparaíso Chile West District since 2002 when the original stake was discontinued. There are now 77 stakes and 19 districts in Chile.

Idaho
The Church organized a new YSA stake in the Rexburg area. The Rexburg Idaho YSA 10th Stake was organized from various YSA stakes in the area and includes the following 12 wards: the Rexburg YSA 6th, Rexburg YSA 9th, Rexburg YSA 26th, Rexburg YSA 30th, Rexburg YSA 34th, Rexburg YSA 42nd, Rexburg YSA 46th, Rexburg YSA 68th, Rexburg YSA 74th, Rexburg YSA 107th, Rexburg YSA 108th, and Rexburg YSA 109th Wards. There are now 128 stakes in Idaho.

South Africa
The Church organized a new stake in the Johannesburg metropolitan area on June 28th. The Mabopane South Africa Stake was organized from the Pretoria South Africa Stake and includes the following five wards: the Atteridgeville, Mabopane, Montana, Saulsville, and Soshanguve Wards. Senior missionaries note that the new stake leadership is solely comprised of black African members. There are now 15 stakes and three districts in South Africa.

Taiwan
The Church organized a new stake in Taiwan on June 21st. The Hualien Taiwan Stake was organized from the Hua Lien Taiwan District. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Hualien 1st, Hualien 2nd, Taitung 1st, Taitung 2nd, and Taitung 3rd Wards and the Yu Li Branch. The new stake had the minimum required members (1,900) needed to be organized into a stake, suggesting moderate member activity rates in the area. There are now 14 stakes and one district in Taiwan.

Aruba
The Church reinstated a member district in Aruba. The ABC Islands District was organized from mission branches in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao and includes the following four branches: the Bonaire, Curaçao, Oranjestad, and San Nicolás Branches. The Church previously operated a district in Aruba from 2004 to 2009 and a separate district in Curaçao from 2005 to 2009. The district was also transferred from the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission to the realigned Trinidad Port of Spain Mission.

Mexico
The Church organized a new district in Mexico on July 12th. The Nochixtlan México District was organized from the Mexico Oaxaca Mission and the Oaxaca Mexico Monte Alban Stake. The new district includes the following four branches: the Anona, Nochixtlan, Santiago Tenango, and Tlaxiaco Branches. The new district presents church leaders with exciting opportunities to extend specialized outreach among the large Mixtec Amerindian population in the region. There are now 231 stakes and 38 districts in Mexico.

Russia
The Church organized two new districts in Russia in June.

The Samara Russia District was organized from mission branches in the Russia Samara Mission. The new district includes the following seven branches: the Avrory, Bezymyansky, Kazan', Novokuybishevsk, Samara Russia District, Toliatti, and Ulianovsk Branches. The Church previously operated a district in Samara from 1996 until 2013. The decision to reestablish a district in the city and its large geographical size suggest that mission and area leaders foresee realistic opportunities to establish a stake in the medium term.

The Moscow Russia North District was organized from mission branches in the Russia Moscow Mission. The new district includes the following seven branches: the Gor’kovsky, Lotoshino, Moscow Russia North District, Ryazan, Tverskoy, Yaroslavsky, and Zarechny Branches. The decision to organize the district indicates that there may be plans to create a second stake in Moscow in the coming five years.

There are now two stakes and five districts in Russia.

Oregon
The Church recently discontinued a stake in Oregon for the first time in the history of the Church in the state. The Portland Oregon East Stake was discontinued and its five wards were reassigned to neighboring stakes. The stake was originally organized in 1951 and included inner city areas in northern Portland. There are now 35 stakes in Oregon.

Malaysia
The Church recently discontinued a stake in East Malaysia. The Bintulu Malaysia District was discontinued and its three branches were reassigned to the Miri Malaysia District. Missionaries serving in the area noted that this decision was prompted by slow growth in the area over the past few years and plans from mission leaders to prepare the area for the establishment of a stake in the near future. Branches in Miri appear to currently meet qualifications to operate as wards. However, missionaries note that branches in Bintulu fall vastly short of these qualifications at this time. There are now seven districts in Malaysia.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Initial LDS Missionary Outreach in Timor-Leste (East Timor) Underway?

There have been three recent developments that suggest the Church is making preparations to establish an LDS presence in Timor-Leste (East Timor). Inhabited by 1.2 million, Timor-Leste is one of the few nations that has a predominantly Christian population and no LDS presence.

The Church recently created a new mission region in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission to specifically administer Timor-Leste. Mission regions are typically created in missions that administer multiple countries. Generally a separate mission region is organized for each country that has missionaries assigned. For example, the Church operates a separate mission region in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission for New Caledonia.

The Church recently noted in its Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin that there is a need for a public affairs specialist to administer Vietnam and Timor-Leste within the next 12 months. A public affairs specialist is often one of the first representatives of the Church to investigate conditions for missionary activity, assist in the process for the Church to obtain government recognition, and lay the groundwork for the eventual assignment of full-time missionaries.

Senior missionaries on humanitarian assignment recently took part in an exploratory trip to Timor-Leste under the direction of the Asia Area Presidency. Their trip to Timor-Leste appeared entirely humanitarian in nature through LDS Charities. Their blog can be found here.

These developments are very encouraging. The Church has approximately three dozen nations worldwide with no LDS presence - approximately one dozen of these nations have no restrictions on religious freedom. It appears that there is a renewed interest by LDS leaders to open additional nations to the Church as evidenced by recent missionary investigatory trips to Senegal and Sao Tome and Principe and the inclusion of former Soviet Republics previously unassigned to missions in the newly organized Central Eurasian Mission. A case study that examines this topic can be found here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Updated List of the Countries with the Most Latter-day Saints without a Stake or District

The Church in 2015 has thus far organized districts in several nations where no districts or stakes previously operated such as Aruba, Lebanon, Macau, Namibia, and Slovakia. Consequently, it is time to update the list of the countries with the most Latter-day Saints without a stake or district. Previous lists for this measure can be found here. For those who may be unfamiliar with what a district is, please refer to our Missiology Encyclopedia entry for "district" that can be found here.

Each country or territory with at least 200 members without a stake or district is provided below with the number of members (as of year-end 2014), number of branches (at present), and current, if any, affiliation with another stake or district.  Countries in green appear likely to have their first districts/stakes created in the near future. Countries in yellow generally have a large number of recent converts and few active priesthood holders to hold leadership positions, but have a high likelihood for districts to be organized in the coming years. Countries in red have problems with member inactivity or too few members to create a district in the foreseeable future. Countries in blue pertain to other stakes or districts and do not appear likely to become their own districts due to reasonably close proximity to their current stake or district headquarters. Countries in dark blue have a poor likelihood for the organization of a district due to few members spread over large geographic areas.

  1. Bulgaria - 2,392 members - 9 branches
  2. Bahamas - 998 members - 3 branches (includes Turks and Caicos Islands)
  3. Lesotho - 867 members - 3 branches - part of the Bloemfontein South Africa Stake
  4. Northern Mariana Islands - 789 members - 1 ward - part of the Barrigada Guam Stake
  5. Greece - 742 members - 4 branches
  6. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 600 members - 2 branches, 1 group
  7. US Virgin Islands - 590 members - 2 branches
  8. Curacao - 552 members - 1 branch - part of the ABC District based in Aruba
  9. Burundi - 526 members - 3 branches
  10. Mauritius - 458 members - 2 branches - part of the St. Denis Reunion-Mauritius District
  11. Palau - 457 members - 1 branch
  12. Luxembourg - 405 members - 1 ward - part of the Nancy France Stake
  13. Turkey - 397 members - 4 branches
  14. Grenada - 376 members - 1 branch
  15. French Guiana - 373 members - 1 branch
  16. Jersey - 312 members - 1 ward - part of the Poole England Stake
  17. Isle of Man - 310 members - 1 ward - part of the Liverpool England Stake
  18. Saint Lucia - 303 members - 2 branches, 1 group?
  19. Niue - 288 members - 2 branches
  20. Kazakhstan - 281 members - 2 branches
  21. Rwanda - 281 members - 3 branches 
  22. Iceland - 275 members - 2 branches
  23. Republic of Georgia - 274 members - 1 branch, 1 group
  24. Laos - 270 members? - 1 branch
  25. Saint Maarten/Saint Martin - 260 members - 1 branch
  26. Tuvalu - 227 members, 1 branch
  27. Central African Republic - 216 members, 1 branch 
  28. Martinique - 215 members, 1 branch, 1 group
  29. Cayman Islands - 201 members, 1 branch
Of these 32 countries and dependencies, 10 previously had a district including Bulgaria (2), the Bahamas, Greece, Curacao, Palau, Mauritius, French Guiana, Turkey, Niue, and Iceland.

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.