I wanted to take some time to analyze the recent announcement of 58 new missions to be organized in July 2013.
No year has come close to having as many missions organized as are planned for 2013. 1990 had the largest increase in the number of missions for the Church prior this year when the number of missions increased by 28. Of the 58 new missions announced for 2013, 17 were in the United States (29%), 8 were in Mexico (14%), 8 were in other countries in South America (14%), 7 were in Brazil (12%), 5 were in Africa (8.6%), 4 were in the Philippines (6.9%), 3 were in other countries in Central America (5.2%), 3 were in Oceania (5.2%), 2 were in Asia (3.4%), and 1 was in Europe (1.7%). The vast majority of new missions were organized in locations that have experienced recent growth in the number of members serving missions. Despite my earlier report that another mission would be created in Guatemala City, only one new mission will be organized in Guatemala in Coban.
The location of most of the new mission announcements did not come as much of a surprise to me considering the Church has organized the majority of its new missions in the western United States and Latin America. There was speculation on whether any missions closed within the past decade would reopen as a result of the surge in the full-time missionary force. Of the 58 new missions announced, six are missions that were in locations where missions were recently closed, namely Australia Sydney North, Georgia Macon, Illinois Chicago West, Japan Tokyo South, Korea Seoul South, and Ohio Cincinnati.
The Church announced the creation of its first mission in only three countries - all of which are in Africa - including Angola, Botswana, and Liberia.
One of biggest surprises with this year's announcement of 58 new missions was the creation of a new mission in L'viv, Ukraine. The Church operates only one branch in L'viv and approximatey half a dozen additional branches in large cities in western Ukraine. The new mission may service only seven or eight branches once organized but missionaries report that several additional cities may open to missionaries within the near future.
I was disappointed that there were not more missions organized in Africa, specifically in countries that have no missions but have a growing church presence such as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda/Burundi, Tanzania, and Togo. However it is important to note that no other year has had as many new missions organized in Africa as will be organized in 2013. Missionary reports indicate that the creation of new missions appears likely within the near future. The Church has also favored the opening of new missions in locations where there are close to 250 missionaries assigned rather than in locations where missionary forces remain small (less than 50) in order to accommodate the massive surge in the missionary force. This explains why more missions were not organized in Africa for this year thus far. Furthermore, some of these countries will likely be unable to accommodate many more missionaries for the foreseeable future due to limited missionary visas, few church units, the relatively small size of the native full-time missionary force, and small numbers of local church leaders. Generally the Church creates its first mission in a country when there are more than 2,000 members.
The Church has followed a pattern of organizing most of its missions in July but it is possible that the Church may organize missions in different months of the year. For example, the India New Delhi Mission was the most recent mission not organized in July in November 2007. Perhaps additional missions may be organized before July 2014 as local church conditions improve.
Lastly, church leaders have emphasized that none of the 58 new missions to be organized this July are anticipated to close within the foreseeable future notwithstanding an anticipated decline in two or three years as the double-cohort of missionaries returns home. These new missions were organized with a long-term vision for the number of missionaries and church growth for many more years to come. Click here to access an article where church leaders discuss the sustainability of recent increases in the full-time missionary force.
Below is a map of the approximate location for the 58 new missions to be organized this summer.
View New Missions 2013 in a larger map