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.