Friday, January 9, 2015

11 New Missions to be Created in 2015; One Mission to be Discontinued

The Church announced the organization of 11 new missions in July 2015. These missions include:
  • Argentina Buenos Aires East
  • Argentina Santa Fe
  • Bolivia La Paz El Alto
  • California Modesto
  • Costa Rica San Jose West
  • Peru Trujillo South
  • Portugal Porto
  • Trinidad Port of Spain 
  • Utah Logan
  • Utah Orem 
  • Washington Yakima 
The Church announced that one mission will be discontinued in July 2015: the Utah Salt Lake City Central Mission (organized in 2012). The total number of missions will be 416 after these changes go into effect. Reports indicate that the number of members serving full-time missions has continued to remain high (84,728) but has decreased from its all-time high of nearly 89,000 reached sometime in 2014.

I was disappointed to see so few new missions organized in 2015 despite the Church holding onto most of its gains in the number of members serving full-time missions. No new missions announced for Asia or Africa was a major disappointment. The bulk of surplus missionary manpower continues to be allocated to areas where the bulk of LDS membership resides rather than to areas where the bulk of the world's population resides. Many African nations have receptive populations yet continue to lack separate LDS missions such as Burundi, Cameron, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Togo. Hopefully we will see greater mission resource allocation to these receptive areas within the coming years. The Church has likely avoided the organization of new missions in these and other countries due to a lack of members from these nations serving full-time missions. Although self-sufficiency is important to long-term growth and efficiency, a lack of mission resource allocation to under-serviced areas may result in missed opportunities for growth when populations are receptive and missionary manpower is plentiful.


Scott said...

Several scriptures have come to my mind about the last days. D&C 65, recounting Daniel's prophetic insight into the stone that is cut out of the mountain, that grows and then fills the whole earth is a great scripture on the growth of the church. Joseph Smith gathered many of the priesthood brethren in a small school in Kirtland and listened to their testimonies which he said strengthened him. Then he said that the brethren could not see the church and how it will grow. He ended by saying it will fill North and South America, it will fill the earth.

Patience is a hard thing, I think that is true for those who know the truth of Jesus Christ and His restored church, and for those given the responsibility of leading His church. Leaders of the church may personally want to send missionaries into many more countries than they are already serving. But, the decision of where to serve and when to go someplace is entirely up to the Lord. When you look at Christ's ministry in and around Galilee, one could argue why Christ did not spend more time in Jerusalem organizing the church? Why was he among the Samaritans, or a leper colony or on a ship or out in the desert. We could look at Christ's journeys in Palestine as erratic and highly inefficient for the growth of the church. We could also argue that He ignored whole groups of people during His proselyting. And yet His mission was perfect.

I do not know and have not prayed and asked why the leaders of the church are sending more missionaries to Utah and the U.S. and North and South America, and that other places have not been brought the gospel. But, I think the first rule of this church is obedience to the revelation from Jesus Christ as to when and where missionaries will serve. Each missionary candidate is reviewed by an Apostle. That is amazing to me. I also know that for some things can change even after they are called. But I truly believe each missionary is called of God.

Right now, there is so much work to be done everywhere and particularly within and amongst the highly populated church membership areas. Maybe the message is for each of us to work in our own area more so that the Lord can have us work in other areas later, because we have proven that we can be responsible for those around us. The second commandment is to love our neighbor. I know I need to work on that commandment a lot.

But today, the receptionist from our office is getting baptized. She grew up around the church her whole life. She had even attended meetings. She could have taken the missionary lessons years ago. But she says she was not ready, but right now she is. Many may have been ready for her to be baptized years ago. But today she is getting baptized and that is great.

Today the church church announced 11 new missions and that may not seem like enough, but it is great. There will be more missions and new countries and miracles, but not today and things are great. It will happen, I just need to be more patient and try and reach out more to those I come in contact with.

I must say I really love this blog and everything I learn here and from everyone that shares.

Michael said...

I love this blog as well, but I am disappointed in the tone of today's post. I am pleased with the first comment. Please, never forget that this church is led not by spreadsheets, graphs, projections, and forecasts, but by revelation from God.

The kingdom of God will fill the whole earth. I hope we can all be as supportive as we can during the process and keep the negativity to a minimum.

Mike Johnson said...

We just had a missionary in our ward return from the Utah Provo Mission. During the last transfer, the mission president told the missionaries that the mission was going to be split next summer. When I asked him what he thought of the new mission, he responded that the entire mission had been praying for more missions as they could not keep up with the referrals they were receiving and were very busy.

Provo has to be one of the highest LDS density areas in the world and the missionaries there can't keep up with the demand for lessons.

My niece is serving in the Salt Lake City East Mission. I recall an email home several months into her mission where she complained that she had only 30 discussions that week and then she explained that this was the lowest total she had had in a week since she arrived in the mission. I remember being happy with 15 discussions in a week in the early 1980s.

Mike Johnson said...

When will the surge end? Given that the announcement was in October 2012, some have pointed to October 2014 as the end of the surge.

For young men, almost all eligible to serve immediately after the announcement were already eligible before. Very few high school graduates in October of 2012 weren't already 19-year-olds. At least this was true for the United States and Canada and in many other countries, the age requirement had already changed. For young men, the surge really began in the summer of 2013 after high school graduation of 18 year. And it was never 2 cohorts going instead of 1 as many chose to go on their regular schedule. The bump in elders probably won't end until summer of 2015.

For sisters, it was more dramatic, particularly for those aged between about 18 and a half and 20 and a half in October 2012. Some in this group began getting ready for a mission and they began to enter the mission field in about February to April 2013. They would complete their mission from say August to October 2014. As sisters had served missions at a substantially lower rate than elders or then they are serving today, this resulted in a huge increase in numbers of sisters serving and the first of the surge have been coming back now. While it has remained higher for sisters than pre-October 2012, it has been gradually being reduce.

The long term steady state for sisters is probably lower than the numbers currently serving now, but still much higher than before. Coupled with the elder's surge ending in the summer of 2015, I think the Church is wisely being cautious about the longterm numbers of missionaries. The surge isn't over yet and I don't think we will be down to long term levels until at least the summer of 2015, which will likely be lower than today.

Michael Worley said...

I share the other Michael's critique of the tone of this post. I feel, just like in Jacob 5, the harvest is being done in an orderly manner, and I am happy with it.

I also feel like so many miracles are happening with retention and conversion. We have seen the highest numerical increase in stakes in more than a decade; 1-2 stakes consolidated per year since the surge began (lower than in 08-12). Most important, the Lord is in control.

Mike Johnson said...

Both the division of the Utah Ogden Mission (creating the Utah Logan Mission) and the Utah Orem Mission (created from the Utah Provo Mission) may take in portions of missions currently in one of the Salt Lake missions.

The Salt Lake City Mission goes as far north a Layton and seems to me likely to lose the stakes in northern Davis County to the Ogden mission. The new Orem mission may take away portions of the Salt Lake City South Mission, such as in Draper, Riverside, and Herriman. The 5 Salt Lake City missions (not including Temple Square) may be consolidating down to four to account for loss of stakes into other missions.

The Salt Lake City Central Mission pretty much covers Midvale, Murray, and Taylorsville. It is the smallest mission in Utah (not including Temple Square). I can easily see Midvale going into the Salt Lake City South Mission, Murray into the Salt Lake City East Mission, and Taylorsville in the Salt Lake City West Mission, the East and West missions both potentially losing territory to the Salt Lake City Mission.

Matt said...

The truthfulness of the Church has nothing to do with its growth or statistics. My commentary in this post by no means intended to criticize or to raise doubts about the divinity of the Church and preaching the Gospel.

Rather, my opinion is based on the research I have conducted for over a decade and the observations I have made throughout the years. It is unfortunate and disappointing that the Church does not have a larger presence in areas of the world where most of the population resides. Of course there are many reasons for a limited presence in the Afro-Eurasian landmass including modest receptivity in Europe; poor living conditions, a lack of LDS infrastructure, corruption, disease, and political conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa; and government restrictions on religious freedom, problems with acquiring foreign missionary visas, and cultural issues teaching and tailoring the LDS Gospel message to the native cultures of Asia. However, are well doing all that we can to expand missionary work and grow the Church in this crucial area of the world?

I also think it is important to differentiate between church policies and revelation. While the Church approves or promotes certain policies to effectively administer the Church and to meet the needs of its members, by no means are these policies perfect or without unforeseen ramifications. Take the centers of strength policy as an example. I think we can say that this is indeed a true doctrine that the Church needs some type of centralization on a local, regional, and international level. However, the ways that this policy has been interpreted and implemented has resulted in problems with achieving growth. The Church in Eastern Europe and the Church in the Africa Southeast Area are good examples of when policies have frequently changed and many formerly active members are lost in the reshuffle of opening and closing cities to missionary work and combining and splitting branches to prepare for stakes. I guess what I am getting at is that there is a science and there are tactics that have been shown to be effective at achieving growth that do not appear related to seeking revelation or inspiration. If that were not the case, then why would we see the impressive growth of other missionary-focused Christian groups like Adventists and Witnesses? Both these groups have implemented many effective principles to missionary work and church growth as has the LDS Church in many locations.

The best results for achieving growth have consistently been those that combine sound missionary and church growth policies with seeking inspiration and revelation. I believe that is why we have seen growth really take off in some countries after extended periods of stagnant growth, such as Cape Verde since the early 2010s and Hong Kong within the past couple years. There are so many variables that come into play that are important, but we need not neglect whatever we can do to improve the effectiveness of the Work and to do our best to follow the principles of the Gospel.

John Pack Lambert said...

It is possible that new missions will be announced later in the year. If I remember correctly the two new missions in 2014 were not announced at the time of the initial announcement of new mission assignments.

John Pack Lambert said...

I noticed that the new mission president in the Hungary Mission will be József Szabadkai. He sounds Hungarian, but I do not know if he is a resident of that country at present or not.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think there is a strong desire to spread the Church in Africa in an orderly manner, and in one that builds the Church fully instead of reallying too much on outside missionary strength.

This means at times that the number of foriegn missionaries are held down as the Church tries to really on local missionaries.

Another factor is that the Church relies very heavily on senior missionaries to spread the gospel in Africa, more so than it did in the early phases of the Church in Latin America. While the surge has caused an increase in young missionaries, there has not been a significant increase in senior missionaries, and the Church continues to grow at less than an ideal rate because of this lack.

While I could see good in splitting missions in Africa, and would love to see an Ethiopian Mission, I also see why the Church is pursuing the policies it currently is in East Africa.

I am not sure they are the best policies, but I am not sure splitting the mission would be easy.

Christopher Nicholson said...

Even if not all policies are based on revelation (which certainly does seem to be the case), I would imagine something as significant as the missions to be organized must be. Mission calls are determined by revelation, after all, so why not the missions themselves?

Brooks M. Wilson said...

What follows are my thoughts and they are probably wrong. They are however mine and I am fond of them. I believe that we often forget a subtle difference between our church and others that may explain our distribution of resources. First, we are attempting to exalt individuals through family units and not save them alone.

The different goals creates different optimization paths through time. Maximize membership for other churches may not be time dependent. Each year resources are maximized so as to maximize growth that year. The path to maximize exalted families is time dependent. Promoting faith within a family involves implementing effective youth programs that promote intergenerational faith and commitment. This includes building temples, again, an intergenerational commitment. The distribution of missions and unit buildings follows the same pattern as does financing operations. Building the church in Africa involves significant subsidies from wealthy countries. Growth in poor countries probably cannot far outstrip growth in rich countries.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

No Church leader is infallible, and God is not a micro-manager (thank you heavenly father). He expects us, including the 12 and 1st presidency, to first "study it out in your mind" and then to ask if it is right". Often when we study things out in our mind, using the available data, God allows us to go with our plan even if it is not 100% perfect. God can still work with that. There is room for a very wide variety of views on most things in the church, including the application of church policy, doctrine, and practices. Believing the brethren are infallible can lead to misunderstanding many things.

I personally think the missionary work would grow faster if mission presidents took more risks in their approaches and tried more ambitious and creative ideas. However, this could be dangerous if people misbelieved that the Mission President was infallible and therefore if an idea failed, people would think the mission president is not worthy, or inspired, or whatever.

What I am saying is that the culture of falsely believing that leaders are infallible, can contribute to leaders being overly cautious and therefore obtain results below potential.

The brethren used data (which is not always accurate, trust me I know, I have been a stake clerk), prior experience (which may be based on sampling or spot checking, individual personal experience) and they were open to the spirit and obtained some direction from God to make some changes to their plan (additions and subtractions and adjustments) and then they went with it. This does not always produce the exact same plan that Jesus would have because the brethren are not omniscient. It is however, a good plan, one we should sustain, and it is God's will. God does not will us to always have the perfect answer to everything, because he wills something greater, which is our individual contribution and growth, so that over time, we can gain the wisdom he has over time.

Mike Johnson said...

While I agree with anonymous about the fallibility of leaders, I really want to endorse Brooks' comment. The LDS Church is focused on the 4-fold mission of the Church. While I would love for Church growth to match that of single focused missionary churches, I believe efforts need to be balanced among the Church's missions.

I also believe we are going to see a drop next summer in missionaries followed by a will return to a normal upward glide in numbers, so I was leery of the estimates of large numbers of new missions.

Pascal said...

Those are some very interesting comments about inspiration and revelation in the creation of new Missions. While I agree those are important, and that it is not all about numerical growth, I find myself agreeing with Matt. Aside from personal feelings, here is my explanation for that based on an example in the Kongo Lubumbashi Mission, which I and probably many others would have loved to see split this year.

- Traveling between cities with an established LDS presence is extremely difficult and time-consuming (as in, several days per trip). This shows a clear upside for shrinking the Mission geographically, even if not a single new Missionary was assigned.
- The MP reports that there are over 50 groups of 40 or more members (and quite possibly lots more investigators) scattered throughout the Mission who are seeking leadership support consistently but who just can`t get it because the Mission is overwhelmed by requests. All those members in theory belong to the Mission Branch, but since traveling and communication are difficult they usually cannot: Obtain Temple Recommends, fill out Mission papers, receive permission to baptize relatives, friends or investigators. We`ve been talking about how Africa still lacks self-sufficiency in its Missionary manpower (which looking at the number of functioning All-African Missions, seems to be a bit of an urban legend), but actually there are probably over 1,000 young men and women in the Lubumbashi Mission alone who would love to serve Missions in their home country but can`t because they have no Priesthood leaders to turn to for application, or because they have no way of even getting baptized. We could probably have 5 or 6 Missions in the Congo (which I believe would be an appropriate number to meet the most urgent needs).
- Doctrinal integrity issues are often quoted as one supporting reason for the Centers of Strength paradigm, but it turns out that those who worship in their own homes completely detached from the outside Church will likely develop more of these issues than those who are appropriately taught and led by leaders who understand and clearly teach Church doctrine. This is particularly important if large portions of members and self-affiliates are illiterate.

I hope I could shed some light on the motivations of those proposing more outreach in Africa.

At the same time, I`m very happy that for example the Utah Ogden Mission is being split. As per usual in Utah, areas vary strongly in receptivity, and lessons taught per week can be anywhere between 80ish and 1, depending on the area. However, large parts of Ogden (including its comparatively vast Hispanic population) remain underserved. Companionships often split with members for whole afternoons/evenings to manage their teaching load. I had a less active roommate a while ago who wanted to return to full activity. Since his doctrinal understanding was very limited, I suggested that he should take the lessons from the Missionaries to which he agreed. The Missionaries however denied teaching him because "he comes to Church perhaps once every other month" so he was considered "too active" to be taught. The increase in Missions will most likely serve the purpose of allowing those who want to be taught by Missionaries to do exactly that. It`s a step into the right direction.

Mike Johnson said...

Pascal, thanks for your comments. My argument that we are likely to see a drop in numbers of missionaries this summer when the large number of new high school graduates in 2013 return from their missions (the real end to the surge) doesn't really address the issues in say the Democratic Republic of the Congo. North American missionaries aren't being sent to very many African nations, which are relying on African missionaries. Yes, I would love to see more missions there. Much of the new mission creation has come from senior missionary couples who have been called into mission presidencies and then as mission presidents.

Michael Worley said...

I know some countries have Visa problems as well. Also, the church is planning for more growth in Africa (e.g. the temple film was made longer to accomodate African languages). It is also entirely possible that future events (a Romney candidacy again, or good member missionary work) will make work in the US more essential.

I think that it is huge that stakes in the US are by and large not being dissolved. That speaks in my mind to more effective retention and reactivation efforts.

John Pack Lambert said...

My brother's ward in Tooelle, Utah has already had 4 baptisms this year, way ahead of my ward here in Sterling Heights, Michigan ( a north suburb of Detroit) having had 1. OK, being just over a week into the year, this might not mean much, but it gives me hope that Tooelle may have a temple soon. Also, the 4 people all were in one family, but still.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another thought, Setting up a mission in a new country is a lot easier suggested than done. You need to find a site for the mission home and office, or maybe two sites. You need to identify someone to serve as mission president, get them a visa and so on.

I know the new mission in Botswana that also covers Namibia has not had as many missionaries as hoped at times due to visa issues.

John Pack Lambert said...

So the Appleton Wisconsin Mission mentioned as being created earlier was a myth? Or have all the new missions not been announced?

Eduardo Clinch said...

It is easy to be disappointed in the lack of progress of LDS Church efforts and planning when we look at the world, how big and extensive it is, and where and how the missionaries' success is not reaching new places or big populations. But, the seeds are planted many places and will continue to be sown in others. We do what what we can and let the Lord do the rest.

The temple growth of Africa is encouraging. It is difficult to grasp the economic and resource strains to maintain or initiate the Church in such desperately poor places. In Chile where the Church got going in the 1950s and was baptizing thousands by the 1960s, the Church of Jesus Christ was still largely subsidizing the mission payments of most elders and sisters called from there, which was no small number. The fact that Chile has been considered an "Asian Tiger" of Latin America and yet real wages cannot help most of the LDS youth fund their own missions should tell us something. The Church is limited and we need more tithe payers, despite the naysayers that claim the Church is excessively "rich". Balderdash.

President Eyring recently said in Virginia/DC that the Rome temple is an interesting new development. How will religion transform the poor?

Faith and action, my friends. Jesus helps the poor. We outreach to all the world. Not easy. But worth it.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I meant to say the church was funding native missionaries in Chile in the 1990s and possibly still now deep in to the 21st century, even though Chile is doing better economically than most Latin American nations. How must it be in poorer nations like Bolivia and Peru? Compare Dominican Republic to Haiti, and even the rich European nations have their own reasons for rejecting the missionaries that come searching for them. No, growth is not fast or easy, but persistence does have its effects, which I would say are overall positive and impressive. Parley P. Pratt left Chile in the 1850s as a "failure". Look at our faith there now.

John said...

To me, the challenge in allocating missionaries has been a balance between membership on the ground to build on, and total (non-member) population. There was a time when it seemed like the Brethren were looking at the geographic mean of the two to allocate missionaries - my mission in Italy had 3,000 members and 14 million people. But the one calendar year I was there (1993) we had all of 98 baptisms - ten of them in one branch.

Often we had four missionaries in branches with 30-50 on the rolls. The branch our mission home was in had 17 missionaries and it seemed there were more missionaries than members in elders' quorum. In the four-man cities, as we called them, I don't remember both companionships having a teaching appointment the same day (or even the same week) very often. So the fact that Italy now has two missions instead of four doesn't really surprise me.

I am disappointed that some places I served in don't have branches - or presumably missionaries - now. But many places the missionaries just didn't baptize, and the branch wasn't exactly cohesive. (My mission president wished he could have had ten couples to stabilize some of the branches.) But other places that didn't have branches then do now (something that I know helps in one place I served), and many branches are now wards.

My best guess is that it just isn't a numbers game now, or at least they're using a different formula. My mission (PA Philadelphia) currently has seven stakes, eight once Bethlehem stake is created. (And it's a long way from Salisbury, MD, to Harmony, PA.) Maybe the temple will lead to more interest and the mission will divide, or help a neighboring mission or two to divide. But in the meantime, my ward has one set of elders - though they have many more resources than I did.

Brandon Moss said...

The news release issued by the church mentioned that more than 100 missions have 250 or more missionaries and that the goal was to cap the headcounts at 200. This implies the church could be in the process of organizing as many as 25 additional missions (50 extra missionaries in 100 missions = 5,000 missionaries, or 25 missions with headcounts of 200).

Joseph said...

My First Unit creation update

11 January 2015
Bynum Run Ward, Baltimore Maryland Stake(7 Wards, 1 Branch)

4 January 2015
Rose Canyon 8th Ward
Rose Canyon 9th Ward Herriman Utah Rose Canyon Stake (11 wards)

FractalTheorem said...

@John Pack Lambert

Yes, Szabadkai Jozsef is a native Hungarian from the southern city of Pecs. It will be wonderful for the people of Hungary to have a mission president that is a native speaker (a first for the country)!

Xavier Raveau said...

@ Eduardo: what do you mean saying that the Rome temple is an interesting new development? I'm leaving in Italy and the temple work progress have been stagnant for month now... A special fast is scheduled to be held on January 25th to move the situation...
@ John: where did you serve? Who was/were your mission president(s)?

John said...

Italy Padova 1992-1994, Howard Anderson was president. The mission covered what are now Florence and Venice stakes, and part of Verona stake.

Xavier Raveau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xavier Raveau said...

I'd like to talk to you John. Could you contact me at my e-mail address?

Joseph said...

11 Jan 2015
Kôtê Ward, Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Toit Rouge Stake (11 Wards)
Englewood Branch (Spanish), Selah Washington Stake (10 Wards, 3 Branches)

Eduardo Clinch said...

Xavier : basically our Bishop met recently with PresidentEyring (leaders near DC temple) and he had said he had a "special feeling" about the Roman Temple. I feel it could get some extra attention and press, and any interest garnered a la Dan Brown or the Pope would be nice. Nobody beats the LDS Church when it comes to work for the dead, and temples generate that interest that may turn some hearts. And that fulfills prophesy. Exciting.

Michael said...

Thanks to Joseph for updating unit creations.

There was also a late addition to CDOL for December 28th:

Kugba Branch, Nigeria Lagos Mission (3 branches)

Michael said...

Latest numbers put us at 49 new wards and branches in November, and 33 in December. 16 showing up for January so far.

Joseph said...

Added Today
11 Jan 2015
1st stake of the year
Mesa Arizona Eastmark Stake (7 Wards)
Augusta Ranch 1st Ward
Augusta Ranch 2nd Ward
Bella Via Ward
Eastridge Ward
Hawes Ward
Highland Ridge Ward
Mesquite Canyon Ward

Paul said...

Does anyone have insight into why the stonework on the outside of the Montreal Temple has been taken off? Normally, granite doesn't need to be removed for the life of a building.

Also, what is going on with the Rome Temple? Is there something unsatisfactory with the building materials or workmanship?

TempleRick said...

A mold problem prompted the renovation of the Montreal Quebec Temple. To fully eradicate it, all of the wood framing is being replaced with steel. So, the granite had to come down to allow the exterior walls to be replaced. Some of the walls will go back up in new positions, giving the temple a slightly different (more boxy) look. I don't know if the granite will be reused.

For about a year now, the Rome Italy Temple has experienced long periods of little or no construction progress. I'm not clear on the details, but I've heard the problems may include pushback from labor unions, vacationing workers (especially in August), workmanship not meeting "temple standard" and having to be redone, penalty fees for unmet deadlines mounting, and ill-fitting or incorrect materials having to be replaced. I believe the fast is for a resolution to these issues so that construction can recommence in earnest until the temple is completed.

Grant Emery said...

I heard a rumor that Rome was also dealing with corruption issues in the construction company that was taking more money than it should.

Are there renderings of the new Montreal temple look? I haven't seen any released new renderings.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the issue of funding missionaries, I knew a missionary who served from a ward in Michigan whose mission was funded entirely by non-related ward members. I wonder if we could send out more missionaries if others would step up in this manner. There are lots of youths in South-east Michigan who lack the self funding or family resources to fund a mission.

On the other hand, I hope the Perpetual Education Fund has created more families in Latin American who can serve missions.

One related thought. When I was in Mexico one Sunday at a ward in Ciudad Obregon in Sunday School they were discussing how to better spread the gospel. They mentioned preparing their children to serve missions, but did not mention serving a mission as an older couple. I wanted to say something, but between not feeling fully confident in the language, and only being there one Sunday and not wanting to come across too much as an outside meddler, I didn't say anything.

There is a need for a lot more senior missionary couples, especially ones who are not part of Western US culture.

John Pack Lambert said...

At times having too many missionaries in a ward is counter productive. There was one ward in my mission where there were three sets of missionaries, and I think this primarily reduced the interaction of missionaries with members and made it harder for real outreach to occur.

When you have too many missionaries in an area they will at times distract each other and detract from interacting with other people.

A related manner is that 30 years ago missionares often were the best way to get the Church any exposure. However there comes a time when you want the Church to be seen as not a Utah-driven institution but a local institution be it in Metro-Detroit or Metro-Manilla. This is often hepled by having local members do more of the outreach phase.

Also, with new technologies, there are methods of outreach that do not involve direct face-to-face interactions, as the missionaries once heavily relied on.

On the other hand, for all the talk of how ineffecient tracting is, from my experience it seems the majority of people who joined the Church in the US east of the Texas to North Dakota line in the 1970s were found by tracting.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think at one point there was too much of an attitude in the Church that to be a real missionary you had to travel to a far off foreign land and preferably learn a new language.

It is only starting in the 1970s that a vision of having not just missionaries from the US, but from all over the world came to be. That said, it is not till the 1990s that you start getting significant numbers of missionaries from outside the US called to serve in the US.

John Pack Lambert said...

It's hard to do an indepth study, but my inpression is that the number of mission presidents called to serve as mission president where they live has been significantly higher in the 21st century than in the 20th century. The current mission president in Paris was called from Paris to serve as mission president. There is an area seventy in Guadaloupe, which is within the boundaries of the West Indies Mission, who previously was president of that mission.

Still, most mission presidents are from outside their missions. However in several missions in Mexico the mission president is not only from Mexico, but from an area of Mexico that is in an adjacent mission.

There are days I wish we could have someone from either Michigan or a neighboring state as mission president here in Detroit.

John Pack Lambert said...

I served in Las Vegas, Nevada. My mission president was Warren G. Tate, from Salt Lake City, who had been in the mission presidency there (with a mission president called while resident in Salt Lake City). I believe he was in the mission presidency when they split off the Salt Lake City South Mission. President Tate later served as an Area Seventy.

John Pack Lambert said...

Gordon Smith was the visiting area seventy at our last stake conference. He told multiple stories of his dealings with church leaders, mainly as a result of his position as US senator from Oregon. He now lives in Maryland, which is why he is an area 70 in the North America Northeast Area.

He told of how the Church got its current status as a fully recognized Church in Italy. Basically, then Senator Smith arranged a meeting between Elder Uchtdorf, who I think at the time had just been called as a member of the Quorum of the 12, and the Italian Minister of Culture. She borught in her Religious Affairs Advisor. He had just gone on a tour of the US, in which he had gone to temple square. He was very impressed by how beautiful the temple was, but even more so by the two Italian sister-missionaries who served as his tour guide. That fact was actually Elder Smith's main point in telling the story.

However, the religious affairs advisor basically said he would reccomend full recognition of the Church if the Church agreed to build a Temple and visitors center like there is in Salt Lake City.

I am sure there are other factors, such as the major increase in the number of stakes in Italy, and now the stake in Albania, showing the Church is developing maturity and local stability there. However, I think the ambitious including of a visitors center at the Rome Temple was partly influenced by this fact. Italy being a high tourist destination probably helps as well.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Rome Italy Temple is sounding like one that would be worth writing an indepth article on the process of building it. It was announced the same hour as the Kansas City Temple, which was dedicated 2 and a half years ago.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am encouraged about the Modesto Mission. This brings northern California back to the level of missions it was at a decade ago, although in a slightly different form.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am encouraged about the Modesto Mission. This brings northern California back to the level of missions it was at a decade ago, although in a slightly different form.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today I went to Gospel Essentials as part of my role as a member of the Sunday School Presidency. There were 24 people there besides the full time missionaries. Of these only 1 was born in Utah. 2 were born in Mexico, including our ward mission leader. Another in Colombia, who is the wife of our ward mission leader. 2 were born in the Phillipines, 1 in Iraq and 1 in South Korea. 10 of those there were baptized in the last 3 years, almost half in the last year, and another 4 were people not yet baptized. 1 said she will be baptized soon, which considering she has been investigating the Church for over 2 years is encouraging. This lady is from the Philippines, her husband is a member of the Church, I believe they met through an online dating site. Her husband is a Michigan native, he was not in the room, I think he was watching their 16-month-old child. I saw him in sacrament meeting. His brother was there, and mentioned he was baptized in 1966 at age 11 in the Roseville Ward, which covered an area that is now 4 wards and 1 branch, with parts of another 3 wards and a branch, although there was another ward in those boundaries discontinued in the last year.

So the Church has clearly grown in Michigan, but of late not as fast as we wish, although things seem to be picking up in the most recent time frame.

James Anderson said...

Looks like a Phoenix-area mission is going to move to northwest Glendale. They are building a welfare services center that will also include a mission offices location, and possibly a future family history center/library ('Discovery Center?).

Location for any who know Phoenix is 67th and Bell Road, two miles south of Loop 101. Numbered avenues are on the west side of Central, streets are on the east.

John Pack Lambert said...

There was a couple from India in my ward where the wife was baptized just under a year ago. The husband had been a member for several years in India.

A few months ago they moved to just outside the ward boundaries. This last week they were sealed in the Detroit Temple. They got special approval from the 1st presidency to get sealed before their year mark because the husbands brother and sister-in-law were visiting from India, and this way they were all able to be in the temple together.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here is a link to a paper by Nathan Oman, a church member who is a law professor at the College of William and Mary, where he discusses the legal implications and theological back implications of post-1945 Church expansion.

This is one of the most scholarly considerations of Mormonism and the law in the post-1945 time frame. To date too much of the consideration of Mormonism and the law has ended in about 1910.

Eduardo Clinch said...

It is now official: The Tall Cedars Ward in South Riding, Virginia, has been dedicated. This is the 5th building operating in the Ashburn Stake, all contained within fast-growing Loudoun County. The burgeoning Tall Cedars Ward, formerly a branch that continues to grow in size, used to share the Westfields building in Chantilly with the Centreville Stake.

The Indianapolis Temple is scheduled to be dedicated Aug.23 of this year.

Good stuff.

John said...

The Philadelphia temple was also announced at the same time as Rome and Kansas City, and while it's progressing now, it took a little while to get going. Profiling all the temples that were announced that day and their relative progress toward completion and dedication would be an interesting study.

James Anderson said...

Even there, there can be some unanticipated issues that just come with the work of building a temple, such as what had to be done at Provo City Center since the original building had no or very shallow foundation work.

The original estimate of time for that one was 2 1/2 years, so given that, it should have been done by now. But, as is now known, it took a great deal of work to stabilize the shell of the old building and literally build a foundation under it. That took quite a while and probably longer than they anticipated. They had to get that settled and stabilized before they could do any other work.

So now they have another year to go with it given all that, drywall has been hung, painting has begun in places, windows are now going in, and the last of the roofing is also being worked on. The pavilian which some locally call 'the gazebo' is nearing completion too, and the south and north areas are fianlly being worked on, including replacement of older city sidewalks--some of which were damaged simply by the heavy equipment and trucks used to do things on the site.

For every group of temples announced there are one or two that for whatever reason take longer than anticipated to build, that is the case with several others, including Rome, Philadelphia, Paris, Star Valley, Fortaleza, etc. Still others sail through the process, Gilbert, Gila Valley, Oquirrh Mountain, Ogden are a few where everything clicked and they were fairly close to the target time expected for completion.

Michael Worley said...

Does anyone know why the Star Valley temple is moving slower?

Iris and Craig said...

Yes, I was also wondering what was going on with Star Valley as well.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the case of the Philadelphia Temple the first site chosen was found to be contaminated. The second site had a complex history involving its past purchase, and so there was delay. Also Philadelphia has lots of government regulation invovled. At one point a member of a government board object to the fact that the Philadelphia Temple looked too much like Indepedence Hall and the like. Luckily that nut did not get traction.

So Philadelphia and Rome are both currently in construction. Calgary and Kansas City are dedicated. Cordoba is not dedicated but has a dedication date announced.

On the other hand, both Philadelphia and Rome involve underground parking, and additional buildings. Although in the case of Philadelphia it is not clear if anything else besides the temple will be in place when completed.

John said...

In Philadelphia, the meetinghouse is supposed to be completed before the temple. The apartment tower will take more time.

TempleRick said...

The rumor I've heard about the Star Valley Wyoming Temple is that there have been disagreements among the surrounding land owners in regard to the distribution of water rights and the like. I believe those issues need to be resolved before work can move forward.

No rendering was publicly released for the Montreal Quebec Temple, but an apostle did display the rendering at a priesthood leadership meeting held in Montreal a few months before the temple closed.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today I went on splits with the missionaries in my area. Well, splits might not be the right term, because we went all three of us. Anyway, this next transfer the mission is loosing 28 missionaries but only getting six new ones.

I am not sure if this is a sign the surge has ended, or just that resources are being sent places other than Michigan.

The lease is up on the apartment they are in, so it looks likely that my ward will go back to one set of missionaries. This caused me to think about what I knew about missionary apartments, including my role in helping move the missionary apartment back in 1995.

John Pack Lambert said...

This in turn caused me to realize that I don't think anyone has every written a definitive, scholarly history of LDS missionaries in book form. Although what I am thinking of would be more a collection of indepth essays.

One would be a history of missionary living quarters, possibly considering the fact that at times and places they have functioned as the branch meeting place, or been a room connected with such. Also maybe a discussion on why missionaries in most places live in apartments when in theory the Church could save money by buying houses. Although the number of missionaries who have lived in mission homes, often as assistants to the president of mission secretaries could be considered.

Another could be an indepth consideration of the changing role of the mission home/office, including consideraiton of how often they are the same building and how often they are distinct. Also what percentage of mission offices are LDS owned buildings as opposed to rented.

We could have an article on the changing role of the Mission President Wife (who needs a better title to this day). An article that would do an indpeth study of the sister missionary.

An article on the changing age of missionaries. One that did an indpeth study on the decline of the married but serving alone elder. An Article on the history of senior missionary couples.

There could also be aritcles on missionairies from outside the Mormon Zion. We could do not just various countries besides the US, but consider the situation of Americans not coming from the core area.

I am sure there are not as many historical and demographic sources as one would wish, but I am sure there are a lot that have not been organized.

I do know that the shift from the 19th-century missionary who on average was married to the 21-st-century missionary who not only is not married, but in the case of single men is not allowed to have ever been married is a gradual one. I had a seminary teacher who served in the Barcelona Mission in I believe 1990-1992 and had a companion who was divorced. Yet I know in about 1993 or so the first presidency explicitly said divorced men should not serve missions.

The transition was long. David O. McKay serving at the end of the 19th-century was a young, single missionary. Joseph Fielding Smith serving a bit later was married. Ezra Taft Benson's father left on a mission in 1912. LeGrand Richards went on one of his several missions, although only maybe 6 months, in the 1920s leaving his wife and children behind. David M. Kennedy left on his mission at the end of his honeymoon. During the Korean War men who were 70s were sent away from their families as misisonaries. Today even couples of child-bearing age will not be called as full time missionaries.

Yet most of President Groberg's missionaries when he presided over the Tongan Mission were couples of child-bearing age. Although they also worked as farmers, so they were not typical full-time missionaries.

Another section could be on the changing roles of home missionaries, stake missionaries and ward misisonaries and their changing relation to the full-time missionaries.

Another could be on the stake service missionary and their role. I know my stake has such, I think in Salt Lake City area they are often trans-stake. These are couples called from one area to help out in another. Often they help in inner-city areas or with non-dominant language groups. Denise Passi-Blanco Lindbergh was serving as such before her call to the Young Women General Board. Sister Lindbergh is a native of Cuba and a state judge in Utah, whose name was bandied around as possibly

Scott said...

I wrote the first comment on this post. There have been a lot of comments. I have really tried to think about why we did not open new missions in new areas. I think there have been a lot of good analysis on this. The comments suggest, the surge of new missionaries is going to go down, so adding 50 or 60 new missions is not appropriate. Second, comments suggest we have plenty of work in high LDS population areas there is no need to go elsewhere. I think this is true, and is a big part of the reason.

Here is my thought. When we went into some countries in South America and the Philiipines and Japan in the late 70s and early 80s there were a lot of baptisms without the support to meet the needs of new converts. With that in mind, I think the missionary work going forward will require just as many young missionaries as well as senior couple missionaries. Senior couples can serve vital leadership roles in branches and other areas in countries that lack leadership. They can train leadership. They provide real life wisdom to help the lives of new converts that a 20 year old just does not have the experience to give superior counsel. Senior couples are not in missionary leadership and do not need to worry about companion transfers. They can stay in areas for longer times than young missionaries.

The church, in my opinion has been begging for senior couples. I think putting full time missionaries in high LDS population areas creates an environment where potential senior couples come in contact with full time missionaries and start working together. This may help many couples decide to go out and serve. Also I think in ten years, many missionaries that were called during President Kimball after the Vietnam War will start to retire, their kids are grown and they may be more willing to serve. I think the number of new senior couples is going to go up. I think many couples could serve multiple missions. With their leadership in new areas for proselyting I think new missions will be created. And since senior couples do not cause financial difficulties on families and wards, for the most part, this could be a real plus in hard economic times.

I would like to hear any comments on this.

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

Scott, I agree. I think more senior couples are essential, especially in virgin territory. From what I have seen, senior couples are essential to opening up unreached areas.

We sometimes compare our missionary progress with other missionary minded churches. One key difference is that they have pools of paid employees, trained in the ministry at graduate levels, that are the primary means of opening up new areas. We lack such a professional core for a lot of good reasons. I have argued that our closest counterparts--in terms of trained, highly educated career professionals--are in CES. But, there are significant differences, particularly in the basics of a congregational ministry. Another difference is that CES really doesn't serve as a pool of available professionals that can be assigned to move to a new area and begin working it from scratch. Instead, the Church relies on members, who for a variety of reasons, move into new areas--which is not a planned action (at least not for the mortal leadership of the Church; the divine leadership is a different story and I think it has played out as the result of divine planning many times).

However, senior couples, seasoned with years of working and now retired as well as often with long church service, serve as the best means for mortal planning in terms of opening new areas. However, 6, 12, or 18 months may not be adequate to effectively open a new area. Some are called and become a known quantity during a first senior couple mission, and then are specifically called again to open up new areas. I have seen that model in blogs several times now.

Young missionaries are most effective working with members and both members and missionaries are blessed by their relationship. A single couple can provide leadership or strength to a zone of young missionaries in a new area. Without the senior couple, a zone may not be sent to open a new, untouched area.

TempleRick said...

Another source says a shift of the exact location of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple on the proposed site has required a second FFA approval since some aircrafts may come near the temple on an approach. Also, crews have apparently been seen drilling near the site, perhaps to test the soil for a temple foundation. If the ground is suitable and the FFA is okay, hopefully a groundbreaking could occur this spring.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Scott: As a full-time missionary in Chile in the early 90s, we would constantly try to "resolve concerns", which was part and parcel of the Commitment Pattern of our daily training book, La Guia Misional. With hundreds of less active members per sector, including former missionaries and branch presidents (usually more common than bishops, due to growth issues), I spent time analyzing all the reasons for less activity or apostasy. There must be hundreds, and I think a lot of them combine.
The same good be said of the retardation of church growth.

1. Laziness? Check.
2. Lack of economic resources, including transportation, clothing, heating in very cold winter buildings (I was reminded of this recently when my Virginia library room went cold; imagine a whole chapel that way for 3 months), and enough money to do "normal" things up here, like driving to the park for YM/YW or Scouting.
3. Lack of experience in leadership. I used to think young stake presidencies boded well for the strength of the faith, but I think sometimes older bishoprics can resent less aged stake leaders, especially when those stake leaders are not mature enough). Human constraints, yes, but real.
4. Missionaries who do not do well with the locals. In many different ways. Culturally, linguistically, behaviorally, spiritually...
5. Membership envy, and calling envy. Too many former branch presidents went less active after being released. It was not all jealousy, but perhaps a deflating feeling in themselves.
6. Modern day and primitive day temptations. So many to choose from.

In summation, the growth of the church is not always miraculous as we hope it to be from one year to the next. There are failures and disappointments. And yet...the Oak Tree, the Rock carved without hands, continues to expand and roll.

And there is real growth. Despite those who fall away, which has been a constant since 1830. Or 4000 BC.

John Pack Lambert said... This is an interesting article on the lack of Us media coverage of Nigeria. I am hoping the Church News and other LDS media do better at covering Nigeria and covering it in more diverse ways. I still think with 26 or so stakes, it is under-covered.

John Pack Lambert said...

One factor to remember is that the Brazzaville Mission has allowed more resources to expanding the Church not only in that country but in Gabon and Cameroon.

Also, the Church seems to be generally following the grow as much with missionaries from elsewhere on the continent as opposed to from the US policy in Africa. The supply of missionaries from Nigeria and Ghana may not have been as effected by the surge as the supply of missionaries from the US and Canada. In fact, for elders, the 2012 policy change did not change all countries situation, in Mexico and some other countries the 18-year-old rule was put in place many years sooner.

Chris said...

What happened to Barbados Bridgetown?

Pascal said...

Apparently that is the new headquarters of the West Indies Mission. The Port of Spain Mission will be splitting off and take the "old" Mission home. At least that is what I`ve heard about the procedures.

Tracy Frisbie said...

Our mission President was at our Stake Conference yesterday. Most missions, outside of Utah, have missionaries for each ward. In Utah, because there are so many members already, there are missionaries for each stake. The Mission President said he was sad, because our area did not have much growth, they had to put a set of missionaries for 2 stakes in our area. This is very sad, and something that has not happened for a long time here. We all need to help the missionaries in the work. It is everyone's responsibility. We must all be a part of Hastening of the work. The missionaries are only able to get references, and names from the members. We definitely need a lot of work. Every area needs missionaries. First, though comes the receptiveness of the members, and their willingness to help in the growth!

Kumar Tours said...

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