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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Districts Created in Argentina and Kenya

Argentina
On September 28th, the Church created a new district in Argentina. The San Martin Argentina District was organized from a division of the Maipú de Cuyo Argentina Stake and appears to include the following five branches: the Palmira, Rivadavia, San Martin 1st, San Martin 2nd, and Tres Portenas Branches. The organization of the new district becomes the Church's first new district to be created in Argentina since 2006. Within the past eight years, the Church has discontinued eight of its member districts due to significant congregational decline. Most of these discontinued districts have been merged with nearby stakes. The creation of the new district in San Martin appears due to focus on the creation of a stake one day in San Martin with greater supervision from the Argentina Mendoza Mission in this process.

There are now 73 stakes and 32 districts in Argentina.

Kenya
On October 12th, the Church created a new district in Kenya. The Kilungu Hills Kenya District was organized from five mission branches in the Kilungu Hills, including Ilima, Kalongo, Kilili, Kyambeke, and Matini. The Church has operated branches in this remote area of Kenya for over two decades and has experienced steady growth despite its rural, difficult-to-access location. Click here to access a recent case study examining LDS growth in the Kilungu Hills.

The Church also appears posed to create its second stake in Kenya within the foreseeable future as the Nairobi Kenya Stake now has 12 wards and three branches. The creation of a second stake on Nairobi would significantly improve prospects of the Church announcing a small temple in the city to service East Africa.

There is now one stake and three districts in Kenya.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New Stake in Brazil; New District in Nigeria

Brazil
On September 21st, a new stake was created in Brazil. The Goiânia Brazil South Stake was organized from a division of the Goiânia Brazil Stake and the Goiânia Brazil North Stake, and includes the following five wards: the Aparecida, Garavelo, Hidrolândia, Independência, and Vila Brasília Wards. There are now three stakes in the Goiânia metropolitan area, and four stakes and one districts in Goiás State.

The Church in Brazil currently reports 252 stakes and 40 districts.

Nigeria
On September 14th, the Church organized a new district in Nigeria. The Abakaliki Nigeria District was organized from mission branches located in the Nigeria Enugu Mission and includes the following four branches: the Abakaliki, Afikpo 1st, Afikpo 2nd, and Okposi Branches. The new district becomes the Church's first district to ever operate in Ebonyi State, Nigeria - home to approximately 2.5 million people.

There are now 25 stakes and 21 districts in Nigeria.

Friday, October 3, 2014

3,100 Stakes

In September, the Church reached the milestone of 3,100 stakes. The Church reached 3,000 stakes in December 2012, indicating that it has taken less than two years for the number of stakes to increase by 100. For the past four years (2011-2014) the Church has had a net increase of 45 or more stakes a year. This is the longest streak of larger numbers of stakes being created within a four-year time period since the four-year period including the years 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. As stakes have the most rigorous standards for member activity rates, this recent development suggests some real, measurable progress in rectifying some inactivity and convert attrition problems.

With three more months remaining in 2014, this year is shaping out to be the largest net increase in the number of stakes since 1998. Currently 50 stakes have been organized in 2014, with many more to be created in the coming month or two. I predict that we may experience a net increase of 70 stakes in 2014 as new stake creations generally pick up in November in December based on recent trends over the past few years.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Brazil, Guatemala, Pennsylvania, Philippines, and Texas; New Districts Created in Ghana and Venezuela

I have gotten a bit behind with making posts on new stakes and districts created. Hopefully this includes all of them.

NEW STAKES
Arizona
On September 21st, the Church created a new stake in Arizona. The Queen Creek Arizona West Stake was created from the Queen Creek Arizona, Queen Creek Arizona Chandler Heights, and the Queen Creek Arizona North Stakes and includes the following eight wards: the Cortina 1st, Cortina 2nd, Cortina 3rd, Cortina 4th, Hawes, Ocotillo, Remington Heights, and Sossaman Estates Wards.

There are now 97 stakes in Arizona.

Brazil
On August 31st, the Church created the a new stake in Minas Gerais State. The Ipatinga Brazil Stake from the Ipatinga Brazil District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Bethânia, Esperança, Governador Valadares, Ipatinga, and João Monlevade Wards, and the Caratinga and Coronel Fabriciano Branches.

There are now 11 stakes and six districts in Minas Gerais, and 251 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.

Guatemala
On July 6th, the Church created a new stake in western Guatemala. The Huehuetenango Guatemala Central Stake was organized from a division of the Huehuetenango Guatemala Calvario and Huehuetenango Guatemala Zaculeu Stakes and includes the following five wards and two branches: the Cerrito del Maíz, El Centro, El Prado, La Viña, and Las Flores Wards, and the Malacatancito and Tojocas Branches.

There are now 43 stakes and 17 districts in Guatemala.

Pennsylvania
On September 7th, the Church organized its third stake in the Pittsburgh area. The Pittsburgh Pennsylvania West Stake was organized from the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Stake and includes the following six wards: the Pittsburgh 2nd, Pittsburgh 5th, Pittsburgh 6th, Washington, Wheeling, and Wintersville Wards. The last new stake to be created in Pittsburgh was in 1978.

There are now 12 stakes in Pennsylvania.

Philippines
On September 14th, the Church created two new stakes in the Philippines.

The Davao Philippines West Stake was organized from the Davao Philippines Stake and includes the following five wards and two branches: the Calinan, Mintal 1st, Mintal 2nd, Toril 1st, and Toril 2nd Wards, and the Ladian and Tamugan Branches. The Church has experienced rapid congregational growth in western Davao within recent years, and Davao now appears as a likely candidate for a temple to service Mindanao.

The Escalante Philippines Stake was organized from the Escalante Philippines District. No information is currently available on which of the seven branches became wards. The Escalante Philippines District was originally organized in 1994.

There are now 92 stakes and 80 districts in the Philippines.

Texas
On September 14th, the Church created a new stake in the Texas Panhandle. The Lubbock Texas North Stake was organized from the Lubbock Texas and Roswell New Mexico Stake and includes the following five wards and three branches: the Clovis, Frenship Mesa, Heritage, Portales, and Shadow Hills Wards, and the El Llano (Spanish), Plainview, and Quaker Heights (Spanish) Branches. The new stakes becomes the first new stake in the Texas Panhandle since 1981.

There are now 62 stakes and three districts in Texas.

NEW DISTRICTS

Ghana
On September 14th, the Church created a new district in Ghana. The Ho Ghana District was organized from the Kpong Ghana District and includes three branches: the Ho 1st, Ho 2nd, and Tsito Branches. The Church has experienced rapid growth in the Volta Region of Ghana and the new Ho Ghana District becomes the first district in this administrative division of more than 2.1 million people. The Church has also recently opened to member groups in Kpando and Hohoe, which may also become integrated into the district when these member groups become branches.

There are now 12 stakes and nine districts in Ghana.

Venezuela
On September 28th, the Church created a new district in Venezuela. The La Fria Venezuela District was organized from the San Cristóbal Venezuela Pirineos Stake and includes the following three branches: the Coloncito, La Fría, and La Grita Branches. The Church once operated a district in La Fria from 1999 to 2012. The reestablishment of the district may indicate problems with stake leaders effectively administering these three branches, resulting in a need for mission leaders to undertake this task.

There are now 34 stakes and seven districts in Venezuela.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 2014 Newsletter

We have just posted the September edition of our newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent church growth developments and new resources posted on our website. The newsletter can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clear and Convincing Progress in the Philippines Reversing Stagnant LDS Growth

There have been many recent LDS growth developments in the Philippines that indicate the Church has taken a significant turn in achieving "real growth." Some of these developments include:
  • A net increase of 26 congregations (21 wards and 5 branches) so far in 2014. This is the largest increase in congregations in a single year for the Philippines since 2001.
  • The creation of 12 new stakes since 2010. The last time as many new stakes were created in as short of a time period in the Philippines was from 1999 to 2001.
  • The opening of member groups in dozens of lesser-reached or previously unreached locations within the past few years.
  • The number of full-time missionaries assigned to the Philippines increases from 2,600 in early 2013 to 4,300 in early 2014. 
  • The number of Filipino members serving full-time missions reaching 2,425 at year-end 2013. 
  • Significant improvements in various activity measurements, such as sacrament meeting attendance and the number of temple recommend holders.
With membership recently surpassing 700,000 members and the total number of stakes nearing 100 (92 at present), the Church has significant opportunities for growth in the near future due to increasing numbers of missionaries serving, focus on higher baptismal standards and member-missionary participation, and the opening of member groups and branches in additional locations. All this recent progress has occurred despite no increase in the number of converts baptized between 2010 and 2013. Many districts appear likely to become stakes within the next year or two. Also, the Church may announced new temples in additional cities due to recent growth, such as Bacolod, Davao (instead of Cagayan de Oro), and Naga.

Click here to access a case study I wrote for cumorah.com on recent LDS growth developments in the Philippines. This case study article was written last April.

The cumorah.com LDS International Atlas page for the Philippines can be found here, and the statistical profile for the Philippines can be found here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Temple Prediction Map

As part of my biannual tradition to discuss likely predictions for new temples that may be announced in General Conference, I have included my most recent map of locations which I think are most likely to have temples announced within the foreseeable future. I have not added any new locations to this map within the past six months as there have not appeared to have been any major developments during this period that would warrant additional locations to be added to the map. However, the formation of new stakes in Southeast Asia and Cape Verde during this period suggest that both of these locations appear more probable for future temples in the coming years.

Based on President Monson's statements last conference about the Church concentrating on completing temples that have already been announced or that are under construction, I do not predict that any temples will be announced this coming October General Conference. However, if any temples are announced, I would predict the following five as the most likely based on recent church growth developments:
  1. Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  2. Praia, Cape Verde
  3. Puebla, Mexico
  4. Pocatello, Idaho
  5. Bangkok, Thailand or Phnom Penh, Cambodia

View Potential New Temples in a larger map