Sunday, February 27, 2011

Church Growth News

Makeni, Sierra Leone opening for missionary work

For the first time in about seven years, full-time missionaries will open an additional city in Sierra Leone to formal missionary work this March.  Located in central Sierra Leone, Makeni is the second largest city without LDS missionaries and has had a small number of members that have met for church meetings as a group under the Freetown Sierra Leone Mission Branch.  Missionaries report that as many as four branches or congregations will be organized in the coming month or so in Makeni as rapid membership growth has occurred.  Currently LDS missionaries and congregations function in Freetown, Bo, and Kenema.  The Sierra Leone Freetown Mission includes Sierra Leone and Liberia and its 60 elders assigned to the mission currently baptize approximately 100 converts a month. 

Cities opening for missionary work in Liberia

Full-time missionaries report that two additional cities in Liberia will open for missionary work in the coming months.  Currently LDS missionaries only serve in Monrovia.  In the late 2000s, branches were organized in Kakata and Harbel, which appear to be the cities that will most likely open for missionary work.  I will provide details once they become available.

City opens for missionary work in Ghana

Missionaries have just opened Asokwa, Ghana for missionary work.  Located near the medium-sized city of Obuasi, Asokwa has no wards or branches and any Latter-day Saints in the city meet as a group.

City opening for missionary work in Tanzania

Full-time missionaries will soon be assigned to Mwanza, Tanzania which bring the total number of cities with an LDS presence to three in the country.  Mwanza is the largest city in northeastern Tanzania and offers favorable conditions for rapid church growth for Latter-day Saints . Some Latter-day Saints have moved to the city from the Arusha area in recent years.  Full-time missionaries will also begin teaching in Swahili for the first time in Tanzania rather than English, which will likely foster stronger church growth. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Peru Chiclayo Mission

Becoming Peru's tenth mission, the Peru Chiclayo Mission will be organized from the Peru Piura and Peru Trujillo Missions.  The new mission will include the two Peruvian regions of Lambayeque and Cajamarca with a combined population of 2.5 million.  The realigned Peru Piura Mission will retain the regions of Piura and Tumbes with a combined population of 1.9 million and the realigned Peru Trujillo Mission will retain the regions of Ancash and La Libertad with a combined population of 2.7 million.  The Peru Piura Mission was once headquartered in Chiclayo and was known as the Peru Chiclayo Mission until relocated to Piura in the 2000s.  The new Peru Chiclayo Mission will have eight stakes and the realigned Peru Piura Mission will have five stakes and two districts and the Peru Trujillo Mission will have 10 stakes and four districts.

Notwithstanding the large number of full-time missions administering Peru's population of 30 million, dozens of cities between 10,000 and 30,000 remain unreached by the LDS Church and many are located in northern Peru in areas affected by the mission realignment.  Several previously unreached cities now have groups and full-time missionaries assigned (such as Morropon, Tambo Grande, Huamachuco, and Huarauaos) and additional cities will likely open to missionary work as additional mission resources are allocated to the soon-to-be three missions (such as Bambamarca, Chota, Cutervo, La Arena, and Tambo Grande).  Peru's native full-time missionary force more than exceeds the number of full-time LDS missionaries stationed in Peru, which has likely contributed to the announcement of an additional mission.  As the number of Peruvian Latter-day Saints serving missions continue to rise, we may see additional missions organized in Peru in locations such as Huancayo, Ica, and Iquitos.

For more information on the Church in Peru and challenges, opportunities, and prospects for growth, visit the Peru country profile.

Assessing Member Activity Rates by Percentage Increase in Seminary and Institute Enrollment

For several years the LDS Church has released a summary of seminary and institute attendance for most countries in which the Church has a presence.  Attending seminary or institute provides increased opportunity for members and investigators to enhance their doctrinal understanding of the Church, form friendships with active members, and facilitate regular church attendance.  Noting changing numbers of students enrolled in these Church Education System (CES) programs by country offers insight into change in member activity rates among youth and young adults as many active Latter-day Saint youth and young adults participate in these programs.  The Church does not release member activity statistics, but member activity rates can be ascertained by examining other reported statistics, such as increases in the number of congregations, the formation of stakes, the ratio of membership to congregations, and the percentage of total membership enrolled in seminary and institute.

Below is a list of the countries which experienced at least a 30% increase in CES enrollment between the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 school years.  Countries with fewer than 100 students enrolled during the 2008-2009 school year have been omitted.  The country name is provided, followed by the percentage increase and the reported number of enrolled students during the 2009-2010 school year.
  1. Ethiopia - 138% - 107
  2. Guyana - 133% - 296
  3. Kenya - 95% - 1,295
  4. Trinidad and Tobago - 92% - 152
  5. Swaziland - 64% - 121
  6. Mongolia - 62% - 1,195
  7. Netherlands - 50% - 581
  8. Republic of Congo - 44% - 720
  9. Czech Republic - 42% - 102
  10. Cameroon - 40% - 192
  11. Tonga - 38% - 2,224
  12. Cote d'Ivoire - 37% - 5,017
  13. Singapore - 33% - 204
  14. Madagascar - 31% - 666
  15. Wales - 31% - 194
  16. Cape Verde - 30% - 573
The percentage increase in students enrolled in CES programs has outpaced the percentage increase for total church membership in each of these countries during this period, which may suggest that in addition to moderate to high rates of convert retention that some inactive members may have been reactivated and are now enrolled in seminary and institute.  Countries with slow or stagnant membership growth listed above (the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Tonga, and Wales) likely experienced strong growth in seminary and institute enrollment from institute and seminary outreach directed towards active members previously not attending classes and inactive or less-active members which have been reactivated and are now attending classes.  Countries which experienced notable increases in CES enrollment between 2008 and 2010 with fewer than 100 students enrolled in 2010 include Saint Vincent and Estonia.

It is important to note that enrollment in seminary and institute for students does not guarantee that students attend church meetings regularly or follow LDS teachings, but enrollment in these programs indicates that these members affiliate themselves with the Church and more than often are actively participating in other church programs.

Benin Cotonou Mission

For the first time in two decades, the Church will organize a mission in a nation that at present does not have a stake or district.  The Benin Cotonou Mission will include both Benin and Togo which were formerly assigned to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission and will administer a population of 15.5 million.  The Church was first established in Togo in 1997 whereas the first full-time missionaries were assigned to Benin in 1998.  Steady membership growth has occurred over the past decade as church membership increased from 117 in 2000 to 1,034 in 2009 in Togo and from 11 in 2000 to 253 in 2008 in Benin.  The Lome Togo District was organized in late 2009 and today includes five branches.  There are three mission branches in Benin in the Cotonou area.  Currently there is only an LDS presence in Cotonou and Lome.  Prospects appear high for a future district in Benin within the next year.

Rapid membership growth will likely continue following the organization of the new mission and additional congregations may be organized in the Lome, Togo and Cotonou, Benin areas.  With the exception of nearby cities on the coast, no additional cities will likely open for missionary work for another year or two as the mission is organized and being staffed.  Cities which may be among the first to open to missionary work include Abomey (Benin), Godomey (Benin), Ouidah (Benin), Porto-Novo (Benin), and Tsevie (Togo) due to their large populations and close proximity to currently established branches.  Based on growth patterns and mission policies in other West African nations, the largest cities in central and northern areas of Benin and Togo may not open for missionary work for decades due to distance, poor living conditions, and differing ethno-linguistic groups.

The announcement of the new mission was rumored for months, but it came as a surprise that the mission will be based in Benin rather than Togo considering Togo has more members and LDS congregations.  The decision to base the new mission in Benin was likely due to Benin supporting a larger population than Togo (9 million versus 6.5 million).  Leadership development and member activity rates have ranged from moderate to high in both countries.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Missionary Work Beginning in Cuba

Full-time missionaries serving in the Jamaica Kingston Mission report that Cuba has now come under the administration of the Jamaica Kingston Mission and that the mission president has begun visiting Cuba to perform mission business.  There is a small branch operating in Havana which has operated for several years.  It is unclear whether full-time missionaries will be assigned to Cuba anytime soon.  Prospects for growth in Cuba are favorable and many other missionary-oriented Christian groups have experienced steady growth as there are over 92,000 active Jehovah's Witnesses meeting in 1,254 congregations and 30,800 Seventh Day Adventists meeting in 294 congregations.  Delays opening Cuba to LDS missionary activity appear primarily due to reliance on American missionary manpower and leadership to open nations to missionary work rather than government restrictions.

The first LDS missionary to serve from Cuba just began serving his mission earlier this month.  For more information about the LDS Church in Cuba, please refer to the Cuba country profile written by me and David Stewart from

Friday, February 18, 2011

Five New Missions to be organized and Five Mission to be Consolidated this July

New missions will be organized in the following locations:
  • Benin Cotonou
  • Mexico Mexico City Southeast
  • Peru Chiclayo
  • Philippines Quezon City North
  • Zambia Lusaka
Missions to be consolidated are as follows:
  • Connecticut Hartford 
  • Georgia Macon
  • Portugal Porto
  • Switzerland Geneva and France Toulouse to create the France Lyon
  • Toronto Canada East and Toronto Canada West to create Toronto Canada

New Mission to be created in Benin

A new mission will be organized in West Africa to administered Benin and Togo called the Benin Cotonou Mission.  I will provide more details once they become available.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Stake in Brazil

A new stake was created in Brazil a couple weeks ago in the Campinas area.  The Sumaré Brazil Stake was organized from the Hortolandia Brazil Stake and includes five wards.  Church growth has been strong in the region as several new congregations have been organized in the area over the past year.  The Hortolandia Brazil Stake was originally organized in early 2007 with seven wards and had ten wards and a branch prior to the creation of the new stake. 

There are now 240 stakes and 49 districts in Brazil.

New Mission to be Organized in the Philippines

Missionaries serving in the Philippines Quezon City Mission report that the mission will divide into two missions this July.  The mission currently services 11 stakes and four districts on Luzon Island in northern Manila as well as the western half of Mindoro Island.  Missionary activity has been strong in the Manila area recently; missionaries serving in the Philippines Manila Mission reported that the mission baptized the most new converts in 2010 among Philippine missions.  Membership growth in the Philippines has increased in regular increments in recent years, but low member activity and poor convert retention remain major challenges as indicated by small increases in the number of congregations year-to-year and new stakes being organized at a rate of one a year.

As a result of the division of the mission, the names of the missions will be the Philippines Quezon City North and Philippines Quezon City South Missions.  Currently there are 16 LDS missions in the Philippines.

Georgia Macon Mission to consolidate with surrounding missions this July; New Mission Rumors

Full-time missionaries serving in the Georgia Macon Mission report that the mission will be consolidated with three neighboring missions this July.  Missions headquartered in Georgia and surrounding states tend to service few stakes, but receptivity has been higher in this area than many other regions on the United States in recent years.

Missionaries serving in the Fiji Suva Mission report that the mission may divide to create a separate mission for New Caledonia and Vanuatu.  I will provide more information when it becomes available.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Church Growth News

Update on cities opened for missionary work in Mozambique

Missionaries in Mozambique report that progress continues in cities opened for missionary work in 2010 as many have been baptized and sacrament meeting attendance has dramatically increased.  At present the Chimoio Group now has over 90 attending church meetings; Maxixe has 40 and Dondo has 120.  

Additional city in Uganda with an LDS presence

Full-time missionaries serving in Uganda report that a group has been organized in Masaka, Uganda.  The Church initially sent a humanitarian senior couple to perform a clean water project and had no intentions of establishing a congregation or assigning missionaries.  A former investigator who had met with LDS missionaries in Kampala recognized the senior couple and interest in the Church and its teachings increased among the population in the area.  When the water project was completed, the senior missionary couple brought full-time missionaries to Masaka to answer questions about the Church and distribute scriptures and proselytism pamphlets.  Hundreds of church pamphlets and 100 issues of the Book of Mormon were distributed.  Full-time missionaries returned, baptized a couple converts, and opened a small congregation that now meets regularly.  This instance illustrates the influence of humanitarian work on church growth, the high receptivity of Uganda and many other African nations, and the need for additional missionary resources to be dedicated to the region.  

While on the topic of Uganda, the Gulu Branch (organized in 2008) recently received a new meetinghouse and sacrament meeting attendance has reached 140.

LDS meetinghouse occurring in Nauta, Peru

A senior missionary couple has supervised the opening of Nauta to missionary work, which is located in the Iquitos area.  Currently there are approximately 50 attending meetings.  The group may soon become a branch as male converts remain active and are ordained to the priesthood.  

Correction on new stake in Honduras

I reported back in November that a new stake would be organized in Tegucigalpa.  It appears that the information I received was incorrect as no new stake has been organized.  I apologize for the misinformation.

France Toulouse and Switzerland Geneva Missions to consolidate into the France Lyon Mission this July

Missionaries report that the France Toulouse Mission and Switzerland Geneva Mission will combine into a single mission this July.  The mission will be renamed the France Lyon Mission and administer LDS missionary work throughout southern France and Francophone Switzerland.  Some areas will also reportedly be transferred over to the France Paris Mission as part of the consolidation.

This mission consolidation as well as others that will occur this July are part of a redistribution of mission resources from less productive, more self-reliant areas to more receptive, less self-sufficient areas and also represents the challenge of expanding mission outreach worldwide with a finite number of LDS missionaries.  The consolidation of missions in less productive nations often does not significantly affect the number of convert baptisms and often convert retention rates remain constant or improve as a result of greater involvement of local members in mission activity.  Consequently, we are most likely to see additional mission consolidations in North America and Europe in the coming years.  The primary reasons for the limited number of LDS missionaries include a decline in LDS birth rates in the United States, consistently low rates of North American members serving full-time missions (where the bulk of the LDS missionary force originates), and the failure of developing totally self-sufficient missionary manpower in the nations which draw the greatest numbers of missionary resources.  In 2010, all new missions that were organized were created in nations which have seen increasing numbers of full-time missionaries serve or supply a large number of full-time missionaries, such as Guatemala, Mexico, the DR Congo, and Nicaragua.  Below are a list of some potential new missions we may see organized in the coming years.
  • Angola Luanda
  • Brazil Fortaleza South
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa
  • Ghana Kumasi
  • Mexico Toluca
  • Peru Iquitos
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Togo Lome

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Additional Mission Consolidations in Portugal and New England

Missionaries and members report that the Portugal Porto and Portugal Lisbon Missions will consolidate into a single mission and the Connecticut Hartford Mission will combine with the Massachusetts Boston Mission this July.  Both these areas report low levels of convert baptisms and are generally self-sustaining in local leadership for established congregations, albeit there has been very little congregational growth or congregational decline for many years.  I will provide more analysis when more details become available.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Canada Toronto East and Canada Toronto West Missions to consolidate into a single mission this July

Missionaries report that the the two LDS missions in Toronto will consolidate into the Canada Toronto Mission this summer.  The decision to consolidate the two missions is likely due to low receptivity of the Church in eastern Canada for many years; slow to stagnant membership and congregational growth; limited numbers of full-time missionaries and expanding opportunities in more receptive nations; and the large missionary force operating in Canada today (eight missions serving 34 million as of early 2011).  Once combined, the Canada Toronto Mission will likely service most of Ontario's 13 million inhabitants and include eight stakes and one district; a much smaller number of stakes and districts than included in most North American missions. 

While on the topic of Toronto, full-time missionaries report that Farsi-speaking full-time missionaries have been called to work among the large Iranian population in eastern Toronto.