Sunday, September 16, 2018

New Stakes Created in Argentina, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Utah; Stakes Discontinued in Ghana (Downgraded to Distrct) and Mexico (Downgraded to District)

Argentina
The Church organized a new stake in Cordoba, Cordoba Province on September 2nd. The Córdoba Argentina Chacabuco Stake was organized from a division of the Córdoba Argentina North Stake (renamed Córdoba Argentina Patricio Stake), Córdoba Argentina Sierras Stake, and Córdoba Argentina West Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and two branches: the Alta Córdoba, Córdoba Chacabuco, Jesús María, and Nueve de Julio Wards, and the Los Boulevares and Parque Liceo Branches. Given the small number of wards in the new stake, it appears that one or both branches may advance into wards, or a new ward will be organized in the stake from a division of one of the four wards. The Church in Córdoba Province has organized six new branches in the past three years and some branches in the province have also advanced into wards during this time. The Church completed its second temple in Argentina, the Córdoba Argentina Temple, in 2015. There are now six stakes in the city of Córdoba, and eight stakes and one district in Córdoba Province.

There are now 77 stakes and 29 districts in Argentina.

Ecuador
The Church organized a new stake in the Guayaquil metropolitan area on August 19th. The Samborondón Ecuador Stake was organized from a division of the Duran Ecuador North Stake, Guayaquil Ecuador Las Orquideas, and the Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards: La Aurora, La Joya, Metrópolis, Pascuales, and Samborondón Wards. There are now 17 stakes in the Guayaquil metropolitan area.

There are now 40 stakes and 9 districts in Ecuador.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Central Region. The Assin Foso Ghana South Stake was organized on September 9th from a division of the Assin Foso Ghana Stake and the Yamoransa Ghana Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and six branches: the Abakrampa, Assin Achiasi, Assin Foso 1st, Assin Foso 2nd, and Paramu Wards, and the Abura Dunkwa, Asebu, Assin Akrofuom, Assin Anynabrem, Assin Darmang, and Assin Edubiase Branches. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in Central Region since 2015. There are now six stakes and two districts in Central Region.

Additionally, the Winneba Ghana Stake was discontinued following its division to create the Swedru Ghana Stake last month. This marks the first time in Church history that a stake has been discontinued in Ghana, albeit it is more accurate to state that the Church created a new district and no stake was discontinued given the administrative changes to stakes/districts in the Swedru/Winneba area. The Winneba Ghana District has five branches.

There are now 24 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

Haiti
The Church organized a new stake in Haiti on September 9th. The Les Palmes Haiti Stake was created from a division of the Carrefour Haiti Stake and three branches previously assigned directly to the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission in the Jacmel area. The new stake includes the following three wards and three branches: the Leogane 2nd, Petit-Goave 1st, and Petit-Goave 2nd Wards, and the Jacmel, Meyer, and Tenier Branches. It appears information on which congregations assigned to the new stake, and which branches became wards, remains unavailable based upon information provided on the LDS meetinghouse locator site given there are currently only three wards reported in the new stake.

There are now five stakes and four districts in Haiti.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in Ogun State, Nigeria on September 2nd. The Abeokuta Nigeria Ibara Stake was organized from a division of the Abeokuta Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Ibara, Ilewo-Orile, Lafenwa, Oke-Ata, Ope-Oluwa, and Rounda Wards, and the Ilaro, Obada-Oko, and Olomore Branches. The Church organized its first stake in Abeokuta in 2014. There are now two stakes in Ogun State - both of which are located in Abeokuta. There is also a district in Ogun State located in Ijebu-Ode which appears close to becoming a stake.

There are now 53 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria.

The Philippines
Today the Church organized a new stake in the Philippines Cavite Mission. The Naic Philippines Stake was organized from the Naic Philippines District. Information on which of the eight branches have become wards in the new stake remains unavailable. With the organization of the new stake, the Philippines Cavite Mission becomes the first mission in the Philippines to be entirely covered by stakes.

There are now 105 stakes and 70 districts in the Philippines

Utah
The Church organized a new stake in the Vineyard area of Orem, Utah. The Vineyard Utah Grove Park Stake was organized from the Orem Utah Suncrest Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Suncrest 11th, Suncrest 12th, Suncrest 13th, Suncrest 14th, Suncrest 15th, and Suncrest 16th Wards.

There are now 594 stakes and one district in Utah.

Mexico
The Church discontinued the Los Mochis Mexico Stake and reorganized the former stake as a district (Guasave Mexico District). There are six branches in the district. This is the eighth stake to be discontinued in Mexico in 2018 due to a significant restructuring of administrative organizations and congregations in Mexico designed to better utilize meetinghouse space, strengthen local leadership, and establish congregations with larger numbers of active members.

There are now 221 stakes and 45 districts in Mexico.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Jordan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Jordan. The Church has maintained a native Jordanian LDS community for several decades in two cities, Amman and Irbid, although there has been little growth for many years. Leadership development has also struggled to be consistently maintained as there have been several iterations of native members staffing essential leadership positions followed by senior missionaries or foreigners filling these positions. Nevertheless, the Church occasionally has Jordanian members serve full-time missions. Emigration of Christians from Jordan is a major challenge as less than three percent of the population is Christian today. The Church continues to lack full registration with the government but has historically maintained a positive relationship with government officials.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Bahrain

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Bahrain - a small island nation in the Persian Gulf with 1.4 million inhabitants. The Church has more than 200 members in Bahrain and has operated a branch in the country since 1971. Membership has nearly doubled since 2009. Bahrain experiences significantly better religious freedom conditions than most countries in the Middle East. As a result, the Church headquarters the Manama Bahrain Stake in the country to service membership in nearby Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Church is officially registered with the government. There are good opportunities for member-missionary efforts among the non-Muslim population in Bahrain, which numbers approximately 200,000. Furthermore, with increasing numbers of members, it is likely that the Bahrain Branch will advance into a ward in the near future.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

New Branch in Myanmar (Burma)

Missionaries serving in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) report that the Church organized a second branch in Yangon last July. The North Dagon Branch now meets in a proselytism area that has been opened to proselytizing missionaries for more than two years. There appear to be at least 60 members in the new branch - essentially all of which are native members. Furthermore, there are now ten young, full-time missionaries assigned to serve in Myanmar under the supervision of the Thailand Bangkok Mission.

The Church assigned its first young, proselytizing missionaries to Yangon, Burma in February 2014 under the direction of the Thailand Bangkok Mission. The Church continues to classify its presence in the country as sensitive, but it appears that this classification may change in the near future. The translation of the Book of Mormon into Burmese is also underway. There are over 55 million people who live in Myanmar. Given its large population and improvements in religious freedom for Christian proselytism in government-controlled areas, prospects appear favorable for the creation of a mission headquartered in Yangon within the near future.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Potential New Temples - September 2018 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. Data I use to identify likely locations for future temples include the number of stakes and districts, the number of wards and branches, age of the oldest stake, trends in church growth, distance to the nearest temple, number of endowment sessions scheduled at the nearest temple, and member and missionary reports regarding member activity, temple attendance, and convert retention. Fifteen new temple sites were added to the map of the most likely locations for new temples to be announced within the foreseeable future. Furthermore, I removed Culiacan, Mexico from the list due to concerns with violence in Sinaloa State and recent consolidations of LDS stakes and congregations in the area. Locations added to the map of likely new temple announcements include:
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Bacolod, Philippines
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
  • Iquitos, Peru
  • João Pessoa, Brazil
  • Kumasi, Ghana 
  • Legazpi, Philippines OR Naga, Philippines
  • Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • Santiago, Philippines OR Tuguegarao, Philippines 
  • Tacloban City, Philippines
  • Uyo, Nigeria
So many are probably asking, why so many new locations added to your prediction map? Has the Church suddenly experienced a surge in growth? The short answer to that question is "no." LDS membership and congregational growth rates in the past couple years have ranked among the slowest reported in decades. However, there have been significant improvements in member activity and participation in areas such as temple work. Furthermore, steady membership and congregational growth in many areas of the world has, after many years or decades, appeared to finally warrant the construction of new temples in many areas of the world.

Recent information I have received from a variety of sources suggests that the Church may significantly accelerate temple construction within the near future. Moreover, Church President President Russell M. Nelson has recently placed a renewed emphasis on temple worship, temple construction, and family history work. There have been many positive developments regarding temple worship and member involvement in family history work. For example, the Church has been able use only family-file names for temple ordinances since 2016 based upon comments by Apostle Elder Dale G. Renlund at the 2018 Roots Tech Leadership Session earlier this year. Several of the new sites added to the temple prediction map have not had any significant changes in LDS growth trends in recent years, but appear good candidates for small temples if the Church were to recommence in the construction of Hinckley-era temples in the late 1990s and early 2000s (e.g. 15,000 square feet or less in size). Nevertheless, the Church has reported significant growth in many of these new locations, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, during the past 5-10 years to the point that a temple may be able to be supported by church membership.

It is unclear whether the Church will announce any new temples during the coming General Conference due to many recently announced temple which have yet to begin construction. There are 19 announced temples which have yet to have groundbreakings and there have not appeared to have been any groundbreakings scheduled for the foreseeable future (although site clearing has recently occurred for the Urdaneta Philippines Temple). Additionally, it is unclear whether the Church will announce additional new temples to be built during the October 2018 General Conference primarily due to the announcement of seven temples in the April 2018 General Conference. If any announcements are made, my top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements are as follows:
  • Benin City, Nigeria 
  • Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Lagos, Nigeria 
  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Praia, Cape Verde 
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Rogers, Arkansas 
  • Salvador, Brazil 
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Tarawa, Kiribati
Red squares on the map below are temples which are in operation, under construction, or officially announced. Yellow squares are potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. As part of the semi-annual tradition, your predictions for new temple announcements are appreciated and encouraged.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our August 2018 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent church growth developments and updated church growth resources.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Yemen

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Yemen. Civil war has resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen as four-fifths of the population is in need of immediate assistance. Latter-day Saints have lived in Yemen since as early as the 1970s.  Yemen is assigned to the Manama Bahrain Stake although it is unclear whether any members currently live in the country. The following paragraph is from the country profile and describes the current religious freedom conditions and Yemen, and prospects for an LDS establishment one day:

The government does permit meetings for non-Muslim religious groups, which likely indicates that any LDS gatherings would likely not be met with government interference. However, non-Muslims have been the focus of increased violence and persecution in recent years. Meetings would likely have to be done in private in order to avoid any potential threats. The Church is barred from the proselytism of Muslims, rendering all but a few thousand inhabitants legally unreachable by potential missionary efforts. There are no legal procedures for religious groups to obtain government recognition, which may discourage an LDS establishment one day if conditions improve and no formal process for the registration of religious groups is established. Rebel-controlled regions experience less religious freedom and will be likely unsuitable for any LDS activity among foreigners until government control is restored.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Libya

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Libya. It is unclear whether there have been any Libyan Latter-day Saint converts although it is possible that a few Libyans may have joined the Church in Italy. There has been no known LDS presence in Libya since the early 1970s when the remainder of United States military personnel were withdrawn following the rise of Qadhafi to power.

See below for the Future Prospects section of the country profile entry in regards to the outlook for an LDS establishment one day:

Improving political relations with Western Europe and the United States, prospects for more foreign investment by Westerners, and greater tolerance for Christians to worship than during the Qadhafi era create an optimistic outlook for a permanent future LDS presence among nonnatives once the civil war ends. However, ongoing political instability, significant degradation of the economy and the country’s infrastructure, and religious violence pose significant barriers for a Church presence at present. Furthermore, uncertainty with the outcome of the civil war indicates that religious freedom conditions may deteriorate once political stability is achieved. Libyans living abroad present the greatest opportunities for the Church to gain native converts although it is unlikely many of these individuals would ever return to Libya one day given societal restrictions on religious freedom and emphasis on conservative Islam.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Percent LDS by US State

See below for the percentage of church-reported membership as of year-end 2017 by state and the District of Columbia. Population figures were obtained from www.citypopulation.de. These population figures are census estimates as of July 2017.
  1. Utah 67.39% 
  2. Idaho 26.23% 
  3. Wyoming 11.61% 
  4. Nevada 6.13% 
  5. Arizona 6.10% 
  6. Hawaii 5.20% 
  7. Montana 4.80% 
  8. Alaska 4.53% 
  9. Washington 3.90% 
  10. Oregon 3.72% 
  11. New Mexico 3.33% 
  12. Colorado 2.70% 
  13. California 1.94% 
  14. North Dakota 1.49% 
  15. Nebraska 1.30% 
  16. Kansas 1.30% 
  17. Texas 1.25% 
  18. South Dakota 1.22% 
  19. Oklahoma 1.22% 
  20. Missouri 1.16% 
  21. Virginia 1.13% 
  22. Arkansas 1.04% 
  23. West Virginia 0.93% 
  24. Iowa 0.90% 
  25. North Carolina 0.84% 
  26. Maine 0.82% 
  27. Georgia 0.82% 
  28. South Carolina 0.81% 
  29. Kentucky 0.79% 
  30. Alabama 0.77% 
  31. Tennessee 0.76% 
  32. Florida 0.75% 
  33. Vermont 0.74% 
  34. Mississippi 0.73% 
  35. Maryland 0.72% 
  36. Indiana 0.67% 
  37. New Hampshire 0.65% 
  38. Louisiana 0.64% 
  39. Minnesota 0.59% 
  40. Delaware 0.57% 
  41. Ohio 0.53% 
  42. Wisconsin 0.46% 
  43. Michigan 0.45% 
  44. Illinois 0.45% 
  45. Connecticut 0.44% 
  46. New York 0.41% 
  47. District of Columbia 0.41% 
  48. Pennsylvania 0.40% 
  49. Massachusetts 0.40% 
  50. Rhode Island 0.39% 
  51. New Jersey 0.37%

Updated Country Profile - Saudi Arabia

Click here to access our updated country profile for Saudi Arabia. The Church has operated a stake in Saudi Arabia for approximately three decades which originally serviced the entire Arabian Peninsula until 2011. Today the Manama Bahrain Stake services LDS congregations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen. The Church may have as many as 1,500 members in Saudi Arabia that assemble in approximately 10 congregations. All LDS activities are conducted in private due to religious freedom restrictions. Most Latter-day Saints in Saudi Arabia are Westerners or Filipinos.