Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cumorah.com is Online

Cumorah.com is back online. We apologize for the website problems.

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Temple Prediction Map - September 2016 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. No new locations have been added to the new temple prediction map since the last update in March 2016. My top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements during next month's General Conference include:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Belo Horizonte, Brazil 
  • Brasília, Brazil
  • Davao, Philippines OR Cagayan del Oro, Philippines
  • Guam OR Tarawa, Kiribati
  • Lagos, Nigeria OR Benin City, Nigeria
  • Managua, Nicaragua 
  • Praia, Cape Verde
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Rogers, Arkansas

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New Stakes Created in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, and Texas

A new stake was created in Brazil on September 4th. The Passo Fundo Brazil South Stake was organized from a division of the Passo Fundo Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Bosque, Erechim, Lagoa Vermelha, Marau, Petrópolis, and Planaltina Wards. Passo Fundo is now the third metropolitan area in the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul with two or more stakes. There are now 23 stakes and seven districts in Rio Grande do Sul.

There are now 263 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on September 11th. The Dokui Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from a division of the Cocody Cote d'Ivoire and Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stakes. The new stake includes the following nine wards: the Abobote 1st, Abobote 2nd, Agbekoi, Angré, Belle-ville, Dokui 1st, Dokui 2nd, Plaque, and Quatre Etages Wards. Five of the wards in the new stake have been organized since 2013. It is unclear why the new stake was organized with so many wards as most new stakes in West Africa generally have between five and seven wards. Rapid growth in the area has likely prompted the organization of a large new stake possibly due to limited leadership manpower to fill stake-level callings. Three wards in the new Dokui Cote d'Ivoire Stake were previously assigned to the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stake - a stake organized only two years ago that had grown to 12 wards by the end of 2015. There are now 10 stakes in the Abidjan metropolitan area - more than any other metropolitan area in the Africa-Eurasian continental landmass. Several additional in Abidjan stakes appear likely to divide in the next 12 months and members report that additional wards will be organized in the coming months. For example, last Sunday three new wards were organized in the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Yopougon Attie Stake. There are now three stakes in Abidjan with 10 or more wards. Rapid congregational growth continues in Cote d'Ivoire as there has been a net increase of 41 congregations for 2016 - the second highest net increase in congregations for any country in the world for the year thus far and only 30 less than the net increase reported for the Church in the United States where there has been a net increase of 71 congregations.

There are now 11 stakes and nine districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

A new stake was created in Texas on September 11th. The Burleson Texas Stake was organized from a division of the Arlington Texas, Fort Worth Texas, and Weatherford Texas Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Burleson, Centennial, Cleburne, Joshua, Mansfield 1st, and Mansfield 2nd Wards, and the Keene Branch (Marshallese).

There are now 71 stakes and three districts in Texas. There have been seven new stakes organized in Texas thus far in 2016.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Church in Mali

Although the Church does not have an official presence in Mali, I have recently confirmed that a member group operates in the country. Missionaries serving in Ghana report that a member group operates outside the capital city of Bamako. Based upon information obtained from other sources, it appears that the member group functions in Ouélessébougou - the hometown of former LDS presidential candidate Yeah Samake. The number of members in Mali has been described as "small" and appear to number no more than 20. Missionaries report that a family from Mali recently traveled to Accra, Ghana to be baptized. Reports indicate that there are approximately 30 prospective members in Mali, most of which appear to reside in the Ouélessébougou and Bamako areas. Most of these potential members have not been baptized due to concern with their level of understanding of LDS teachings and the lack of an official LDS presence in the country. Additionally, concerns have been noted with establishing an LDS presence in Mali due to Muslims constituting the majority of the population. Despite these concerns, risks for proselytism and formal church operations appear minimal based upon the operation of other nontraditional Christian groups that have operated in the country for many years, such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are no laws or government policies that forbid the operation of Christian groups or proselytism. There do not appear to be any legal barriers in Mali for the Church to obtain legal status based upon the International Religious Freedom Report for 2015. Political instability poses some safety concerns, but prospects appear favorable for an LDS establishment within the foreseeable future, especially in the Bamako and Ouélessébougou areas.

Missionaries serving in Ghana also report that there are two additional countries in the Africa West Area where no official LDS presence operates but where there is a member group operating. It is unclear which countries have a member group, but Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau appear the most likely to have at least one member group in operation.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lack of Progress Translating LDS Materials into Additional Languages

Within the past three years, essentially no progress has occurred for the Church in regards to translating basic LDS gospel materials into additional languages. Currently the Church reports 188 "published languages," whereas nearly 20 years ago the Church reported 175 languages with translations of at least one LDS material. In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses report more than 850 languages with proselytism materials translated - a remarkable 100 more languages than one year ago. There remains a significant need to revamp translation efforts in the Church in order for proselytism, convert retention, and member activity rates to improve in many areas of the world.

Click here for more information on the Church's translation efforts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Stakes Created in Utah; Two Stakes Discontinued in South Korea; District Reinstated in Russia

The Church created two new stakes in Provo, Utah on August 28th.

The Provo Utah YSA 20th and the Provo Utah YSA 21st Stakes were organized from a division of several YSA stakes in the Provo area. The Provo Utah YSA 20th Stake includes the following eight wards: the Provo YSA 46th, Provo YSA 49th, Provo YSA 53rd, Provo YSA 56th, Provo YSA 57th, Provo YSA 48th, Provo YSA 58th, and Provo YSA 59th Wards. The Provo Utah YSA 21st Stake includes the following seven wards: the Provo YSA 108th, Provo YSA 110th, Provo YSA 114th, Provo YSA 115th, Provo YSA 117th, Provo YSA 118th, and Provo YSA 119th Wards.

There are now 582 stakes and one district in Utah.

South Korea
The Church discontinued two stakes in the Seoul metropolitan area. The Anyang Korea and Suwon Korea Stakes were discontinued. Retained congregations were reassigned to the Seoul Korea South and the Gyeonggi Korea (formerly the Seoul Korea Yeongdong) Stakes. Several wards were also discontinued as part of the stake realignment. As a returned missionary who had served in the affected area, I observed over 10 years ago that the Anyang Korea and the Suwon Korea Stakes operated with a minimal number of wards. At the time, many of the wards in these stakes had between 50-100 active members. The decision to discontinue the stakes appears attributed to the ongoing exodus of active Latter-day Saint families to other countries (e.g. the United States, Australia, and China), few convert baptisms, and low birth rates. Coincidentally, both the Anyang Korea and Suwon Korea Stakes were also created the same year from a division of the original Seoul Korea West Stake. The last time the Church simultaneously discontinued two stakes in the same metropolitan area was in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2012.

There are now 13 stakes and six districts in South Korea. The Church has discontinued four stakes in South Korea within the past four years.

The Church reinstated another member district in Russia. The Vladivostok Russia District was organized from six mission branches in the Russia Vladivostok Mission. The new district includes the following seven branches: the Artyom, Khabarovsk, Nakhodka, Ussuriysk, Vladivostok, Vladivostok Russia District, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Branches. With the reinstatement of the Vladivostok Russia District, all branches in the Russia Vladivostok Mission pertain to a district (except for the Russia Vladivostok Mission Branch which services the vast expanses of the Russian Far East outside of districts headquartered in Irkutsk and Vladivostok).

There are now three stakes and 10 districts in Russia.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016 Newsletter

Click here to access the August edition of our monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Stake to be Created in Belize

Missionaries serving in the El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission report that the first stake in Belize will be organized within the next couple months. It is unclear which of the two districts in Belize will become the first stake in the country. However, the Cayo Belize District appears most likely to become a stake as the district has more congregations (7) than the Belize City District (5). Belize is currently the country with the fifth most members on church records without a stake after mainland China, Malaysia, Liberia, and Guyana. I will provide more information on the stake creation once it becomes available.

The Church in Belize reported 5,152 members and 11 branches as of year-end 2015.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Brazil, Idaho, and Virginia

Two new stakes were organized in Arizona on August 21st.

The Phoenix Arizona South Mountain Stake was created from a division of the Phoenix Arizona Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Aguila (Spanish), Gila River, Laveen, Montana Del Sur (Spanish), South Mountain, Trailside, and Vineyard Wards. The Phoenix Arizona Stake was also realigned with the neighboring Phoenix Arizona West Maricopa and the Glendale Arizona Stakes.

The San Tan Valley Arizona North Stake was organized from a division of the Queen Creek Arizona North Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Cambria, Ironwood Crossing 1st, Ironwood Crossing 2nd, Ironwood Crossing 3rd, Ironwood, and Vineyard Wards.

There are now 108 stakes in Arizona.

Reports I have received from local church leaders and regional church leadership indicate that the North America Southwest Area has been successful with increasing the activity rate of many congregations in the area. Statistical analysis has been utilized to determine what congregation size (e.g. number of active members) is most likely to yield the highest member activity rates in the area. As a result, many new wards have been organized to help achieve this "ideal" number of active members per ward (not too many or too few active members per congregation). Similar analyses have also appeared to be implemented to determine the ideal number of congregations per stake. It appears that this tactic may be implemented in additional areas in North America to help improve activity rates and member participation.

A new stake was created in Brazil on August 21st. The São Luís Brazil East Stake was organized from a division of the São Luís Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Cidade Operária, Cohatrac, Jardim Tropical, Maiobão, and Pioneiros Wards. With 1.4 million inhabitants, São Luís was previously the only city in Brazil with more than one million inhabitants and only one stake. The original São Luís Brazil Stake was organized in 1995. There are now two stakes in São Luís and three stakes in Maranhão State.

There are now 262 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

A new stake was created in Idaho on August 21st. The Meridian Idaho Linder Stake was organized from a division of the Meridian Idaho North, Meridian Idaho Paramount, and the Star Idaho Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Ashbury, Crosby Park, Kingsley Park, Lochsa Falls, Paramount, Silverleaf, and Verona Wards.

There are now 127 stakes in Idaho.

A new stake was created in Virginia on August 21st. The Stafford Virginia Stake was created from a division of the Fredericksburg Virginia Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards and one branch: the Accokeek, Aquia, Garrisonville, Hartwood, King George, Rock Hill, and White Oak Wards, and the Stafford Branch (Spanish).

There are now 21 stakes in Virginia.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

New Stakes Created in French Polynesia and Honduras; New Districts Created in Ecuador and Peru; Districts Discontinued in French Polynesia and Honduras

French Polynesia
The Church organized a new stake in Tahiti on July 17th. The Taravao Tahiti Stake was organized from a division of the Mahina Tahiti and Papeari Tahiti Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Hitiaa, Taravao 1st, Taravao 2nd, Tautira, Toahotu, and Vairao Wards. The Tubuai Australes District was also discontinued and the five branches in the former district were reassigned to the Papeari Tahiti Stake. The decision to discontinue the district likely indicates plans for branches in the former district to become wards in the foreseeable future. No branches have been discontinued in the Tubuai Australes District within recent years.

There are now nine stakes and three districts in French Polynesia

The Church organized two new stakes in Honduras.

The Comayagüela Honduras Bulevar Stake was organized on July 24th from a division of the Comayagüela Honduras Torocagua Stake. The new stake currently includes three wards and two branches: the Bulevar, Carrizal, and Jardines del Carrizal Wards, and the Ciudad España and
Zambrano Branches. With only three wards officially reported, it appears that either additional wards are assigned to the stake or both of the branches became wards when the stake was organized. These updates will likely be made in the near future. The organization of the new stake coincided with the discontinuation of the Talanga Honduras District. Organized in 1994, the Talanga Honduras District previously administered four branches - two of which now pertain to the Comayagüela Honduras Torocagua Stake. The remaining two branches in the Talanga Honduras District were reassigned to the Juticalpa Honduras District (previously the Catacamas Honduras District).

The Olanchito Honduras Stake was organized from the Olanchito Honduras District on August 7th. The new stake includes five wards and one branch: the Bellavista, Olanchito, Sonaguera, Tocoa, and Trujillo Wards, and the Coyoles Branch. Missionaries have reported within the past year or two plans for the district to become a stake. Originally the area was serviced by two districts headquartered in Olanchito and Tocoa (discontinued in 2009). The Olanchito Honduras District was originally organized in 1985.

There are now 27 stakes and five districts in Honduras.

The Church organized a new district in Ecuador on August 7th. The Guaranda Ecuador District was organized from a division of the Riobamba Ecuador District. The new district includes two branches: the Guaranda 1st and Guaranda 2nd Branches. Distance from Riobamba and prospects for greater growth in the Guaranda area appeared to have prompted the organization of the new district.

There are now 36 stakes and 10 districts in Ecuador.

The Church organized a new district in southern Peru on July 17th. The Majes Perú District was organized from a division of the Camaná Perú District and a mission branch in the Peru Arequipa Mission. The new district includes three branches: the Aplao, La Joya, and Pedregal Branches.

There are now 101 stakes and 20 districts in Peru.