Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Mission in Mexico

Missionaries serving in Mexico report that the Puebla Mexico Mission will divide into two missions this summer to create a second mission to service the state of Puebla. With the creation of a second mission in Puebla and a new mission in Xalapa, there will be 26 LDS missions in Mexico - the same number of missions the Church operates in Brazil. The Church in Mexico will tie with Brazil as the country with the second most LDS missions after the United States with 100.

Over the past two years, congregational growth rates in Mexico as a whole have been stagnant notwithstanding the Church adding approximately 80,000 new members during this period. The Church experienced steady congregational growth in Mexico throughout most of the 2000s despite most countries in Latin America experiencing stagnant growth or decline in the number of LDS congregations. The dramatic slowdown in congregational growth in Mexico may be due to convert retention issues or may be compensated by rapid congregational growth this year and next year. Higher standards for congregations to operate may be another reason for the slowdown in congregational growth.

The immediate motivation for the Church to open two additional missions in Mexico notwithstanding noncommensurate congregational growth rates over the past two years appears linked to the strength of the Mexican LDS missionary force and focus from mission and area leaders to utilize full-time missionaries for reactivation efforts. Thousands of Mexican Latter-day Saints are serving missions and other Central American nations have experienced an increase in the number of members serving missions in recent years - which may suggest that the same is occurring in Mexico. In regards to retention and reactivation issues, the Church created a new mission in Chile in the early 2000s (Chile Concepcion South) notwithstanding the dramatic slowdown in membership growth and the consolidation of hundreds of wards and branches at the time. Perhaps the decision to create a second mission in Puebla and a new mission in Xalapa may be to address these issues.

Lastly, the Church in Mexico over the past two decades has achieved significant growth as the number of members more than doubled from half a million to 1.23 million, the number of stakes increased from 106 to 223, and the number of congregations nearly doubled from 1,133 to 2,000. Receptivity to the LDS Church remains high and many areas are lesser-reached or unreached. 40% of the national population is unreached and generally lives in small cities, towns, and rural communities. The organization of two additional missions - both of which in locations with large numbers of Nahuatl Amerindians - may prove timely in terms of utilizing maturing Mexican missionary manpower and reaching receptive, lesser-reached populations.

Stake Discontinued in Ontario, Canada

The Church discontinued a stake in Canada for the first time in its history. Formerly with five wards, the Mississauga Ontario Stake was consolidated with the Brampton Ontario and Hamilton Ontario Stakes. The closure of the stake occurred in tandem with the creation of the Barrie Ontario Stake; the first stake created in Ontario since 1996.  As noted in an earlier post on the creation of the new stake, congregational growth has been slim to none in Ontario for over the decade.  The decision to create the new stake and close the Mississauga Ontario Stake was more of a reshuffle in stake boundaries and administration rather than a reflection of church growth or decline.

There are now 47 stakes in Canada.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Stake in Ontario, Canada

For the first time since 1996, the Church has created a new stake in Ontario, Canada.  The Barrie Ontario Stake was organized from the  Brampton Ontario and Kitchener Ontario Stakes and includes the following four wards and three branches: The Barrie, Newmarket, Orangeville, and Owen Sound Wards and the Midland, Orillia, and Stayner Branches.  Congregational growth has been relatively stagnant in Ontario over the past decade and the decision to organize the new stake may have been prompted to reduce travel times for stake leaders or in anticipation of branches maturing into wards. 

There are now 10 stakes and two districts in Ontario and 48 stakes and three districts in Canada.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Mission in Colombia

Missionaries serving in Colombia report the the Church will create its fifth mission in the country this summer.  The Colombia Medellin Mission will be created from the Colombia Cali Mission and possibly additional nearby missions.

At present, missionaries report that the Church will create the following new missions this summer:
  • Angola Luanda
  • Colombia Medellin
  • Ghana Kumasi
  • Mexico Xalapa
  • Vanuatu Port Vila
At present, missionaries report of only one mission consolidation: The Russia Moscow West Mission.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Stakes in Mexico and Utah


A new stake was created in the northern Mexican city of Saltillo.  The Saltillo México Valle de las Flores Stake was organized from the Saltillo México Republica Stake and includes the following five wards: The Fundadores, La Aurora, Oceania, Valle de las Flores, and Zaragoza Wards.  The new stake becomes the first organized in Mexico this year.  There are now 223 stakes and 36 districts in Mexico


A new stake was created in West Jordan.  The West Jordan Utah Sycamores Stake was organized from the West Jordan Utah Sunset Ridge Stake and includes six wards: The Copperton, Sycamores 1st, Sycamores 2nd, Sycamores 3rd, Sycamores 4th, and Sycamores 5th Wards.  There are now 559 stakes in Utah.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LDS Church to make Significant Strides in Expanding Missionary Work in Africa

In a recent meeting with Africa West Area office employees, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve reported two significant LDS Church growth developments in Africa.  The Church's original article on the meeting can be found here.  These developments are listed below.

  • Seven or eight new missions will be created in Africa in 2012.  At present, there are 20 missions in Africa.  Increasing numbers of African members serving missions and ongoing redistribution of mission resources worldwide appear to make this expansion possible.  The proposed number of new missions will increase the number of LDS missions in Africa by 35-40% in a single year.  
  • Additional temples in Africa will be announced in the coming years and eventually the continent will be "covered by temples."  At present, the Church has three operating temples in Aba, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; and Johannesburg, South Africa.  Two new temples were announced last October in Durban, South Africa and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Below is a list of likely new missions to be organized in Africa this year.  This list was generated from recent LDS growth trends, prospective population reach, speculation from returned missionaries, and status of religious freedom.  All these locations appear favorable for the creation of an LDS mission in the near future, although it is unclear which of these locations appear most likely.  Consequently more than eight possible missions are provided.  Missions in bold have already been confirmed by missionaries to be created this year.
  • Angola Luanda (to be created from the Mozambique Maputo Mission)
  • Botswana Gaborone/second South Africa Johannesburg Mission (currently assigned to South Africa Johannesburg Mission)
  • Burundi/Rwanda (currently assigned to the DR Congo Lubumbashi and Uganda Kampala Missions)
  • Cameroon Yaounde (currently assigned to the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission)
  • DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi (currently assigned to the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa (currently assigned to the Uganda Kampala Mission)
  • Ghana Kumasi (to be created from the Ghana Accra and Ghana Cape Coast Missions)
  • Liberia Monrovia (currently assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission)
  • Malawi Blantyre (currently assigned to the Zambia Lusaka Mission)
  • Nigeria Benin City (currently assigned to the Nigeria Enugu Mission)
  • Tanzania Dar es Salaam (currently assigned to the Kenya Nairobi Mission)
Locations in Africa which appear most favorable for a temple announcement in the next decade are provided below.  These locations were ascertained by recent church growth trends, the number of stakes serviced by a future temple, distance from the nearest operating LDS temple, and estimated member activity rates.
  • Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Benin City, Nigeria OR Lagos, Nigeria
  • Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Nairobi, Kenya
Lastly, Elder Holland reported that the Church intends to create its 3,000th stake this year.  At present, there are 2,947 stakes worldwide.  This indicates that the Church is projecting an additional 53 new stakes to be created this year.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Additional Case Study Essays Posted on Cumorah.com

In coordination with David Stewart at cumorah.com, we have posted an additional nine church growth case study essays.  Topics explored in these recently completed essays are listed below:
We are in the process of editing and writing an additional 13 case study essays on the following topics:
  • Projecting LDS membership growth
  • LDS ethnic minority outreach in the United States
  • Assessing member activity
  • Prospective LDS outreach among Hmong (Miao) populations in China and Southeast Asia
  • Top five encouraging and discouraging church growth developments: 2006-2011
  • LDS Church growth among the Miskito of Nicaragua
  • Comparing LDS Church growth in Hong Kong and Singapore
  • Self-sufficiency and LDS growth
  • LDS growth in Benin City, Nigeria
  • Successful LDS national outreach expansion in Hungary
  • LDS growth among Slovak immigrants in Sheffield, England
  • LDS temples and growth
  • Reasons for implementing quick-baptism approaches in the LDS Church
 To view all completed case studies to date, click here.

New Mission to be Created This Summer in Mexico

Missionaries serving in the Mexico Veracruz Mission report that the mission will split into two missions this summer.  The new mission will be based in Xalapa and will become the 25th LDS mission in Mexico.  At present, the Mexico Veracruz Mission is one of the largest in Mexico and includes 14 stakes and one district.  Due to close proximity to Nahuatl-speaking populations, the new Mexico Xalapa Mission increases the likelihood that mission leaders will initiate outreach among Amerindian populations within the new mission.  At present, Nahua peoples are among the least reached Amerindian peoples in Mexico by the LDS Church.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New District Created in Papua New Guinea

Missionaries serving in Papua New Guinea report that the 12th district in the country was organized on February 14th.  The Sepik River Papua New Guinea District was created in northern Papua New Guinea and likely includes four branches in Angoram, Moim, Pinang, and Wewak which previously pertained to no stake or district.  Rapid growth in the number of active members appears to have occurred among these four branches as mission leadership was anticipating up to 3,000 in attendance at the organization of the new district, but due to poor weather conditions only 300 attended the conference.  The new district becomes the sixth district in the country created by the Church within the past two years.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Mission in Oceania; Mission to be Closed in Russia


Missionaries report that the Fiji Suva and Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Missions will split to create a third mission to service New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.  Steady membership and congregational growth have occurred in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the past few years whereas stagnant growth has occurred in New Caledonia.  The organization of the new mission will allocate more mission resources in areas which have a favorable outlook for future growth that at present are under-serviced. The first stake may be organized in Vanuatu in the coming years.


Missionaries report that the Russia Moscow and Russia Moscow West Missions will consolidate into a single mission.  More information will be provided once available regarding the assignment of Belarus and Kazakhstan to other missions.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mission Realignment in Southeastern Europe

Full-time missionaries serving in the Albania Tirana and Adriatic Missions report that both missions have been realigned.  The Albania Tirana Mission was renamed the Adriatic South Mission whereas the Adriatic Mission was renamed the Adriatic North Mission. 

In addition to Albania, the Adriatic South Mission now includes Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro.  Missionaries report that mission leaders are drafting plans to assign the first proselytizing missionaries to Macedonia and Montenegro in the coming months and increasing the number of missionaries assigned to Kosovo.  Some Serbian-speaking missionaries from the Adriatic North Mission - formerly the Adriatic Mission - will also be assigned to work in non-Albanian-speaking areas.

The Adriatic North Mission now includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia.  LDS missionaries have been assigned and branches have operated in Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia for two decades.  Senior missionaries have recently begun working in Bosnia and Herzegovina where two congregations meet in Sarajevo and Banja Luka.

With the assignment of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro to missions and the prospective opening of each country to LDS proselytism within the coming months, all countries in Europe will have an LDS presence for the first time with the exception of a few city-states such as San Marino and Liechtenstein.  Notwithstanding this significant church growth development, hundreds of cities throughout Europe remain unreached by the LDS Church.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mormon Stories Podcast

I recently did a podcast with Scott Holley from Mormon Stories discussing the successes and challenges of LDS missionary work and international growth.  The two-hour podcast can be found here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

First LDS Missionareis Assigned to Montenegro

The first senior missionary couple was recently assigned to the country of Montenegro.  Located in Southeastern Europe in the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro has a population of 667,000 that predominately speaks standard Serbian and Montenegrin (a dialect of Serbian).  In 2010, the Church organized an administrative branch and a group appeared to function in the capital Podgorica.  Senior missionaries have thus far conducted limited proselytism and missionary activity and utilize church materials in Serbian.  It appears likely that Montenegro and other former Yugoslav Republics will be assigned to the Adriatic Mission in the near future.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Turkey Opening For Missionary Work

Missionaries serving in the Bulgaria Sofia Mission report that four elders will be assigned to Istanbul, Turkey in mid-February and begin active missionary work in Turkey.  This development appears to have occurred on the heals of the Church receiving government recognition within the past year.  In accordance with societal attitudes regarding Christian proselytism, all missionary activity will occur through member referral.  Reports indicate that missionaries will learn the Turkish language by attending university classes for a portion of the day once transferred to Istanbul.  Turkey previously pertained to no mission but was assigned to the Bulgaria Sofia Mission within the past year.

The Church has operated four branches in Turkey for two decades and has assigned humanitarian senior missionary couples for years.  The assignment of young missionaries to Turkey is a major church growth development as Turkey numbers among the most populous countries that have no proselytizing missionaries assigned and Turkey is a homogeneously Muslim nation.  It is unclear whether missionaries will be permitted to teach Muslims or be restricted to working with individuals who follow other religious beliefs.