Sunday, May 18, 2008

Philippine Church Growth

If you ask members today where the Church has grown the most or has grown the fastest, you will likely hear them respond with South America, Mexico and the Philippines. Unfortunately, these three areas have high inactivity as well but have seen impressive growth in the past 30 years. The Philippines was opened for missionary work back in the mid 1960s. Now the Church has 77 stakes, 87 districts and 15 missions in the country. No other country has as nearly as many districts as the Philippines does, which is due to the expense and lack of transportation throughout the islands along with member inactivity. Almost every major city has a Church presence in it. A second temple was announced in Cebu City and as of April 2008 was 15% finished.

Membership growth slowed in the Philippines in the early 90s as well as in the late 90s. In 2001, membership increased by 5.44% to 496,000 members and in 2003, membership rose by only 1.7%. The reason for the dramatic drop in baptisms was due to increased standards for converts to be baptized as well as a stronger focus on retention and reactivation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks lived in the Philippines for a couple years and helped train leadership. Baptisms have risen since and membership stood at over 572,000 members in 2006, increasing at a rate of 3.53%. Only one new stake has been created in the Philippines since 2003, which was in Tacloban last year. Currently, membership is around 600,000.

It is likely more temples will be constructed in the Philippines in the coming years. There are a large number of members which live in the northern part of Luzon (the island where Manila is located). I would not be surprised to see a temple announced in the Dagupan area or in the city of Cagayan de Oro on the large, southern island of Mindanao.

General Authorities and Church members with connections in the Philippines have stated that activity is on the rise along with baptisms and tithe payers. The Church News featured an article about how over 40 converts were baptized at once in one family in the Tacloban area. The first missionary to serve in Taiwan from the Philippines has recently begun her mission there. It will be exciting to see how the Gospel spreads and enriches the lives of people in this country of 90 million.
In the map above, the pink squares are missions, the yellow squares are stakes, and the green squares are districts.


Bradpetehoops said...

Wow! Philippines!

andrew said...

Sister Paras, The missionary you most likely referred to, served as a missionary companion with my older sister last year in Taiwan!Amazing! I am glad to here about activity rates rising. I am enjoying looking back at your old posts.