Sunday, May 29, 2011

Significant Developments for the LDS Church in Africa

Cities open for missionary work in Ethiopia

In an unprecedented move, LDS missionaries serving in Awasa, Ethiopia report that three additional cities in the Awasa area have had their first LDS congregations organized, doubling the number of cities in Ethiopia which receive LDS outreach from three to six.  LDS missionaries were assigned to Shashemene and a group was established a few weeks ago whereas groups were recently organized in the cities of Ch'iko and Wendo.  Missionaries report that dozens are currently investigating the church in these cities and that baptisms occur weekly.  Once newly organized groups in Shashemene, Ch'iko, and Wendo mature into independent branches prospects appear favorable for a district to be organized.  Awasa was opened to missionary work in 2010 and the Awasa Branch was organized in 2008 with less than two dozen members.  At present over 100 attend church meetings in the four cities in the region.  LDS missionaries have served in Addis Ababa and Debre Zeit for many years, where three branches and a group for Nuer-speakers operate.  There are now four branches and four groups in Ethiopia organized into one district.  There has been no recent word on whether an unofficial group continues to operate in Gambella.

First LDS branch outside of Angolan capital organized

The first independent LDS branch outside of Luanda was recently organized in the southern Angolan city of Lubango.  A group was organized in Lubango about a year ago and operated under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch.  The LDS Church in Angola also recently had its first district organized for the three branches in Luanda.  A group was also recently organized in the Viana, a suburb of Luanda.  There are now four branches and approximately four groups in Angola.  Prospects appear highly likely for Angola to become its own mission due to high rates of receptivity to the LDS Church, administrative demands on the Mozambique Maputo Mission, distance from Angola to Mozambique, and a large, relatively unreached population in Angola that has received very few LDS missionary resources.  The first LDS missionaries were assigned to Angola only a few years ago.

First LDS stake organized in the central interior of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Kananga Democratic Republic of Congo District recently became a stake, becoming the first stake in the country to be organized outside of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.  The new stake includes five wards and three branches.  Enormous growth potential exists in the region and a third mission for the DR Congo based in Kananga, Mbuji-Mayi, or Luputa appears highly likely in the near future.  Missionaries report that missions based in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi are currently baptizing around 300 converts a month, with over 90% of converts being retained at least over the short term.  At this rate of growth, LDS membership may increase by between 7,000 and 9,000 in 2011 alone.  In late 2010, there were approximately 27,000 members in the DR Congo.

New branch organized in Uganda
A new branch was organized in the Jinja Uganda District named the Njeru Branch.  There are now six branches in the district.

New stake in Nigeria
The first new stake in Nigeria since 2007 was organized in Lagos.  The Lagos Nigeria South Stake includes five wards and two branches in the southern portion of the city.  The first stake in Lagos was organized in 1997 and a second stake was organized in 2005.  Several additional Nigerian stakes are close to splitting as all three stakes in Benin City have between 10 and 15 wards and the Port Harcourt Nigeria West Stake has 11 wards at present.  Nigeria has experienced recent growth in the number of districts as eight new districts were organized from late 2008 to mid-2010.  There are now 17 stakes and 21 districts in Nigeria.  Based on recent membership growth trends, LDS membership should number over 100,000 by mid-2011, becoming the first African country to have over 100,000 members.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Eight New YSA Stakes Organized in Utah; Three Stakes Discontinued in Utah and One Stake Discontinued in California

Eight new YSA stakes in Utah

The LDS Church organized eight new YSA stakes on May 1st in the Salt Lake area in an effort to simplify organizational administration for young single adults in the region.  New stakes are headquartered in Bountiful, Draper, Layton, Murray, Sandy, Syracuse, Taylorsville, and West Jordan.  Many of the congregations which now pertain to these stakes were assigned to ordinary "family" stakes in the region and as many as three dozen wards and branches were consolidated.  At present, none of the eight new stakes have any YSA branches as a result of the reorganization and restructuring of congregations.  The number of YSA wards in the eight new stakes varies from as few as seven to as many as twelve. 

Three stakes discontinued in Utah

Three stakes were discontinued in Utah.  Originally organized in 1981, the Blanding Utah West Stake included only four wards and three branches and was consolidated with the Blanding Utah Stake (organized in 1978), which had five wards and two branches.  There are now nine wards and five branches in the Blanding Utah Stake.

Organized in 1978, the Salt Lake Mount Olympus North Stake had five wards and was discontinued and consolidated with the Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake which also had five wards.  There were six wards in the Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake until the YSA ward was placed under a YSA stake recently.  The number of LDS congregations in both stakes was unchanged from as early as 2004.  There are now ten wards in the Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake. 

Organized in 1965, the Taylorsville Utah West Stake had five wards and was discontinued and consolidated with the Taylorsville Utah North Central and the Taylorsville Utah South Stakes.  There were six wards in the former Taylorsville Utah West Stake between 2004 and 2007 until one ward was discontinued in 2007.  The recent creation of the Taylorsville Utah YSA Stake removed a YSA ward part of the stake, resulting in the Taylorsville Utah West Stake possessing only four wards.   

Despite the LDS Church in Utah operating 555 stakes and experiencing significant population shifts from Salt Lake City to other areas, only eight stakes were discontinued in the past decade whereas approximately 80 were created.  Stakes discontinued in the past decade include the Kearns Utah North [2002], Salt Lake Eagle Gate [2003], Ogden Utah Canyon View [2004], Ogden Utah Mount Ogden [2004], Salt Lake University 4th [2004], Blanding Utah West [2011], Salt Lake Mount Olympus North [2011], and Taylorsville Utah West [2011].  Congregational growth has been stagnant in the Salt Lake stakes and in many surrounding communities and few wards and branches have been organized or discontinued.  Only a handful of additional stakes appear likely to consolidate in the coming years in Salt Lake unless additional congregations are consolidated.  Although there has been no announced plans, prospects appear high for the establishment of Spanish-speaking stakes in the area.  The organization of Spanish-speaking stakes would likely prompt additional stake consolidations as Spanish units are reorganized in new stakes.

Stake discontinued in California

Organized in 1992 and recently consisting of nine wards, the Escondido California South Stake was discontinued and consolidated with the Escondido California Stake which had only five wards.  The realigned Escondido California Stake now has 13 wards; a large number for stake and which would generally prompt its division.  Additional congregations may be consolidated in the near future because of the large number of units in the stake.  California has experienced the largest number of LDS stake closures over the past two decades of any state (15) primarily due to many active members moving to other areas of the stake or outside of the state and convert retention and member activity challenges. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Stakes Organized in Venezuela and Tahiti; New District Organized in Kenya


A new stake was recently organized in Venezuela.  The Cumana Venezuela Stake was organized from the Puerto La Cruz Venezuela Stake and includes the four wards in the city of Cumana (Ayacucho, Campeche, Cumana, and Sucre Wards), the Cumanacoa Ward, and the Mariguitar Ward.  Additional stakes may be organized in the near future in other areas of Venezuela, such as Maracay.  There are now 30 stakes in Venezuela.


A new stake was organized in Tahiti.  The Punaauia Tahiti Stake was organized from the Raromatai and the Paea Tahiti Stakes and includes the following eight wards: Anau, Manutahi, Matatia, Maupiti, Outumaoro, Punaruu, Punavai Nui, and Vaitape.  There are now seven stakes in French Polynesia.  


A new district was organized in western Kenya.  The Eldoret Kenya District includes the Eldoret, Huruma, Kitale, Langas, Misikhu, Naitiri, Sikhendu, and Sosiani Branches.  There are now two districts and one stake in Kenya.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First LDS Stake in Indonesia to be Organized May 22nd, 2011

Missionaries serving in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission report that first LDS stake in Indonesia will be organized on May 22nd.  The Jakarta Indonesia District will become a stake at a special conference under the direction of Elder David A. Bednar.  Currently the district has nine branches, seven of which are in the Jakarta metropolitan area.  The Church experienced rapid membership and congregational growth in the 1970s but growth has slowed for over the past three decades largely due to no major efforts to expand national outreach by organizing additional congregations in lesser-reached communities with LDS congregations and in unreached cities and areas of the country.  Slow rates of LDS Church growth in Indonesia are manifest by membership increasing from 4,000 to 6,683 and the number of independent congregations increasing from 20 to 22 between 1992 and 2010.  Overall member activity rates for the LDS Church in Indonesia are higher than most nations in East Asia as active membership is estimated to account for 40% of total church membership.  Indonesian LDS leadership is more self reliant than most nations Asia with fewer than 10,000 members and the percentage of members who have served a full-time mission appears higher than most nations with fewer than 10,000 members today.  The organization of a stake in Indonesia indicates that progress has occurred in reaching the needed number of active, tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders and that local leadership and membership has matured to the point that additional ecclesiastical and administrative responsibilities can be delegated to local members rather than mission leadership. 

For more information on LDS Church growth history, opportunities, challenges, and prospects, refer to the Indonesia country profile at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First LDS Stake in Russia to be Organized in Moscow on June 5th, 2011

LDS missionaries serving in the Russia Moscow Mission report that First Presidency approval has just been granted for the first stake to be organized in Russia in Moscow on June 5th, 2011.  The new stake will be organized from the Moscow Russia District which currently has ten branches.  The LDS Church has worked for over a decade to establish stakes in several of Russia's largest cities, but recurrent local leadership development challenges, poor convert retention rates, and low member activity rates have prevented the establishment of stakes until present.  Many active young single adults and other members have relocated to Moscow from other areas in recent years and have strengthened branches in the city.  Missionaries report that Saratov, Russia will be the most likely city to have Russia's second stake in the coming years.  For more information about the LDS Church in Russia, please refer to the country profile for Russia written by me and David Stewart.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

LDS Congregational Growth: 2000-2010

The creation of new congregations is a good indicator for assessing the strength of local leadership, member activity rates, and expansion of national outreach.  I have provided an analysis of congregational growth between 2000 and 2010 by country examining numerical and percentage change.  The country name is provided followed by the numerical or percentage change in congregations between 2000 and 2010.  The number to the far right is the total number of LDS congregations as of the end of 2010.

The ten countries which experienced the largest increases in the number of LDS congregations between 2000 and 2010 included: 
  1. United States - +2,039 - 13,601
  2. Mexico - +237 - 2,009
  3. Brazil - +162 - 1,925
  4. Nigeria - +112 - 306
  5. Ghana - +59 - 121
  6. Democratic Republic of Congo - +58 - 95
  7. Venezuela - +53 - 274
  8. Argentina - +49 - 841
  9. South Africa - +47 - 147
  10. Papua New Guinea - +34 - 65
The ten countries which experienced the greatest decline in the number of LDS congregations between 2000 and 2010 included:
  1. Chile - -260 - 620
  2. Philippines - -57 - 1,100
  3. Guatemala - -36 - 415
  4. Panama - -32 - 78
  5. United Kingdom - -32 - 333
  6. South Korea - -31 - 139
  7. Japan - -31 - 286
  8. Ecuador - -31 - 300
  9. Italy - -30 - 99
  10. Portugal - -19 - 68
The ten countries which experienced the greatest percentage increase in congregational growth between 2000 and 2010 included:
  1. Suriname - +500% - 6
  2. Togo - +400% - 5
  3. Cameroon - +400% -5
  4. Ethiopia - +300% - 4
  5. Guyana - +275% - 15
  6. Mozambique - +260% - 18
  7. Madagascar - +250% - 28
  8. Vanuatu - +189% - 26
  9. Cote d'Ivoire - +159% - 44
  10. Democratic Republic of Congo - +157% - 95
The ten countries which experienced the greatest percentage decrease in congregations between 2000 and 2010 included:
  1. Niue - -50% - 2
  2. Belgium - -35% - 17
  3. Chile - -30% - 620
  4. Panama - -29% - 78
  5. Poland - -28% - 13
  6. Italy - -23% - 99
  7. Netherlands - -23% - 13
  8. Austria - -23% - 17
  9. Portugal - -22% - 68
  10. Sweden - -22% - 40
Countries which had no reported LDS congregations operating in 2000 but had LDS congregations in 2010 included:
  • Iraq - 6 branches
  • Afghanistan - 5 branches
  • Benin - 3 branches
  • Georgia - 2 branches
  • St. Lucia - 2 branches
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina - 1 branch
  • Burma - 1 branch
  • Burundi - 1 branch
  • Djibouti - 1 branch
  • Dominica - 1 branch
  • Kazakhstan - 1 branch
  • Kosovo - 1 branch
  • Laos - 1 branch
  • Macedonia - 1 branch (administrative)
  • Montenegro - 1 branch (administrative)
  • Nepal - 1 branch
  • Rwanda - 1 branch
  • Sudan - 1 branch
  • Turks and Caicos Islands - 1 branch

New Stakes Organized in Brazil and Utah; New Districts Organized in Bahrain and Honduras


A new stake has been created in São Paulo, Brazil.  The São Paulo Brazil Ferreira Stake was organized two weeks ago from the São Paulo Brazil Taboão Stake and includes five wards: Ferreira, Giovanni Gronchi, Jardim das Palmas, Jardim Maria Rosa, and Vila Andrade.  There are now 76 stakes in São Paulo State and 241 stakes in Brazil.  The increase in the number of stakes has been strong in the city of São Paulo in recent years as 11 new stakes have been organized since 2004.


Two new stakes were recently organized in Utah, the Layton Utah Legacy Stake and the Lehi Utah YSA Stake.  There are now 550 stakes in Utah.


A couple weeks ago the Manama Bahrain Stake was renamed the Abu Dhabi Stake and divided to create the Manama Bahrain District.  The Abu Dhabi Stake includes four wards and two branches in the United Arab Emirates, two wards in Qatar, a branch in in Kuwait, and a branch in Oman whereas the Manama Bahrain District includes the Bahrain Branch and several branches in Saudi Arabia.  Church growth has been consistent in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula as indicated by strong congregational growth rates over the past decade.  Prospects may be forthcoming for a small LDS in the United Arab Emirates due to greater religious freedom and tolerance for Christian groups like Latter-day Saints and sizeable, stabilizing LDS populations in the region. 


A new district has been organized in the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission.  The Valle Verde Honduras District includes at least three branches in the mountainous terrain east of Tegucigalpa which were formerly mission branches (Moroceli, Ojo de Agua, and Villa San Francisco).  There are now 20 stakes and seven districts in Honduras.