Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Encouraging and Discouraging LDS Growth and Missionary Developments in 2014

I recently completed a case study for cumorah.com that identifies what I believe to be the top 10 encouraging and discouraging LDS growth and missionary developments for 2014. Please click here to view the case study.

The top 10 encouraging developments are:
  1. The Worldwide Surge in the Full-time Missionary Force Begins to Stabilize with Larger Numbers of Missionaries than Originally Expected
  2. Largest Net Increase in the Worldwide Number of Stakes since 1998
  3. Rapid Growth in West Africa
  4. Church Creates its First Stakes in Four Nations
  5. Reversing Stagnant Growth in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan
  6. Unprecedented National Outreach Expansion in Brazil
  7. Philippines Growth
  8. The Vietnamese Government Officially Recognizes the Church in Vietnam; Progress in Missionary Work Continues
  9. First Young, Full-time Missionaries Assigned to Burma and Gabon; Missionaries Return to Sri Lanka
  10. First General Conference Addresses Given in Languages Other than English
The top 10 discouraging developments are:
  1. Trends in Congregational Decline Intensify in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay and Persist in Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela
  2. At least 106 Countries and Dependencies Experience No Net Change in the Number of Official Congregations for 2014
  3. Continued Challenges Achieving "Real Growth" in Mexico
  4. Trends in Congregational Decline Persist in Japan and South Korea
  5. Contraction of LDS Outreach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Continues
  6. Little to No Expansion of National Outreach Occurs in several countries in the Africa Southeast Area
  7. Stagnant National Outreach Expansion in India
  8. Only Two New Missions Organized Despite Surge in the Number of Members Serving Full-time Missions
  9. Conflict in Ukraine Closes the Ukraine Donetsk Mission - All LDS branches discontinued in Donetsk
  10. Missionaries Removed from Liberia and Sierra Leone

21 comments:

Christiano Jabur said...

Branch Assis, in the Marília Brasil Stake, in the Brazilian State of São Paulo, became a ward.

John Pack Lambert said...

What are the chances that a seperate mission will be created in Sri Lanka this coming year?

John Pack Lambert said...

In Metro-Detroit the Church has began what is called the Personal Storehouse Project which is an attempt to aggresively help Church members move out of poverty, and also use service as an avenue to expose more people to the Church and its programs.

Blue_Grandma said...

While this "top 10" list shows several important milestones, both positive and negative, it neglects the most important factor in the Church--our Heavenly Father and His plan for us. The Church's growth is not in our power to advance or stop. It is proceeding along His timetable, not ours. Whether new districts or stakes are formed or dissolved, or areas opened or closed, everything is going according to His plan. There is nothing to be discouraged about. Do what you can. Love much. And trust in God.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Doctrine and Covenants urges us to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. There is work for us to do in advancing the work of the Lord. The Lord will allow us as Church members to continue in wrong courses unless we seek his guidance and direction. That may be one reason why he allowed the race based priesthood restriction to exist for so long. There is defanitely more we can do to advance the work of the Lord.

Grant Emery said...

Thank you Blue_Grandma for that thought. Most (if not all) of us on this blog work under that assumption. For us, it is just particularly interesting to see HOW He accomplishes that, particularly through inspiring leaders to make changes. However, the periodic reminder to bring us back to the Source is always welcome. Thanks!

John Pack Lambert, do you have more details for how the Personal Storehouse Project runs? I like the principles, but I don't see how they are applied.

Mike Johnson said...

>>>The largest all-time net annual increase in the number of stakes occurred in 1996 when the Church reported a net increase of 146 stakes.

That was when the criteria for creating stakes was lower than today and based on the number of subsequent stake dissolutions, the criteria was undoubtedly too low.

John Pack Lambert said...

I should have a better grasp of what is going on with the personal storehouse project than I do, considering my girlfriend has worked with it.

The main starting point is having stake service missionary couples assigned to certain wards and branches in the stake to facilitate it. The starting point is meeting with the people involved and helping them identify a plan. Then attempts are made to use both Church and community resources in moving forward the plan.

On the community outreach side there was a clothing drive about a month ago where the goal was to have half the people involved be those of other faiths. I am not sure how it all turned out.

I have to admit I still feel like I do not fully understand how the program works.

Porter said...

A Sri Lankan mission is very unlikely anytime in the near future. There are only three small branches in the country, a handful of missionaries off and on, and very stagnate growth.

Michael said...

Ward and Branch Creations

There were 49 new wards and branches created in November.

So far in December, there are 18 new wards and branches showing in CDOL.

7 December 2014
Agric Branch, Kumasi Ghana Bantama Stake (10 wards, 2 branches)
Apedokoe Branch, Lomé Togo Stake (8 wards, 5 branches)
Hunucma Ward, Merida Mexico Centro Stake (8 wards)
Kowloon City Ward, Hong Kong China Kowloon Stake (7 wards, 1 branch)
Lazy Mountain Ward, Wasilla Alaska Stake (15 wards)
Lilburn 2nd Ward, Lilburn Georgia Stake (6 wards, 3 branches)
Milton Freewater 2nd Branch (Spanish), Walla Walla Washington Stake (9 wards, 5 branches)
Pasco 11th Ward, Pasco Washington North Stake (8 wards, 4 branches)
Quarenta Horas Ward, Belem Brazil Cidade Nova Stake (6 wards)

14 December 2014
Bwari 2nd Ward, Abuja Nigeria Stake (11 wards, 3 branches)
Cedar Creek Ward, Lenexa Kansas Stake (9 wards)
Jamiltepec Branch, Pinotepa Mexico District (5 branches)
Kanvilli Branch, Ghana Kumasi Mission (13 branches)
Kawerau Branch, Tauranga New Zealand Stake (4 wards, 4 branches)
Rexburg Married Student 35th Ward, Rexburg Idaho Married Student 2nd Stake (10 wards)
Tema 4th Branch, Tema Ghana Stake (7 wards, 2 branches)

21 December 2014
Foremaster Ridge Ward, St. George Utah Morningside Stake (10 wards
Tali Ward, Taichung Taiwan Stake (7 wards, 2 branches)

28 December 2014
Alianza Real Branch, Monterrey Mexico Anahuac Stake (6 wards, 3 branches)

Eduardo Clinch said...

Blue-Grandma what a sweetheart. Amen.

A couple of comments about the negative trends/events cited: The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is putting the membership in a trial by fire. However, I trust that they will come out on top. When the Ghanaian govt. banned the LDS Church back in the 90s and all the missionaries were "kicked out", (my friend Alex had to stop/suspend his native mission there). Now the faith is a solid rock in Ghana, and expanding in neighboring countries, probably with Ghanaian talent and testimony despite language diversity.
Now when returning, our church should be strategizing expansion into Guinea (maybe Guinea-Bissau, although Communist/Socialist), Gambia and other places, like more Burkina Faso. I think this setback is only a way for the Church to get stronger there. I pray.

It is disappointing to see slow growth in South Korea acknowledging that much of that peninsula is Christian now. Japan is less surprising since it is much less Christian per capita.But, we will 3 temples there, which is no small feat.

The creation of two missions in 2014 is natural, I think, and we had really big missions this past year but that should turn into a long term plus.

My ward, stake and mission in DC South have not had their desired baptismal growth this past year, but I know that many advances were made among investigators and less actives returning. The Lord's work has progressed, yet there are always setbacks as noted.

Cameron Lewis said...

How can the Tuareg New Zealand stake only have 4 wards when the minimum requirement is 5 wards?

Cameron Lewis said...

I meant the New Zealand tuaranga

Christopher Nicholson said...

"The Church's growth is not in our power to advance or stop... Whether new districts or stakes are formed or dissolved, or areas opened or closed, everything is going according to His plan."

With all due respect, I don't believe this at all. True that we cannot stop the Church's growth. But it certainly will go much more poorly without our participation, because the Lord has deliberately made us a huge part of it. If He wanted to He could just send angels to convert the world. But He has chosen to use us instead. And that means there is a huge responsibility on us to do our best and move the work forward in whatever ways we can, and when we fall short of our mandate then the work will fall short of its potential (and it has).

And I don't believe for a moment that stake dissolutions are ever "according to His plan". Obviously He allows them to happen, but I believe He would be perfectly satisfied if they never happened at all. Certainly I don't believe the Lord had anything to do with over thirty stakes being discontinued in Chile in just a few years, for example.

Just my two cents.

Iris and Craig said...

"Continued Challenges Achieving "Real Growth" in Mexico", Having served in Mexico, and having my wife and then her family who live in Mexico, with a bro in law currently on a mission in Veracruz it really gets me to think about the prophecy of the Lamanites blossoming as a rose...

If the proposed association is true with the Lamanites being from Mexico/Central America etc, Mexico (and you could throw in Guatemala where my lil bro served) would be THE prime example of Lamanite prophecy fulfillment, not to mention Benson's prophecy, that was printed on all students agendas, already being fulfilled before our own eyes when he went to Benemerito decades ago.

Anyway, though I still believe there is still much room for more real growth and progress in the near future, sometimes it makes me tend to believe that this figurative rose has already blossomed and THIS stagnant growth and regressment was prophesied indirectly from this same prophecy.

I mean, what else does a rose do after it fully blossoms? It doesn't grow any more. Are we seeing starting to see the end of the fulfillment of this prophecy?

njporter82 said...

Cameron the requirement for new stakes is 5 wards. However stakes that were created before the new requirements are not always combined with nearby stakes especially if they are in an area that is far away from other stakes. Examples I can think of are El Centro California Imperial Valley Stake with 4 wards and 1 branch and the Sioux City Iowa Stake with 3 wards and 5 branches.

John Pack Lambert said...

Some have proposed stages in Church growth. Mexico may be in a time of maturation as opposed to growth. Although on the other hand, the number of stakes is increasing.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Interesting extended analogy with the blossoming and then withering rose of the Lamanites. I am interested by which populations contain Lamanite or Nephite blood. I have seen and heard about different genetic and DNA studies of those trying to find Jewish haplogs (is that right?) in American Indian samples. The letters that contain them, like w, p or h or whatever (sorry, I think my knowledge of this will grow with discussion and time) are not easily found in the DNA of Native American tribes.

Of course, the whole debate is intricate because most of the Book of Mormon people were of Ephraim and Manassah, which were hugely scattered as far back as 721 BC, and many before the time of Sennacherib and the marauding Assyrians on Northern Israel.

Some have claimed that by finding no Jewish haplogs in current natives like the Lumbee of North Carolina or other tribes of the Pacific Northwest that there is no "Book of Mormon" blood in the Americas. But, the twelve tribes and their haplogs are a lot more diverse than just the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, possibly represented in Mulek in the Americas, right?

Anyway, Latinos and Filipinos and Polynesians claim many of these blessings, too. Should be interesting to map things out in the years to come. The Book of Mormon will be continued to be attacked through genetic codes/haplogs. The crucial thing is understanding that Asians were here, and the 12 tribes are not necessarily easy to track as well.

Chile seems to be growing in depth, although like other spots of Latin America retention is always a strain.

Mike Johnson said...

Most of the DNA and BOM issues revolve around mitochondria DNA (mtDNA), which we obtain exclusively from our mothers and thus only illuminates exclusively female lines. There is no such things a "Jewish" mtDNA, meaning a haplogroup that points to Jewish origins. All Jewish groups around the world have more in common, in terms of mtDNA, with the people they live with and not with other Jewish groups.

We have no idea what mtDNA was brought to America by Ishmael's wife (and her five daughters) and the wives of the son's of Ismael--which may have been daughters of Lehi and Sariah.

The four major mtDNA haplogroups among Native Americans are A, B, C, and D. (so, named before relationships between haplogroups were established. B is the most common in Mongolia and is high in Japan and China. A and C are prominent in northeastern Siberia. Thus, the linkages between Native Americans and East Asians.

Some members are excited about X (which is one of the "Seven Daughters of Eve" that settled Europe). X is believed to have emerged in the area of modern Turkey, thus X discoveries in northeast North America and in South America among populations believed to be exclusively Native American has led to some LDS scholars to focus X as a possible link to BOM peoples. I personally am skeptical.

The Y chromosome is past from father to son and serves as a similar method of tracing DNA. In the case, most (about 85%) of Native American Y-DNA is haplotype Q. Q is found in several Jewish communities world wide, but it is a minority haplotype.

The only DNA marker that is considered somewhat reliable in tracing Jewish origin is Y-chromosome marker found heavily among Cohen priests, but not among the rest of the Jewish population. The marker is not found among Native Americans-one of the major issues raised by critics, but there is no reason to expect Cohen priests in the BOM.

Grant Emery said...

Hey, this post made it into the Salt Lake Tribune!

http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2007324-155/expert-tracks-the-top-10-ups

Eduardo Clinch said...

Mike: I just read this about haplogroups like Q. Thanks.