Friday, September 26, 2008

Draper Utah Temple Dedication Date Announced

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has announced the open house and dedication dates for the Draper Utah Temple. The open house will go from January 15 through March 14 (excluding Sundays) and will be dedicated on March 22, 2009. The Draper Utah Temple will be the 12th temple in Utah. The Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple is 72% completed and will likely be dedicated sometime in the spring or summer of 2009.

The temples in Provo and Ogden have over 70 stakes assigned to each. It seems likely that new temples could be announced in places like Spanish Fork or Layton considering the growth these areas are experiencing.

The Church also announced a couple years ago that land was acquired nearby Riverton, Utah for a future temple. Leaders stated that this temple would be announced and constructed once membership in the area demanded it.

Membership in Utah increased by over 30,000 in 2007.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Missionaries Back in Serbia

I just wanted to quickly add that missionaries have returned to working in Serbia. There are three branches in the country and the translation of the Book of Mormon in Serbian was completed earlier this year.

Congregation Growth Outside The United States

I wanted to take some time and provide statistics for new congregations created in the Church outside of the United States. Congregations increased by around 350 for the whole Church in 2007, and only around 130-140 were created outside of the United States. Here is a list of the six countries which had the greatest increase in congregations.
  1. Brazil - +40
  2. Mexico - +26
  3. Argentina - +14
  4. Ghana - +9
  5. Philippines - +8
  6. Dominican Republic - +6

Roughly 70% of the non-United States increase in congregations can be attributed to the top five countries.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Stake in the Dominican Republic; District Dissolved in Guatemala

The Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Los Restauradores Stake was recently created. This is the third new stake created in the Dominican Republic this year in the capital of Santo Domingo. This brings the total number of stakes to 19 in the country.

The Puerto San Jose Guatemala District was recently dissolved. Puerto San Jose is on the Pacific Coast and was likely combined with a nearby district.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stake Dissolved in South Florida

The Miami Florida (Spanish) Stake was recently dissolved and congregations were combined with surrounding stakes. The Homestead Florida Stake was also renamed the Miami Florida South Stake. The Miami (Spanish) Stake and the Miami Lakes Florida Stake each had only five wards and one to three branches. The number of congregations in these stakes has been declining for a number of years. One of the major reasons for the stake dissolution was that many members are moving away from the area and convert baptisms have declined (although a bit of an increase has been seen in what is now the Miami Florida South Stake). As far as I have understood, the area has been deteriorating on a number of levels, particularly with crime and the housing market. This was done in order to strengthen the members and stakes in the area.

This is the third stake dissolved in the United States this year. I want to make it clear that there are many more new stakes being created in the United States and around the world versus stakes being dissolved. There have been at least 14 new stakes created in the United States this year and eight new stakes created in the rest of the world. Since membership is dynamic and people move based on their circumstances and environment, it is not surprising to see stakes get dissolved occasionally. On an average year, around three to six stakes are dissolved around the world.

It does appear that we are going to see a fairly large drop in the number of new stakes created this year for the Church. This is primarily because few stakes have been organized internationally. However, we should see a jump in the number of new congregations created outside of the United States this year, since so many new cities have opened for missionary work and some missions are setting records for baptisms (especially in Brazil). As for new congregations created in the United States, it looks like it will be around the same amount as usual, around 200. We are also likely to see quite a few new stakes created in Utah considering nine stakes have over 14 congregations in them and many more have 12 or 13. Stakes typically have five to 12 congregations.

In 2007 we did not see as large of an increase in congregations, but a big jump (around 20,000) in terms of membership increase. This is likely due to the lag time between converts getting baptized in a large enough quantity (and staying active) to merit a new congregation being created. Furthermore, last year several districts matured into stakes, which indicate growth in membership activity, but is not reflected in congregation increase since the branches simply become wards.

As for the greatest challenge the Church faces at this time, I believe it is making converts into Church leaders. Another great challenge is increasing the missionary force around the world without sacrificing the quality of our missionaries. While every country in Central America has seen quite a boost in growth last year, it will not mean much (and be repeating the mistakes of quick baptism-no fellow shipping missionary work which precipitated into hundreds of congregations being dissolved from 2001 to 2003) if we do not see an increase in congregations this year or next year.

Lastly, I want to close by saying things are improving for the Church and membership is maturing. This will allow for greater growth in the future and more temples.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stake Dissolved in California

The second stake this year was dissolved in California. The Barstow California Stake had four wards and two branches and was absorbed into neighboring stakes. The stake in Barstow was organized back in 1959.

Church Removes Foreign Missionaries in Sri Lanka

Due to visa problems with the government, all non-Sri Lankan missionaries left the country and are currently in India. This has been a problem which has been going on for a while considering the government does not recognize religions/church with less than 5,000 membes in the country very well. Only three missionaries are in the country now, with around 1,200 members and four branches.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Church Pulls North American Missionaries Out of Bolivia

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints finished pulling all the North American missionaries out of the South American country of Bolivia, an action which began last Saturday. Heightening tension between separatists and the Bolivian government has been the main cause of the missionary withdrawal. 102 missionaries were transferred to Peru for the time being. There are three missions of the Church in Bolivia, so I image there are around 200 or so missionaries still serving in the country. There are 160,000 members organized in 24 stakes and nine districts. There is a temple in Cochabamba.

This year there have been two other countries where missionaries have been pulled out of entirely, which are Serbia and Georgia. Countries which have been seeing disruptions in missionary work recently include Russia (due to foreign visa renewal laws) and Sri Lanka (in the city of Kandy).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Groundbreaking Set For San Salvador El Salvador Temple

According to , the groundbreaking for the temple announced at the end of last year in El Salvador will be on the 20th of December. With one of the highest member to congregation ratios in the world, El Salvador has high inactivity but has consistently had new congregations created in the past few years. Last year El Salvador has the largest increase in membership in over five years. There were 98,575 members in 16 stakes and two districts as of the end of 2007.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Largest Increases in Membership

Below is a list of the 10 countries with the largest increase in membership for the year 2007. This does not take growth rate into account, but rather illustrates where the increase in Church membership is occurring. The percentage to the right of the increase in membership is the percentage that country's membership's increase is of the entire Church's membership increase for the year 2007. The total increase of membership for 2007 was 325,939 members.
  1. United States* - 91,631 - 28%
  2. Brazil - 48,250 - 15%
  3. Mexico - 39,466 - 12%
  4. Philippines - 22,036 - 7%
  5. Peru - 16,356 - 5%
  6. Argentina - 8,003 - 2.5%
  7. Honduras - 5,347 - 1.6%
  8. Chile - 5,115 - 1.5%
  9. Ecuador - 5,104 - 1.5%
  10. Paraguay - 5,080 - 1.5%

Approximately 75% of the increase in Church membership can be found in these 10 countries.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fastest Growing Countries For the Church: 2007

Below is a list of the top 20 countries where the Church is growing the fastest (in membership) for the year of 2007. The percentage increase (calculated by finding the difference between 2007 and 2006 membership totals divided by 2006 membership) is provided along with total membership as of December 31st, 2007. Countries in bold are ones in which membership has increased by at least 200 members.

  1. St. Lucia - 105.5% - 113
  2. Central African Republic - 81.7% - 396
  3. Benin - 35.9% - 216
  4. Cameroon - 29.9% - 639
  5. Togo - 27.5% - 733
  6. Malaysia - 27.3% - 4,626
  7. Guyana - 24.1% - 2,572
  8. Suriname - 23.3% - 847
  9. Georgia - 21.4% - 153
  10. Solomon Islands - 17.9% - 231
  11. Malawi - 17.5% - 705
  12. Guadeloupe - 17.1% - 356
  13. Kazakhstan - 16.8% - 125
  14. French Guiana - 15.7% - 287
  15. Namibia - 15.0% - 506
  16. Madagascar - 13.0% - 4,160
  17. Mozambique - 12.9% - 4,216
  18. Armenia - 12.3% - 2,650
  19. Bahamas - 12.0% - 774
  20. Iceland - 11.6% - 250

A few interesting points to notice about last year's membership growth. First, in 2006 there were only 15 countries with over 11% growth and in 2007 there were 20. Second, in 2006 there were six countries (out of 15) with over 11% growth with over 1,000 members and in 2007 there were only five countries (out of 20) with 11% growth. This illustrates that the Church is growing in places it has not been well established yet at an accelerated rate. Furthermore, growth slowed slightly in some countries that experienced very high growth in 2006 (like Ghana and Zambia). Many of these countries that are not included in the list for 2007 above but were in it in 2006 have growth rates around 10%.

New Stake in Texas

Another new stake was created last Sunday in McAllen, Texas. The new stake was created from both the McAllen Stake and the Harlingen Stake. There has been very dramatic growth in the area, particularly with Spanish speaking units. Before the split, the McAllen Stake had 10 wards and a branch and the Harlingen Stake had seven wards and seven branches.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Stake in Idaho

Last Sunday a new stake was created in Twin Falls, Idaho. The new stake, the Twin Falls South Stake, becomes the first new stake to be created in the area in the last 24 years! The temple in Twin Falls was dedicated only a couple weeks ago.

Country Membership and Congregation Totals Released For 2007

The Church has started to release official membership and congregation numbers for countries across the world for the end of 2007. Right now up-to-date information can be found for countries in North America, Europe, the Pacific, and Africa at Data has not been updated for South America and Asia yet, but likely will be updated this week sometime. I will provide a list of the fastest growing countries (in membership expressed as a percentage) in the coming days. As for now, it appears that impressive growth is occurring in countries where the Church is emerging (the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Malawi, Mozambique, and St. Lucia to name a few) and has accelerated in all the countries in Central America, especially El Salvador. Growth has slowed in many European nations, but increased substantially in Great Britain and Spain.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Full Translation of the Book of Mormon

According to, the Book of Mormon was recently translated in its entirety into Sinhala, a language spoken by 19 million in Sri Lanka. Only selected passages were translated in Sinhala back in 1983. Membership stands at over 1,100 in Sri Lanka. Proselyting missionaries in the country have recently encountered difficulty preaching the Gospel due to government restrictions.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Stake Created in Idaho

A new stake was recently created for BYU-Idaho. The BYU Idaho 9th Stake was organized from the two married student stakes at the university. The last new stake created at BYU-Idaho was back in 2005. Many of the student single stakes have grown quite large (which is also the case at BYU in Provo) and might split in the near future. BYU in Provo has 22 stakes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Angola Opens to Missionary Work

The country of Angola will open for missionary work this month according to a missionary in the Mozambique Maputo Mission. Only missionaries from Mozambique will be sent first to proselyte. One of the last countries in the world to be predominately Christian without proselyting missionaries for the Church, Angola already has a strong membership in the capital city of Luanda. Over 700 members live in the country, many of whom were converted either in Europe or by other members in Angola. One of the reasons it has taken so long for Angola to open for missionary work was a very long civil war that did not end until recently. There are around 16 million people who live in the country.

I image the missionaries will only work in Luanda for the time being.