Monday, April 6, 2015

April 2015 Temple Announcements - Analysis

The Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple
As soon as President Monson indicated that he was going to announce three temples yesterday morning, I immediately told my wife that one of them would be in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. The Church in Cote d'Ivoire has experienced some of the most rapid LDS growth worldwide within the past two decades. The number of congregations (wards and branches) mushroomed from 40 at year-end 2010 to 103 in March 2015, the number of stakes has more than tripled from two in 2005 to seven in 2014, the number of cities with an official LDS congregation more than doubled from seven in early 2012 to 18 in early 2015, and annual membership growth rates have steadily increased to as high as 21.4% in 2013. The Church organized a second mission in Cote d'Ivoire in 2014 to accommodate recent trends in accelerating rapid growth. Some stakes within the Abidjan area have had the number of wards double within less than one year. The Church has also implemented effective church-planting tactics when opening cities to missionary work. The Church simultaneously organized six branches in the city of Daloa in early 2014 - a city where no branches previously operated. Lastly, some of the Ivorian stakes have historically numbered among the Church's stakes with the highest percentage of adult members who have submitted family names for temple ordinances within the past year. A case study that examines effective strategies implemented by mission and stake leaders to achieve rapid growth in Cote d'Ivoire can be found here.

Prior to yesterday's announcement, Cote d'Ivoire was the country with the third most members without a temple according to year-end 2013 membership data with 22,576 members.

The Bangkok Thailand Temple
Thai members and returned missionaries have reported efforts for many years to increase the number and activity rate of Thai membership to the point that a temple announcement would become more likely. Former President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley predicted that a temple would be announced one day in Bangkok during a visit to Thailand in 2000. Thailand and Southeast Asia have pertained to the China Hong Kong Temple district since the temple was completed in 1996. The Church in Thailand has recently achieved several noteworthy church growth developments including significant increases in the number of full-time missionaries serving in the country, sizable increases in the number of Thai members serving full-time missions, improvements in church attendance, accelerating numbers of convert baptisms, the organization of a second stake in Bangkok in 2014, the creation of a new district in Bangkok in 2014, and preliminary plans to organize a stake in the northeastern highlands in mid-2015. A case study that examines recent LDS growth developments in Thailand can be found here. There have also been many significant growth developments within Southeast Asia during the past five years such as the creation of the first two LDS stakes in Cambodia and Indonesia and the organization of new districts in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Prior to yesterday's announcement, Thailand was the country with the eighth most members without a temple according to year-end 2013 membership data with 18,071 members

The Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple
This temple announcement was a major surprise to me. The Church in Haiti has experienced steady growth within the past two decades and today numbers among the most self-sufficient nations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Only Haitian natives have served full-time missions in Haiti within the past decade due to safety concerns for foreign missionaries and low living standards. The number of stakes in Haiti doubled in 2012 from two to four - all of which are located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. A case study that reviews recent LDS growth developments in Haiti can be found here. The reasons why this announcement came as such a surprise to me were the low levels of economic development in Haiti, severe problems with corruption in government, the relatively small size of the Church in the country, and the relatively close proximity of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple. The Church has usually delayed the construction of temples in nations with similar characteristics until there are five or more stakes within a metropolitan area such as in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The construction of the new temple in Haiti will likely face significant challenges with finding skilled labor, acquiring construction materials, and maintaining adequate security and building maintenance following its dedication.

Prior to yesterday's announcement, Haiti was the country with the seventh most members without a temple according to year-end 2013 membership data with 19,216 members.

In conclusion, yesterday's temple announcements were historically significant. None of these three countries previously had temples announced, under construction, or in operation. The Bangkok Thailand Temple will be the Church's first temple to be built in mainland Southeast Asia where hundreds of millions of people reside. The announcement of the first temple in Haiti suggests that the Church may announce additional temples in countries with an emerging LDS presence where there are low standards of living such as Kenya and Papua New Guinea.


Grant Emery said...

I was talking to my brother (who served in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission) about the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple. I expressed surprise that they would build the second Caribbean temple on the same island as the first. He said that Haitians are not allowed to cross the border into the DR, so the Haitian saints essentially had no access to the temple. He also suggested that a temple in Haiti would be more accessible to the saints in Cuba, especially considering growth there will certainly accelerate as it could now open up to missionary work.

John Pack Lambert said...

The temple in Haiti most gives me hope for one soon in Harare, Zimbabwe. Kenya is still a long shot, since its one stake, with another in Uganda, is below the 4 in Port-au-Prince.

I also wonder if there is the potential for creation of more stakes in Haiti in the near term. I would guess that the stake in Jamaica would be assigned there as well.

The Opinion said...

I would have to concur with Grant about a possible reason a temple is being built in Haiti. I was speaking to a non member husband from Domincan Republic that I home teach and he said we don't really like the Haitians. They are pretty lazy. Not all of them but in general they are lazy. He also mentioned the difficulty to cross the border into DR from Haiti because they is a bitter feud between Haitians and Dominicans.

Michael said...

The possibility of creating more stakes in the near term will be much higher once the temple is built. I lived in Léogâne (Carrefour stake) this last summer for a couple of months, and witnessed multiple baptisms. The members are faithful and there is a lot of priesthood, but going to the temple is extremely difficult considering Haitian/Dominican relations and Haiti's poverty levels. The Carrefour stake could split, the Jacmel area could easily have a district soon, the northern and southwestern districts could also mature into stakes relatively soon as well. Having a temple will make all the difference for these saints.
I would have to disagree very strongly with the Dominican brother's assessment of Haitians. Both peoples are notoriously bigoted toward the other, but having worked with many Haitians (nurses, doctors, interpreters, students, teachers, church members, non-members, lawyers, filthy rich landowners, the unemployed, the homeless...basically people from every possible walk of life) I would say they are extremely hard-working and willing to go to great lengths to help others and their country.

Joseph said...

Our Class teachers in the MTC had served in the DR and I remember one of them talking about being up by the boarder and seeing a small trench of chlorinated water for vehicles from Haiti to drive through so they wouldn't bring any "contamination" across.

Unit Update
2 March
Moramanga Branch, Madagascar Antananarivo Mission (8 Branches, 3 Districts, 2 Stakes)

22 mar
Baixo Guandú Branch, Colatina Brazil District (6 Branches)

29 March
Bratislava Slovakia District (4 Branches)
Bratislava Branch
Kosice Branch
Trenčín Branch
Žilina Branch

Tsuihua Ward, Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stake (1 Branch, 8 Wards)

YTD 160
Africa 49
Asia 2
Europe 6
North America 57
Pacific 7
South and Central America 9
Utah & Idaho 31

Christopher Nicholson said...

I read somewhere else that it takes Haitian Saints an entire day to travel to the DR temple, yet Google Maps shows the distance from Port-au-Prince to Santo Domingo as only four and a half hours. Does it take an entire day when getting across the border is factored in, or did that person just not know what they were talking about?

I also was curious whether Vietnam would go into the Bangkok temple district or stay in the Hong Kong one. Google Maps showed the distance from Hanoi to either one by air as virtually identical (1 hour 50 minutes to Bangkok and 1 hour 55 minutes to Hong Kong). The driving route to Bangkok was of course much longer than that, but no driving route to Hong Kong was even given. Are Vietnamese not allowed to cross the border of mainland China?

John Pack Lambert said...

Does anyone know if full-time missionaries have resumed serving in Sierra Leone and Liberia?

John Pack Lambert said...

Mia Love, the one Haitian-American (although born in US, but her parents had just come from Haiti when she was born) in the US congress, and also a Latter-day Saint, is the antithesis of lazy. She preaches the idea of work and thrift from having lived it. Mainly centered on the example of her father who lived it even more.

John Pack Lambert said...

My understanding is that at least in cases where people are assisted by the Temple Patron Fund to go get their own endowments/get sealed to spouse and children, an attempt is made to send them to the place it will be cheapest to go. This may mean that once the temple in Bangkock is built (in roughly 2020, give or take), whether Saints in Hanoi go there or Hong Kong may varry based on present airline prices.

John Pack Lambert said...

There were two talks in General Conference that I wondered if anyone had any additional light on. First was President Monson's mention of someone being called to Latin America and not getting to go. Does anyone have any knowledge of where this was. My first guess was Brazil, but it could have been somewhere else.

Also, Bishop Causse I was wondering where the sister missionary he mentioned was serving. I didn't realize they would send American sister missionaries to very many places in Africa. Although thinking about it, I assumed he was speaking of a young sister, but he may have been speaking of one in a senior couple.

Michael said...

@Christopher Nicholson - Google maps doesn't take into account the poor quality of infrastructure in Haiti. For example, where I lived (Léogâne) to P-a-P was a 1.5-2 hour drive, but Google map says it's about 37 minutes, and that was with our own car - some people take public transit which stops often and doesn't move very fast. On top of that, border controls. Most saints would honestly prefer to take the airplane because the border is so dangerous, but air travel is prohibitively expensive for many Haitians.

Joseph said...

Some cool graphs of Church growth over at BCC

Alex Compton said...

I'd imagine that unless it is easier crossing into Thailand that Vietnam would stay in the Hong Kong district. For first visits, I'd agree with John that they'd go the cheaper route. That was my experience in Malaysia where the first-timers always went to Manila even though they were in the Hong Kong district.

However, since Vietnam is such a long country North to South, I'd suppose that when the southern part has more growth it'll be districted into Bangkok. But a lot can happen between now and when this temple is built.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the case of the Detroit Temple, we have three stakes that are only partially in the temple district. The London, Ontario stake includes Windsor, Ontario. parts of Windsor are closer to the temple than parts of the stake the temple is in. However even a US-Canada border crossing can at times be delayed. Add to this London itself is about equi-distant between the temples.

The Kalamazoo Stake is another border case. The east end of the stake around Battle Creek is clearly closest to the Detroit Temple and goes there. The west end in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor is closest to the Chicago Temple and goes there. Kalamazoo itslef is right at the balancing point, and goes either way and has changed over the 15 years of the Detroit Temple. The third balancing stake is Toledo, Ohio. Toledo is closer to the Detroit Temple, but the ssouth end of the stake is much closer to the Columbus Temple. So either way the stake gets assigned, some members will go to the other temple.

On another note I saw the movie "Freetown" today at a movie theatre in Sterling Heights. I was the only person watching it, but it was the 11:30 AM showing. I only went that early because I had to be to work later. It also is rated PG-13, so I doubt many mothers would take their little children.

TYhe film both presents the underlying truth claim of the Church (it is the restoration of the Church founded by Jesus Christ) and discusses the past race-based priesthood restriction, without getting heavily into either. At some points it even gets into the debate underlying 17 Miracles, how much do you plan and how much do you rely on the Lord to save you. Aboubakr, the member from Sierre Leone who was sent by the mission president to supervise the work in war torn Liberia, and who was the missionaries' driver on the way to Freetown, at one point says "Did you ever think that if you did more planning maybe the Lord would have to work less time providing miracles to rescue you." It gives a climpse of the fight between the Krahn backed government and the Krahn hating rebels without getting too bogged down in that. Luckily for viewers, the Krahn are only referred to as such. I was just reading the Wikipedia article on the Krahn, and it regularly switches between Krahn and Kru, and mentions that Wee, Guéré, Sapo, and Wobe are also names used for the group.

tyler said...

The church missed a golden opportunity by announcing these new temples on Sunday morning, when the Thai saints were sleeping and the Ivorians were well into dinner hour. I wish the Church had announced these temples on Saturday morning session (even Saturday afternoon would have been fine), as the Thai Saints would be holding their regular monthly fast and testimony meeting in place of General Conference because of the 13 hour time difference from Salt Lake.

Imagine the powerful testimony meetings in May! But imagine how much MORE powerful they would have been! Thailand would have been buzzing! They might've had to cancel Sunday School and 3rd hour just to accommodate the testimonies. And the Ivorians as well, since they likely also held a regular fast and testimony meeting and watched conference the following week.


I hope that when the time comes for another Asian or African temple, the church leaders will announce it on Saturday.

re: Vietnam: First of all, there are SO few members here and only humanitarian service missionaries. Remember that Vietnam is still Communist. Also, flying to Bangkok is SO much cheaper, there are tons of cheap regional airlines (think JetBlue, Ryannair type carriers) in mainland southeast Asia. Affluent saints in Vietnam (once there are some) would probably go to Hong Kong.

re: "Kenya is a long shot"- the Stake there will split in the next 1-2 years most likely, but the Church is still young. Zimbabwe needs a temple, but it first needs a new political leadership.

James said...

Tyler, in general, it is the Church president (or someone approved by him if he is unable to do it himself) that announces new temples. For example, when President Kimball was in his declining years and unable to announce new temples, President Hinckley was the only functioning member of the First Presidency. With President Kimball's approval, President Hinckley made the announcement of several temples. President Monson only spoke to us twice. This was 2 less talks than he typically gives, and 3 less than I predicted he would give. This was due to some health issues he is experiencing. I doubt he would have given the green light to someone else to announce them while he was speaking at all during General Conference. When President Kimball was able, he could and did make the temple announcements. The same was true this last conference with President Monson. Not that I'm predicting by any means that he's in his declining years (I sincerely hope not yet). I recently wrote an extensive post examining the health of the leading brethren of the Church and specifically focusing on the four most senior apostles. This was done prior to writing two more General Conference related posts. All of them can be found at I refer you to my blog for those posts. I would not venture to speculate or make predictions about how long each of the brethren may be with us, but I have discussed their health challenges, if any, along with their general conference speaking history. So I hope you find that post and the other two more recent ones informative. Any feedback would be appreciated. But I recognize that a blog which discusses my life updates, interspersed with Church news, will not be nearly as popular as one devoted entirely to Church growth or similar subjects. My only prayer is that my posts can be of use to and interesting for some few to read. But I'm getting off track. The point I was trying to make is that others would not have been authorized to make the announcement of new temples while the prophet of the Church was able to do so. End of rant. *steps off soapbox*

Bryce said...

@Joseph: Thank you so much for reporting, I was so excited to hear about the branch in Baixo Guandu that I contacted my missionary companion from Brazil to tell him the news. We were there in 2002 trying to get a branch together but after a few months it didn't work out. It brought up fond memories of that small town. We had rented a house for the members to meet and there was a pool in back for baptisms. We literally had no furniture: we lived out of our suitcases, slept on donated mattresses on the back porch, and ate at cheap diners because there were no kitchen appliances. I gave up using a watch because the centrally located Catholic church would blare bell chimes starting at 6am then repeat every 15 minutes until 7pm (local announcements were made through the speakers at noon). People left their bikes out without fear of having them stolen, and on Friday nights the townspeople would strole down the main avenue, maybe purchasing homemade food that families would sell on tables they set up. Great people, so happy to know a branch was established!