New stakes to be created in the United States
Members living in Houston, Texas report that a new stake will be organized this Sunday likely from the Houston Texas East and Friendswood Texas Stakes. Another new stake may also be organized before the end of the year in the Houston area. A new stake will also be created in Providence, Utah next month. I will provide more information on these new stakes once they are actually created.
So far this year there have been 43 new stakes organized. If we see more than 50 new stakes organized in 2009 it will be the largest number of new stakes organized in one year since 1998.
Growth in Madagascar
Missionaries report in a recent stake conference for the Antananarivo Madagascar stake that plans were nearly complete for the country's sole stake to be divided. Estimates on when the new stake would be organized were in October or November. As of yet no date has been set for the creation of the new stake. The stake has rapidly grown from six wards and four branches at the end of 2007 to 11 wards and three branches currently. At least one group/dependent branch is also meeting in the city preparing to become an independent Church unit.
Four missionaries were sent to open Mahajanga for the preaching of the Gospel; two six weeks ago and two more just in the past week or two. Approval for the first branch was just authorized for Mahajanga and members will be meeting in a larger rented space for Church meetings. Missionaries serving in the city report there are around 15-20 active Church members and about as many investigators attending Church meetings. Fianarantsoa also received its first four missionaries last month, were only a handful of members reside but dozens of investigators attend meetings weekly. Another group has also begun meeting in the city of Ambositra, which is between Fianarantsoa and Antsirabe.
Missionaries attending the recently held stake conference in Antananarivo also reported that two districts for Antsirabe and Tamatave would also be organized before the end of the year. No date has been set or reported for the new districts' creation however.
City opens for missionary work in Moldova
A senior couple serving in the Romania Bucharest Mission report that the city of Balti was opened for missionary work in Moldova. Balti is the second largest city in Moldova and has a few Church members already living in the city. The city had a temporarily Church presence in the early 2000s. A group will likely be formed if one has not already for Church meetings. Currently there are only two branches in Moldova: One in Chisinau and one in Orhei. The first district for Moldova was just organized this past January and also includes one branch in neighboring Romania.
9,000 members of the Church in Mongolia and a new branch
In a recent speech about religious freedom becoming more threatened in the United States, Elder Oaks recounted the history of the Church in Mongolia. He reported that membership now stands at 9,000, which is an increase of nearly 600 since the beginning of the year. Membership growth in Mongolia was very rapid in the late 1990s to the early 2000s and then slowed until the beginning of 2008. Considering there are two more months left in the year, we may see membership climb to 9,200 for the end of 2009. Membership grew in Mongolia by 9.36% last year and if membership totals 9,200 for 2009 the growth rate will drop a fraction to 8.95%. Also, a new branch was organized in Mongolia in Erdenet. The Erdenet Branch was divided and the Erdenet 2nd Branch was created. Erdenet is part of the Darkhan Mongolia District.
Group meeting in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo
A senior missionary couple serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa Mission reported that a group has been meeting in the city of Kasumbalesa, DR Congo. Kasumbalesa rests on the border with Zambia and has around 40 members and investigators attending Church meetings. The group is preparing to becoming a branch. A new branch was also recently organized in Kipushi, another nearby border town with Zambia.