Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I will be away from the Internet for much of the rest of the week as my wife and I will be moving back to the United States. A district was discontinued in Saint Kitts-Nevis that I have not reported on yet which I provide background and analysis on once we return.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Breakdown of the World's Population by Current LDS Mission Outreach Efforts

As a Church we tend to believe that the scope of LDS mission outreach exceeds beyond its current bounds. One common misconception is that nations which have no congregations and no LDS Church presence account for the bulk of the unreached world's population to the Church. Only five percent of the world's population resides in such countries - the most populous being Iran. 29% of the world's population resides in nations in which there are no full-time missionaries assigned but one or more LDS congregations (such as China, Bangladesh, and Egypt). These nations tend to have major legal challenges preventing a formal Church establishment or proselytism. An additional 29% of the world's population resides in nations which have a minimal Church presence and tiny missionary force concentrated in just a handful of large cities (such as India, Indonesia, and Ethiopia).

Sadly, just 37% of all people live in nations with a limited to strong LDS Church presence. Nations with a limited Church presence have a developed Church presence in many areas, but large areas remain without any LDS presence. Such nations include Nigeria, Russia, and Japan. The United States, Brazil, and Mexico are examples of nations with a strong LDS Church presence as most areas have congregations and missionaries.

Efforts to expand the breadth and efficacy of the missionary program worldwide will most likely come to greater fruition by focusing on nations with a limited to minimal Latter-day Saint presence. These nations generally permit open missionary activity and have legally recognized the LDS Church. Although we should remember all areas of the world in our prayers and individual member-missionary efforts, these nations offer some of the greatest progress in spreading the Gospel among the unreached.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New District Created in Cambodia

A fifth district was organized in Cambodia in late June. The Battambang Cambodia District was created and includes two branches in Battambang. The creation of the district may indicate that additional branches will be organized in the Battambang area. The first branch in this area of the country was organized in Battambang in December 2003. Branches were first organized in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom in 2007 - which are nearby Battambang but do not appear to be in the new district - and the Battambang Branch divided into two branches in 2009. Growth continues in western Cambodia. The Church purchased land for a meetinghouse in Siem Reap which will be built soon.

Cambodia has experienced some of the strongest membership growth in Asia over the past decade but with modest retention rates. Membership increased from over 2,000 in 2000 to nearly 9,000 today. Half of the full-time missionary force is Cambodian.

New Stake to be Created in Utah

According to www.tremontonleader.com, a third stake will be created August 14-15th in Tremonton that will be named the Tremonton Utah West Stake. Many boundary changes have been occurred over the past couple weeks in preparation for the new stake. Church leadership in the area put in a request to Church Headquarters to form a new stake back in April. The two stakes currently have a combined 21 wards and three branches.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Church Growth News

Update on Growth in Nicaragua

Missionaries report that the Church is calling unprecedented numbers of additional missionaries to staff the two missions in Nicaragua - one of which just opened earlier this month. Total missionaries serving in this Central American country will likely reach 400 in the coming months, with 200 missionaries in each mission. Additional groups or dependent branches have also been recently organized. In Puerto Cabezas, a fourth branch was just created, the El Caminante Branch. The three additional branches in the area are the Puerto Cabezas, Bilwi, and Loma Verde Branches. A future district based in Puerto Cabezas appears highly likely in the coming months although there are no official reports that this will occur.

New Branches in East Malaysia

The three originally branches in Kuching were realigned to create two new branches. The Kuching East Malaysia District now has five branches. With five congregations, the district can work towards becoming a stake in the future although the number of active members and Priesthood holders remains insufficient. In the Sibu East Malaysia District, a fourth branch was created in Sibu Jaya. Missionary activity occurs exclusively among non-Muslims in Malaysia.

City Opens for Missionary Work in Mozambique

Missionaries report that Chimoio, Mozambique has opened for missionary work. What was previously the city with the most inhabitants without a Church presence, no branch has been organized and the Church meets as a group under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch. The opening of Chimoio is a significant development as low convert retention and struggles to develop local leadership have prevented additional areas of the country from receiving missionaries. In the past couple years, several cities which had branches previously established have had full-time missionaries assigned, including Nampula and Tete.

Breakthrough in the Solomon Islands: Members Meeting in Three Congregations

The Solomon Islands have remained the least reached by LDS mission efforts among all the islands of the Pacific despite boasting one of the largest populations in the region of over half a million. The first branch was organized in the mid-1990s in the capital of Honiara and slow membership growth occurred between 2000 and 2007. It appears that the Honiara Branch has recently been divided and two new congregations have been established in Honiara. Although LDS missionary work remains severely limited in the country, the creation of additional units allows for expanded outreach and greater opportunities to spur local leadership.

Branch Discontinued in Paramaribo, Suriname

One of the seven branches in Suriname was recently discontinued in the Blauwgrond region of the city. It is unclear whether the branch continues to meet as a group or dependent branch of a neighboring branch or whether members in the area now travel to a different location for Church meetings. Suriname has experienced strong membership growth in the past five years, but modest convert retention rates and poor local leadership development resulting in dependence on foreign missionaries for administrative tasks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

District Discontinued in Puerto Rico

The Fajardo Puerto Rico District was discontinued and its four branches were combined with the San Juan Puerto Rico Stake. Larger branches in the former Fajardo district may now become wards in the stake based in San Juan. In the early 2000s, there were four stakes and four districts in Puerto Rico. In 2006, two districts combined to create a fifth stake. There are now five stakes and one district on the island.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Likely Areas For Future Mission Outreach Expansion

I have always been fascinated with what areas do and do not have a Church presence. Expanding the Church's national outreach is a major responsibility that falls on local and regional Church leadership, but is something that initially begins with local members moving to unreached cities and sharing the Gospel with those around them. Unfortunately not only does the majority of the world's population live in locations without a Church presence, but the majority of the population in countries with an official Church presence also do not live in locations with congregations or missionaries nearby. We tend to concentrate on the opening of many small, sparsely population nations but many larger nations with have had an official Church presence for decades have tens of millions who remain without any LDS mission outreach, such as Indonesia, India, and Brazil.

The Church has had an exciting past couple years as many new cities have opened for missionary work and an acceleration of congregation and membership growth have occur in many nations which have large populations but a very limited Church presence. Based on recent growth trends and current reports from missionaries and Church leaders around the world, I have provided a list and map of likely areas in which we will see expanding mission outreach.

View Growth Hotspots in a larger map