Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Church in Europe

Here is a map of the stakes and districts in Europe, represented by yellow and green squares respectively. Notice that the stakes are clustered in the British Isles and Central Europe, where some of the most seasonsed and strong members reside. If you click on the map, it will enlarge.
Also, a new stake was created in Italy at the beginning of March in Verona and a new stake was created in Cedar City, Utah as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Statistical Report for 2007 and growth trends in the LDS Church

In a little over a week, the Church will present the Annual Statistical Report for 2007 in General Conference. I am very excited to see the numbers for last year for a variety of reasons. First of all, convert baptisms have been on the rise worldwide. From 2003 to 2005, there were around 240,000 convert baptisms and membership increased around 280,000 members. In 2006, there were nearly 273,000 convert baptisms and in increase of about 308,000 members. The Church Almanac for 2008 reports that as of October 1st, 2007 Church membership was at 13,116,784 members, increasing at a rate of 2.57% a year (up from previous years). If membership increased at the same rate for the remaining three months of 2007, we should expect membership to be somewhere around 13,200,000 members for the end of the year.

Last year (2007) there were over 200 new congregations created in the United States, which was around the same amount for the previous year. The increase in congregations for 2006 worldwide was 388, 417 for 2005 and 433 for 2004. The largest increase in congregations since the organization of the Church was in 1979 with 1,632. Determining the growth of the Church by new congregations being organized is one of the most reliable tools. Active members are needed to fill leadership in new congregations, which come from convert baptisms altogether (in other words, if it weren't for convert baptisms, the creation of new congregations would equal the dissolution of previously existing ones). The systematic increase in congregations in the United States dispells the notion that the number of people coming into the Church is equaling the number leaving it.

However, the percentage growth that the Church enjoyed in the 70s and 80s is not nearly what it is today. I do believe we are seeing some phenomenal growth in certain areas of the world. However, there are a lot more inactive members of the Church now than 20 or 30 years ago and that brings down the growth rate for the Church.

My predictions for 2007 are that there were 2,789 stakes, somewhere around 27,900 congregations, over 100,000 increase of children on record, and around 320,000 converts baptized.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Map of Rwanda and Burundi

Here's a map of Rwanda and Burundi. The first branch in Rwanda was created on 16 March 2008. There used to be a branch in Burundi, but it was disbanded after disorder in the capital over a decade ago. Hopefully this country will reopen for missionary work soon as well. Again, if you click on the map, it will enlarge and the green square is the branch just created.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The growth of the Church in South Africa

About three years ago, South Africa was entirely covered by stake upon the creation of the Port Elizabeth Stake. However, there is a lot of change going on as hinted by the previous post about the three new districts being formed in the Durban Mission. If you click on the map, it will enlarge and you will be able to see the wards (yellow squares) and the branches (green squares). I predict new districts will be formed soon in the Cape Town Mission and in the city of Bloemfontein. Membership in South Africa has increased to over 45,000 members, doubling in the past 10 years. The Book of Mormon is available in Zulu, but not in too many other native languages.

Non-English Church units in the United States and Canada

Over the years, the Church has organized a large number of non-English speaking units in the United States. Oftentimes members who attend these units have recently immigrated to the United States or live in a community where English is not the only widely spoken language. Below is a list of all of the non-English speaking Units with the language spoken and the number of wards and branches.
  • Thai - 1 ward (combined with Laotian speakers)
  • Fijian - 1 branch
  • Russian - 1 branch
  • German - 1 ward
  • Chinese (Cantonese) - 1 ward
  • Navajo - 2 branches (outside of stakes on reservations)
  • Chinese (Mandarin) - 1 ward, 2 branches
  • Tagalog - 1 ward, 2 branches
  • Marshallese - 3 branches
  • Vietnamese - 4 branches
  • Cambodian - 1 ward, 3 branches
  • Laotian - 2 wards (one combined with Thai speakers), 2 branches
  • Haitian-Creole - 4 branches
  • Portuguese - 1 ward, 7 branches
  • Hmong - 2 wards, 9 branches
  • Korean - 2 wards, 11 branches
  • Chinese (unspecified) - 5 wards, 9 branches
  • Samoan - 33 wards, 1 branch
  • Tongan - 5 stakes, 54 wards, 8 branches
  • Spanish - 8 stakes, ~244 wards, ~407 branches
There has been tremendous growth in Spanish speaking branches over the past five years and now probably around one quarter of the stakes of the Church have a spanish speaking unit.

First Portuguese ward created in the United States

The first Portuguese ward was created in the past couple weeks in the Orem Utah Geneva Heights Stake. There are seven other Portuguese speaking congregations, all of which are branches. The units are located in Utah, Florida and New England.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2008: A Year of Expansion for the Church

Over the past few weeks, I have found around a dozen blogs from missionaries and mission presidents from around the world. Places these missionaries are serving in range from the Ukraine to the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have provided valuable information concerning the growth and status of the Church throughout the world.

One overlying theme I have found in these blogs, especially within the last several months, is the expasion the Church into new cities, particularly in Eastern Europe. Africa has also seen this expansion of missionary work and congregations into areas where the Church was not organized. Below is a list of countries in Europe with the number of new cities opened within the past 14 months. Again, this is only the number of cities I have found; there could be more.
  • Albania: 1
  • Croatia: 1
  • Estonia: 1
  • Hungary: 4
  • Latvia: 1
  • Slovakia: 1
  • Ukraine: 4
  • Romania: 1

What makes this impressive is the lack of new cities which were opened for missionary work over the past decade. Most of these countries have only seen one or two new cities have congregations established in them during that time. For example, the only city opened in Estonia since the late 90s was Narva.

Below is a map of Albania and the Baltic Countries. These are a couple countries I do not have maps of posted yet and have seen missionary work expand into new cities recently. The green squares are branches and the red dots are large cities without known branches or missionaries.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Updates on Temples and New Cities Opening For Missionary Work

Dedication dates

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has announced the dedication dates for the Curitiba Brazil, Panama City Panama and Twin Falls Idaho Temples. The Curitiba Brazil Temple will be dedicated on June 1st, the Panama City Panama Temple will be dedicated on the August 10th, and Twin Falls Idaho Temple will be dedicated on August 24th.

New cities opening for missionary work

Hungary - Two more cities have been or are about to open for missionary work in Hungary. Bekescsaba opened for missionary work in January of 2007, but a branch wasn't created until recently. The Bekescsaba Branch has already outgrown its rented facilities for Sunday meetings. Oroshaza, a city located near Bekescsaba in the southeast of the country, has just opened for missionary work.

Uganda - Located in the northern portion of Uganda, the city of Gulu has had a group meeting for sacrament on Sunday, but has not been organized into a branch. The Uganda Kampala Mission is waiting for approval to organize the new branch.

Ethiopia - A missionary in the Uganda Kampala mission reported that there has been a request to open a branch in the city of Awasa. This would be the fourth branch in the country if organized, and the first to be located more than 100 miles away from the capital Addis Ababa.

A country that might be opening soon to missionary work

A missionary in the Mozambique Maputo Mission stated that Angola might open for missionary work sometime later this year. There have been several missionaries from Angola who have or are serving in Mozambique and there is a branch established in the capital of Luanda.

Districts Dissolved

The Labasa Fiji and the Kadina Australia Districts have recently been dissolved. It is likely that the Labasa Fiji District was combined with the Taveuni Fiji District. This might have been done in preparation for a future stake, but I do not have information as to why this occurred (another reason could be because of inactivity or members moving away). Church growth in Fiji has been slow, but steady in recent years. The Kadina Australia District was probably absorbed into the stakes in the Adelaide area. During 2006, Australia had the highest membership growth rate of any developed country, at a little over 5%.

Serbia Closes for Missionary Work

After Kosovo's independence was recognized by the United States, there has been a marked increase in anti-American feelings in Serbia. Consequently, the Church pulled out all of the missionaries and either reassigned them to other missions or moved them to Croatia. It appears that missionaries will not enter Serbia again for quite some time, not only because of the dangerous circumstances for the American missionaries, but also because of the lack of conversions. Hopefully conditions will improve in the near future for missionary work to prosper in this nations. Some have suspected that only one or two of the branches in Serbia will continue to function while the remaining branches would close.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First branch in Rwanda

I just received word that the Church has approved the creation of a branch in Rwanda. The new branch will probably be in the capital city of Kigali. About a year or two ago, the mission presidents of the DR of Congo and Uganda Kampala missions visited the capital and met with a few members to determine whether the country was ready to be opened for missionary work. Rwanda has been assigned to the Uganda Kampala Mission.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Update on the Growth of the Church

Three new districts created in South Africa

According to the website for the mission president in the South Africa Durban Mission, three districts have been organized over the past few months. Two of the districts are in South Africa, the Newcastle District and the Richards Bay District. The third district was created in Mbabane, Swaziland. Several independent mission branches have been functioning in the Newcastle area since 2001 and have finally been grouped together in a district. The Richards Bay District was created from a single ward in that city which met in four separate groups for sometime (and the groups became branches in the district). Lastly, Swaziland has for nearly the past 10 years been in a stake, but now is its own district. A new branch was organized in at the same time the district was formed and the mission president stated that last Sunday there were 17 baptisms in the country. Another new branch was formed a short while ago near the mission home. On the above map, yellow squares are stakes and the green squares are the newly formed districts.

The South Africa Durban Mission's blog can be found at

Other areas where the formation of new districts is likely are on the outskirts of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

New branches organized in Hungary

Two new branches have recently been formed in Hungary in the cities of Kaposvar and Szolnok. The first stake in this nation was organized in 2006. Membership has grown steadily in these two cities in the past year. This is another example of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint's recent expansion into many new cities in Eastern Europe. The yellow squares are wards and the green ones are branches

New cities open for missionary work in Ukraine

Cities open for missionary work in Ukraine In an earlier post, I noted that the city of Kremenchuk in Ukraine was opened for missionary work and a branch was established. Today I found out that a branch has been established in Khmelnytsky which is in western Ukraine. Another branch has been established in the Khmelnytsky Oblast, but I have not been able to exactly pin point where it is.

Rapid Church growth in the Baltic Nations

According to a blog from an Elder serving in Estonia, the Baltic Mission is seeing amazing success. Investigators (people who are not members of the Church but who are learning about it and considering membership) have been numbering in the double digits in some of the branches. Those who commited to be baptize on a specific, future date rose in the hundreds recently. Although it is quite unlikely that many of those people will recieve baptism, it does signify that conditions are changing in this region of Europe at a fantastic rate.

New branch in the DR of Congo

A new branch has recently been created in the city of Mwene-Ditu, which is near the city of Luputa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, Mission President Livingstone of the mission in the DR of Congo stated that a request has been sent in to the Area Presidency for a branch to be organized in the city of Ngandajika (in the vicinity of Luputa) where 50 members of the Church live. In areas of the World where there are very few Church members and are not that secure, new cities are not opened for missionary work and branches established until permission is granted from the Area Presidency.

Two districts in Trinidad and Tobago combined

The two districts on the island of Trinidad were combined in an effort to prepare for the first stake in this nation. Almost 500 members attended the conference and sustained a new district presidency. In the past year, a branch has also been created on the island of Tobago.

Rapid Church Growth in St. Lucia

Now when I say rapid, I mean that at the end of 2006, there were 55 members on the island and a month ago or so there were 104 attending the branch's Church services. Granted the numbers are small, it is still remarkable to see such growth among so few members in such a short period of time. This is actually quite representative of many of the islands in the Caribbean right now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Discontinued Stakes

I don't want to just focus on where the Church is growing, but also where growth is stagnant or membership is decreasing. One of the reasons I stress the increase of stakes and congregations as being so important is because they indicate not just membership increasing, but members being active in their faith. Increases of stakes and congregations are one of the most reliable statistics that reflect actual Church activity.

At the same time, a decrease of stakes or congregations indicates that there is not just slow growth, but inactivity. Oftentimes, however, a congregation or a stake is discontinued/dissolved when many of the active members move away.

Below is a list of each year since 1990 and the number of stakes dissolved in each country/state.

1990 (Uruguay - 1)

1991 (New York - 1, Japan - 1)

1992 (California - 1, Germany - 1, Philippines - 1)

1993 (California - 2, Japan - 1, Philippines - 2)

1994 (Germany - 1)

1995 (Philippines - 1)

1996 (California - 2)

1997 (no stakes discontinued)

1998 (Colombia - 1, Peru - 2)

1999 (Ecuador - 1, Peru - 1)

2000 (California - 1, Brazil - 1, Chile - 1, Colombia - 1, Peru - 1)

2001 (Bolivia - 1, Brazil - 5, Chile - 3, Japan - 1)

2002 (Chile - 25, Ecuador - 1)

2003 (Utah - 1, Chile - 12, Ecuador - 1, Japan - 1, Peru - 1, Philippines - 3)

2004 (Utah - 3, Philippines - 2)

2005 (California - 2, Chile - 1, Mexico - 2, Nigeria - 1, Philippines - 1)

2006 (Arizona - 1, Hong Kong - 1, Japan - 1, Washington - 1)

2007 (California - 3, Liberia - 1, Louisiana - 1)

There are a couple trends that follow discontinued stakes. First, the vast majority of them are outside of the United States. Of the 16 stakes listed above within the United States, 10 of them were in California. When stakes are discontinued in the United States, it is mainly because of members moving away.

Second, 42 of the 98 dissolved stakes in the past 17 years were in Chile. According to the Church Almanac, stakes and wards were created in Chile during the mid-1990s at an accelerated rate in order to catch up with growth in membership. This would allow smaller wards and stakes to provide more opportunities for new members to hold callings. In the end, high inactivity resulted and the active members were so few that 100s of wards and branches were combined in an effort to strengthen active members and leadership. Now there are 74 stakes in Chile.

Third, most of the places discontinued stakes were in experienced rapid Church growth at one time. When converts come into the Church in large quantities in an area not able to support them well, high inactivity is likely to develop over time. If many active members move way from a stake such as this, the stake is more susceptible to dissolution.

Lastly, there are instances where stakes get re-instated. Examples of this were in Arizona and in Uruguay. Half of one of the stakes in Mexico that was dissolved in 2005 was reinstated under a different name and the other half was made into a new stake (San Cristobal de Las Casas). This process can get pretty creative and interesting.