Saturday, July 11, 2015

Initial LDS Missionary Outreach in Timor-Leste (East Timor) Underway?

There have been three recent developments that suggest the Church is making preparations to establish an LDS presence in Timor-Leste (East Timor). Inhabited by 1.2 million, Timor-Leste is one of the few nations that has a predominantly Christian population and no LDS presence.

The Church recently created a new mission region in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission to specifically administer Timor-Leste. Mission regions are typically created in missions that administer multiple countries. Generally a separate mission region is organized for each country that has missionaries assigned. For example, the Church operates a separate mission region in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission for New Caledonia.

The Church recently noted in its Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin that there is a need for a public affairs specialist to administer Vietnam and Timor-Leste within the next 12 months. A public affairs specialist is often one of the first representatives of the Church to investigate conditions for missionary activity, assist in the process for the Church to obtain government recognition, and lay the groundwork for the eventual assignment of full-time missionaries.

Senior missionaries on humanitarian assignment recently took part in an exploratory trip to Timor-Leste under the direction of the Asia Area Presidency. Their trip to Timor-Leste appeared entirely humanitarian in nature through LDS Charities. Their blog can be found here.

These developments are very encouraging. The Church has approximately three dozen nations worldwide with no LDS presence - approximately one dozen of these nations have no restrictions on religious freedom. It appears that there is a renewed interest by LDS leaders to open additional nations to the Church as evidenced by recent missionary investigatory trips to Senegal and Sao Tome and Principe and the inclusion of former Soviet Republics previously unassigned to missions in the newly organized Central Eurasian Mission. A case study that examines this topic can be found here.


Bryce said...

Exciting news and fascinating updates! I enjoyed reading through the blog posts of Elder and Sister Coffey too.

Ryan Searcy said...

I read an article that the Church is planning on building a new city in Florida that will house approximately 500,000 people. I can only imagine what growth this will spur!

Just a heads up, the last half of the article cuts to people wanting to rename Dixie College, so only the first half is about this new city.

Eduardo Clinch said...

The church hasn't developed a city for over 100 years as far as I know. Will this have tax implications? I need to read the article.
Cool news bout Vietnam; major population.

James Anderson said...

Yes, there will be tax issues, but not really until they actually sell the land.

Although in 1981 the Church actually put some of its welfare farms in particularly Salt Lake County, and they do own some taxable properties here and there as well here in the US although it only involves things like businesses and things, there's about a half-dozen or more entities the Church owns that are taxable.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Yes, I did some research on the 7 or so for profit LDS owned businesses when my bro-in-law considered employment w/ Beneficial Life. I will read this article later. Happy Sabbath.

BYULAW said...

I was thinking about the recent passing of President Packer and Elder Perry and couldn't help but wonder who might replace them. I in no way want to diminish the importance of revelation in the process; however, there seem to be characteristics that many of the recent additions to the quorum possess. Graduate degrees, certain types of experience with callings, a personal connection to existing apostles, a minimum level of financial stability etc. Has anyone who reads these boards done any kind of study on what characteristics are typically personified by someone who is called as a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles? I know that trying to predict who the next apostle might make some people uncomfortable because it may undermine what some feel is a completely revelatory process that is somehow works irrespective of any preexisting conditions, but I find the striking similarities among members of the quorum to be intriguing.

Bryce said...

A possible update on the Central Eurasian it's a small world, during an Elder's Quorum presidency meeting I mentioned this blog and the new mission and a counselor turned to me and said that his former mission president to Italy was the one called to head the new mission and was in Turkey now trying to find somehwere to live and organize things. The new mission president, James A. Toronto, was a professor of Arabic language, Islamic studies, and comparitive religion at BYU and has held several interesting positions that I think make him uniquely qualified for the position. I've previously read a number of articles by him on the Middle East and heard him speak once and I couldn't think of someone better suited to the challenge.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I said before it might be time for a Portuguese or Spanish native speaker...

An Asian? Maybe so.

Adam said...

Had a brother from South Africa who has served in a couple of high posts in the church speak in sacrament this past Sunday. While he didn't mention the specifics, he said that there have been three new stakes created in Southeast Africa (guessing he's talking about the two in Mozambique and the one in Zambia,) and that there would be three more created by the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see which ones those are.

John Pack Lambert said...

The development in Florida would be done by the currently for-profit Deseret Ranches. It would not have tax implications because the company already operates on a for profit basis.

Realistically this is as much city creation by the LDS Church as was the building of the City Creek Mall and related facilities in downtown Salt Lake by the Church. The Church is also building a residential and I think also office tower adjacent to the Philadelphia Temple. Next to what is now the Manhattan Temple the church built an office tower in the 1970s. I am sure we can find lots of other examples of the Church buildings things of late. I have been told the Church has expended large amounts of money to revitalize the area around the Ogden Temple for example.

John Pack Lambert said...

James A. Toronto was also the director of the BYU or LDS Center for Cultural and Governmental Affiars in Jordan. I think it is LDS, but it has close relationships to BYU. He and his wife Diane directed the center from 1995-1998. Here is BYU's global Mormonism Project article on the center. I had forgotten about that website. It has some helpful resources. The article linked is actually from the 2000 published Encyclopedia of LDS Church history, so that explains the fact that the couple in charge starting in 1998 is the last listed.

Toronto has his bachelors from BYU and MA and PhD from Harvard, the later in Islamic and Arabic Studies.

John Pack Lambert said...

On further review BYU's global Mormonism project seems to not have gotten past incorporating the text of the Encyclopedia of LDS Church hisotry. It is a good start, but it needs to be updated and expanded to be a fully useful resource.

MainTour said...

What countries currently do not have an official lds church presense, but have no restrictions on religious freedoms?

Matt said...


These nations include:

Burkina Faso
Equatorial Guinea
Faroe Islands
The Gambia
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
South Sudan
Wallis and Futuna

Mike Johnson said...

I am a little uncomfortable with the idea that the microstates of Europe don't have an official LDS presence, usually defined as at least one congregation.

Not including Vatican City, there are four European microstates: Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, and Andorra. The first two are on this list and the second two are not. And yet all four are in pretty much exactly the same position with respect to LDS congregations. All four represent a small part of a congregation area and population. And it takes about a half hour to drive from the capital of the microstate to get to their church building in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain, respectively. They are all in customs union with the neighboring state and thus there are no border checks. People freely flow in and out of the microstates. Take San Marino; it is in the midst of (completely surrounded by) the Province of Rimini. The Province of Rimini has about 10 times the population of San Marino. Population-wise, Rimini is about the size of Davis County, Utah, and San Marino has about the population of Kaysville, however Rimini+San Marino has about half the area of Davis County. There are undoubtedly members of the Rimini Ward living in Italy that drive through San Marino to get to church each week.

I think the microstate situation (all four pretty much the same), is a different story than say, Mali, where the only known members of the Church are a former presidential candidate and his wife. This is a large country with the Church not having an ability to teach people.

The Faroe Islands and Greenland show up on LDS maps as being part of the Denmark Copenhagen Mission Branch--quite possibly indicating groups in each.

In 2013, two young men were called as missionaries from the Juba Branch, South Sudan (Uganda Kampala Mission) Both young men entered the Ghana MTC in June 2013 and thus were likely just released from their missions.

Ryan Searcy said...

Andorra has its own branch.

Joseph said...

July 12
Daybreak 9th Ward, South Jordan Utah Daybreak Stake (9th Ward)
Farmington Ranches 5th Ward, Farmington Utah West Stake (1 branch, 10 Wards)
Gillis Hill Ward, Fayetteville North Carolina Stake (2 Branches, 7 Wards)

July 1
Central Eurasian Mission (6 Branches, 3 Regions)
Adana Military Branch
Almaty Branch
Ankara Branch
Astana Branch
Istanbul Branch
Izmir Branch
Kazakhstan Mission Region
Kazakhstan RN Mission Region
Turkey Mission Region

YTD 326(11.93/week 28)
Africa 111, 34.2%
Asia 9, 2.8%
Europe 12, 3.7%
North America 89, 27.3%
Pacific 22, 6.8%
South and Central America 26, 8.1%
Utah & Idaho 58, 17.4%

Totals no-sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 417 3,138 548 22,390 7,340 34,005
Us/Can 11 80 131 1,587 11 12,500 2,071 16,391
US n/a 72 124 1,540 8 12,164 1,919 15,827
Utah n/a 15 11 576 1 4,662 327 5,591
Canada n/a 8 7 47 3 336 152 553
Out 14 67 286 1,551 537 9,890 5,269 17,614

With Sensitive
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 147 417 3,138 559 22,394 7,429 34,109

Bryan Dorman said...

What is the difference between Kazakhstan mission region and Kazakhstan RN mission region? Are they trying to expand?

Pascal Friedmann said...

My guess is that the Kazakhstan RN region is going to cover all other central Asian countries included in the Mission where there are currently no Missionaries assigned. Since it is not possible for Missionaries to work in any of these countries, the region would be administered from Kazakhstan.

To be honest, I find it unlikely that this area will see real expansion in the forseeable future, except for perhaps the assignment of humanitarian senior couples to Bishkek and Baku, where there are isolated members and investigators.

Also, while named for Andorra, the Andorra Ward meets in Spain. Beyond that, what Mike said applies.

Xavier Raveau said...

There is just a family living in San Marino (I know them), and they attend Church in the Rimini ward.

Mike Johnson said...

Ryan, the Andorra Branch is in Spain and covers about 10 times the area in Spain as Andorra. Like Monaco, Liechtenstein, and San Marino, it is about a half hour drive to the branch. The only difference is it takes the name Andorra, but in other respects it is essentially the same as the other three microstate.

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

Xavier, thanks. I am glad to know that there is a member family in San Marino. San Marino is completely inside the Rimini Ward boundaries. Any member of the Church living in San Marino should be in the Rimini Ward. For most practical purposes, it isn't all that different from living in any of several cities in Rimini. It is a state for historical reasons, but like all four of these microstates, they conform in most respects to the larger society around them, if only to survive. The official currencies of San Marino, Monaco, and Andorra is the Euro and that of Liechtenstein in the Swiss Franc. Their economies are integrated into their larger neighbors.

I guess my point is, you aren't going to find wards or branches covering about 30,000 people in most countries of Europe--you find them covering hundreds of thousands of people. But, that doesn't mean there aren't members living in them or that missionaries can't visit them.

Spain (46,770,000) + Andorra (79,213) = 46,849,213/ 141 LDS congregations = 332,264 people per congregation

France (66,030,000) + Monaco (37,831) = 66,067,831/ 107 LDS congregations = 617,456 people per congregation

Switzerland (8,081,000) + Liechtenstein (36,925) = 8,117,925/ 36 LDS congregations = 225,498 people per congregation

Italy (59,830,000) + San Marino (31,448) = 59,861,448/ 103 LDS congregations = 581,179 people per congregation

Luxembourg has about 10 times the population of San Marino, Monaco, or Liechtenstein, but Luxembourg itself is only about half the area inside the Luxembourg Ward.

Mike Johnson said...

I did a quick screen capture video showing the four LDS congregations containing these four microstates. I see very little difference between them, but I wouldn't expect much of a difference because their populations are so much smaller than the average population covered by an LDS congregation in the respective areas.

miro said...

Missionaries are not allowed to procelyte in Lichtenstein. There are a few members there, but I don't know, if any are active at the moment. A convert of my ward, was originaly from there and moved there, when he left and was active for at while. I know that missionaries can visit members or teach investigators, but only by invitation.

John Pack Lambert said...

In an earlier discussion someone posted wondering about the educational and career backgrounds that would make someone likely to be one of the next apostles. My actual guess is that any member of the 1st quorum of the 70 is a potential candidate, with members of the 2nd quorum and area 70s also possible, and a long shot for those not in the 70. 4 of the past 5 new apostles were members of the presidency of the 70 when called. So those 7 men might be where to look. Also men like Claudio R. M. Costa and Walter Gonzalez who are members of the first quorum who have been in the presidency might be possible. One person one of the missionaries in my ward suggested is Tad Richards Callister (who is a grandson of LeGrand Richards,and thus my 4th cousin, we are the same number of generations removed from Joseph Lee Robinson even though he is 35 years older than me) who is currently General President of the Sunday School, but is another previous member of the presidency of the 70. He has a bachelors from BYU, JD from UCLA and a master of laws from New York University. President Callister's father was a convert who joined the LDS Church while serving in the US military in Hawaii.

John Pack Lambert said...

I decided to dig deeper on President Callister. His mother's full name was Effie Norrine Richards (Callister) but she went by Norrine. She lived from 2011 until 2009. His parents married in 1932. In that year Norrine's father was president of the Hollywood Stake (I think Glendale where the Callister's met was in that stake's boundaries). LeGrand Richards had been sent to southern California by President Grant to serve as stake president, but was called as a bishop by the existing stake president before he was made stake president and convinced President Grant to delay his call as stake president by a year. From 1967-1969 President Caliister's parents were mission presidents in England. Callister's father was described as a "prominent attorney" in the 1989 Deseret News obituary for him. He was also the founder of KIEV radio.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have been studying this subject closer, and came to realize that the Wikipedia article on Tad R. Callister was written by someone who had not paid close enough attention to the details in articles on Elder Callister. Elder Callister's father is not a convert. He was raised in Salt Lake City, went to LDS High School, and his grandparents (Elder Callister's great-grandparents) joined the Church in the Isle of Man, having been taught by John Taylor. The last detail I learned from an article on Douglas L. Callister, Tad R. Callister's brother who was also a general authority (from 2000-2009). Reed Callister was also a lawyer like his two sons, and he founded his law firm in 1929 3 years before he married their mother. He was born in 1902, so he was 27 at the time and 30 when he married their mother. I do not know if he just did not get married until later in life, or had a first wife who died. My guess is the former, but the later may be possible.

John Pack Lambert said...

The person who was mentioned in the Wikipedia article as joining the LDS Church while serving in the military in Hawaii was Angelo Louis Saporiti, father of Kathryn Louise Saporiti, who is the wife of Tad R. Callister.

John Pack Lambert said...

Per family search Norinne seems to have been Reed E. Callister's only wife. OK this is probably more data than anyone wanted to know.

John Pack Lambert said...

Just to take two members of the 1st quorum of the 70, Larry Echo Hawk and Kazuhiko Yamashita. Elder Echo Hawk was head of the BIA, Idaho Attorney General and a BYU law professor before his call as a general authority. Elder Yamashita was a professotr of physical education at various universities in Japan. I can see both being called as aposltes, although I am not sure there is any general authority whose call as an apostle would fully surprise me.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, miro.

Liechtenstein is on the US State Department's list of countries that protects freedom of religion, guaranteed in the Liechtenstein Constitution. It is on the list of countries with the highest tolerance for religions.

According to the Embassy of the Principality of Liechtenstein in Washington DC:

"Traveling to Liechtenstein

"Liechtenstein does not issue its own visas. As there are no border controls between Liechtenstein and Switzerland, without exception the same visa requirements apply to travelers to Liechtenstein as they do to travelers to Switzerland. Please contact the Swiss representation in your US consular district for further information.

"Switzerland is represented in Chicago for matters related to the issuance of Schengen visas for residents of some US states through the Consulate General of Lithuania. However, this only applies to the issuance of Schengen visas for Switzerland and not for Liechtenstein. All persons who require a visa to travel to Liechtenstein must do so through the Swiss representation in your consular district.

"Moving to Liechtenstein

"According to the decision of the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee, Liechtenstein can give out a certain number of residence permits (direct issue). There also exists a system similar to the US Green Card Lottery on the basis of which residence is granted to a certain number of economically active and non-active persons. Currently only EEA citizens are eligible to enter the drawing. For both the lottery and the direct issue by the government there is a quota for the maximum number of permits issued."

If you are legal to travel to Switzerland, you are legal to travel to Liechtenstein. If you have a visa for Switzerland, you can travel to Liechtenstein. In my case, I drove from Austria to Switzerland on a US passport and subsequently drove into Liechtenstein without any border check.

The Liechtenstein embassy in the US was established in 2002 and the current ambassador opened up the embassy. Its webpage states that in area it is about the same size as Washington DC (of course, Washington DC with about 600,000 people is a lot larger in population). It also says 36,000 people are employed in Liechtenstein, about 2/3 commuting each day from Switzerland and Austria--again reminiscent of Washington DC, where hundreds of thousands commute daily from Virginia or Maryland to work in DC. Liechtenstein, ruled by a very wealthy princely family, is an economic hub for the area around it.

Given everything I see, I don't know why there would be restrictions on proselyting in Liechtenstein, unless care is being taken not to "rock the boat."

The EEA mentioned above contains the 28 member states of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein does offer direct residence permits, or any citizen of an EEA country can join the lottery. Thus, to station missionaries inside Liechtenstein may be an issue.

You can find ads for pastors of various Christian denominations to serve both in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For centuries until 1997, Liechtenstein was inside the Catholic Diocese of Chur, Switzerland. I find it interesting that the LDS congregation follows that pattern. In 1997 the Catholic Bishop of Chur became the first (and so far only) Archbishop of Liechtenstein, with a division of the diocese. Roman Catholics make up about 27,000 of the 36,000 people in Liechtenstein.

miro said...

@Mike Johnson

My Information is a few years old, but I doubt that it has changed. I know that a few years ago swiss church leaders met with Lichtenstein authorities. The outcome was that missionaries where allowed to visit members and teach investigators, but not proselyte. The reasons for that I don't know. It might just be that the prince does not want that or because the LDS church is not recogniesed by the country. Proselyting has a very bad reputation in Switzerland and very likly also in Lichtenstein.
The north of Lichtenstein belonged for a while to the Dornbirn ward (Austria), but border where changed a few years ago.

Mike Johnson said...

Thank you, Miro.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Despite the higher density of people in DC, there are parts like Rock Creek Park that seem quite rural. I believe the whole district is covered by the DC North Mission. DC South only covers about six counties of northern VA. The whole region has high population growth.