The Church in California has begun to experience accelerating congregational growth for the first time in a decade. So far in 2013 and 2014, the Church has reported a net increase of 20 congregations (+21 wards, -1 branch) in California. The Church reported a net increase of seven congregations in 2013 and a net increase of 13 congregations for 2014. The last time the Church in California experienced as large of a net increase in the number of congregations occurred in 2004 when there was a net increase of 40 congregations (12 wards, 28 branches). The growth the Church in California has experienced in 2013 and 2014 has been more impressive than the growth experienced in 2004 as the majority of congregations organized in 2004 were young single adult (YSA) branches whereas in the majority of congregations organized in 2013 and 2014 have been English-speaking family wards. The Church has also organized many non-English speaking wards in California so far in 2014, including several Spanish-speaking wards and branches, a new Mandarin Chinese-speaking branch in Pasadena, and a new Hmong-speaking branch in Yuba City.
This acceleration in congregational growth in California is a surprising LDS growth development as the Church has experienced essentially stagnant membership and congregational growth for over two decades. Stagnant growth has primarily occurred due to members moving outside of the state. Recent congregational growth trends in 2014 may indicate a reduction in the number of active members moving away from the state, improvements in member activity rates, and increases in the numbers of converts joining the Church and remaining active.
The Church in California continues to have many challenges. The Church continues to operate fewer wards and branches than it did in the mid-2000s when there were as many as 1,386 congregations (compared to 1,368 at present). The Church in California has also gone through multiple cycles of organizing and consolidating congregations based on patterns of active membership moving away from the state. For example, the Church reported congregational growth until 1993 when a high of 1,353 congregations was reached, but consolidated many wards and branches until 1997 when there were 1,273 congregations reported. Congregational growth rebounded to reach a new high of 1,386 in 2004 and 2005, but declined to 1,348 in 2011 and 2012. Recent history suggests that the Church in California may continue to experience oscillations in net increases and declines in congregational growth based on the rate that members move away from the state, the number of converts who join the Church and remain active, and fluctuations in member activity rates.
Click here to access the state statistical profile for California on cumorah.com.