Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Church in Vietnam - Government Recognition Milestone Reached; Membership Data Disclosed

In a news release dated May 30th, the Church has announced that the Vietnamese government has recognized the Church's Interim Representative Committee that consists of three native Vietnamese church leaders. This recognition will provide the LDS Church the opportunity to expand its presence into additional locations outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City per approval of government officials. Additionally, the Church reported that there are over 1,600 members who currently reside in Vietnam. This marks the first time that the Church has publicly disclosed its membership numbers for Vietnam since 1997, when there were just a mere 100 members.

Currently Vietnam is assigned to the Cambodia Phnom Pehn Mission and has one member district based in Hanoi that appeared to be organized sometime in the early 2010s. There are currently three branches in Vietnam (two in Ho Chi Minh City, one in Hanoi). A second branch in Ho Chi Minh City began operating in 2013. Only members of Vietnamese ancestry are currently permitted to serve full-time missions in Vietnam.


Adam said...

Do you have any RM reports about what the normal attendance is in the three branches? That's a lot of members.

Ed Clinch said...

There are a few factors to consider when thinking about LDS in current (2014) Vietnam:

1. Phnom Penh, which is not too far away (like a Missouri town to Illinois) has had a well developing Vietnamese unit growing for some time. I know a little bit about since my mom (deceased earlier this year) and my step-dad (turning 70 this year) served an LDS Charities mission in there 2000-2002. From there reports, Cambodians appreciated Vietnamese forces saving them from Pol Pot back in the 70s.

2. Vietnamese across the world have been exposed to LDS missionaries and the Church across the globe for a long time.
Examples: I met a former missionary in Utah who served the Vietnamese in Nebraska for his service. I knew a guy at Indiana University who served southeast Asians in CT/RI, even though they were more Lao. A missionary from my home town of Bloomington IN served Lao/Cambodians (possibly some Vietnamese) in the Oakland Mission back in the 1980s.

All this globalization of membership and people has surely affected the home country. I look forward to many missions in Vietnam in the future. Good stuff.

Mike Johnson said...

Ed, the Vietnamese units in Cambodia are (with activation date):

Phnom Penh Cambodia Central District (Vietnamese) 16-Dec-01

Phnom Penh 3rd Branch (Vietnamese) 26-Oct-95
Phnom Penh 6th Branch (Vietnamese) 6-May-00
Phnom Penh 10th Branch (Vietnamese) 16-Dec-01

Adam said...

Hey Mike, do you know what the current membership is in the Fredericksburg stake these days? How much longer do you project it'll take until it hits the 6,000 mark?

Mike Johnson said...

Last I heard the stake had about 5500 members.

Ed Clinch said...

Sorry for those misspellings and other errors in my last comment. Still understandable, but annoying. ("Their" v. "there", classic non-thinking orthographic mistakes).

Thanks for the information about those Vietnamese units in Cambodia; I hope my MO/IL comparison helps put it into clearer context or perspective better.

I wonder which of the southeast Asian cultures is most Christian, and which one is more prevalent to cultural change, like to become Latter-day Saint. Maybe Vietnam with its French Catholic colonial heritage. Sadly, in Cambodia with its genocide of the late 1970s, a whole generation was eliminated and therefore some potential Christian legacies may also have been erased. I can't help but hope that the Plan of Salvation and vicarious work for the dead resonate with them for the sake of their souls and mental peace of mind concerning the ancestors so tragically lost.
As much as Vietnam was a land of pain and sorrow and loss for so long, all of southeast Asia has had its trials.

I think of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945; I have learned that that city was the most traditionally Christian center in all of Japan. Some restorations of the gospel hike up steeper hills than others.

One other note about that former missionary in Utah that I met around 1996 who worked with a Viet community in Nebraska: he claimed that these people were his primary mission for his two years, yet he barely knew or remembered the language. How sad! I hope that more returned missionaries would cling to their missionary tongues.

Last note about Virginia: there should be some new stakes created soon. The continued overall growth of counties like Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Culpeper, Stafford and Spotsylvania will bring more and more growth beside the missionary converts that seem to be increasing since the surge.

Fairfax County has the most people in the whole state, and is growing church wise, but I expect to see the outlying counties and their stakes grow faster...

Ray said...


Checking (Association of Religion Data Archives) I found this for Fairfax County:

1980, 10 congregations, 4,792 members, or
0.77% of 625,806

2010, 30 congregations, 16,497 members, or
1.53% of 1,081,726

I'm wondering if anyone has any information about growth in Fairfax County since 2010.

MLewis82 said...

If I were to guess I'd say the Vietnamese were historically more open to Chrisitanity under the French than were the Cambodians or Lao, but it's hard to know how things have changed over the last half century of war and political unrest.

My grandparents and uncle lived in Cambodia back before the war and my family was called to serve a stake mission in the Dulles Branch (in the Oakton VA Stake in Fairfax Country interestingly enough) when I was in middle school. We served there for two and a half years. I understand the branch has since been disbanded, but it had lots of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian members and missionaries were called to serve speaking all three languages. The branch president was an American, but had lived and worked for years in Singapore. My brother even married a Vietnamese girl from the branch.

I was told by the members of the branch that after the communists took over in Vietnam the ones who left as refugees were mostly related to the former ruling classes, spoke French, and were Catholic (this was true definitely true of my ex-sister-in-law's family, half of whom now live in France). I'm now super close with a Cambodian family in LA, and have attended the Cambodian branch in Long Beach with them. Interestingly enough they also have relatives in France, but it appears the ruling class there was less likely to be Christian, probably because of their connections to the monarchy. Monarchies also seem to have discouraged Christianity from taking hold as easily in Thailand and Japan as well.

The rising generations in both countries no longer have the same connection to France as did the old ruling classes, so in some sense they both may have a clean slate. I'll be really interested to see how the Church continues to progress in both places.

Mike Johnson said...

The Abuloma Branch, Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake, was created on 25 May. There are now 6 wards and 5 branches in the stake:

Amadi Ward
Borokiri Ward
Ogbunabali 2nd Ward
Ogbunabali 1st Ward
Rumuomasi Ward
Township Ward
Abo-Ama Branch
Abuloma Branch
Alase-Ama Branch
Bundu Branch
LoLo-Ama Branch

The Alki YSA Branch, Seattle Washington Stake, was created on 11 May. There are now 8 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Beverly Park Ward
Burien Ward
Des Moines Ward
Highline Ward (Samoan)
Myers Way Ward (Tongan)
Normandy Park Ward
Seatac Ward
West Seattle Ward
Alki YSA Branch
Seahurst Branch (Spanish)
Vashon Branch

The Cocotomey Branch, Cotonou Benin District, Benin Cotonou Mission, was created on 1 June. There are now 12 branches in the district:

Aibatin Branch
Akpakpa Branch
Avotrou Branch
Calavi Branch
Cococodji Branch
Cocotomey Branch
Fidjrosse Branch
Finagnon Branch
Gbedjromede Branch
Gbegame Branch
Jericho Branch
Menontin Branch

The Higley Manor Ward, Gilbert Arizona Williams Field Stake, was created on 1 June. There are now 8 wards in the stake:

Chaparral Ward
Cooley Station Ward
Fairview Ward
Gateway Married Student Ward
Higley Manor Ward
Maplewood Ward
Pecos Park Ward
Stratland Ward

The Maple Way Ward, Layton Utah Holmes Creek Stake, was created on 1 June. There are now 9 wards in the stake:

Chapel Park Ward
Country Creek Ward
Country View Ward
Creekside Ward
Fiddlers Creek Ward
Kimball Ward
Maple Way Ward
Rosewood Ward
Summerhaze Ward

The Stansbury Park YSA Ward, Stansbury Park Utah Stake, was created on 1 June. There are now 10 wards in the stake:

Bayshore Ward
Benson Mill Ward
Big Canyon Ward
Captain's Island Ward
Lake Point Ward
Mill Pond Ward
Porter Way Ward
Stansbury Lake Ward
Stansbury Park YSA Ward
Stansbury Ward