Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LDS Missionary Force in West Africa to Increase by 30%

Church leaders in West Africa report that the number of missionaries assigned to the Africa West Area will increase by 30% within the coming months.  The lowered minimum age for missionary service has dramatically increased the number of missionary applications received by Church Headquarters within the past few weeks.  The anticipated surge in the number of missionaries worldwide will enable the expansion of LDS missionary activity in West Africa.  It is unclear how the Church will distribute additional missionary manpower within West Africa but three new missions may be organized as a result if there is a commensurate percentage increase in the number of missions in the area.  Additional locations appear likely to open to proselytism in most West African countries with an LDS presence.  It is unclear whether the Church will take any steps to open additional countries to proselytism in the region such as Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

District Discontinued in Peru

Organized in 2008, the Huancavelica Peru District was discontinued.  The former district consisted of three branches located in Huancavelica, Lircay, and Pampas.  The Church originally operated a single branch in Huancavelica and organized a district following the organization of branches in Lircay and Pampas in the mid-2000s.  None of the branches were discontinued.  The Huancavelica and Lircay Branches now pertain to the Peru Lima East Mission whereas the Pampas Branch now pertains to the Huancayo Peru Stake.  Inadequate numbers of active priesthood holders to fill both district and branch callings and long distances between the three branches in the former district appear the primary reasons for the closure of the district.  Member and missionary reports indicate that local leadership remains strong and dedicated. 

There are now 98 stakes and 23 districts in Peru.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Stakes to be Created

I am keeping track of new stakes that will be created before the end of the year according to missionary and member reports I have received.  These new stakes are listed below.
  • Brisbane, Australia area
  • Cartagena Spain
  • Gaborone Botswana
  • Kinshasa, DR Congo (two new stakes)
  • Lafaiete Brazil
  • Lambare Paraguay
  • Lleida Spain
  • Manaus Brazil Guarany
  • Murfreesboro Tennessee
If you are aware of any other new stakes to be created or notice errors in this list, please comment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Stake in Bolivia

Two Sundays ago a new stake was created in Bolivia.  The Cochabamba Bolivia Sacaba Stake was created from a division of the Cochabamba Bolivia Universidad Stake and includes the following seven wards: The Amancayas, Arocagua, El Frutillar, Esmeralda, Huayllani, Sacaba, and Villa Graciela Wards.  The new stake becomes the Church's fifth stake in Cochabama and 25th stake nationwide.  Prospects appear favorable for the creation of additional stakes in Santa Cruz and La Paz within the near future as several stakes have reached the minimum number of wards to divide.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First LDS Stake in Botswana to be Created November 4th, 2012

Members in Botswana report that the Church will create its first stake in Botswana on November 4th.  The Church has worked for many years to create the first stake in Botswana.  The Church created its first official branch in 1991 and the following year organized a district headquartered in Gaborone.  In 1995, the district was closed and branches were reassigned to the newly created Roodepoort South Africa Stake.  The Church currently has three wards and four branches in Botswana that remain assigned to the Roodepoort South Africa Stake and one other branch (Francistown) and several groups (Gerald, Kasane, and Monarch) that report directly to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.  With few exceptions, stakes must have at least five wards to operate and we will likely see a couple new wards formed in Gaborone or a couple branches mature into wards as part of the creation of the new stake.  Members report that the new stake will also include one congregation in neighboring South Africa (Mafeking).

In the late 2000s, mission leaders opened several new cities to proselytism and have reported excellent success as branches have been organized in Kanye, Molepolole, and Mochudi.  Prospects appear favorable for the creation of a separate mission for Botswana due to visa complications with missionaries transferring between Botswana and South Africa and expanding opportunities to open additional cities to proselytism.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Draft of Case Study on the Effect of Lowering the Minimum Mission Age on LDS Growth

I am currently writing a case study for  on the Church's recent decision to lower the minimum mission age in regards to how this will affect LDS Church growth.   I wanted to temporarily post the draft of the case study on my blog to receive your input and feedback prior to posting it on the Cumorah website.  

Please include your feedback under the comments section.

*I have posted the case study on  Click here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Stake in French Polynesia (Tahiti)

Last Sunday, the Church created a new stake in French Polynesia.  The Mahina Tahiti Stake was organized from the Arue Tahiti and Papeari Tahiti Stakes and includes the following seven wards: The Faaripo, Hitiaa, Mahina, Matavai, Papenoo, Tiarei, and Tuauru Wards.  The Papeari Tahiti Stake now has seven wards and the Arue Tahiti Stake now has six wards and a branch.  The Church's two wards and one branch on the neighboring island of Moorea previously pertained to the Papeete Tahiti Stake but were transferred to the Arue Tahiti Stake as there were only four wards remaining in the Arue Tahiti Stake following its division.

There are now eight stakes and three districts in French Polynesia.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First LDS District Created in Benin

Last Sunday the Church created its first district in Benin.  The Cotonou Benin District consists of all six branches currently functioning in Benin including the Akpakpa, Fidjrosse, Finagnon, Gbedjromede, Gbegame, and the Menontin Branches.  Half of these branches were created earlier this year and missionaries report efforts to open additional groups in Cotonou within the near future. 

The Church created its first mission in Benin in July 2011 that also services neighboring Togo.  The Church has not opened any locations outside of Cotonou to missionary activity and has instead focused on opening new congregations in lesser-reached areas of the city. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Will Reducing the Minimum Age for Full-time Missionary Service Affect International LDS Church Growth?

With Saturday's historic announcement reducing the minimum age for missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women, there is a high likelihood of the Church experiencing a significant increase in the number of members serving missions within just a matter of months.  This increase appears likely due to a higher percentage of women considering full-time missionary service prior to marriage and educational pursuits, perhaps an increased percentage of men serving missions as fewer become inactive or disqualify themselves from full-time missionary service following high school graduation and before reaching the previously appointed mission age of 19, and a renewed excitement and enthusiasm among many in the Church to serve full-time missions.  Over the past two years, the Church has already reversed its decade-long trend of declining or stagnant numbers of full-time missionaries serving as the full-time missionary force has increased by approximately 6,000.  The big question for church growth researchers is how will this recent increase and anticipated swell in the missionary force affect the number of converts baptized worldwide, convert retention rates, the ratio of convert baptisms to missionaries serving, the opening of additional cities to missionary work, the organization of new missions, and the opening of additional countries to proselytism?

I am currently in the process of writing a case study for examining the potential for church growth within the next five years as a result of this change in church policy.  Please provide your thoughts, predictions, concerns, and analysis under the comments section below.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Tucson Arizona Temple

Announced earlier today by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, the Tucson Arizona Temple will become the Church's sixth temple in Arizona.  The Church previously dedicated temples in Mesa (1927), Snowflake (2002), and Gila Valley (2010) and began construction on two new temples in Gilbert (2010) and Phoenix (2011).  Currently the Church operates five stakes within Tucson and three additional stakes in southeastern Arizona - all which appear likely to be assigned to the new temple.  With today's announcement, Arizona becomes the state with the third most temples after Utah (16) and California (7).

The Church has experienced steady growth in Arizona over the past century and baptizes more new converts in Arizona than most other states.  There were only three stakes a century ago whereas today there are now 94.  Within the past decade, the Church has created 20 new stakes in Arizona - four of which were YSA stakes organized earlier this year.

A map of stakes and missions in southern Arizona can be found here.

The Arequipa Peru Temple

Announced earlier today by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, the Arequipa Peru Temple is the Church's third temple in Peru.  In 1986, the Church dedicated its first temple in Lima and broke ground for a second temple in Trujillo 2011.  The Church has achieved steady growth in Peru over the past century, growing from less than 5,000 members to over half a million today.  The number of stakes has increased from one in 1970 to nearly 100 today. 

In Arequipa, the Church currently operates seven stakes within the city.  The first stake was created in 1980 followed by a second stake in 1985, a third in 1991, a fourth in 1994, a fifth in 1997, a sixth in 1997, and a seventh in 2011.  Although no announcement has been made concerning what stakes will be assigned to the new temple, it is possible that a total of 15 stakes and seven districts may be serviced by the new temple throughout southern Peru.  A map of stakes and districts in southern Peru can be found here.

LDS Church Lowers Minimum Age for Missionary Service to 18 for Men and 19 for Women

In an official announcement this morning, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson reported that the Church has lowered the minimum age for missionary service worldwide from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women.  As indicated in his announcement, President Monson reported that the Church has lowered the minimum age for missionary service for several specific countries - often to accommodate mandatory military service and education constraints - such as in Venezuela and the United Kingdom.  An analysis of the history of LDS missionary work and trends in the growth of the number of members serving missions can be found here.

New Temples Announced

This morning, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of two new temples in the following locations:
  • Arequipa Peru
  • Tucson Arizona
With this morning's announcement, the total number of temples announced, under construction, or in operation totals 168.

Later today I will provide an analysis of the Church's growth in both of these locations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recent Church Growth Developments in Africa

Members and missionaries continue to report encouraging LDS Church growth developments in Africa.  Some notable developments include:
  • Preparations underway to open the Central African Republic and Gabon to missionary work
  • The creation of two new stakes in Kinshasa, DR Congo in the coming months
  • Plans to create additional branches in Angola and Togo
  • Plans to create the first stake in Mozambique next year in Maputo
  • The creation of a second branch in Rwanda
  • The opening of two locations to missionary work in Sierra Leone (Waterloo and Rokel)
  • The opening of a couple dozen new proselytism areas in Ghana, including the placement of full-time missionaries in several locations for the first time such as Abesem, Bibiani, Eshiem, and Mampong
Prospects for organizing additional missions in Africa next year are highly favorable.  Here are some locations for new missions that I think are most likely:
  • Luanda, Angola
  • Burundi/Rwanda
  • Yaounde, Cameroon
  • Central DR Congo (based in Mbuji-Mayi or Kananga)
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Johannesburg, South Africa (second mission)
  • Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Stake in Idaho

A new stake was created in Idaho two Sundays ago.  The Rexburg Idaho Married Student 4th Stake was organized from the three preexisting married student stakes in Rexburg and includes the following eight wards: The Rexburg Married Student 2nd, Rexburg Married Student 12th, Rexburg Married Student 15th, Rexburg Married Student 18th, Rexburg Married Student 24th, Rexburg Married Student 26th, Rexburg Married Student 28th, and Rexburg Married Student 30th Wards.  There are now 13 stakes that service young single adults and married students in the Rexburg area and 126 stakes in Idaho.