Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Locations for Humanitarian Service Missions

The Church publishes a weekly newsletter entitled "Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin" that contains up-to-date information on current needs for senior couples to serve full-time missions. All types of senior missionary couple opportunities are listed in the bulletin such as with the Church Education System, the Temple Department, Welfare Services, Auditing Department, and so on. The weekly newsletter can be accessed here.

Recently, the Church has added several new locations for humanitarian service missions in the bulletin. These locations include:
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Kurdistan, Iraq
  • Senegal
The Church has never appeared to assign senior missionary couples on humanitarian assignment to these three locations. Although these assignments are focused on humanitarian service and development projects, often times the assignment of humanitarian senior missionary couples proceeds or coincides with the establishment of an official church presence. Notable examples include Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burma (Myanmar), Gabon, the Republic of Georgia, Kosovo, Laos, Macedonia (FYROM), and Turkey. Although the prospective assignment of senior missionary couples to these three locations is encouraging for the Church to expand its worldwide influence to meet humanitarian needs and lay the groundwork for an official LDS presence one day, only Senegal appears to have realistic prospects for proselytizing, full-time missionaries to be assigned. Iraqi Kurdistan presents many safety and religious freedom challenges, whereas the Church in Kyrgyzstan has experienced challenges with obtaining legal recognition for over a decade. However, the 2014 Kyrgyzstani court ruling that the law requiring 200 adult citizen members for a religious group to register with the government as unconstitutional suggests improved prospects for the establishment of a member group or branch in Bishkek (click here to access a case study on the Church in Kyrgyzstan).

41 comments:

Amira said...

There actually was a humanitarian couple living in northern Iraq a couple of years ago so this isn't entirely new. In addition to their humanitarian work, they were able to spend some time with a few Kurdish members of the church who were baptized about 20 years ago. And there have been humanitarian missionaries in Bishkek, although that was more than 10 years ago.

Humanitarian missions are worthwhile no matter what, but when there are very isolated members in the area, they're even more important.

John Pack Lambert said...

Elder Gordon Smith, an area seventy and former US senator, spoke at our stake conference here in Michigan a few years ago. He mentioned visiting troops from his then home state, Oregon (he now resides in Maryland, which is why we in Michigan had him as a visitor), in Iraq back sometime in the 2003-2008 time frame, I can't remember if he was more specific. He met a man who had been in priest in his ward while he was a bishop. This man shared with him that him and some other members of the Church in his unit had shared the gospel with some Kurds.

While Kurds are overwhelmingly Muslim, the fact that they have such a deep ethnic sense, might make it about as easy for Kurds as Albanians to join the Church. Although Albanians are only about 70% Muslim, and many of those are really atheist or agnostics with Muslim heritage. However I doubt that the Church will send missionaries to Kurdistan while the war with ISIS is ongoing. Also, even though Kurdistan has a high level of autonomy, sending missionaries there would still probably also need approval from the government in Baghadad, something that is probably unlike to happen in the current political climate.

Ryan Searcy said...

Any information on those 4 stakes on the list that were to be created in April? The 2 Hong Kong stakes, La Ceiba, and Bell Ville?

Matt said...

I haven't heard anything. CDOL seems pretty backlogged for some reason even though we are not seeing many daily updates. Many recent updates have been weeks or even months delayed. For example, most branches that have advanced into wards in recently organized stakes remain in the directory as branches.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I knew a nice Kurdish convert couple in California in the 2008 era; I think they joined in San Diego. I also remember some Kurdish cameramen in Salt Lake City in the mid 90s. I don't know if they had any Church relations but there was an important US guy on the film crew who was a BYU grad. But I also recall that BYU guy as disapponting me about his faith. Of course maybe I am hyper-sensitive that way.
My folks did an awesome humanitarian mission in Cambodia from 2000-2002.

Unknown said...

HURRAAAYYY!! Kyrgyzstan! There are a handful of members in Bishkek who will be thrilled to have missionaries there. There are the seeds of change planted there, albeit tiny, tiny seeds! This is very exciting! I worked there with the WTO for a season. The legal barriers are quite onerous, but not insurmountable.

Tom said...

Under the temple department section it says that administrative missionaries are needed right away as multiple temples are expected to break ground in the near future. Cool stuff!

Adam l said...

As far as I know from contacts from my mission La Ceiba has not been split into a 2nd stake. There are plans for making the Olanchito District( a little further to the east) into a stake this year so the confusion could have come from this.

John Pack Lambert said...

The requirement for at least 200 adult members is not insurmountable. The Church has thousands of members in China with almost all of them having joined the Church abroad. True, Kyrgystan has much fewer inhabitant than China and not many abroad, but it is posible the Church could obtain recognition.

Ohhappydane33 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ohhappydane33 said...

There is no evidence from the Hong Kong missionary blogs that any stake splits have occurred there either. It's also not really a compelling location for one stake creation, let alone two, since none of the existing stakes in Hong Kong are all that particularly large at the moment.

Matt said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I have updated the new stakes created list on the sidebar. Also, the Ikot Eyo Nigeria Stake was organized on May 1st from a division of the Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake and the Ibesikpo Nigeria District.

Kevin said...

The upcoming creation of the Prague Czech Stake has been officially announced on the lds.org Czech website: http://www.cirkev-jezise-krista.cz/mimoradna-a%C2%A0historicka-konference-cirkve

Amira said...

The 200 member rule in Kyrgyzstan was ruled unconstitutional in 2014. If that rule were still in place, it would likely be insurmountable because there aren't even a tenth of that number currently in the country. You'd have to find every possible Kyrgyz member all over the world to sign which wouldn't be easy.

I think that church recognition (or at least some measure of functioning, even without recognition, as usually happens before recognition) is more likely now that Kyrgyzstan is included in a mission. Despite the best intentions of many different people, it was hard to not ignore Kyrgyzstan when it was only sort-of attached to various Russian missions through Kazakhstan.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am thinking that with the 200 member rule gone the Church is moving forward with Kyrgystan. The humanitarian couple can serve as key support to the gospel growth of the members there while also building necessary good rapport with the government. The severe restrictions on religion were passed by a government fearful that religious groups would overthrow it. If they can be convinced that the LDS Church does not seek political change, hopefully it will allow for full recognition. President and Sister Toronto have experience working in Jordan as Church representatives trying to build this type of rapport, and plus the entire Central Eurasian Mission is full of majority Muslim countries where the governments are to varying degrees distrustful of religion at all. All have had extremely secularist governments that actively represed public display of religion, although Turkey has largely abandoned that approach, but not before exporting its rules banning public displays of Islamic identity to France.

Matt said...

I was unaware of the law change in Kyrgyzstan. I have edited the post to reflect this development. Here's a link to the Kyrgyzstan International Religious Freedom Report for 2014: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?year=2014&dlid=238498

Ryan Searcy said...

I am curious if there will be a 2nd stake created in Cape Coast, Ghana soon. I am curious because on LDS Maps, the Asebu and Mankessim 1st Branches (both under the Cape Coast Mission) have had their boundaries extended a little bit to border the stake.

The Cape Coast Stake has 13 wards and 1 branch, in addition to 6 nearby mission branches, for a total of 20 congregations.

-Abakrampa Branch
-Abura Dunkwa Branch
-Asebu Branch
-Kissi Branch
-Mankessim 1st Branch
-Mankessim 2nd Branch

Matt said...

Ryan-

Thanks for pointing out the boundary changes for these units in Ghana. Yes, this is strong evidence for the organization of a second stake in the near future. Mission leaders reported last year that there plans to create a second stake in the Cape Coast area in early or mid 2016. I have added a second stake in Cape Coast to the list of new stakes in 2016.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I would like to know what mission has the most nationalities of their missionaries. What if a proselytizing mission had more than 50 or 75?

John Pack Lambert said...

Of the 8 bios of new mission presidents published this week, four are not from the US, three called to a country other than where they are from. A Brazilian is called to Brazil. However a Peruvian couple is being sent to Ecuador, a Chilean couple to Argentina and a Tongan couple to Papua New Guinea.

John Pack Lambert said...

When I served in the Las Vegas Nevada Mission we had people who had as nationalities Samoan, Kiribati, Russian, Mongolian, Brazilian, US, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Australia and Japan. That is 18. We might also have had a missionary who had Dominican Republic as his nationality. He left from Florida, but was a native of the Dominican Republic. That is at least 19.



John Pack Lambert said...

With 13 wards, it would be possible to split Cape Coast Stake without the 1 branch becoming a ward or adding any of the 6 mission branches in. However, I am guessing with two stakes, it will be deemed that local leadership can take over the administration of more branches. Hopefully some of the branches are close to becoming wards.

Johnathan Whiting said...

My guess is that the most ethnically diverse non-proselytizing mission is Salt Lake Temple Square.

Johnathan Whiting said...

I wonder how many different ethnicities of missionaries they send to Toronto, since it's the most ethnically diverse city in the world.

Johnathan Whiting said...

I wonder how many different ethnicities of missionaries they send to Toronto, since it's the most ethnically diverse city in the world.

John Pack Lambert said...

Are we discussing nationalities or ethnicities of missionaries. If the later the South Dakota Rapid City mission might rate high because it tends to have people from several Native American groups. New York City North may also rate high.

Johnathan Whiting said...

Both ethnicities and nationalities.

Pascal Friedmann said...

Just received word that the Freiberg Germany Temple will be rededicated on September 4.

Joseph said...

Unit Update
17 April
Assin Bereku Branch, Assin Foso Ghana Stake (B:5, W:9)

24 April
Buima Branch, Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission (B:4, S:9)
Taytay Branch, Puerto Princesa Philippines District (B:7)

1 May
Sydney Australia Prairiewood Stake(Still waiting on unit assignments)
Prairiewood 2nd Ward (Spanish)

8 May
Balcones Ward, Guatemala City Mariscal Stake (B:1, W:9)
Belém Branch, Mamanguape Brazil District (B:6)
Fagaitua Branch, Pago Pago Samoa Stake (B:3, W:8)
Penhalonga Branch, Mutare Zimbabwe District (B:7)

YTD 259(13.7/week*19) +8 - Total 34,357(+2) (Net 155 61%)
Africa 76, 29.3% (+3) - Total 1845 (+3)
Asia 5, 1.9% (0) - Total 936 (0)
America Central 21, 8.1% (+1) - Total 3936 (+1)
America North 87, 33.6% (0) - Total 9374 (-3)
America South 14, 5.4% (+1) - Total 6334 (-2)
Europe 6, 2.3% (0) - Total 1712 (0)
Pacific 19, 7.3% (+3) - Total 2745 (+3)
Utah & Idaho 31(23), 12.0(8.9)% (0) - Total 6933(5719)(0)

Totals no-sensitive (Net +2)
Areas Temples Miss Stakes Dist Wards Branch Totals
Global 25 150 419 3,202 546 22,693 7,347 34,382
Us/Can 10 82 131 1,614 10 12,635 2,047 16,529
US n/a 74 124 1,566 7 12,297 1,898 15,966
Utah n/a 16 10 578 1 4,721 326 5,652
Canada n/a 8 7 48 3 338 149 553
Out 15 68 288 1,588 536 10,058 5,300 17,853

Christopher Nicholson said...

The Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine District is actually a reinstatement of a district that was dissolved a few years ago, correct?

Deivisas said...

According to LDSChurchTemples.com, the Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine District was reinstated on Sunday!

John Pack Lambert said...

I am wondering if the new branch in the DR Congo was in Bunia. That is a city of almost 400,000 in the north-east of the country. I cannot find a referece to Buima as a city in the DR Congo.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Mutare Zimbabwe District is lokking likely to be made a stake.

Ryan Searcy said...

John Pack Lambert - a Facebook post from Cumorah stated that the new branch was the 2nd in the city of Matadi on the border with Angola.

Ryan Searcy said...

Here is the post

https://www.facebook.com/cumorahlds/posts/10154796203157542

Eduardo Clinch said...

I was looking at a recent photo of the new Concepcion Temple and I noticed that there is another building catty corner to it farther off the road (Pedro de Valdivia) that appears about the same size but is probably patron housing? Any ideas?

Ryan Searcy said...

If you are referring to the other building on site, it is a patron housing facility.

http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/concepcion/siteplan/

Eduardo Clinch said...

Thanks, I forgot about the site plan. As much as this southern Chile temple will help members with proximity, as close as Valdivia will still be beyond a good traveling distance, and there are still thousands of members way south of that, on the Argentine side, too. Patagonia needs more temples. Conce is a good start.

President Hinckley and later President Monson wants most members to be within 200 miles of a temple, right? We have a ways to go.

Ryan Searcy said...

Confirmation of the new Czech stake, and at least 1 ward named, Ostrava, where President Uctdorf was born.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865654450/President-Uchtdorf-creates-first-stake-in-Czech-Republic.html?pg=all

Anonymous said...

Joseph, Thanks for you updates. Any chance you can include titles to your numbers?

Joseph said...

Like this
-------YTD-%ofYTD-chng -------Total-chng
Africa 76, 29.3% (+3) - Total 1845 (+3)