The Church in Nigeria reached the milestone of 500 congregations (wards and branches) last Sunday. This is an important achievement as increases in the number of congregations strongly correlates with the expansion of the Church into previously unreached areas, greater saturation of the Church in currently reached locations, increases in active members, and local leadership development. Congregational growth rates have also accelerated in recent years. For example, the Church in Nigeria has reported a record increase of at least 46 congregations for 2016 - a 10.1% increase from the number of congregations at year-end 2015 and the largest number of congregations ever organized in a single year in Nigeria. To contrast, the Church in Nigeria reported an annual increase of less than 10% for most years since the year 2000. The Church in Nigeria reached 100 congregations in the early 1990s, 200 congregations in 2001, 300 congregations in 2010, and 400 congregations in 2014. The number of stakes has also doubled within the past four years from 21 to 42 due to stake divisions and the advancement of many districts into stakes.
Nigeria is the first country on the Afro-Eurasian landmass to have reached the milestone of 500 congregations. Currently there are only seven other countries with 500 or more congregations: the United States (14,227), Brazil (2,054), Mexico (2,015), Philippines (1,211), Argentina (769), Peru (751), and Chile (602). This finding suggests that the Church in Nigeria has become, or is soon to become, one of the most significant countries in the world regarding the size and growth of the Church. Given historical growth trends, the Church in Nigeria may report the fifth most congregations of any nation by the year 2025. Multiple new missions appear likely to be organized in Nigeria within the foreseeable future, such as in Abuja, Ibadan, and Uyo. One or two new temples may also be announced in cities such as Benin City and Lagos. The Church may establish a missionary training center in Nigeria as all other nations with more congregations than Nigeria have a missionary training center in their capital cities. Due to significant opportunities to expand missionary outreach in this nation of 186 million people with less than 150,000 Latter-day Saints, the Church may organize a separate administrative area to service Nigeria in the coming years.