Saturday, March 13, 2010

Church Growth News and Developments

Island opens for missionary work in Fiji

Around the beginning of 2010 the island of Kadavu received its first permanent missionaries. Located south of Suva, Kadavu appears to be the first island in Fiji's Eastern Division to have a Church presence and missionaries. Only one missionary companionship serves on Kadavu and Church services are held in two locations: Kavala and Vunisea. The population of Kadavu is 10,000. No branches have been created and only two groups have Sunday meetings. Most of those attending meetings are youth and attendance is steadily growing.

Additional branches to be created in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Impressive membership growth and high convert retention continues in the DR Congo. Missionaries report that district conferences in the interior have had more in attendance than members on the records. In Kananga, there were 500 investigators who attended a conference held several months ago. Missionaries report that several new branches will be created in Luputa and Mbuji-Mayi this year and the latter may become its own district. A third branch was also recently created in Mbuji-Mayi. The district in Luputa is working towards become a stake within the next year. The number of missionaries serving in Lubumbashi has continued to increase and a new zone was created. The city of Kolwezi may open for missionary work soon. There are now eight wards in each of the Lubumbashi stakes.

Growth in Kenya

Missionaries report that the four branches in the Kilunga Hills southeast of Nairobi continue to grow rapidly in membership. The newest branch, the Mitini Branch, was created less than a year ago and now has around 300 attending meetings. More branches will be created soon to accommodate the strong growth. This area seems highly likely to be made into a district, in addition to several other areas with multiple mission branches. Difficultly access these areas and limited leadership have likely delayed the creation of more districts.

Much of northern Norway closes to missionary work; missionaries relocated to southern Norway

In a bold move, the Norway Oslo Mission has closed most of the proselyting areas in northern Norway and placed missionaries in Oslo and surrounding cities. Northern Norway has seen little growth; two districts used to function, based in Trondheim and Tromso, but both were discontinued in the early or mid-2000s. Missionaries report the mission is working hard to turn several branches into wards around Oslo in order for a stake stake to be created. These areas also appear the most receptive to the Church.

Botswana recap: New branches and zone

A lot of developments have occurred over the past year. Branches have been established in Molepolole (spring 2009), Mochudi and Kanye (both in late 2009). The first YSA ward was created in Africa in Gaborone. Francistown also opened for missionary work. A second zone was also just created due to the large increase in missionaries serving Botswana. For more information about the Church in Botswana, check out the country profile at Cumorah.com.

Atolls in the Marshall Islands open for missionary work

Missionaries report that Ailinglaplap and Ebon have recently opened for missionary work. Both these atolls have only a couple thousand inhabitants and missionaries have been assigned due to members requesting them. On Ailinglaplap, the chief of the island joined the Church on Majuro and has been instrumental in the Church's recent establishment on the atoll. Missionaries also serve on Jaluit and together with Ailinglaplap and Ebon none of these areas have branches established. Church meetings occur in groups. Also, on Christmas Island in neighboring Kiribati at least two groups are also meeting, one of which may become a branch soon in a small community named Banana.

The opening of a nation to the Church: Significant Angola developments

Members in Angola report that the first group has been organized outside of Luanda in Lubango. There are over 100,000 inhabitants in the city and the newly created group has around 15 investigators attending Sunday meetings. A missionary companionship have also recently been assigned to Lubango. Members report that several more groups will be created in Huambo and Moxico Provinces. The two branches in Luanda will also divide to create two additional branches in the near future. Currently six missionaries serve in the country with another six or seven awaiting visas. For more information about the Church in Angola, click on this link to Cumorah.com.

New area opens in Lesotho

Missionaries have recently been assigned to work in the small town of Leribe. Leribe is the hometown of Lesotho's queen and is located on the border with South Africa 75 miles northeast of Maseru.

9 comments:

rfelsted said...

Thanks, Matt. It's good to see the growth in Africa, Pacific Islands, etc. Norway is the only Scandinavian country with just one stake so it would seem a second stake could be possible there.

I've noticed in tracking wards and branches since Jan 1, 2010, that growth is accelerating in the US and slow in non-US countries. Congregations in the US have grown from 13,475 to 13,506, up 31, and from 14,870 to 14,874 in non-US countries (through 3-15-2010, per ldschurchtemples.com/statistics).

Of course, the non-US growth may be a bit higher because groups are not reported. Also, there are a few nations where these statistics are not made public.

rfelsted said...

Stakes are up 5 since Jan 1 (4 outside US). Wards are up 28 in non-US countries (many former branches have been changed to wards in these new stakes) and branches are down 24 (again, most having been converted to wards). I also forgot to point out in the previous post that dependent branches are not reported, in addition to groups, so the slow growth reported in countries outside the US may be misleading.

Holly Walton said...

How far off do you think we are from seeeing a temple announced in the Democratic Republic of Congo? It seems like growth is happening quickly there. I am just not sure about retention and the availability of Melchizedek Priesthood leaders. Any info would be great?

Matt said...

The DR Congo has one of the highest retention rates of converts in the world. I do not have any exact figures, but I estimate that retention of converts may be as high as 80%. This spectacular growth has occurred from member-missionary work. Many of the areas which are seeing the most rapid growth do not have full-time missionaries assigned. I imagine that Lubumbashi and Kinshasa likely have more less active or inactive members. However these areas benefit from large numbers of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. There were over 50 men sustained to received the Melchizedek Priesthood in a stake conference in Kinshasa last August.

Members are anxiously awaiting a temple announcement. I believe that the country has enough priesthood holders and could keep a temple well attended. However, a major problem in the DR Congo is that there are very few members who have attended the temple before. A temple announcement will become much more likely once more members go through the temple and hold temple recommends. If a greater number of Congolese do not attend the temple prior to the temple's dedication, a future temple will be highly dependent on senior missionaries to function properly.

We also need to remember that the DR Congo is among the poorest nations in terms of GDP per capita at only $300. The GDP has not increased for at least the past few years as economic growth is slow or non-existent. Many live in deep poverty and also a long distance from Kinshasa. The Church is accomplishing many humanitarian projects to meet peoples' immediate needs. Temples in some Latin American countries were not completed until membership was over 100,000 (although these nations had major inactivity problems). Instability in Central Africa may have also delayed a temple announcement. Like all temples, this decision will come down to revelation. Just because most live in deep poverty doesn't mean that they should be denied the blessings of the temple if they are faithful. However, it likely takes longer for temples to get to these nations for a variety of reasons.

Missionaries have indicated that a large parcel of land (maybe 10 or 15 acres) owned by the Church in Kinshasa appears as a likely site for a new temple.

Personally, I think that a temple will be announced for Kinshasa in the next couple years but may take as many as 5-10 years until completion due to the time needed for the Church to receive all the needed city approvals and the additional time to construct a temple in a very poor nation which is far from Church and Area headquarters. I am optimistic, as are missionaries and members and I frequently pray that a temple may soon be announced for this great nation.

Gnesileah said...

Last month, geographer and blogger Martin Lewis wrote three interesting articles on DR Congo that help bring to light the unique issues affecting that country. You can read them here:

http://geocurrentevents.blogspot.com/2010/02/dr-congo-potemkin-state.html

John Pack Lambert said...

The growth of the Church in the DR Congo probably explains why the Church is splitting the mission there come July and creating a new mission headquartered in Lumbumbashi.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am very optimistic about a temple for DR Congo, although the fact that the temple in Nigeria was closed for much of last year may mean the issue of having local members who have been to the temple is going to seem important.
I am not sure when the Nigeria Temple reopened but they have called a new Temple President, who I believe is the first black African to serve in that office.
President Monson was incharge of starting the teaching of people in French in Quebec when he was mission president of the Canadian Mission, so I figure he has a special place in his heart for all French speakers (but he also has one for German speakers, and Spanish speakers, he just has a big hear) so I can imagine this possibly influencing a decision.
On the other hand, showing up to Church is one thing, paying tithing is different. I do not know anything about that rate in Congo, but I do know the Church pays close attention to it.
I do recall reading materials about how in Congo it was often the husband who joined the Church first, followed by his wife and children.
Of course, as was alluded to, a temple announcement and a temple completion are different. The Kyiv Ukrain Temple was announced in August of 1998 and is still not done (although it is close). The Guyaquil Ecuador and Bogota Columbia Temples both took about 15 years from anouncement to dedication. Then there is the story of the Hartford/White Plains/Manhattan Temple, which is about 12 years from when the Hartford Temple is announced to when the Manhattan Temple is dedicated, where the Manhattan Temple ends up being reworked space that existed up to 15 years before the Hartford Temple was first announced.
I wonder if there are many Congolese members elsewhere who have attended the temple? I know there are enough Church members in Salt Lake City from Uganda, Kenya and maybe Tanzania that they have a Swaili speaking branch there. I also once happened to be at a Music and the Spoken Word broadcast where there were about 20 people from Ghana who were in Salt Lake to be trained as temple workers in the Accra Temple which was dedicated the next month. I sat by one of them and talked with him a little, but did not ask him if he had been to the temple before. I have always assumed that these men and women had, but possibly only once. I could also recount the story of Iosepa and the Hawaiians spending 25 years in Utah preparing to them go back and run the temple in Hawaii, although they were not told that was the plan, and maybe the Lord had not yet told anyone that was the full plan when the Hawaiians came.

Holly Walton said...

Thanks for the info on DR Congo. Let's hope they get one soon. I keep hoping that France, Portugal, Scotland, and Nicaragua will see temples announced soon as well but it is all on the Lord's time.

Tom said...

Hey great news happy to see that the church is continuing to expand throughout the world, and I still am strongly looking forwards to seeing how well growth has faired up in 2009.

also I have started up a new LDS blog known as "LDS World" its not to report on growth, but rather I hope to develop it into an online magazine, information resource, and a site for investigators to learn about the church generally.

http://alatterdayblog.blogspot.com/