Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cities Opening for Missionary Work around the World

The current surge in the worldwide LDS missionary force resulting from a combination of reducing the minimum age of missionary service and a reversal of stagnant growth in the number of members serving missions has appeared to influence the acceleration of outreach expansion in several areas of the world.  Many missions will receive 50 to 100 more missionaries than previously assigned due to these massive increases. 

Below is a list of cities recently opened by missionaries or soon to be opened by missionaries.
  • Coari, Amazonas, Brazil
  • Rorainopolis, Roraima, Brazil
  • Nakuru, Kenya
  • Gjakove, Kosovo
  • Izmir, Turkey
In Turkey, a senior missionary couple providing member and leadership support will be assigned to Izmir in the near future to prepare for the arrival of full-time proselytizing missionaries.  One branch operates in Izmir that reportedly has no active members at present and was likely going to close due to activity challenges.  The assignment of missionaries will permit the continued operation of the branch.  There are less than 300 members in Turkey and four branches.  The first proselytizing missionaries arrived in early 2012.

In Kenya, the opening of Nakuru to missionary work is a major development considering the city is the country's third most populous.  One group operates with approximately 14 active members.  There are currently 41 wards and branches and over 10,000 members in Kenya.

In Kosovo, the opening of Gjakove is a significant milestone as it is the second city in Kosovo to have an LDS presence establish.  The Church remains very small in Kosovo and likely has fewer than 50 members on church records.

In Brazil, the opening of two cities to missionary activity in the Amazon Basin is a major development as the Church has not opened additional cities in this region for many years.  Coari was previously the most populous city in the Amazon Basin without an LDS presence.

In the coming months, we will likely see large numbers of additional cities open to missionaries for the first time.  This has potential to accelerate membership and congregational growth, especially in locations where populations exhibit high receptivity to the Church.


Matt said...

I recently attended a fireside with the Senior Missionary Couple who presided over Turkey and brought the first round of full-time missionaries. There was a lot beind the scenes why the church wasn't growing before, but know those obstacles have been removed and things should progress much faster in Turkey than before.

They said the Church strongly believes that Turkey is the gateway for the Church to be in Muslim world.

Christopher Nicholson said...

I agree. I've been reading a book called "Holy Lands: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Near East". I was very surprised to learn how far back the Church presence in that area goes, and how it has persisted despite opposition after opposition. I guess I would compare it to a seed that remains frozen in the Arctic, yet alive, and is then thawed out and able to finally blossom.

Mike Johnson said...

The South Jordan Utah Oquirrh Lake Stake, with the Oquirrh Lake 1st through 8th wards, was created on 3 March 2013.

James Anderson said...

In South Dakota Rapid City, we have all kinds of small towns that very infrequently had a set of missionaries in them. One of them was Fergus Falls MN, just off I-94 about 50 miles or so from Fargo.

Went down to take some elders back to their area who had to take a car in for repair, and saw that this was a bigger place than some had thought, and close enough to two other towns of reasonable size that I mentioned it in an interview at the next zone conference and discussed it with zone leaders and others who were associated with the mission leadership.

So in February 1987, they opened it. Went down to help them find a place, there were a couple members already. Probably gave out the first Book of Mormon handed out through tracting in a good number of years. I remember the place due to the tuxedo cat slinking off as I left the place.

There's now a branch headquartered there, serving Wahpeton ND also, at one time there was a branch at Wahpeton too but for probably leadership reasons they have at least the one now.

Ray said...

To James: Nice story! Very interesting how branches get their start. Although the ND branch is closed now, ND has had tremendous growth going from 8 to 11 wards in just the last year.

To Mike: The South Jordan Ut Oquirrh Lake Stake showed up on the CDOL this morning and is mistakenly credited as the 1500th US stake, which would be a big benchmark number. But Rick Satterfield in has it correctly numbered as #1499 in the US, since the stake created in American Samoa late last year was added to the US totals by mistake.

Mike Johnson said...

American Samoa is part of the United States.

Now, I also have 1499 stakes in the 50 states and DC (although that stake is centered and mostly in Maryland).

In my book there are 1510 US stakes, counting 5 in Puerto Rico, 5 in American Samoa, and 1 in Guam.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am quite glad to hear that Izmir is being opened to missionary work. Are there any signs that Ankara may also be opened soon? Has the Church managed to get more visas for missionaries, or is that still a work in progress?

Mike Johnson said...

The Kamayi Ward was created on 10 March in the Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake, which now has 9 wards and a branch:

Kamayi Ward
Kananga 1st Ward
Kananga 2nd Ward
Katoka 1st Ward
Katoka 2nd Ward
Malandji Ward
Ndesha Ward
Nganza Ward
Oasis Ward
Katoka 3rd Branch

Matt said...

I have not heard anything on the possibility of missionaries getting assigned to Ankara but it seems like one of the next places to reach due to its size and status as the capital of Turkey.

Thanks Mike for the unit updates. Very exciting to see nine wards and a branch already in Kananga. I bet we'll see more new wards created soon. The stake baptizes hundreds of converts a year with high retention.

Mike Johnson said...

The Church has set up a web site for members in China who are PRC citizens:

This is designed for those who lived abroad (especially in the US, Canada, Britain, and Australia) and were converted and returned home.

The Church has a press release on the website:

Very interesting answers to questions about the Church in China.

Mike Johnson said...

The Caaguazú Paraguay District was recently merged into the Coronel Oviedo Paraguay District about 20 miles away. Each district brought 4 branches into the new enlarged district, which now has 8 branches.

Could this be preparation for a new stake?

Mike Johnson said...

The Accokeek Ward of the Fredericksburg Stake was created today, mostly from a split of the Garrisonville Ward. Small portions of the Rock Hill and Aquia wards were added to the Garrisonville and Accokeek wards.

The stake president told us to not get too complacent with the new boundaries as another ward will be created within a year or two in area.

There are now 12 wards and 3 branches in the Fredericksburg Virginia Stake. 6 wards cover Stafford County and 2 branches covering the entire stake meet in Stafford County.

The alignment was governed by two principles--first that the youth programs in the four wards be about equal. Garrisonville dropped from about 90 youth. Each of the four wards should have around 50-55 youth. Also, that the new ward members would have travel minimized as most of them will be going to a new meetinghouse from where they had been attending.

I had been used to 300+ in attendance. The ward will seem small for a while.

Matt said...

Yes, missionaries in Paraguay report that the recent district consolidation was in preparation for creating a stake.

xtinita said...

Im so glad that there are a lot of cities additional who are embracing this kind of things and Im thank God that he also open it here in our place.


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Chronos said...

I am one of the four Elders that first came to Coari, in Brazil. I'm from São Paulo, BR, and it's been 1 month since I returned. It was a great experience, there were 4 elders there (me included) and we baptized over 150 people in two weeks, the Church is growing fast in the Amazon.

Mike Johnson said...

There doesn't appear to be a branch in Coari, Brazil, yet. I take it, the newly baptized members there are in one or more groups of the Brazil Manaus Mission Branch. Perhaps there is a need for priesthood leadership to emerge from the new converts for branches to form.

Chronos said...

To become a branch it first has to be a group, to be a group they need priesthood. There are some priesthood holders there, even some returned missionaries (that moved to live there) and two missionaries. Now it's a mission branch called UBA but it's going to turn into a group soon enough, and then branch, ward...

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, Chronos.

Anonymous said...

Truly the missionaries are very a God like deeds.

Thanks for the increasing numbers of yours.

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