Missionaries report that this July the Korea Seoul West Mission will be discontinued. I am a returned missionary from the Korea Seoul West Mission and it does not surprise me that the mission will be absorbed into the Korea Seoul Mission not because the mission has been unproductive but rather because of the small number of missionaries serving in the Korea Seoul Mission and the few baptisms they have had over the years. The Korea Seoul Mission will also include stakes formally covered by the Korea Seoul West Mission with the exception of the Suwon Korea Stake which will go to the Korea Daejon Mission. The Seoul West Mission typically has around 300 baptisms a year while the Seoul Mission has had around 100 to 200 a year.
Furthermore missionaries report that as many as 16 missions may be discontinued this summer. As noted by the mission president in the Spain Malaga Mission, reasons for the large number of missions to be discontinued include the decreasing number of men mission-aged in North America and realigning missions in less productive areas to shift resources to more productive areas. It appears that the decision to discontinue so many missions this year was a decision that has been considered for many years and linked to the 2002 announcement of the discontinuation of stake missions and missionary programs with a ward and branch mission focus. Areas experiencing mission consolidations have so far been ones which have or will soon have stakes established, indicating that one of the purposes of missions is to not only teach and baptize converts but to also mentor local members in order to become self-sustaining. Once members become more self sustaining in less productive areas the number of missionaries and resources are reduced.
With so many missions to be discontinued we may see a few more missions organized. Likely candidates include Africa and Central and South America as these regions have many areas which experience rapid growth and rely on foreign missionaries. I also wanted to stress that many areas of the world with high retention and rapid growth do not have foreign full-time missionaries, suggesting that oftentimes members grow too dependent on foreign missionaries to run the Church.