Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and LDS Growth

I wanted to make a comment about speculation made by some regarding the impact of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa on the receptivity of native populations in the region to the LDS Church.

Although LDS growth has accelerated in West Africa within the past few years, this development has not appeared to have any direct correlation with the Ebola epidemic in the region. Recent rapid growth in Cote d'Ivoire as evidenced by the doubling of congregations in the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire stake in 2014 from eight to 16, the simultaneous organization of six branches in the city of Daloa, Cote d'Ivoire in early 2014, and accelerated national outreach expansion in Ghana appear to have no correlation with the recent Ebola outbreak. All of these recent LDS growth developments began before the Ebola outbreak did. The plans and approvals for the organization of new congregations takes months, and even up to a year, to be carried out, suggesting that these developments began before the Ebola epidemic.

Please see below to find links to the LDS statistical profiles to countries in the region. These profiles clearly show that accelerated growth began several years ago.

22 comments:

Pascal said...

What I`ve expressed though and what I still believe is happening are increased activity rates in the countries hit the hardest. There is a quite prevalent mindset among Africans, including some members of the Church I know, that God punishes peoples which turn away from Him, and which are not devout or obedient enough. Even though we as a Church do not necessarily believe that, Ebola could be considered a call to repentance by some who are less active in the Gospel, hence leading them back to full activity. That mindset probably distinguishes Africans from the rest of the world, where I would assume an Ebola outbreak would have the contrary impact.

Ed Clinch said...

I think that each individual and collective organization, culture, community is affected differently by stresses, catastrophes, tragedies.

For instance, in 1985 when there was a major earthquake in Chile, thousands of members of our faith (and maybe a few others) filled the chapels then built. Chile in the mid 80s had no small number of membership, maybe 250,000 or so.

The same year there was a bad earthquake in Mexico City, but I do not know how it affected LDS in the attendance following that.

With a contagious disease of this consequence, I can see different people reacting different ways. I hope that all of the world's negatives can convince enough of the contrite to hearken to God's counsels. And yes, some cultures will react differently. Similar to varying individuals. My mom's death earlier this year has made me more religious, I believe, but I could see maybe how this same life event could turn some people bitter or angry with God.

Again, I am glad my mom joined the church despite having an issue with the priesthood authority for all males back in 1968. Great pioneer.

Michael said...

The Joplin Missouri stake has announced that Elder Bednar will preside at a joint meeting next Sunday, Oct. 26th, of the Joplin and the Rogers Arkansas stakes. The plan for that meeting is to create two new stakes: the Monett Missouri stake, and the Bentonville Arkansas stake.

There is a similar meeting planned on November 2nd in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the Tulsa stake and the Tulsa East stake, although the details of what will be accomplished in that meeting have not yet been announced.

Elder Bednar served as a stake president in northwest Arkansas from 1987 to 1995.

John Pack Lambert said...

Ivory Coast and Ghana have had fewer cases of Ebola in either country than in the United States. These are not the countries that Ebola is present in.

John Pack Lambert said...

Michael,
Is that two additonal stakes to the stakes that already exist? If so, I expect a temple in south-west Missouri or north-west Arkansas soon.

James Anderson said...

News has turned up about the Church and the Ebola outbreak

http://www.mormonnewsroom.com.gh/article/latter-day-saints-worship-at-home-during-ebola-lock-down

Michael said...

John - yes, two additional stakes next week, and my educated guess is that another stake in northeast Oklahoma will be created on November 2nd. So in our "four corners" area (NE OK, NW AR, SW MO, SE KS), where there were 6 stakes there will be 9.

Anecdotally, I know many temple workers in the Oklahoma City temple who state that the members from NW Arkansas are some of the most faithful in the temple district. It is approximately a 3 1/2 hour to 4 hour drive from Rogers to OKC. The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers area is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country. An eventual temple in any of those cities would not be unexpected.

Exciting and uplifting times for us here in the Heartland!

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Soon, the Oklahoma City temple (10,769 sq ft) will have more stakes in its district - probably 14 - than the Kansas City temple (32,000 sq ft) - probably 13. Similar small temples service fewer stakes, such as Nashville (9), Baton Rouge (8), and Memphis (6).

So a smallish temple in NW Arkansas could service 9 or more stakes in the surrounding region and fill a geographic gap and contribute to even greater growth in the region.

The Opinion said...

Concerning a temple in Arkansas, I am still betting on what Elder Vaughn J Featherstone prophesied in 1980 concerning the temples built in the south. The only two cities left are Little Rock AR and Charlotte NC in that prophecy.

Joseph said...


Wonderful interview with Margret Blair Young on progress of the Church in Africa.

http://blog.fairmormon.org/2014/10/20/articles-of-faith-16-margaret-blair-young-the-heart-of-africa-and-the-welcome-table/

TempleRick said...

If my source is correct, I believe the letter by Vaughn J. Featherstone states: "The Atlanta Temple is the first temple in the South. I can see temples in Charlotte, Columbia, Birmingham, Jackson, Nashville, and in Louisiana and Arkansas." That would leave the door open for a temple in northwest Arkansas.

Michael said...

Look at a map of the midwest. Starting at Kansas City and going clockwise, draw an oval going Kansas City -> St. Louis -> Memphis -> Dallas -> Oklahoma City -> back to Kansas City (through Wichita). There are 5 temples along that oval route. Almost right in the center of that oval, though, is the northwest Arkansas metro area, home to WalMart, Tyson Foods, and the University of Arkansas. That area is approximately 230 miles away from both the OKC and the KC temples. Little Rock is only about 130 miles from Memphis. So geographically - and membership growth - it makes more sense to have a temple in NW AR rather than Little Rock.

Fredrick said...

My guess is that the new stake in Oklahoma will be in Muskogee. The stake can easily start with 6 wards and 2 branches, leaving the Fort Smith Stake with 5 wards and 4 branches and the Tulsa East Stake with 8 wards and 2 branches.

Nice to see such amazing growth in that region of the country. I think NW Arkansas is a strong contender for a new temple.

soc. man I am ---------------- said...

If there is a a new stake in Tulsa it will probably be the Tulsa North stake since most of the growth the last few years has been in the Owasso and Bartlesville area. Broken Arrow used to be the huge mormon place but that shifted north over the last 10 years or so. My guess:

Tulsa North stake - 3 Owasso wards, 3 Bartlesville wards, Independance KS ward, and Skiatook Branch.

Tulsa Stake gets the Henrietta ward back (used to be in the stake) and maybe adds the Mcalester ward.

Tulsa East stake gets the Muskogee ward and the Wagoner Branch from the Fort Smith Stake

Mike Johnson said...

Here are the congregations in the Joplin Missouri, Rogers Arkansas, Tulsa, and Tulsa East stakes:


Joplin Missouri Stake

Carthage Ward
Granby Ward
Joplin 1st Ward
Joplin 2nd Ward
Miami Ward
Monett Ward
Neosho Ward
Nevada Ward
Pittsburg Ward
Webb City Ward
Fort Scott Branch
Joplin YSA Branch
Parsons Branch


Rogers Arkansas Stake

Bella Vista Ward
Bentonville 1st Ward
Bentonville 2nd Ward
Centerton Ward
Central Park Ward
Elm Tree Ward
Grove Ward
Little Flock Ward
Rogers 1st Ward
Rogers 2nd Ward (Spanish)
Sugar Creek Ward
Cassville Branch
Metfield Branch
Pea Ridge Branch
Rogers YSA Branch



Tulsa Oklahoma East Stake

Brookhollow Ward
Cedar Ridge Ward
Claremore Ward
Elm Creek Ward
Fair Oaks Ward
Henryetta Ward
Indian Springs Ward
Mingo Valley Ward
Owasso Ward
Pryor Ward
Ranch Creek Ward
Redbud Valley Branch (Spanish)
Tulsa YSA Branch


Tulsa Oklahoma Stake

Bartlesville 1st Ward
Bartlesville 2nd Ward
Bartlesville 3rd Ward
Cleveland Ward
Independence Ward
Jenks Ward
New Haven Ward
Riverside Ward
Sapulpa Ward
Pawhuska Branch
Skiatook Branch

Matt said...

Thanks Mike for all the wonderful comments and data you post on my blog. I noticed you haven't posted new units as comments for the past week or so. Are you going to continue?

Mike Johnson said...

I was released from a calling that gave me access to CDOL.

I now have my favorite calling once again--gospel doctrine.

Adam said...

Many of you probably already know about this website, but for those who will miss Mike's updates, this website updates multiple times a day on changes to wards/branches and stakes/districts. I always check this website and the other at the same time. They also update how many wards and branches each country/state/province has if you want to compare it to the numbers released in April to see the YTD growth.

http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/statistics/units/

The best news this year for me (besides the Philippines taking off) is that it looks like Mexico has turned the corner with congregations. Most of the countries that posted negative unit growth last year are still sliding.

Also, just a general question, are the countries with sensitive statistics included in the cumulative total in the yearly statistical report? I want to say it is but I'm not 100%.

John Pack Lambert said...

There was at one point in the past a Muskogee Stake.

Reading the quote from Elder Featherstone's letter I do not see it so much as a prophecy, as an educated guess based on trends in the Church. The explosive growth in population and membership in North-west Arkansas is a later development. When he wrote the letter North-west Arkansas was still all in the Fort Smith Stake. Also neither Memphis or Raleigh are on his list. So we essentially currently have all his temples, Raleigh instead of Charlotte, and the Arkansas Temple a few miles too far east.

TempleRick said...

I could see a Bartlesville Oklahoma Stake, especially since the current Tulsa stake center is located there. The Tulsa stake could be relocated to another meetinghouse in Tulsa, like the New Haven chapel.

Mike Johnson said...

In NW Arkansas and SW Missouri, four stakes became six:

Rogers Arkansas Stake: Bella Vista Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Bentonville 1st Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Bentonville 2nd Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Centerton Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Central Park Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Elm Tree Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Grove Ward ==> Bentonville Arkansas Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Little Flock Ward
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Rogers 1st Ward
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Rogers 2nd Ward (Spanish)
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Sugar Creek Ward
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Cassville Branch ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Metfield Branch
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Pea Ridge Branch
Rogers Arkansas Stake: Rogers YSA Branch

Joplin Missouri Stake: Carthage Ward ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Joplin Missouri Stake: Granby Ward ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Joplin Missouri Stake: Joplin 1st Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Joplin 2nd Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Miami Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Monett Ward ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Joplin Missouri Stake: Neosho Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Nevada Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Pittsburg Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Webb City Ward
Joplin Missouri Stake: Fort Scott Branch
Joplin Missouri Stake: Joplin YSA Branch ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Joplin Missouri Stake: Parsons Branch

Springfield Missouri Stake: Aurora Ward ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Springfield Missouri Stake: Bolivar Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Marshfield Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Springfield 1st Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Springfield 2nd Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Springfield YSA Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Stockton Ward ==> Monett Missouri Stake
Springfield Missouri Stake: Willard 1st Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Willard 2nd Ward
Springfield Missouri Stake: Fordland Branch

Springfield Missouri South Stake: Branson 1st Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Branson 2nd Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Branson West Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Chesterfield Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Harrison Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Nixa Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Ozark Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Republic Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Southern Hills Ward
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Berryville Branch ==> Rogers Arkansas Stake
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Branson 3rd Branch (Spanish)
Springfield Missouri South Stake: Branson YSA Branch