Saturday, July 6, 2013

June 2013 Newsletter

Click here to read our June 2013 monthly newsletter from regarding church growth developments and recently posted resources on our website.


Ed Clinch said...

South America is certainly growing in dynamic ways. I remember reading a book discussing future growth of the Church of Jesus Christ in Brazil and the other half of the continent back in 1997. Despite the projections being what would now be considered over-optimistic or unrealistic, LDS presence has definitely taken a foothold from Bogota to Trelew.
For decades many Chileans assocated the LDS faith as an organization of gringos. Now they are met by Peruvians, Argentines and many other elders and sisters from across the planet, and on top of the globalizing nature of this type of interaction, is a realization that the faith is not just an American thing.
I would like to know where all the Brazilian missionaries go; what percentage stay home and what percentage learn second languages elsewhere?
Also, most of us expect a Hispanic or Latino apostle soon. Having a European as well as a Latin American or possibly Asian apostle will be a significant turning point in church history. Africa will also be a large part the gathering of Israel; it is amazing to see leadership and membership augement across the planet. And yet, one look at India, China, and Indonesia, not to mention Vietnam and some other populated nations like Turkey and Egypt, shows that there is still much more to be done.
I wish more of our regular members and youth were more pro-active about serving and going where they are called. We could easily send 3 times the numbers we already have, if we had more understanding of the importance of doing our part.

Mike Johnson said...

I note in the June Newsletter the article that 13 companionships have been assigned to a single ward in the Texas McAllen Mission. This mission covers 4 stakes with a total of 26 wards, plus a number of branches.

The Harlingen Texas Stake has 6 wards--4 Spanish and 2 English, plus 4 Spanish branches, 1 English branch, and a YSA branch (English).

The McAllen Texas Stake has 6 wards--3 English and 3 Spanish, plus a YSA branch (English).

The McAllen Texas West Stake has 7 wards (4 Spanish and 3 English), plus a Spanish branch.

The Corpus Christi Texas Stake has 7 wards, all English, plus 4 English, 2 Spanish, and 1 YSA (English) branches.

The article doesn't identify the ward, but does say it is an English ward. My guess is that it referenced that way because the stake in question is probably mostly Spanish.

The area has high inactivity. My guess is the ward covers a fairly large area, with a small LDS population among a large non-LDS population. This could be based on a desire to convert the ward into a number of branches in coming months.

Ray said...

June 2013 and first half of 2013 unit growth:

June + 21 W&B; + 26 W - 5 br; + 7 stakes (+8-1) - 5 dist + 58 missions
US + 7; + 7 W + 0 br; + 1 stake, + 16 missions
Outside US + 14; + 19 W - 5 br; + 6 stakes - 5 diet + 42 missions

First Half 2013 + 131 W&B; +135 W - 4 br, + 22 stakes - 11 dist, + 58 missions
US + 56 W&B; + 64 W - 8 br + 6 st + 0 dist, + 16 missions
Outside US + 75; + 71 W + 4 br, + 16 st - 11 dist
2 temples, + 42 missions

Note: These figures are per Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders and do not include certain new units not yet reported to CDOL.

Ray said...

Ward and Branch growth first half 2013 131; first half 2012 88.

John Pack Lambert said...

Reading through the study on Auckland, I am not convinced the faster growth of the population of New Zealand means what was suggested.

The question ignored was two fold. On one had, it is admitted that there has been a large exodus of New Zealanders to Australia. The big question though is, to what extent is New Zealand's population growth being caused by immigration? Immigration is a key component that seems to not be fully addressed.

Mike Johnson said...

The Pasankeri Branch, La Paz Bolivia Alto San Pedro Stake, was created on 7 July. There are now 5 wards and 1 branch in the stake:

Alto San Pedro Ward
El Rosal Ward
Indaburo Ward
Nuevo Potosí Ward
Pioneros Ward
Pasankeri Branch

The West Columbia 2nd Branch (Spanish), West Columbia South Carolina Stake, was created on 7 July. There are now 10 wards and 2 branches in the stake:

Congaree Ward
Dutch Fork Ward
Gilbert Ward
Irmo Ward
Lake Murray Ward
Lexington Ward
Newberry Ward
Orangeburg Ward
West Columbia Ward
West Columbia YSA Ward
Chapin Branch
West Columbia 2nd Branch (Spanish)

The Kapitolyo Ward was created on 7 July. There are now 11 wards in the mission:

Kapitolyo Ward
Pasig 1st Ward
Pasig 2nd Ward
Pasig 3rd Ward
Pasig 4th Ward
Pateros 1st Ward
Pateros 2nd Ward
Signal Village 1st Ward
Signal Village 2nd Ward
Taguig 1st Ward
Taguig 2nd Ward

Mike Johnson said...

I thought the Auckland write up was pretty good. Yes, there is immigration into New Zealand and emigration outside. These contribute. Auckland has also grown because of a flow of New Zealanders into Auckland.

I wonder if the lack of YSA units in Auckland doesn't reflect a strong early marriage (16-20) culture in the area that precludes sufficient numbers of YSA to create specific units for them.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks for the article on estimating membership by multiplying the average members per congregations by the number of congregations in a specific administrative areas.

I largely agree with your conclusions. I would add a few other warnings. I think it probably works well in mature areas covered by stakes and wards, because wards varying over a relatively small range. Branches range over a much larger range.

In the US and Canada, wards have a minimum requirement of 300 members, while outside, the min requirement is 150. However, both require the same number of active, full-tithe-paying, Melchizedek Priesthood holders, which tends to equalize to some extent.

Branches in stakes have a higher minimum requirement than branches in missions. Because branches in stakes which become large enough become wards, branches in stakes have a narrower range of variability than branches in missions.

Thus, wards vary by about 300-700 (in the US and Canada), branches in stakes vary from 20 to about 300 or so. Branches in missions vary from a few members to many hundreds, because they can't be made into wards without a stake. This matches Matt's conclusion that in less developed areas, the methodology risks breaking down. The cases of the US, UK, and Canada, the membership is almost entirely in stakes.

YSA wards and branches have different standards (125 or 50 active members, respectively). The Melchizedek Priesthood requirements can be supplied from surrounding congregations.

Mike Johnson said...

I have been thinking a lot over the past several months about the differences between requirements for stakes (and wards) in the US/Canada vs the rest of the world. This is motivating by being in a large stake with 13 wards and 2 branches, but with about 5200 members instead of the minimum of 6000 needed to split into 2 stakes. We are well beyond other requirements to split. I have argued that if the church parachuted 800 completely inactive members into our stake into the right wards, we would be split very quickly. If we were outside the US and Canada, we would have been split long ago.

So, why the difference? All other stake and ward requirements are the same regardless of US/Canada or outside. So, wards have at least the same minimum of active, full-tithe-paying, Melchizedek Priesthood.

The conclusion I came to is that in the US and Canada, people move around a lot. The population seems a lot more fluid than in other countries. In a short time, one area could lose a lot of membership and another could gain a lot pretty quickly. By making minimum standards higher, it is less likely that stakes would have to be consolidated because of a shift in population.

Ed Clinch said...

There are cultural differences of social/peer pressures and overall income and disposible time as well, that affects membership at the branch, ward and general levels.

In some countries they cannot afford to do things that US/Canadian people are able to do, like do fundraisers and activities that cost money: often considered slight sacrifices to many North Americans, including relatively Mexicans, some countries cannot have the same level of church activity, just as Purchasing Power per Person is drastically different in different lands.
Some wards in the United States (I don't know as much about Canada) stretch to find leadership and other roles for very active, committed, successful LDS, because the overall activity is so high.
This comes from long generations of activity and fond traditions, experience and know-how, but often simply more ample resources (disposable income among others) and opportunities, like freedom of travel, ease of access to assemble groups.
Many of the church organizational differences as mentioned above are largely influenced by culture, and unfortunatley culture is largely influenced by economics.
However, per country and culture, the Gospel of Jesus Chrsit offers various levels of hope for individuals and units, and even though there are serious differences in personal incomes and aggregate capabalities per bishopric, priesthood quorum, YM/YW groups, Boy Scout troops, temple availabilty, etc...
But the missions are helping all of us get to the same goal:
to come unto Christ through His covenants and ordinances.

John said...

My stake (Wilmington Delaware) was able to divide last year with about 5200 members, twelve wards, and four branches. Keep in mind that the 3000 member rule predates the current priesthood rule, and so may be a little more fluid now.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, John. My understanding is that our stake president asked the question and was told "no."

That said, there are options. There are two wards from the Centreville Stake not far to the west of us and they would give us the correct number.

BTW, it is a single rule set in the handbook that has several components. The rule also uses "should" for each requirement, but it is more than a suggestion, it is more like if you want something that doesn't fit the rule, you better be able to back up why.

John said...

Part of our circumstances was that we were pretty boxed in. Perhaps one or both stakes could have grabbed a meetinghouse from a neighboring stake, but both stakes involved with that would have had weird shapes as a result. Part of that was that none of the surrounding stake had done as much boundary-overhauling as we had.

In 2008 we divided one ward in two. In 2009 we divided a branch from a ward. In 2010 we restructured four wards and a branch into six wards. In total, ten of the fourteen geographic units in our stake were affected by this. There was more of that we could have done (like adjust the line from the 2009 split to make the branch a ward) but giving some territory from three of our wards to a branch in Annapolis stake, and dividing our stake, came first.

Now Wilmington stake is the six wards from 2010, plus a Spanish branch and a (floundering) YSA branch that theoretically covers both stakes. We had about 2400 members after the split. Dover stake has six wards and two branches and about 2700 members.

Mike Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Johnson said...

Interesting, John. Thanks for sharing.

I do note, however, some official numbers that tell a slightly different story.

There are 16 units in the Dover and Wilmington stakes--8 in each. These are in all 3 Delaware counties and in 3 Maryland counties (location of the meetinghouse). Using data the Church provided the Association of Religious Data Archives for the number of congregations and members of those congregations at the end of 2010 in each of these 6 counties, I get:

Dover Stake:

Kent County, Delaware (4 congregations with 1,839 members): Dover 1st, Harrington, and Smyrna Wards, and the Dover 2nd Branch

Wilcomico County, Maryland (2 congregations with 911 members): Salisbury 1st and 2nd Wards

Sussex County, Delaware (1 with 452 members): Seaford Ward

Dorchester County, Maryland (1 with 298 members): Cambridge Branch

Total membership of units currently in this stake as of the end of 2010: 3,500

Wilmington, Delaware Stake:

New Castle County, Delaware (7 with 2,541 members): New Castle, Newark 1st and 3rd, Wilmington 1st and 2nd Wards, Newark YSA Branch, and Wilmington 3rd Branch (Spanish)

Cecil County, Maryland (1 with 457 members): Bayview Ward

Total membership for units currently in this stake as of the end of 2010: 2,998.

The Dover Stake was created on 15 Apr 2012, 15.5 months after the membership count mentioned. If the two stakes have substantially less than 3000 members each at the time of the creation of the Dover Stake, then there must have been a large reduction since the end of 2010. Rather, I suspect both stakes were above 3000 members at the time the Dover Stake was created.

I wonder whether your numbers only reflect the Delaware units.

John said...

I'm stake membership clerk, and was responsible for drafting the maps and crunching the numbers for every boundary change I listed. I stand by the numbers I've posted, and can give you more detail if you'd like.

I know there are more members out there - every ward and stake has them. (You could say there's some "water weight" with the official numbers for each unit.) Salt Lake has started kicking back a sampling of records that are still sitting in Address Unknown the first week each quarter, for the wards to try to find again. No unit will get more than twenty a quarter, and that's what three of our units got. (In all the Wilmington stake got 111 records back.)

I can also give you more detail on what units cover what counties. (The meetinghouse and majority of members of Smyrna Ward, for instance, are in New Castle County.) Maybe this conversation should shift to email - you can contact me at

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, John.

Yes, there is an "administrative unit" for each state and for each country that hold records that are unknown. This is often known as the "address unknown" file. When I returned from my mission many decades ago, I was called to help find people in the AUs and became somewhat familiar with them.

We received 11 people in our ward. 6 had addresses in other wards and have been sent to them (ok 5 in the ward that was recently split off). 3 had addresses in our ward and they were given to different organizations to find. 3 had no address or means of finding them and nobody--including those who had lived here for 20 years could remember any of them. We have a checklist to follow. I must admit,

Now, it is possible (likely) that the number reported to ARDA includes those in the AUs. That actually makes sense. I have seen considerable growth in our stake since we moved in in 2010, but our membership according to the stake is still slightly less than what is reported in ARDA. I had been wondering about that.

Thanks for the info about the Smyrna Ward, I could have looked it up on LDS maps, but I can't see county lines on it. I simply googled the name of the city of the address and in that case it said it was split between Kent and New Castle. So, I must admit I waited until I had fit all the other pieces and decided it must have been accounted for in Kent county. Everything else fit nicely.

My favorite story trying to find somebody in an AU, led to learning that he was in Alaska and I was given a person and phone number to call. I called and asked for the individual, and the lady who answered said he was her husband. So, I identified myself as calling for the Church and that we were looking for an individual whose records were misplace. She then told me that her husband was the mission president and that individual was one of their missionaries.

Mike Johnson said...

I discovered recently that at least two major denominations in the US publish online membership statistics for each congregation (and up the hierarchy to the denomination) itself. These are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

For example, the ELCA church closest to me is reported at

We learn all kinds of things about this congregation--including the number of baptized members (as they baptize infants this is similar to LDS members of record), confirmed members (more analogous to LDS baptized members--need to be old enough to make a public commitment), and average attendance. It also tells us the year of the report--most are 2012, but for other the last report is 2011 or even earlier. Then you can click on a link and see the trend over years.

About 10 years ago, the ELCA was the closest in size in the US to the LDS church, both in terms of number of members and congregations. They have been shrinking in aggregate.

It would make our investigative work trying to figure out the sizes of congregations a lot easier if our annual membership reports were put on the web as well.

Overall, the ELCA has an average attendance about 27% of its baptized membership.

John Pack Lambert said...

I can see why the church does not want to publish by congregation data. Especially considering how small some branches are, it might feel like revealing too much about specific individuals.

I also have a sense that those opposed to the Church would have a heyday trying to read it in a negative light. Not that this would be a fair reading. This is what disturbs me the most about people who list the various numbers of Church members, and tag on "claimed" to only the most recent one. It gives the impression that there is a growing phenomenon of low convert retention, and inactivity. I know enough people who grew up as totally inactive members, baptized at age 10 on their first time ever going to church and not attending again for another 5 or more years, 30+ years ago, to make me realize that any attempts to question the meaning of current church membership numbers while acting like past numbers were direct reflections of levels of church attendance is an ahisotircal understanding of the facts.

Mike Johnson said...

75% of Protestant congregations have 75 or fewer members. I don't think the Church would be embarrassed by posting numbers when 2/3 of LDS congregations in the US are wards with over 300.