Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New District in India, Madagascar Update


Last Sunday, a new district was created in India.  The Rajahmundry India District was organized in from the Visakhapatnam India District and includes the Rajahmundry 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Branches, and the Kakinada Branch.  The Visakhapatnam India District was organized in October 2009 and retained three branches in the Visakhapatnam area following the creation of the new district.  Visakhapatnam and Rajahmundry have been the site of some of the strongest LDS Church growth in India over the past decade as there was only one branch operating in the region in Rajahmundry in 2001.  There are now seven districts in India.  The Hyderabad India District appears closest to becoming a stake within the next few years.


Two Sundays ago, the Antananarivo Madagascar Stake was divided to organize the Antananarivo Madagascar Ivandry Stake with six wards and one branch.  The original Antananarivo Madagascar Stake was renamed the Antananarivo Madagascar Manakambahiny Stake and includes six wards and two branches.  There are now two stakes and two districts in Madagascar, with many potential branches likely to be organized in the coming months.  


Erik said...

Any idea how close Mongolia's Ulaanbatar East district is to becoming a stake? I wonder whether church growth has slightly declined or increased since the creation of their first stake. Guess we'll soon find out with April conference around the corner!

Gnesileah said...

Exciting news about Madagascar and India. The Antananarivo Madagascar Manakambahiny Stake - I would venture to say that could be the longest name of a stake in all the Church!

Tom said...

Happy for the church to continue to grow in India,

A country with 1 billion+ population with a growing church is an excellent prospect.

Potentially india can gain millions of members and in more future years be the country with the largest number of members.

As more and more branches and districts are created (as they are being), leadership, community and structure will develop which will all accelerate growth further.

Erik said...

Tom - while I believe the Church will continue to accelerate its growth in India, I think we should consider the possibility that China might maintain more members than India. According to the country profile on the cumorah website, China currently has around 10,000 LDS members - though I have heard the number might be several times that - which in any case is more than the 8200 or so members currently in India. Chinese people seem (on average) much more open and receptive to the Gospel than Indians, who are more often bound to their own culture and traditions.

Now the question is a tricky one - if the Church in China is not allowed to organize native branches officially (they're currently operating kind of unofficially) or any stakes -- then the creation of stakes and active membership in India might significantly come to dwarf that of China. After all, most current Chinese members in China do not meet together in either groups or branches with other members.

However, I am hoping that the Church in China will gradually be allowed to operate more and more freely -- if the field opens up in China I am certain the church will grow more there than in India.

Last year the Church announced that it was "regularizing" relations with China -- does anyone know about the specifics of that regularization?? I have heard nothing announced yet. Even if the regularization does not allow any native Chinese to be baptized in China, converts baptized outside of China and returning back home might make it possible for a stake to be established over the next decades, at least in Beijing, even without an opening to actual missionary work.

I am hoping, though, that China will open to missionary work over the next couple decades, leading to even more significant membership and congregational growth.

Tom said...

Of course I do agree that the church would grow faster in china than india,

nevertheless I was pointing to the fact that India has missionary outreach whilst China is limited. Hence I think it will eventually overtake China in the coming years.

I think if missionaries are ever allowed in China the church would boom and become extremely successful there. It could easily reach a few million members in 40 years or so.

Matt said...

I do not know how close the Ulaanbaatar Mongolia Stake is to becoming a stake, but I imagine that it is very close. As far as I can tell it appears that the number of convert baptisms in Mongolia for 2010 was comparable to the previous year.

I agree that India has huge potential for growth, but there are a lot of barriers which have slowed and delayed that growth for Latter-day Saints since the initial church establishment in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to the logistical complexity of translating church materials in the 400+ indigenous languages, LDS proselytism approaches have not been tailored to Hindu or Muslim backgrounds. The number of full-time missionaries assigned to India has been extremely limited due to visa regulations, but this has likely facilitated greater self-reliance and member-missionary participation than many other nations. All LDS scriptures are not available in any Indian language despite members speaking many these languages for decades. The Church has been reluctant to open additional cities to missionary work and establish branches as during the 2000s, branches were established for the first time only in Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, and Kolar Gold Fields (KFG). Violence targeting Christians has dissuaded expanding national outreach and political instability has interrupted missionary activity multiple times. With the organization of the new district in Rajahmundry, no additional districts appear likely to be organized for several more years. I believe that the Church will continue to grow in India in areas in which it is currently operating and that church membership may reach 20,000 by 2020 and the number of congregations may exceed 100 by this time. I will be most curious to see what happens in Mumbai and Kolkata as branches have functioned in each of these extremely populous cities for a couple decades yet each city only has one LDS branch today. In recent years, there have been increasing number of members serving missions for the branches according to missionary reports. Nonetheless, opportunities are plentiful for growth through the smart appropriation of limited resources. A senior missionary couple working in the Chennai area reported hundreds of individuals desiring to learn about the Church and become potential members just last year, but the Church has not capitalized on these opportunities due to its centers of strength policy and extremely stretched administrative and ecclesiastical resources in India. The lack of outreach and receptivity among Indian populations abroad indicates some cultural challenges that the Church will need to address, but there appears to have been some success in Fiji among Indo-Fijians.

As for China, I believe that the Church has a much more immediate, brighter future in China than India as the Church has grown rapidly over the past five years through family missionary activity and the establishment of dozens of branches and groups. Ironically the Church has grown so wonderfully in China because there are no missionaries due to government regulations. The separation of foreign and native members has further accelerated growth by fostering self reliant local leadership (although I imagine that leadership training and performance likely experiences some major issues due to a lack of experienced members knowing how to do administrative tasks. However members who joined the Church outside of China and returned often provide valuable assistance). I do not think we have any indication that Church membership in China was over 10,000 in 2009 due to membership totals report for Asia that year, and currently membership is likely around 10,000 in China when considering the likely 1,5000 or 2,000 expatriate members. I personally think we will not see stakes established in mainland China unless the Church is able to have dialogue with international church leaders. I would not be surprised to find that we may have districts numbering in the 30s or 40s by the time a stake is organized, but that it just my opinion.

vera said...

I just heard in church today that a new YSA stake will be organized in Lehi, the end of April. Will cover YSA branches and wards in Northern Utah county.

Brandon Plewe said...

The new (old) Madagascar stake might be the biggest mouthful, but it's not the longest name. That goes to the:

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Los Restauradores Stake

Brandon Plewe said...

Re India: I wonder to what degree the extremely strong establishment of the Seventh Day Adventist church there (1.3 million members) is a challenge to our growth, sapping up much of our potential "market" of Christian Indians. Or perhaps it is a hopeful sign of a sizable missionary field?

Chad said...

I served my mission in Madagascar... it's a great time for the members there. The church is growing so fast there right now. I wouldn't be surprised to see two more stakes and two more districts there within 3 years. There are members in areas with groups and branches that don't have access to missionaries. That country is a ticking time-bomb.

The biggest problem for the members there right now is the inability to get to a temple. It's expensive. Some go, but they save their whole lives to be able to afford the visa. Then the church helps with the plane flight. Only the richest of people can make it to the temple. I look forward to the day when Madagascar has a temple.