Sunday, January 13, 2008

Likely New Missions

Within the next month or so, the Church will announce any new missions being created this Summer following the new Mission Presidents' training at the MTC in Provo, Utah. Generally, the Church announces new missions from late January to mid-Feburary (especially if there's more than one). Something that I have tried to do recently is trying to predict where new missions will be established. To do this, I take several factors into account which are listed below.

  • Level of missionary activity in an existing mission
  • Level of member involvement in missionary work
  • Population living within a given mission (both LDS and total)
  • Government restrictions on proselyting (e.g. no street contacting)
  • Geographic size of a given mission

Many missions are created to minimize time taken for missionaries and mission leadership to travel throughout an existing mission. Sometimes missions created after this fashion may only contain less than a 1,000 members and not even an organized mission district (like in Russia). Othertimes missions are created because the number of people joining the Church is so large it demands more missionaries and leadership (like in Africa). Missions are even created in areas where Church activity is notably low in order to reactivate less active members (like in Chile). However a new mission is created usually in response to all of these factors put together. Below I will list the missions created in 2007 and discuss some likely reasons as to why they were created.

  • Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk
  • Sierra Leone Freetown
  • Puerto Rico San Juan East
  • India New Delhi

Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk Mission:

This mission was likely organized for three main reasons. First, Ukraine is a large country for only two missions to cover. It took a long time for a mission president and missionaries to travel from Donetsk to Dnepropetrovsk where a district had been organized. Second, the membership in central Ukraine will get much more leadership training from a mission closer to them. Lastly, the population of Ukraine is nearly 47 million; more missionaries are needed to teach so many people. Furthermore, central Ukraine is home to many large cities which do not have missionaries or branches in them (like Kryvyy Rih with 690,000 inhabitants). Now with the new mission, cities like Kryvyy Rih will be more likely to open for missionary work.

Sierra Leone Freetown Mission:

This mission was organized for all of the reasons listed towards the beginning of this post. Sierra Leone was originally part of one of the Ghana missions, which was a considerable distance away. Sierra Leone baptizes around 1,000 people a year, making it one of the fastest growing countries for the Church in Africa. Furthermore, it is in the top five countries with the most members without stakes. The population of Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia (which is also in the new mission) is about 10 million put together, giving the new mission one of the lowest ratios of missionaries to mission population in Africa. This mission will probably serve as a means for the Church in the future to move into surrounding countries which now do not have a current Church presence (like Guinea and Senegal).

Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission:

The reasons for why this mission was organized is very similar to the Sierra Leone Freetown mission. However, the largest difference is that the population for this mission as well as the realigned Puerto Rico San Juan West and Trinidad and Tobago Missions is quite small. The country in the area covered by these three missions which the largest population is Trinidad and Tobago with just over a million people. This is quite typical though for island nations and is something to be easily seen accross the South Pacific and Polynesia. For some reason the Church tends to do very well on islands in most parts of the world (e.g. Cyprus, Cape Verde).

I already wrote about the India New Delhi mission in an earlier post.

Possible New Missions

Below is a list of some likely cities/countries where new missions could be announced this year or in the next few years.

  • Nicaragua Managua(2nd)
  • Brazil Natal
  • Guyana Georgetown
  • Zambia Lusaka
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo Lumbumbashi
  • Malawi Blantyre
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Togo Lome
  • Thailand Bangkok (2nd)
  • Cambodia Phnom Penh (2nd)
  • East Malaysia
  • Sri Lanka Colombo
  • Russia Krasnodar

As you might notice, all of these potential missions are outside of the United States and Canada. I don't see any new missions being created in this region for quite some time. Generally, a good ratio of population to missions is around 3 million per mission. The United States has over 300 million people, and 106 missions which works out to about one mission for three million people. Mexico is around one mission per five million people and Brazil is one mission per eight million people. It is likely that new missions will be organized soon in Brazil because the ratio is still quite large for a country with high missionary activity.

Keep in mind that a little less than one-third of all the missions in the Church are in the United States, with less than 5% of the world's population. I forsee that most missions in the next five years will be organized in Asia, Africa and Brazil.

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