Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rapid LDS Growth in Kumasi, Ghana

Unprecedented LDS growth is currently occurring in Kumasi, Ghana. Missionaries serving in the Ghana Kumasi Mission have reported in the past five years an aggressive church planting approach to establish many new congregations in the Kumasi metropolitan area in order to improve accessibility to the Church, expand the Church's missionary presence, and spur greater growth. These tactics have yielded significant growth. The Church in Kumasi reported 10 congregations in 2010 (7 wards, 3 branches), whereas today there are 29 congregations (17 wards, 12 branches). To contrast, the Church reported slow growth in Kumasi between 1998 and 2010 as only a couple new congregations were organized during this 12-year period. The Church organized a new mission headquartered in Kumasi in 2012, which has provided greater mission resources to this under-serviced area of Ghana. The Church established a second stake in Kumasi in late 2013 due to accelerated congregational growth. Today, both of the Kumasi stakes rank among the three stakes in the worldwide Church with the most congregations. Currently the Kumasi Ghana Bantama Stake administers 11 wards and 6 branches, whereas the Kumasi Ghana Dichemso Stake administers 9 wards and 8 branches. Some of the units in these stakes operate in nearby cities such as Konongo. Prospects appear favorable for the Church to organize two new stakes in the near future. A second mission in Kumasi also appears likely due to rapid growth in the metropolitan area and in other areas of central and northern Ghana.

See below for a map of LDS congregations in the Ghana Kumasi Mission.


Eduardo Clinch said...

On the topic of newer and slower growing east Africa, why doesn't Uganda get a temple?

Alex said...

@Eduardo, when people ask the question you asked, they can be referring to one or both of two very different questions. To give you the best answer I know, I'll answer both questions.

First, why hasn't East Africa gotten a temple yet? The big reason is that they haven't had the personnel to staff a temple. For almost any temple, especially since the great building spree of 1999-2000 ended, the Church has waited until the membership is capable of largely staffing their temple before building a temple. (Local examples include the number and activity of stakes in Ivory Coast and the DRC, and our wait for Cabo Verde to reach a couple more stakes before it's likely to get its temple despite good distance and activity arguments.) For most of the 2000s, the only stake in East Africa was the Nairobi Kenya Stake, and Uganda didn't have any stakes until 2010 (the 2nd stake was just created a few months ago). It's really, really hard to administer a temple with local members if you're located thousands of miles from your temple in a super poor area of the world, meaning limited transportation, with brand new stakes that have lots of newer members with limited experience with how a temple works, and the missionary surge is eating up the very limited number of senior missionaries that could possibly be assigned to a remote temple to overcome the experience gap. Yes, the area has one of the most compelling distance arguments in the world for a temple, but even in Thailand, which also had an amazing distance argument, they waited until there were more units in the area than a couple stakes for a temple. As we can see, the circumstances are changing, with Kenya and Uganda both getting their second stakes and Kenya now having 4 additional districts. Despite the 3-way division of the Johannesburg Temple district already in progress, I wouldn't be too surprised if East Africa had a temple announced this weekend, but growth needed to happen before we could get to that point.

The other question people often ask is, why do so many of us predict that Kenya will get a temple instead of Uganda? There are a few answers to that. One is maturity. The Nairobi Stake (now the Nairobi East Stake) was created in 2001, giving it 9 years to grow into being a stake and even divide before either stake in Uganda could mature from a district. Another is the sheer number of units. The number of wards in each country is identical (12 each in 2 stakes), but Kenya has 4 districts to Uganda's 0, giving Kenya more than double the number of branches (33 vs 15), with district organization showing a more obvious route to growth and potentially lots more stakes around the country in the next decade. The final reason I see Kenya getting East Africa's first temple is President Hinckley. He made a bunch of prophecies about areas that were going to get temples if the members were faithful, and many of them now have temples announced. This includes the Paris France, Bangkok Thailand, Winnipeg Manitoba, and to some extent Hartford Connecticut Temples. With a streak like that, many of us have a very low threshold to predict other areas that he prophesied about, including Singapore; Maracaibo, Venezuela; the southwest Salt Lake Valley; and (in February 1998) Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya's edge isn't huge, but the districts, maturity, and Pres. Hinckley's prophetic promise of a temple in the country make it a more likely candidate for the first East African temple than Uganda.

John Pack Lambert said...

Does anyone know if any of the districts in Kenya are close to becoming stakes? The Chuyulu Kenya District has 10 branches. I do not know to what extent any of these could become wards, but it seems a potential candidate for being a stake. The Eldoret Kenya District has 9 branches, also enough in theory to be made a stake. The other two districts only have five and three branches. So it is possible that Kenya could see two new stakes this year.

Depending on how much the lowered missionary age and renewed pushes for people to serve missions have lead to more missionaries serving from Uganda and Kenya there would at least be a growing number of members who have experience with the temple. Then of course there is Joseph W. Sitati, who is a General Authority and from Kenya.

One thing to remember is that for a time the Aba Nigeria Temple closed because they withdrew all foriegn missionary temple workers due to security concerns. Although south-east Nigeria has major problems with kidnapping and violence due to results of high oil revenues coupled with low local benefits from the oil industry in their midst, I think this has made the Church want to have the ability to operate temples without relying on missionaries, or at least foriegn missionaries, to be temple workers.

Another factor is that when you have 8 stakes in the Kinshasa/Brazzaville urban complex without a temple, that is just a more pressing destination for limited resources to build a temple than Nairobi or Kampala.

All that said, I would not be surprised if Nairobi has a temple announced this year, and Kampala, Uganda has a temple by the time the Church turns 200 in 2030.

John Pack Lambert said...

What are the chances Kumasi will get a temple? I doubt it will in the short term, but if this level of growth keeps up, it might when the Abijan Ivory Coast Temple is completed.

I also wonder if when they split the Kumasi Mission it will be to create a Tamale Mission. I would expect first to see the Church form branches in more places in northern Ghana.

Lastly, with the northern most branch in Ghana so close to the border, is the Church hopefully going to move into Burkina Faso soon? Or is that more likely to be an outgrowth of missionary work in Ivory Coast. Does anyone know if there are ethnic groups that live on both sides of either of these borders?

The Shraders said...

I'm sorry to treat this like a forum, but I was curious to hear more of the buzz around several temples that have been announced for some time, but appear to have had little to no progress since announcement:

Forteleza, Brazil: Ground was broken five years ago, but a redesign was necessitated due to do conflicts with the city plan. All seemed to be well by the summer of 2014 with full support from the mayor, but construction hasn't progressed since then. Is the church looking for an alternate site so they can continue with the original (two dome) design?

Urdaneta, Philippines: A site was selected shortly after it was announced in 2010, but the water table was too high, resulting in the need for an alternate location. I understand that processes resulting in a delay of a few years, but it's now six years later and no site announcement? That seems strange to me. Is there additional information out there?

Winnipeg, Manitoba: About a year ago, I heard of a video that was circulating of and artistic rendering of the planned residential development that the temple is supposed to be built in, which seemed to include a representation of a non-distinct, large, white building. The assumption was that the building was the Winnipeg temple, but I haven't heard much about it since then and I never saw the video. I have heard some grumblings that a temple planned to support only one stake just isn't fair or realistic. I heard other reports that the Church was expecting higher growth in the area, but when it didn't come to pass, the temple is on indefinite "hold." Any natives out there that could shed some light?

Arequipa, Peru: The slow going with this temple seems to be a simple case of trails with zoning and permitting. The site just got rezoned a few months ago, so maybe construction will move forward at a more rapid pace now. Any other insight?

Kinshasa, DRC: Not so much a question of construction here, but on the design. The revealed design of this temple looks more like a stake center than a temple. No angel Moroni,little landscaping, a shingled roof, etc. My first thought was that this was because of concerns with looting or vandalism, but there have been beautiful temples constructed in places with similar concerns. Any thoughts out there?

Ryan Searcy said...

I think Nairobi is more likely to get a temple than Kampala, as stated, Kenya has more members and a more mature membership, and a temple was promised to eventually be built there. Last time I checked, Kampala I predict will be assigned to Kinshasa, while Nairobi will remain with Johannesburg because of travel time. That is another factor that may be in favor of a temple in Nairobi.

Also, Kenya and Uganda, along with Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and (as of March 2016) South Sudan are slowly working on merging into 1 nation, called the East African Federation. It would become the largest country in Africa and the 2nd most populous (after Nigeria). The capital would be Arusha, Tanzania (there is a mission branch there). This country would have English as the official language, and they are working on improving poverty levels and road access across these 6 nations. This effort would make it a likely place for a temple. Combined, this country would have 4 stakes, 5 districts, and 18 mission branches. A temple in Nairobi would also serve Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Ryan Searcy said...

Sorry, I guess Uganda has more members than Kenya.

The East African Federation would have a combined 27,862 members.

illipn said...

@The Shraders, with regard to the Kinshasa temple, I believe the Church has implemented a vocational program in the DRC that employs RMs to construct churches (thus solving two problems: unemployment and lack of adequate construction skills to build meeting houses). I believe the long-term goal of this program is to build upon experience in building churches in order to build the temple. That being said, it makes sense that the design is more simplistic (thereby easier to build). Furthermore, I would think that putting a gold-plated angel on top a one-story building would be both gaudy and a liability issue).

The following is an exert from

"Meetinghouse construction and finding suitable spaces to hold church services are major difficulties. Geographers point to Kinshasa as one of the classic examples of poor city planning and its deleterious effects on urban development and quality of life. A lack of skilled labor appears to have delayed the construction of more meetinghouses in the past decade which in turn has stunted outreach expansion efforts. Finding suitable locations to build additional chapels also presents challenges. Poorly developed city transportation systems warrant greater accessibility to meetinghouses than in other comparatively large cities around the world...The recent implementation of a meetinghouse construction program that utilizes local members, steady congregational growth that has lasted 25 years, high convert retention and member activity rates, good receptivity to LDS teachings, and a full-time missionary force staffed entirely by native African missionaries suggest that the Church will experience continued growth in many years to come."

TempleRick said...

Fortaleza Brazil Temple - The bits of information I've picked up all point to the City government as the reason for the delay. I don't know the details, but it is as if someone is opposed to the temple and is giving the Church the runaround. Perhaps another site is being considered.

Urdaneta Philippines Temple - A higher-up in the Church was in Urdaneta six months ago previewing potential temple sites. Even if a site were chosen during that trip, it will still be months before plans can be adapted to that site and presented to the City for approval through its various levels of government.

Winnipeg Manitoba Temple - The video that has been circulated is a promotional video for the new Brigdwater Centre development in Southwest Winnipeg where the temple will be located. The white building shown in the beginning of the video is clearly a rendering of the Córdoba Argentina Temple. (Make the comparisons.) The Winnipeg temple will no doubt have a unique design, but Córdoba was used as a stand-in for the video. I have confirmed with City records that the Church owns this parcel of land, but I have not seen any plans for the temple presented to the City Council for approval yet. The City apparently had issues with the originally proposed location, but I have heard of no opposition to the Bridgwater site. I believe that any indication that the temple is on hold or that Winnipeg is somehow undeserving of a temple are simply people's imagined ideas who are unfamiliar with what has been going on behind the scenes. The temple will be built. I believe sooner than later.

Arequipa Peru Temple - The rezoning was completed just a couple of months ago. It will take some time to acquire building permits and to assemble a construction team, but I believe we will see a groundbreaking announcement soon.

Joseph said...

Unit Update
28 Feb
28 de Noviembre Branch, Río Gallegos Argentina District(B:6)

13 March
Meagui 3rd Branch, Soubre Cote d'Ivoire District (B:5)
Ouragahio 2nd Branch, Gagnoa Cote d'Ivoire District (B:5)

20 March
Nairobi Kenya West Stake (B:2, W:5)
Kitengela Branch
Langata Branch
Athi River Ward
Mountain View Ward
Ongata Rongai Ward
Riruta Ward
Upper Hill Ward

Palmer Alaska Stake (W:8)
Colony Ward
Cottonwood Ward
Fishhook Ward
Lazy Mountain Ward
Matanuska Ward
Palmer Ward
Pioneer Peak Ward
Valdez Ward

Affrey 2nd Branch, Adzope Cote d'Ivoire District (B:7)
Jarailan Branch, Luganville Vanuatu District (B:14)
Melton 2nd Ward (Samoan), Melbourne Australia Wyndham Stake (B:1, W:6)

26 March
Ahenbronum Ward, Kumasi Ghana Dichemso Stake (B:8, W:9)
Ahyiaem Branch, Kumasi Ghana Dichemso Stake (B:8, W:9)
Azaguié 2nd Branch, Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission (B:9, D:3, S:4)
Hala'ovave Ward, Nuku'alofa Tonga North Stake (B:1, W:7)
LaBelle 4th Ward, Rigby Idaho East Stake (W:11)
McKinney 8th Ward, McKinney Texas Stake (B:1, W:7)
Orange Grove Ward, Gulfport Mississippi Stake (B:1, W:7)
Ranch Ward, Tucson Arizona South Stake (B:1, W:6)
Rigby 19th Ward, Rigby Idaho East Stake (W:11)

YTD 184(14.2/week*13) +17 - Total 34,330(+15) (Net 128 70%)
Africa 51, 27.7% (+7) - Total 1820 (+7)
Asia 3, 1.6% (0) - Total 934 (0)
America Central 12, 6.5% (0) - Total 3930 (-1)
America North 66, 35.9% (+4) - Total 9379 (+3)
America South 9, 4.9% (+1) - Total 6340 (+1)
Europe 5, 2.7% (0) - Total 1713 (0)
Pacific 12, 6.5% (+3) - Total 2742 (+3)
Utah & Idaho 25(19), 13.6(10.3)% (+3) - Total 6930(5717)(+2)

Totals no-sensitive (Net +14)
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 150 419 3,194 549 22,666 7,351 34,354
Us/Can 10 82 131 1,610 10 12,633 2,055 16,531
US n/a 74 124 1,562 7 12,295 1,906 15,968
Utah n/a 16 10 579 1 4,717 327 5,650
Canada n/a 8 7 48 3 338 149 553
Out 15 68 288 1,584 539 10,033 5,296 17,823

Eduardo Clinch said...

Yes, the Church in Kenya has grown better than Uganda and probably deserves the temple more, or at least could handle it better than Kampala, where there is more history but less robust growth.

Burkina Faso is a risky place, as there have been terrorist attacks, a bit like in Mali where they are farther still from potential missionaries. The Arab/Muslim Saharan countries are hard to penetrate, especially with the increase of ISIS attacks ...

I am so glad the four missionaries involved in the Brussels bombings can live to tell from their harrowing experience. I would think that their faith in God will grow as they will undoubtedly inspire faith in countless others. God bless them!

I still think that Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, as well as the Gambia are more likely to open up to missionaries since there are fewer jihadi threats, I would assume. Gabon and Equatorial Guinea also deserve more Church attention, in my opinion.

5 temples to be announced Saturday? I have my hopes up. Less than 48 hours to go! Watch and pray. Ponder and study.

John Pack Lambert said...

One of the newly called mission presidents, Jose L. Montoya Monroy, is the older brother of Hugo Montoya Monroy, who was called as a general authority last April. They are great-grandsons of Rafael Monroy, who was a branch president in Mexico killed during the Mexican revolution in part because he would not renounce the LDS Church.

Jose L. Montoya lives in Gilbert Arizona, although he was raaised primarily in Caborca, Sonora, Mexico. He, like his little brother, was born in Fresno, California. The family ran a vineyard in Caborca, so my guess is their Dad had previusly been involved in working in vinceyards in Fresno. Jose L. Montoya is described by the Church News as a "self-employed business owner" which is very uninformative. I know his brother Hugo Montoya for a time ran a taco stand. However Hugo Montoya's main source of income from 1996 on was as an employee of Xerox.

John Pack Lambert said...

Any word on how the Rome Italy Temple is progressing?

John Pack Lambert said...

Is the Luganville Vanuatu District the largest one in the Church at present by unit number? 14 brnaches seem a lot for a district. I expect it will either be split or made a stake soon. Although with that many branches they could both split it and make a stake.

Alex said...

The ldschurchtemples website has a lot of great stuff under the statistics tab, including a list of the largest and smallest units by unit number. Luganville Vanuatu is indeed the largest district in the church by unit number (though not the largest administrative unit - the 2 Kumasi stakes mentioned in this post both have more units than Luganville). I'm excited to see the growth continue to play out in these areas.

TempleRick said...

About six months ago, I came across a couple of blog posts and received an email from a missionary couple serving in Italy who all indicated that completion of the Rome Italy Temple was about 1-3 years away. Most thought about 2 years. A couple of them had spoken directly to the construction workers who said that construction was progressing but there was still MUCH to be done. With four buildings all going up, that certainly adds to the workload.

The Luganville Vanuatu District does have the largest number of branches. You may find this list helpful in determining the Largest and Smallest Stakes and Districts.