Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rapid Church Growth In Ghana

Some of the strongest, most recent growth of the Church in Africa has occurred in Ghana. Currently there are seven stakes in Ghana. The first stakes were organized on April 21st, 1991 in Accra and Cape Coast by Elder Packer and Elder Faust. In 1997 the third and fourth stakes were created in Takoradi and Accra respectively. The Kumasi Ghana stake was the fifth stake, organized in 1998. The last two stakes to be created in Ghana were in Tema (on the outskirts of Accra where the MTC is for West Africa) in 2006 and Accra in 2007. There are also five member districts in Ghana (which I provided with the year they were created). They are in Asamankese (1987), Assin Foso (1987), Swedru (1989), Koforidua (1995), and Nkawkaw (2007).

A second mission for Ghana was created in Cape Coast in 2007. Missionaries reported that one of the purposes of the new mission was to facilitate inland member districts with becoming stakes. The temple in Accra was dedicated in the beginning of 2004. Since the dedication of the temple we have seen a marked increase in baptisms and new congregations organized. At the end of 2003 there were 23,738 members and 74 congregations. At the end of 2008 membership rose to 38,224 organized into 99 congregations. For the five year period before the temple was dedicated membership increased only by about 8,000 and congregations increased by 17.

This year the Church has created many new congregations in Ghana. In an article about a stake conference held in Kumasi, stated the following:

The Kumasi Stake President of the Church, Mr. Richard Samche, noted that currently, the Church had about 3,000 congregations, with about seven units in the Kumasi metropolis, and said plans were being made to extend its branches to other towns outside the capital to make it more accessible to people who wish to join the Church.

A member of the Church visited Accra for a month stated the following about a recently held stake conference there on her blog:

Today was my last day going to church here. It was stake conference and
they changed the boundaries and got new bishops for new branches being

Granted branches have branch presidents and not bishops, but this quote further indicates the rapid growth currently occurring in Ghana, especially around Accra. This year there have been at least 20 new congregations created in Ghana. Many groups or dependent branches are also functioning. I have not found any information about how close any of the districts in the country are to becoming stakes, but a couple of the stakes are close to splitting. The Ghana Cape Coast Mission reported that they are receiving dozens more missionaries in the coming months, resulting in many new proselyting areas opening. I have not heard if baptisms are higher this year than usual.

Even with new branches and more missionaries entering the country there remain large areas of the country in which the Church is not established. These areas include the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, and Upper West provinces as well as the northern half of the Western province and the entire Volta province outside of the city Ho. These areas' population total a little over seven million of the 23.5 million people in Ghana.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Portait of Mormons in the U.S.

The Pew Forum wrote an excellent article about the demographics of the Church in the United States. Topics such as membership distribution, social attitudes and member activity are discussed. The article can be found here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

District Dissolved In Jamaica

A second district was discontinued in Jamaica. The Linstead Jamaica District was dissolved and had three branches. There are now two districts in Jamaica preparing for the first stake to be organized in the country. Mission leadership likely discontinued the district in order for greater emphasis to be placed upon the individual branches.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Stake In Colombia

A new stake was created in Colombia at the end of June. The Duitama Colombia Stake was created from the Duitama Colombia District and includes five wards and one branch. There are now 28 stakes and 12 districts in Colombia. With the creation of the Duitama Colombia Stake there have been 18 new stakes created just in the month of June.

Out of the seven stakes organized in Colombia in the past 10 years, six where created from districts. The Church continues to have districts in some large cities, several of which are close to become stakes. The Church has been established in nearly all the major cities in the country but continues to struggle to have growth in the largest cities. Three stakes have been discontinued in 1998 (Barranquilla Colombia Cevillar), 2000 (Ibague Colombia) and 2008 (Cali Colombia Jardin). North American missionaries are now called to the country much more regularly and in greater number than in the past decade or two. This will hopefully result in greater growth of the Church in Colombia, which is the country in Latin America with the lowest percentage of those who are LDS at one member per 275 people. The population of Colombia is about 45 million and there are over 160,000 members of the Church.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Stake In Brazil

A new stake was created in the Brazilian state of Ceará. The Fortaleza Brazil Castelão Stake was created by a division of the Fortaleza Brazil South Stake and includes five wards. The Fortaleza Brazil Castelão Stake is the 11th stake with the name of the city Fortaleza in its name and the 13th stake in the metropolitan area. With so many stakes in the city it is likely the next new temple announced in Brazil will be in Fortaleza. Church growth has been some of the most rapid seen in Brazil, with four new stakes organized in the city since 2005. Fortaleza is also the city in the world with the most stakes without a temple. The new stake becomes the 227th stake in Brazil. Below is a map of the Fortaleza area.

View Stakes and Districts of Northern Brazil in a larger map

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Stake In The Philippines, District Dissolved in Brazil, Likely New Districts In Brazil

New Stake In The Philippines

A new stake was created on the Philippine island of Negros. The Sagay Philippines Stake was created from the Sagay Philippines District a couple weeks ago, becoming the seventh stake on the island and the 79th in the Philippines. The new stake includes four wards around the city of Sagay and three branches in villages around the city. There are now 85 districts in the Philippines.

Hopefully more of the 85 presently existing districts become stakes in the coming months and years. Many are working very hard for that goal such as the districts in Dumaguete and Naic, according to senior missionaries. I do not think we will see very many new districts organized in the the Philippines in the coming months. I imagine that a district will be created soon in the city of Baler, which is one of the only cities in the Philippines with multiple branches not part of a district or stake.

District Dissolved In Brazil

The Ariquemes Brazil District was discontinued. The district only had two branches in Ariquemes and Ji Parana and was created in 2004. Ariquemes in located in the state of Rondonia, which has one stake in Porto Velho and a district in Vilhena (which only has a couple branches).

Potential New Districts In Brazil

We are likely to see several new districts organized in Brazil in the coming months. There are now three mission branches north of Cuiabá in the state of Mato Grosso in the cities of Lucas do Rio Verde, Sinop and Sorriso. There are also two mission branches in the city of Gurupi (in the state of Tocantins) which, if another branch is organized in the city, will likely be organized into a district. In the southern portion of Bahia there are now four mission branches in the cities of Teixeira de Freitas, Eunapolis, Porto Seguro, and Santa Cruz Cabralia, some of which will likely be included in a future district based in Porto Seguro. In western Paraiba, a branch was just organized in the city of Cajazeiras which could be included in a potential district including the city of Sousa. Two branches are also in the city of Vitoria de Santo Antao which could become a district if another branch is organized or if units are taken from neighboring districts and stakes in the state of Pernambuco. Lastly a mission was just organized in northern Brazil in Teresina which will allow for dozens of cities, currently without a congregation, to open for missionary work and in the coming years, allowing for future growth in districts in this area of the country.

Last year three districts were created in Brazil in the cities of Caruaru, Mamanguape and Planaltina.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New District In South Africa

A new district of the Church was created in South Africa last Sunday. The Bloemfontein South Africa District was created from the Johannesburg South Africa Stake. The new district likely includes the Bloemanda, Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, and Thaba Nchu branches. I am not sure if branches from Lesotho and Kimberley are also included in the new district. There are now 11 stakes and three districts in South Africa.

We are likely to see more districts organized in South Africa in the months and years to come. There are nearly half a dozen mission branches scattered north of Johannesburg which could become a district. There are also a few branches around Klerksdorp, which is about 70 miles southeast of Johannesburg, which are part of one of the stakes in the Johannesburg area. There are other cities which are beginning to have multiple branches that are 50 miles or so away from the rest of the units in the stake or district the city belongs to. President Mann of the South Africa Durban Mission reported that about half a dozen or so new branches would be created in the coming months, most of which in the outskirts of the established stakes and districts in the mission.

New Stake In México

A new stake has been created in the Mexican state of Sonora. The San Luis Río Colorado México Stake was created last Sunday and includes five wards in the city of San Luis Río Colorado. The city of San Luis Río Colorado sits right on the border with the United States. The district in the city was originally organized back in 1990. If a temple were announced for Tijuana, it would likely serve members of the Church in San Luis Río Colorado as well as nine other stakes in the area. There are now 220 stakes and 35 districts in México.

I also received word from missionaries in the México León Mission that the Celaya México Stake will likely split into two stakes in August.

New Stake In Perú; 1,400 Stakes Outside the United States

A new stake was created in Lima, Perú. The Lima Perú La Libertad Stake was created from a division of the Lima Perú Callao and Lima Perú Maranga Stakes and has five wards. The Lima Perú La Libertad Stake becomes the third new stake organized in Perú this year and brings the total number of stakes in the country to 90. There are now 36 stakes just in the Lima metropolitan area. Some stakes which have grown large enough to split in the near future to create new stakes include the Lima Perú Puente Piedra and Lima Perú Canto Grande Stakes.

There are now 1,400 stakes outside of the United States and 1,445 stakes in the United States. During the month of June we have seen the creation of at least 14 new stakes, which is the most new stakes created in one month since the mid-1990s. We have not seen as many new congregations created in the United States this year as we have in years past, so hopefully we will see more congregations created in the latter half of 2009.