Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

Continued growth in Nicaragua

Missionaries continue to report positive church growth developments in Nicaragua. The Nicaragua Managua North Mission, created this past July, is now at productivity levels equal to that of the original Nicaragua Managua Mission prior to the mission split. The small, remote city of Siuna in north central Nicaragua had its first visit by full-time missionaries in the past month and missionaries have periodically worked in the city since. Last Sunday, over 60 interested individuals attended church, which was the second formal church meeting ever held, and several of these attendees will be baptized in the coming weeks. Missionaries serving in Nicaragua report challenges increasing the number of men at church in many areas, which is an obstacle towards developing greater self-sufficiency and long-term growth.

Missionaries arrive in Burundi

As reported a month ago, the Church set plans to open Burundi to missionary work in September for the first time since the brief period full-time missionaries were assigned to Burundi in the early 1990s. Six young male full-time missionaries and two senior couples arrived safely in the country this past week. Two additional young elders will arrive in the coming week. Self-proclaimed Latter-day Saints number nearly 1,000 in Bujumbura and in remote areas in the northeast. There appears to be fewer than 50 known Latter-day Saints in Burundi. In the coming weeks and months, missionaries will most likely begin working with known members, establish and train local leadership for future branches, and begin teaching and baptizing new converts. Missionary activity will most likely be limited to Bujumbura for the first few months or year until expanding into other areas.

Congregational growth in Brazil

Steady congregational growth has occurred in Ceare and Sao Paulo States in Brazil so far in 2010. Few new stakes appear likely to be created in the near future however in these areas due to recent division of most of the larger stakes. There have been 17 new stakes created in these two states since 2005, few of which have been from districts maturing into stakes. Stakes which may be close to splitting in Ceare and Sao Paulo are listed below.
  • Fortaleza Brazil East (9 wards, 2 branches)
  • Hortolandia Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Sao Jose do Rio Preto (9 wards, 3 branches)

Rapid Growth in Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo

Isolated in the interior of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kananga is the country's fourth largest city. The Church created its first district in Kananga in 2003. Up until a couple years ago, four branches operated in the city. Currently there are eight branches, with two or three new branches to be created by the end of the year. No full-time missionaries have been assigned to Kananga in the past and local member missionaries have been responsible for teaching and baptizing new members. So far in 2010, over 450 new converts have been baptized in the district, with typically 60 converts baptized a month. In a recent district conference, over 2,200 attended the general session. Many local members are currently serving full-time missions and for the first time, full-time missionaries will be assigned in the coming month. The Church has faced challenges acquiring additional facilities which are large enough to use as meetinghouses. Many branches in the district report up to 200 attending church a week. The district is currently preparing to become a stake in the near future.

Like in many unreached areas of Africa where self-identified Latter-day Saints meet unofficially waiting for the church's arrival, a new group of 200 is meeting in the name of the church in a location some 300 kilometers from Kananga. Mission leaders provided teaching and training to the prospective members, but as of now there appears to be no plans to open a congregation in this remote area.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Stake in Utah

Another new stake was created in Utah earlier this month. The Springville Utah Dry Creek Stake was created from the Springville Utah West Stake, which had 13 wards and one branch. The new stake has six wards and one branch. There are now 77 stakes in the Provo Utah Temple district and 545 stakes in Utah.

In 2010, there have been 17 new stakes organized thus far, nine of which have been in Utah. Only one stake has been created in the United States outside of Utah this year, which was in Kentucky last March.

Elder Nelson Dedicates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia for Missionary Work

An LDS Church News article announced the dedication of six Balkan nations by Elder Nelson in early September, four of which have no official Church presence. Yugoslavia was formerly dedicated as a whole in 1985 and recently Church leadership determined that the individual nations which comprise of the former Yugoslavia were to be rededicated individually. Small groups of members attended the dedications of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. In May 2010, the Church created administrative branches in each of these countries to assist in the preparation of opening these nations to missionary work and formal Church activity. None of the the Balkan nations without a Church presence have any legal obstacles barring the Church's establishment, enjoy religious freedom, and many missionary-oriented Christian groups openly perform missionary activity like Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. Some nations in the region do have obstacles for the Church to overcome in order to receive official recognition however, like Bosnia which requires at least 300 adult citizen members to apply as a religious community. One of the major obstacles for the Church in these four nations is that there are few native members. There have been several interested individuals attending church meetings in Kosovo and Bosnia in recent years.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Stake in Utah

A new stake has been created in Utah. The Spanish Fork Utah Maple Mountain Stake was created by a division of the Spanish Fork Utah Palmyra Stake, which had 12 wards and one branch. The new stake has six wards and one branch. There are now 544 stakes in Utah.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

108th Book of Mormon Translation in Slovak; Church Growth Developments in the Pacific

The Book of Mormon translated into Slovak

Missionaries report that the Slovak translation of the Book of Mormon has been completed. It is unclear when the translation will be available for distribution, but this marks the first LDS scripture ever translated into the Slovak language and a major development in missionary outreach in this lesser reached European nation. At the end of 2009, there were fewer than 200 members meeting in four branches at least one group. Legal status for the Church was recently obtained. For additional information about the Church in Slovakia and its prospects there, please refer to the Slovakia country profile on

Full-time missionaries assigned to Tuvalu

For the first time in several years, full-time missionaries have been assigned to work on the small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. With less than 13,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu has one LDS branch and 134 Latter-day Saints. Initial missionary reports indicate that there are around 65 attending meetings, many of which are not baptized members. The sole companionship assigned to the islands is learning the Tuvaluan language. Compared to other Pacific islands, few have joined the Church. There were 57 Tuvaluans who self-identified as Latter-day Saints on the New Zealand census in 2006. There are no LDS scriptures and only a handful of church materials in Tuavluan.

Second branch created on Christmas Island (Kirimati)

A second branch has been created on remote Christmas Island in eastern Kiribati. The Banana Branch has functioned as a group for at least a couple years under the Christmas Island Branch. A third branch operates just north of the island on Fanning Island. There are around 5,000 inhabitants on Christmas Island. For more information about the Church in Kiribati, please refer to the country profile.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

City opens for missionary work in Mozambique

Missionaries serving in Mozambique report that for the first time ever, four full-time missionaries will be assigned to work in the city of Inhambane, located on the Indian Ocean coast halfway between Maputo and Beira. Missionaries will reside in the neighboring city of Maxixe and work in both cities, which have a combined population of 170,000. There is no branch in the area, but a group will be established for Sunday meetings, if one is not already functioning, under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch.

There has been a substantial increase in national outreach with full-time missionaries over the past two years in Mozambique. Earlier this year, missionaries were first assigned to Chimoio (the fifth most populous Mozambican city) where a group meets for Sunday meetings. In the past two years, full-time missionaries were assigned for the first time to the cities of Nampula (the third most populous ) and Tete (eighth most populous). Four of the 10 most populated cities remain without an official church presence, however (Nacala, Quelimane, Lichinga, and Pemba).

New Stake Created in Brazil

A new stake has been created in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. Santarém Brazil Pará Stake was created from the Santarém Brazil Pará District, with most if not all the six branches becoming wards. News of the creation of the new stake was reported by missionaries at the end of March. Additional stakes may be organized in the Belem area from existing stakes or districts. There are now four stakes and two districts in Pará State and 231 stakes and 50 districts in Brazil.

New branches in Africa

Missionaries report that new branches will soon be organized in Monrovia, Liberia; Nairobi, Kenya; and the Kilunga Hills, Kenya. More details will be provided when these units are officially organized.

Growth in Portugal

Missionary work
has recently taken off in the Portugal Lisbon Mission, and missionaries report that the mission is currently the highest baptizing mission in Europe, ranking number three for convert retention. Missionaries have been baptizing 50 new converts a month consistently over the past nine months. A large portion of the new converts are youth and immigrants, which often require special attention from local members to keep active. Youth offer significant strength for long-term growth if kept active, such as serving full-time missions and establishing full-member families. Whether or not this growth is sustained and meaningful will hinge on whether the number of congregations in Portugal increases - instead of decreases like in most years over the past decade - in the coming months and years. Portugal is the country with the second most members without a temple and has suffered from high member inactivity in many areas.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Most Populous Metropolitan Areas Without a Reported LDS Church Presence

Cities almost always offer greater proselytism opportunity for the LDS Church than rural areas. Large populations concentrated in small geographic areas allow for high mission efficiency with even a small missionary force and few church resources. Cities are generally easily accessible. Rural areas, which tend to be sparsely populated, often require a large number of mission outreach centers to administer a small population and in many areas are difficult to access. Large cities often attract people throughout the region, country, or world to visit, temporarily work, obtain education, or become permanent residents. Latter-day Saint converts from these temporary visitors or residents have many times in the past facilitated the spread of the Church to other unreached areas or even rural communities when they return to their hometowns. The Church has taken advantage of the benefits of city-focused church growth outreach as manifest by the Church generally establishing congregations in the largest cities prior to expanding into smaller cities or rural areas.

There remain many large cities which do not have LDS congregations established. Below is a list of the 14 cities which rank among the world's 100 most populous cities which do not have a reported LDS congregation. Some of these cities likely have groups of foreign or native members, especially in nations with a restricted Latter-day Saint presence like China. Population data was taken from
  1. Tehran, Iran (12.8 million)
  2. Wuhan, China (8.95 million)
  3. Shenyang, China (6.8 million)
  4. Chongqing, China (6.4 million)
  5. Ahmadabad, India (5.95 million)
  6. Chengdu, China (5.7 million)
  7. Khartoum, Sudan (4.975 million)
  8. Pune, India (4.85 million)
  9. Chittagong, Bangladesh (4.625 million)
  10. Shantou, China (4.6 million)
  11. Alexandria, Egypt (4.575 million)
  12. Harbin, China (4.4 million)
  13. Surat, India (4.225 million)
  14. Kanpur, India (3.675 million)
With the exception of English-speaking branches or small congregations for native members in China, none of the above listed cities appear likely to have LDS congregations created in the near future. Iran, Sudan, and Egypt have heavy restrictions and widespread abuse or religious freedom whereas cities listed above in India are located in areas with few Christians and generally strong anti-Christian sentiments. Bangladesh offers considerable religious freedom for Christians, but the small Bangladeshi Latter-day Saint community concentrated in Dhaka may delay any gains in national outreach for many more years.

New Stakes In Utah

Two new stakes were created at the end of August in Utah, both of which were Young Single Adult (YSA) Stakes, which administer single Latter-day Saints generally between the ages of 18 and 30. The Providence Utah YSA Stake and the Smithfield Utah YSA Stake were created from YSA congregations which formerly belonged to other stakes in the Logan area.

Up until last month, there were no stakes which were specifically designated for Young Single Adults without a connection to a university or college. Stakes which meet the exclusive needs of young adult singles are listed as Student Single Stakes and are associated with a university or college, such as BYU. Many stakes which were formerly Young Single Adult Stakes have been renamed YSA stakes in the past month. Cities which boast large populations of LDS young adults and maintain at least half a dozen YSA congregations in many different stakes may become future locations for the creation of additional YSA stakes. However, the recent creation of the YSA stakes or renaming of some of the Student Single Stakes has been limited to Utah.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Potential New Missions in Nations without a Latter-day Saint Mission

In an era of increasing opportunity for the Church to expand its presence worldwide but with no growth in the number of full-time missionaries over the past decade, there are many areas which appear suitable to have LDS missions established but have likely not had a mission organized due to inadequate missionary manpower. In the 1990s, many nations had their first LDS missions established but had fewer than 500 members and some with just one or two branches. Today there are many nations which enjoy religious freedom and experienced moderate to rapid membership and congregational growth. Below is a list of likely future LDS missions in nations without current LDS missions. Nations without LDS missions which appear most likely to have a mission headquartered in their country are all concentrated in Africa. These missions may be organized once the number of missionaries serving internationally increases, additional missionary resource redistribution occurs, or the complement (quota) of missionaries in established missions declines to allow the creation of additional missions.

  • Togo Lome Mission (to administer Togo and Benin - combined population of 15 million, currently 1,200 members in seven branches)
  • Cameroon Yaounde Mission (to administer Cameroon and the Central African Republic - combined population of 24 million, currently 1,250 members in six branches)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission (to administer Ethiopia and Djibouti - combined population of 86 million, currently 1,000 members in five branches)
  • Burundi/Rwanda Mission (to administer Burundi and Rwanda - combined population of 20 million, currently less than 100 members in one branch)
  • Zambia Lusaka Mission (to administer Zambia and Malawi - combined population of 27 million, currently 3,100 members in 13 branches)
  • Angola Luanda Mission (to administer Angola - population of 12.8 million, currently 831 members in two branches and two groups)
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam Mission (to administer Tanzania - population of 41 million, currently 950 members in five branches)
If the above missions were organized, missionary outreach would not only expand in the nations covered by these prospective missions but also would allow for expansion national outreach in the nations in which current missions operate. For example, the Kenya Nairobi Mission administers Tanzania currently and Kenya alone has a population of 39 million, a rapidly growing Latter-day Saint population of 9,400, and 36 wards and branches. There are tens of millions of Kenyans which reside in areas without nearby Latter-day Saint congregations. Reducing the demands on the mission president while simultaneously developing indigenous missionary resources and increasing the number of missionaries serving in the country allows for greater outreach to occur.

Relying on full-time missionaries is not a successful paradigm to ensure long-term growth. Rather, local members throughout the world need to participate in member-missionary efforts. These in turn result in better convert retention, increases in full-time missionaries serving, and leadership for the future.