Monday, May 28, 2012

Melilla, Spain Reopens to LDS Missionary Work

A small Spanish exclave on the northern coast of Morocco, Melilla has recently had LDS missionaries assigned for the first time since 1996.  Melilla is now the only location in North Africa to have proselytizing LDS missionaries assigned.  The Spain Malaga Mission reopened the small autonomous city of Spain and has focused missionary efforts among the small group of member families living in Melilla who have met as a group for church services. Although no official religion statistics are available, the population of Melilla appears to be about half Muslim and half Christian or adhering to another faith.  An LDS branch once functioned in Melilla but appeared to had closed sometime in the early 2000s.  Approximately 80,000 live in the city.

The reopening of Melilla to missionary activity is an exciting development for the Church for two reasons.  First, it has been another recent incident of the Church expanding outreach in Spain notwithstanding the closure of two of Spain's original five missions within the past decade.  Several new branches have recently been organized within all three of Spain's LDS missions such as in Vic, Ibiza, and Vilagarcia de Arousa.  Second, Melilla has a large Muslim population and LDS missionaries may have the opportunity to teach Muslims if permitted by mission and area leaders.  The Church has comparatively few opportunities to reach Muslim populations within their native lands.

Missionaries have not reported plans to reopen Ceuta; the other Spanish exclave on Morocco's northern coast which also once had an LDS presence.  With a similarly-sized population to Melilla and the same political status with mainland Spain, Ceuta appears likely to receive LDS missionaries again the coming months and years to come.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Countries of the World and Year Opened to LDS Missionary Work

Below is a chronological list of countries that have had LDS missionaries assigned provided with the year the first missionaries were assigned.  Years with multiple countries opened have countries listed in alphabetical order.  Countries that no longer have an LDS presence are listed in red and provided with the last year of an LDS presence.  Notes are provided clarifying when an LDS presence was first established, any previous attempts to begin missionary activity earlier on, and setbacks requiring the removal of all missionaries.
  1. United States - 1830
  2. Canada - 1830
  3. United Kingdom - 1837
  4. Australia - 1840
  5. French Polynesia - 1844
  6. Denmark - 1849
  7. France - 1849 (missionaries served inconsistently in France until 1946)
  8. Switzerland - 1850
  9. Germany - 1851 (first branch created in 1843)
  10. Norway - 1851
  11. Sweden - early 1850s
  12. Ireland - 1850s (missionary work began in late 1830s but closed due to famine and emigration)
  13. New Zealand - 1854
  14. Netherlands - 1861
  15. Finland - 1870s (more permanent, consistent missionary activity began in 1947)
  16. Mexico - 1875
  17. Austria - 1883 (year first Austria baptized in Austria; missionaries periodically visited years earlier)
  18. American Samoa - 1888 (previous attempt to establish church in 1862 but unsuccessful)
  19. Belgium - 1888
  20. Samoa - 1888 (previous attempt to establish church in 1862 but unsuccessful)
  21. Tonga - 1891 (missionaries removed from 1897 to 1907)
  22. Syria - late 1890s-1951 (closed due to political conditions and emigration of Armenian converts)
  23. Japan - 1901 (mission closed in 1924 and reopened in 1946)
  24. South Africa - 1903 (missionaries also served from 1853-1865)
  25. Argentina - 1925
  26. Brazil - 1928
  27. Czech Republic - 1929 (missionaries removed in 1950; reintroduced in 1990)
  28. Israel (Palestine) - 1933-1939, 1946-1951, 1970s-mid-1980s (closed due to BYU-Jerusalem agreement with government)
  29. Cook Islands - 1946 (previous attempt to established church in 1899 unsuccessful)
  30. Costa Rica - 1946
  31. Guatemala - 1947
  32. Uruguay - 1947
  33. El Salvador - 1949
  34. Hong Kong - 1949 (previous attempt to establish church in 1853 unsuccessful)
  35. Paraguay - 1950
  36. Zimbabwe - 1950 (missionary visits began as early as 1930)
  37. Honduras - 1952
  38. Niue - 1952
  39. Nicaragua - 1953 (missionaries withdrawn for most of the 1980s)
  40. Fiji - 1954
  41. South Korea - 1954
  42. Chile - 1956 (previous attempt to establish church in early 1850s unsuccessful)
  43. Taiwan - 1956
  44. Peru - late 1950s (first branch created in 1956)
  45. Philippines - 1961
  46. Luxembourg - 1963 (no missionaries appeared to be assigned in the 1970s)
  47. Bolivia - 1964
  48. Macau - 1964
  49. India - 1960s (exact year missionaries assigned unknown; some missionary activity in 19th century)
  50. Ecuador - 1965
  51. Lebanon - 1965-1975 (LDS presence remains, but no proselytism missionary at present)
  52. Panama - 1965 (first LDS presence established in 1940s among military)
  53. Bermuda - 1966
  54. Colombia - 1966
  55. Italy - 1966 (some missionary activity occurred in the mid-19th century)
  56. Venezuela - 1966
  57. New Caledonia - 1968 (first branch created in 1961)
  58. Singapore - 1968 (missionaries removed for much of the 1970s)
  59. Thailand - 1968 (missionaries briefly assigned in 1854, LDS presence established in 1950s)
  60. Spain - 1968-1969
  61. Indonesia - 1970
  62. Malaysia - 1972
  63. Puerto Rico - early 1970s (time when Puerto Rico assigned to a mission; missionaries visited in 1940)
  64. Portugal - 1974
  65. Iceland - 1975 (LDS presence and missionaries assigned from 1851-1914; reintroduced in 1975)
  66. Iran - 1975-1979 (missionary work closed due to Iranian Revolution)
  67. Kiribati - 1975
  68. Northern Mariana Islands - 1975 (LDS presence among military first established in 1940s)
  69. Vanuatu - 1975 (first branch organized in 1973)
  70. Federated States of Micronesia - 1976
  71. Guam - 1977 (year first native baptized; LDS presence since 1944 but among military)
  72. Marshall Islands - 1977
  73. Trinidad and Tobago - 1977
  74. Croatia - late 1970s (at the time part of Yugoslavia; dedicated for missionary work in 1985)
  75. Serbia - late 1970s (first missionary visited in 1899)
  76. Curacao - 1978 (missionaries removed same year, reassigned in 1982; first branch created in 1979)
  77. Ghana - 1978
  78. Jamaica - 1978 (previous attempt to establish church in 1840s and 1850s unsuccessful)
  79. Namibia - 1978
  80. Nigeria - 1978
  81. Palau - 1978
  82. US Virgin Islands - 1978 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1976)
  83. Bahamas - 1979
  84. Barbados - 1979
  85. Dominican Republic - 1979 (country dedicated, first branch organized in 1978)
  86. Mauritius - 1979 (one missionary was assigned for two months in 1856)
  87. Papua New Guinea - 1979 (year first branch was organized; first converts baptized in 1980)
  88. Reunion - 1979
  89. Belize - 1980
  90. Haiti - 1980 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1978)
  91. Kenya - 1980 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1979)
  92. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 1980
  93. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten - 1983
  94. Antigua and Barbuda - 1984
  95. Guadeloupe - 1984 (first branch created in 1982)
  96. Martinique - 1984
  97. Saint Kitts and Nevis - 1984
  98. Grenada - 1985
  99. Tuvalu - 1985 (year first branch and convert baptisms occurred; missionaries removed 2005-2010)
  100. Cayman Islands - 1985 (church services began in 1982)
  101. Greece - 1986 (first branch created in the 1960s;  (some limited missionary activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)
  102. Aruba - 1987 (first branch created in 1986)
  103. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 1987
  104. Liberia - 1987
  105. Swaziland - 1987 (first branch created in 1986)
  106. Cote d'Ivoire - 1988
  107. Guyana - 1988
  108. Malta - 1988 (previous attempts to establish church occurred in the 1850s and 1979)
  109. Poland - 1988 (sporadic missionary efforts occurred for nearly 100 years before this time)
  110. Sierra Leone - 1988
  111. Suriname - 1988
  112. Cape Verde - 1988-1989
  113. Hungary - 1988-1989 (sporadic missionary presence around 1900, first convert baptisms in 1988)
  114. French Guiana - 1989
  115. Lesotho - 1989
  116. Botswana - 1990
  117. Bulgaria - 1990
  118. Estonia - 1990
  119. Romania - 1990 (missionaries were assigned periodically from 1903-1933)
  120. Russia - 1990
  121. Slovakia - 1990 (some missionary activity occurred in the 1930s and 1940s).
  122. Slovenia - 1990
  123. Uganda - 1990
  124. Ukraine - 1990
  125. Armenia - 1991 (year country dedicated for missionary work; first branch organized in 1994)
  126. Madagascar - 1991 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1988)
  127. Republic of the Congo - 1991-1992
  128. Albania - 1992
  129. Andorra - 1992 (first convert baptism; unclear exact year first missionaries were assigned)
  130. Cameroon - 1992 (young missionaries not assigned until mid-2000s)
  131. Latvia - 1992 (some missionary activity briefly occurred in 1903)
  132. Lithuania - 1992
  133. Mongolia - 1992
  134. Tanzania - 1992
  135. Zambia - 1992 (missionaries briefly assigned in 1960s)
  136. Belarus - 1993
  137. Cyprus - 1993 (year country dedicated for missionary work; unclear when first missionaries assigned)
  138. Ethiopia - 1993
  139. Pakistan - 1993 (first LDS presence established in 1970s)
  140. Cambodia - 1994
  141. Solomon Islands - 1995 (year first senior missionaries assigned; missionaries withdrawn for much of the 2000s
  142. Moldova - 1997 (missionaries withdrawn from 2004 to 2007)
  143. Sri Lanka - late 1990s (time when first proselytizing missionaries from Singapore Mission assigned)
  144. Benin - 1998 (year senior missionaries first assigned and first baptism; first branch organized in 2003)
  145. Malawi - 1999 (first convert baptisms occurred in 1992)
  146. Mozambique - 1999 (first branch created in 1996)
  147. Togo - 1999
  148. Saint Lucia - 2003 (year branch was reestablished; brief missionary presence from 1983-1986)
  149. Kazakhstan - mid-2000s (exact year unknown; country dedicated in 2003)
  150. Vietnam - mid-2000s 
  151. Dominica - 2006
  152. Georgia - 2006
  153. Laos - 2006 (young missionaries removed same year; only humanitarian missionaries at present)
  154. Angola - 2008 (first branch created in 1996)
  155. Turks and Caicos Islands - 2008-2009
  156. Burundi - 2010
  157. Kosovo - 2011
  158. Bosnia and Herzegovina - 2012 (first branch created in 2011)
  159. Macedonia - 2012
  160. Montenegro - 2012
  161. Turkey - 2012 (some limited missionary activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Recent Church Growth News

New Stake in Tonga
A new stake was created last Sunday in Tonga on the main island of Nuku'alofa.  The Nuku'alofa Tonga Matahau Stake was created from two stakes on the western side of the island.  There are now 18 stakes and two districts in Tonga.  The last new stake created in Tonga was in 2008.

New Stake in Texas
A new stake was created last Sunday in Texas.  The Heath Texas Stake was created from the Richardson Texas Stake and perhaps another nearby stake in the Dallas area.  I will provide more details on the new stake once they become available.  There are now 57 stakes and three districts in Texas

Number of Branches in Benin Doubles
The number of independent mission branches in the African country of Benin increased from three to six last month.  The three new branches were previously meeting as groups and include the Fidjrosse, Finagnon, and Gbegame Branches.  The Church has yet to organize these six branches into their own district and they continue to report directly to the Benin Cotonou Mission.  A shortage of priesthood leaders remains a serious challenge.

Group Organized in Previously Unreached City in Kenya
Missionaries serving in the Kenya Nairobi Mission report that a new group was recently organized in the previously unreached city of Naivasha, Kenya.  Senior missionaries indicate that there are upwards of 80 investigators attending church services and that group leadership is staffed by an isolated Latter-day Saint family.  Prospects appear good for the group to become its own branch in the near future.

City Opens for Missionary Work in Angola
Missionaries serving in the Mozambique Maputo Mission report that the Area Presidency recently approved the assignment of full-time missionaries to the Angolan city of Huambo.  The Church assigned proselytizing missionaries to Angola for the first time in 2008 but missionaries were only assigned to the capital city Luanda until just the past year or two when a second city (Lubango) opened.  Additional cities have small numbers of isolated members and investigators meeting and await the establishment of official LDS missionary activity.

Cities Opening in Brazil
Missionaries serving in the Brazil Belem Mission report that they have recently visited several large, previously unreached cities in Para State that have small groups of members meeting under the Brazil Belem Mission Branch.  Two cities in particular - Parauapebas and Paragominas - have been visited and missionaries helped increase church attendance to as high as 60 in one of the groups.  The Church has literally hundreds of additional cities to open with over 20,000 inhabitants and favorable conditions for church planting but has made little progress within the past ten years.  I have recently written a case study on expanding LDS outreach in Brazil for which will be posted in the coming month.

New Branches Created in Europe
Mission presidents report two new branches recently organized in Europe.  In Spain, the first LDS branch in Ibiza was created last Sunday and pertains to the Baleares Spain District.  The new branch has about 60 attending church services and has been a major success for the Spain Barcelona Mission.  Many of the branch members relocated to the island from Ecuador.  In the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands Mission, a new Portuguese-speaking branch was created in Rotterdam.  Two Brazilian missionaries have been assigned to the branch and the branch has become the first Portuguese-speaking branch in the mission.

Any other LDS growth developments you know of?  Please comment.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

LDS Mission Outreach among Nepali-Bhutanese and Karen Refugees in Salt Lake City, Utah

At, we are writing a case study on recent LDS growth among Nepali-Bhutanese and Karen refugees in the Salt Lake City area. The Church opened its first Karen-speaking branch in 2009 to meet the needs of increasing numbers of Karen refugees joining the Church. The Karen are an ethnic minority group in eastern Burma who have been targetted by the current political regime in Burma, resulting in many fleeing to refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Earlier this year, the Church opened its first Nepali-speaking branch in the United States in Salt Lake City to service an increasing number of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees joining the Church. These refugees are ethnic Nepalis who lived in Bhutan but have fled the country into refugee camps in neighboring Nepal and India and, like the Karen, are being accepted by the United States and resettled in many major cities such as Salt Lake City. We are looking for any current information on the language usage, convert retention, receptivity to LDS teachings and proselytism efforts, and humanitarian and development work relating to these two people groups. Please comment if you have additional information or insight.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Internet and LDS Church Growth

At we have recently posted a case study essay examining the influence of the internet on LDS Church growth.  To access the case study, click here.  The case study can be viewed in all web browsers except Internet Explorer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Unprecedented LDS Meetinghouse Construction Program Launched in the DR Congo

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo report that the Church has initiated a new meetinghouse construction program to meet the urgent need for additional LDS chapels for the increasing numbers of convert baptisms in the country.  In recent months, the two missions in the DR Congo together report approximately 500 convert baptisms a month with 95% convert retention over the past year.  Most wards and branches have higher sacrament meeting attendance than the number of church members on ward or branch records.  Increasing numbers of isolated members and investigators have also petitioned mission leaders to establish the Church in additional areas, resulting in accelerated growth.

To meet these new and exciting opportunities for rapid growth and high self-sufficiency local church administration and missionary work, the Church has recently decided to train groups of returned missionaries in various construction skills to build additional meetinghouses.  This program is designed to meet the immediate need for building additional meetinghouses and to provide skills to unemployed returned missionaries, not to provide long-term employment to participants.  At present, there have been only a few groups of returned missionaries who have been trained and are working on two new meetinghouses in the Kinshasa area.  Missionaries report that there are about 20 meetinghouses in the planning stages in other locations in the DR Congo.  It appears that at present there are dozens of large wards and branches that are in need to be divided into smaller congregations, but current meetinghouses lack sufficient space to hold church services for additional units.

As a church growth researcher, I applaud the decision for the Church to implement this program which will provide more economic solutions to spur church growth, build meetinghouses that are more culturally-appropriate to local conditions, and rapidly capitalize on high receptivity.  Additional meetinghouse will likely reduce travel times and increase the feeling of community in wards and branches.  The Church instituted a similar meetinghouse construction program in the South Pacific in the mid-twentieth century, resulting in accelerated growth that has resulted in the LDS Church numbering among the largest denominations in some nations like Tonga and Samoa.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Countries with the Most Latter-day Saints without a Stake or District

I recently updated the list of countries with the most members without a stake and I also wanted to update the list of countries with the most members without a stake or district.  The 2011 list for these countries can be found here.

A district resembles a stake in that it is an administrative organization that includes congregations.  However, a district can only include branches and does not have as much autonomy as a stake.  For example, a mission president conducts temple recommend interviews and most priesthood matters defer to the mission president.  A district is an important preparatory step toward the Church become self-sufficient in an area.  Many countries currently without their own stake or district have few available local priesthood holders due to low member activity rates or recent converts comprising the bulk of nominal church membership.

Each country and territory is provided with the number of members, number of branches, and current, if any, affiliation with another stake or district.  Countries in green appear likely to have their first districts/stakes created in the near future, countries in yellow generally have a large number of recent converts and few active priesthood holders to hold leadership positions but high likelihood to have districts organized in the coming years, countries in red have member activity issues that prevent the creation of a district in the foreseeable future, countries in blue pertain to other stakes or districts and do not appear likely to become their own districts due to reasonably close proximity to their current stake or district headquarters, and countries in dark blue have a poor likelihood of the organization of their first district due to few members spread over large geographic areas.

  1. Bulgaria - 2,251 members - 10 branches
  2. Botswana - 1,693 members - 3 wards, 5 branches, 3 groups? - some units part of Roodepoort South Africa Stake
  3. Macau - 1,308 members - 2 branches
  4. Bahamas - 954 members - 2 branches, 1 group?
  5. Lesotho - 796 members - 2 branches, 1 group - part of the Bloemfontein South Africa District
  6. Northern Mariana Islands - 753 members - 1 branch - part of the Barrigada Guam Stake
  7. Greece - 740 members - 3 branches, 2 groups?
  8. Benin - 676 members - 5 branches, 1 group
  9. Namibia - 674 members - 2 branches
  10. US Virgin Islands - 570 members - 2 branches
  11. Curacao - 568 members - 1 branch
  12. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 508 members - 2 branches
  13. Aruba - 506 members - 2 branches
  14. Palau - 433 members - 1 branch
  15. Mauritius - 418 members - 2 branches
  16. Central African Republic - 406 members - 1 branch
  17. French Guiana - 362 members - 1 branch, 1 group?
  18. Luxembourg - 312 members - 1 ward - part of the Nancy France Stake
  19. Jersey - 299 members - 1 ward - part of the Poole England Stake
  20. Turkey - 293 members - 4 branches
  21. Isle of Man - 291 members - 1 ward - part of the Liverpool England Stake
  22. Grenada - 279 members - 1 branch
  23. Niue - 275 members - 2 branches
  24. Iceland - 257 members - 2 branches
  25. Saint Lucia - 249 members - 2 branches
  26. Saint Maarten/Saint Martin - 213 members - 1 branch
  27. Saint Kitts and Nevis - 206 members - 1 branch
  28. Georgia - 204 members - 1 branch
  29. Slovakia - 203 members - 4 branches, 2 groups - part of the Brno Czech Republic District
  30. Antigua and Barbuda - 200 members - 1 branch

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Christian Outreach by People Group

The Joshua Project is an evangelical missionary organization that advocates for evangelizing all of the world's peoples and specifically targets those with a small or no Christian presence.  Evangelicals have achieved far greater strides in reaching the world's population than the LDS Church and I have posted a link to a map that displays about 85% of the people groups identified by the Joshua Project.  The map provides the location of these people groups, language spoken by each group, traditional religious affiliation, and status of evangelical progress as defined by the Joshua Project.

This map provides valuable information to Latter-day Saints concerning the traditional religious affiliation of thousands of ethnic groups around the world.  At the Cumorah Foundation, we have produced similar country-by-country maps displaying the location of thousands of ethnolinguistic groups, the number of language speakers, and status of LDS outreach.  These maps can be accessed through the website on the homepage.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New District in Peru

Missionaries serving in the Peru Chiclayo Mission report that the Church created a new district centered in Lambayeque from two mission branches (the Motupe and Olmos Branches) and a few congregations in the Chiclayo Perú Central Stake.  I will provide detailed congregation information for the new district once it is available.  The new district appeared to be organized two Sundays ago.

The Church now has 98 stakes and 24 districts in Peru.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Statistical Profiles

Us at the Cumorah Foundation are currently in the process of creating statistical profiles for every country with an LDS presence on  These country and state profiles will includes tables, graphs, charts, and maps displaying various LDS statistics such as membership, wards, branches, stakes, districts, temples, missions, seminary and institute enrollment, member activity rate, percent of population reached by the Church, percent LDS in the population, percent of the population with translations of LDS materials in their first language, ratio of missions to population, statistics for other missionary-focused Christians, and more.  We will post these statistical figures and graphics in the coming months on and integrate these into other missionary and church-growth related resources we have recently developed such as the LDS International Atlas, Country Profiles, and Church Growth Case Studies.

We regularly post some of these statistical graphics daily on the Cumorah International LDS Resources Facebook Group.  Join our Facebook group and receive updates!