Thursday, October 27, 2011

New District in Papua New Guinea

A new district was organized in Papua New Guinea.  The Moveave Papua New Guinea District includes seven branches between Kukipi and Morovamu and becomes the country's tenth district.  Two stakes also operate in Papua New Guinea (1995) and Daru (2011).

Monday, October 24, 2011

New District in Taiwan

A new district was organized in Taiwan.  The Chia Yi Taiwan District was created from the Tainan Taiwan and Chung Hsing Taiwan Stakes and includes the following six branches: The Chia Yi 1st, Chia Yi 2nd, Hsin Ying, Hu Wei, Taipo, and Tou Liu Branches.  Of these six branches, four were wards in their previously assigned stakes.  The LDS Church has experienced stronger growth than most missionary-minded Christian denominations in Taiwan within the past few decades but continues to struggle with low member activity and convert retention rates.  The new district appears unlikely to become a stake within the near future until additional congregations are organized and operating units increase in the number of active members.  No stakes in Taiwan appear close to dividing within the near future.  Taipei Taiwan West Stake is now the stake with the most congregations in the country with nine wards and one branch.

There are now 11 stakes and two districts in Taiwan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Stakes in Alabama, Peru, and the Philippines; New District in Peru


The LDS Church's seventh stake in Alabama will be organized at the end of October according to members living in the Huntsville area.  The Madison Alabama Stake will be organized from the Huntsville Alabama Stake and include seven congregations.  The new stake will be the first new LDS stake organized in Alabama since the Dothan Alabama Stake in 1986.


Last Sunday a new stake was created in Arequipa and a new district was created in Casma.  The Arequipa Perú Paucarpata Stake was organized from the Arequipa Perú Manuel Prado Stake includes six wards.  The new stake becomes Peru's 98th stake and the seventh stake in the city of Arequipa.  Prospects appear very favorable for a temple announcement for Arequipa within the near future.  In northern Peru, the Casma Perú District was organized from the Chimbote Perú South Stake and appears to consist of five branches in the southern coastal areas of the Ancash Region.  There are now 23 districts in Peru.

The Philippines

A new stake was created in northern Luzon in Santiago last Sunday.  The Santiago Philippines North Stake was organized from the Santiago Philippines Stake and includes the following five wards: The Baluarte, Ramon, Rizal 1st, Rizal 2nd, and Santiago 3rd Wards.  Congregational growth has increased throughout the Northern Luzon region within the past year as several new wards have been organized in the largest cities and several branches have matured into wards.  There are now 82 stakes and 85 districts in the Philippines.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recent Church Growth News

First LDS branch organized in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

The first LDS branch was recently organized in Uvira, DR Congo.  The Uvira Branch becomes the first LDS branch ever organized in the entire eastern or northern areas of the country.  Beginning in 2008, the Church has begun to organize new branches in previously unreached cities such as Gandajika, Kakanda, Kasumbalesa, Kipushi, Matadi, and Mwene-Ditu but with the exception of Matadi all of these cities are located within a day's drive from a city that already had an LDS congregation.  The organization of the new branch in Uvira was made possible by the opening of Burundi to missionary work one year ago and the diligence of local members in the Uvira area to cross the border and frequently attend church services in Bujumbura.

New branches in Malaysia; new ward in Singapore

Three new branches have recently been organized in Malaysia: The Cheras, Kota Kinabalu 2nd, and Masai Branches.  The Cheras Branch was organized in Kuala Lampur and the Masai Branch was organized in the Johore Bahru area.  A ninth ward in the Singapore Stake was also recently organized.  With ongoing congregational growth in the region, Singapore appears to be a likely candidate for a future temple within the next decade especially when districts in Malaysia mature into stakes. 

Rapid membership growth in Uganda

Full-time missionaries serving in the Uganda Kampala Mission report that the mission has so far in 2011 baptized over 1,600 converts, breaking previous records for the number of converts baptized in a single year since the mission was organized in 2005.  Convert retention appears moderate but particularly high in cities which recently had branches organized (Gulu, Lira, Masaka, Mbale, and Njeru).  Several senior missionary couples have recently been assigned to these cities and are providing valuable humanitarian and development work in addition to often working with church administrative affairs in these newly created branches.  Some of these congregations have over 150 attending church services on Sundays.

Malawi to be dedicated for missionary work

On the heels of the organization of the new Zambia Lusaka Mission and the creation of several new branches and groups in Malawi, members report that Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve will visit Malawi and offer a formal dedicatory prayer for the nation.  Malawi currently pertains to the Zambia Lusaka Mission and LDS congregations operate in Blantyre (4), Lilongwe (3), and Liwonde.  With nearly 16 million inhabitants, Malawi appears a very favorable nation to have its first LDS mission organized in the near future.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Translations of LDS Materials and the Book of Mormon Approved for the Kamba Language

Missionaries serving in Kenya report that the First Presidency has recently approved the translation of basic church materials and the Book of Mormon into Kamba.  Spoken by over four million native speakers, Kamba is currently the language with the 48th most speakers without LDS materials.  At present, the Church has not officially translated any materials into Kamba although senior missionaries reported that local members have made some unofficial translations of the sacrament prayers to facilitate comprehension among elderly members who have difficulty listening to the prayers in English.  The Church has held a strict standard for baptizing new converts in Kenya and several other African nations over the years by requiring members to pass their baptismal interviews in their country's respective national languages.  Within the past couple years, the Church has become more flexible in permitting converts to join the Church despite low levels of competency in English or their national language if it is determined that they will likely remain active.  The decision to translate church materials the scriptures into Kamba is a major development which will likely increase growth and testimony development among many Kamba-speaking Latter-day Saints.

Currently, Kamba-speaking Latter-day Saints are concentrated in the Kilunga Hills which are located approximately 50 miles southeast of Nairobi.  Four branches function in the Kilunga Hills and each have exhibited good convert retention and member activity rates.  One of the most recently organized branches - the Matini Branch - has nearly 300 attend church services at present.  The total number of Kamba-speaking Latter-day Saints may currently number over 1,000.  Prospects appear very favorable for a district to be organized for the four branches in the area as they do not pertain to a stake or district at present.

It is unclear when translations of LDS materials and scriptures will be available in Kamba, but based on the time table for other languages translations of basic materials may be available within the next year and the Book of Mormon may be available by 2015.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Five New Temples Announced

Barranquilla, Colombia

The Barranquilla Colombia Temple will become the LDS Church's second temple in Colombia following the dedication of the Bogotá Colombia Temple in 1999.  Distance from the Bogotá Colombia Temple and the organization of several new stakes within the past decade in northern Colombia appear contributing factors influencing the decision to announce a second temple for Colombia notwithstanding the Bogotá Colombia Temple operating below capacity.  Currently there are 28 stakes and 12 districts in Colombia.

Durban, South Africa

The Durban South Africa Temple will become the LDS Church's second temple in South Africa, making South Africa the only African nation with more than one LDS temple.  Past mission presidents have shared the vision of a temple in Durban for several years notwithstanding only two stakes functioning in the city.  The future temple will likely service Lesotho and Swaziland in addition to western South Africa, bringing the total of stakes and districts in the prospective temple district to as many as five and three, respectively.  The new temple appears likely to be a small temple due to few stakes and districts in the surrounding region.

Kinshasa, DR Congo

The first temple in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo was announced.  Prior to the temple announcement, the DR Congo was the country with the second most Latter-day Saints without a temple.  LDS Church growth in the DR Congo has outpaced most nations in Africa and currently there are five stakes in Kinshasa and one across the Congo River in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.  Due to rapid congregational and membership growth combined with good retention and member activity, it is likely that as many as ten stakes may function in Kinshasa alone by 2015.  Other stakes in the DR Congo are distant from Kinshasa, but the new temple will significantly reduce travel times and logistical issues.  With the new temple announcement, prospects appear higher for the opening of a missionary training center in Kinshasa to train new missionaries in Central French-speaking Africa.  The new temple will also likely service some additional Central African nations.

Provo, Utah

A second temple built from the shell of the fire-damaged Provo Tabernacle was announced this morning.  The new temple will alleviate the busy Provo Utah Temple which services BYU and the MTC in addition to stakes from Provo to Payson.  The new temple becomes Utah's 16th temple.

Star Valley, Wyoming

The first LDS temple in Wyoming was announced.  Due to most of Wyoming's LDS membership residing within close proximity of the state border, no temple had been announced for many years notwithstanding 16 stakes functioning since 1984.  The future temple will likely serve members in only in two stakes (Thayne and Afton) but may also serve stakes in central and southwestern Wyoming.

New Temples Announced

This morning President Monson announced five new temples in the following locations:
  • Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Provo, UT (second temple built from former Provo Tabernacle)
  • Star Valley, Wyoming
With the announcement of five new temples, this brings the total of LDS temples worldwide to 166.