Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top Ten Encouraging and Discouraging LDS Growth Developments in 2016

Click here to read about the top ten encouraging and discouraging LDS growth developments of 2016 according to our research at The Cumorah Foundation. Reader feedback would be appreciated.

176 comments:

Christopher Nicholson said...

Though smaller, I think that this year's increase in stakes was more significant than that of 1997 because since then the standards for a stake to operate have been raised quite a bit.

There may be stuff going on behind the scenes in those countries like Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Sometimes a country has no proselytism restrictions on paper but it doesn't work out that way in practice. Cumorah.com had said there appeared to be no obstacles to the Church establishing a presence in Gabon, but when the Church finally did so it revealed that it had been trying to do so for years and the bureaucracy just wouldn't move forward with it.

Central African Republic and South Sudan are both still very unstable and violent and not suitable places to send missionaries, so listing them among the other non-expansion countries with no caveat to that effect seems a little unfair. I have no idea how the Church managed to establish a branch or groups in Syria.

Excellent report as always. In my judgment the encouraging outweighed the discouraging, but we know what we need to work on. I hope someone at church headquarters keeps an eye on these sites ;)

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, Matt for the interesting summary. Christopher, good points.

James said...

I left a comment for Matt on the case study itself as he requested. It is the most interesting most thorough case study I have read on cumorah.com, and that is truly saying something, because those previously posted case studies have always been very thorough. What a great summary of growth! As I said in that comment, 2016 was quite the year in terms of Church growth milestones. Since my primary focus on following such developments has been on temples and all facets pertaining thereunto, I have come to rely heavily upon this blog of Matt's and Rick Sattierfield's most excellent LDS Church Temples website for all the latest developments. And I hope that my blog, such as it is, continues to be yet another venue in which such things can be discussed in depth. Thanks to you all for the excellent comments on this blog of Matt's. If I can achieve in any small degree the success he has had, I will count myself lucky. FWIW, for the new year commemoration, I put up two blog posts, one started just before 2016 ended, and the other in the early hours of 2017. I invite any who would like to to read those posts by following the link below. Comments of any kind are always most welcome and appreciated. Thanks again, and Happy New Year to you all.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

Eduardo Clinch said...

Very well done. While Mexico and Philipines were singled out for stagnant issues, I did not see Chile there which is heartening. Unless I missed it. The secind temple has to be good progress.

John Pack Lambert said...

I read a blog post once that the Church was about to start sending more missionaries to the Central African Republic but then the civil war broke out there.

I am also thinking that with 3 stakes in India the Church will soon have more missionaries who are Indian citizens serving. I think when that happens the Church will be able to start expanding into more places.

Another thing the Church relies on a lot to expand is senior couple missionaries. The Church needs lots more of those.

John Pack Lambert said...

2 branches in central Salt Lake City were discontinued today. The Salt Lake 2nd branch in the Salt Lake Stake and the Ensign 3rd branch in the Ensign Stake. According to this report https://plus.google.com/103793200543436546626/posts/3Fgeki13Bg2 100% of the members of the Ensign 3rd branch were serving full time missions. As far as I can tell these were the brnaches made up of missionaries serving in the Family and Church history mission. With the reorganization of that mission and reassignment, the need for these two branches no longer exists.

Mike Johnson said...

Elder Glen L. Rudd has passed away. He was emeritus status and aged 98. Still another loss of one of the great leaders in Zion.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Deseret News (maybe more properly the Church news) described Elder Rudd as "Mr. welfare". He was recruited to be the manager of Welfare Square by the father of the current Church Welfare System, Harold B. Lee. The marriage of Elder Rudd and his wife was performed by President Lee as well. Elder Rudd was president of the Florida Mission from 1966-1969. At that time the mission also covered the Carribean. At the end of his time as mission president Rudd sent a few missionaries to Puerto Rico.

On another note in my ward they announced who the two counselors in the mission presidency are and which stakes they work with. I have never heard such an announcement in Church before.

Eduardo Clinch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

98 is a very good run. Elder Rudd has been in Church leadership for quite a while now. And he was one of the many emeritus General Authorities I have heard of who was a very knowledgeable gospel scholar. It was sad for me to read of his death. But he died as honorably as he lived, and he touched so many lives. He will be missed greatly for sure. I have not done a blog post about that yet, but I will do so ASAP. We lost so many Church greats in 2016. What a year it has been just in terms of that.

In regards to my blog, I have done quite a few new posts within the last several days covering a wide variety of rapid-fire topics. Among them have been a review of temple milestones that have occurred during 2016, some personal updates, and my first post of the new year (about apostolic age and tenure statistics). I am hoping someone will find my continuous updates on this subject interesting. I love being able to use my blog to share such information with all who care to read it. Thanks so much for the interest in my work. I hope all who read anything I have written will enjoy it.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2017/01/second-post-of-new-year-latest.html

John Pack Lambert said...

What new countries do people predict will have stakes in 2017.

I am going for:
Malaysia
Malawi
Angola
Solomon Islands
Pakistan
Cameroon
Romania

James said...

Those are some excellent thoughts, John. I have no idea just how accurate or likely any of these possibilities might be. If there's one thing that's certain about where new stakes might be established, it's that there is a guaranteed uncertainty about any potential future stake possibilities. Nothing can be ruled out at this point. Anything could happen. But if there's one thing we can also depend on, it's the fact that, whatever may develop on this front, Matt will keep us well informed of these things. I so appreciate the work he does. And I always appreciate the thoughts of others concerning these important subjects. It will be wonderful to see things unfold this year. And I will be most anxious to hear of any and all future developments related to Church growth. Thanks, John!

John Pack Lambert said...

The 3 North Salt Lake Stakes now have 32 wards between them. I would not be surprised if we see a 4th stake organized there this year.

John Pack Lambert said...

I just noticed that one of the units just created was the Evans Ranch Branch in the Eagle Mountain Utah East Stake. I am wondering if anyone knows why they created a geographical branch there.

On another note, the Fremont Branch in Ohio that one of my mission companions was from was just upgraded to a ward.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

There has been a slow down in new wards and branches in the US this year, so I wonder if this will also mean a slow down in new stacks in the US over the next couple of years.

James said...

John, I don't know the why. I imagine it was warranted for reasons unknown to anyone but those involved in that process. I do know that TempleRick updated the unit information for that stake just today, so the branch creation, whatever the reason behind it, must have happened very recently, perhaps even on New Year's Day. There is nothing in the unit creation history as of yet to indicate when it happened. But there is always usually, according to what I've observed, a very good reason behind the creation of any Church unit, and I'm sure this is no different.

Interesting developments reported on the LDS Church Temples website. According to that site, the progress towards a groundbreaking for the Urdaneta Philippines Temple has been halted indefinitely because of some or other problem. That and the progress reported today on two temples under construction was sufficient for me to do my first temple construction progress update for 2017 on my blog. I post a link to it below.

Still no word as yet on the site or groundbreaking date for the Harare temple, but it is as yet very early in 2017, so that's understandable. FWIW, funeral arrangements have recently been announced for both Elder Rudd and Elder Porter. The Church news reports the progress Elder Porter noted in the nation of Ukraine just last September, at the time when the Church was marking its 25th anniversary in that country. I will have to blog about all this later as time allows.

In the meantime, given the fact that 2016 was the year that marked the most unit creations in about 30 years, at this point, I think we can safely assume even more wonderful milestones in this regard this year. If my lifetime of experiences with the Church in general and my expanding understanding of the subject since I started to blog in particular, I always prefer to speak and think optimistically about the Church's potential for growth and future milestones. And hopefully, I will be able to keep up on and report such developments as I hear of them. Great conversation, as always.

James said...

Sorry. Forgot to leave a link to my temple construction progress blog post above. I am excited about this being my first such update this year. Hope you enjoy it.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2017/01/first-temple-construction-progress.html

John Pack Lambert said...

I read this editorial http://www.standard.net/Guest-Commentary/2017/01/01/Journalist-vents-over-LDS-Church-s-relationship-with-the-media.html and am left wondering why LDS Public Affairs does not give better answers. Although I wonder why the journalist in question didn't just call someone at LDS Public Affairs to ask the questions if he cared enough about them. I still wonder if there is a way the Church could better provide information to journalists. I think we need to value giving journalists full information more.

John Pack Lambert said...

2 stakes in Utah, Ogden Utah Mound Fort and the North Logan Utah, had pretty much all their wards renamed last Sunday. In North Logan there was at least one new ward formed as well.

John Pack Lambert said...

A new Hmong speaking branch was formed in Stockton, California. This is a good sign, considering how many wards and branches were discontinued in California last year.

R. Jofre said...

Using the year as a measure of progress has its flaws. A new stake of five wards might not see a new unit being formed for 12 years and then organize 3 new wards on year 13. This case can be even more extreme with missions, because missions don't have specific requirements to be created.

Now I'm not suggesting that this information is useless or wrong even. I just wish that at some point we can access more clear data, like the actual attendance on each unit, at least per stake/district.

Also I want to say that I don't understand why to some people the numbers 5, 10, 100, 500, etc, are so important. We even see the excitement of reaching certain numbers, like the case of Peru trying to reach 100 stakes. What for? What does it mean? Was everything done correctly or some numbers were disguised? Are people better because of that "milestone"? Is The Church better because of that? Maybe yes, maybe not.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Round numbers are significant to a lot of people. When my dad has turned 40, 50, 60, 70, and this year 80 we try to do something special.
Biblically, there is something about 1,000 years, right?
When my uncle turned 100 two years ago it was a big deal.
Milestones seem to have meanings, albeit often for heuristic reasons.

James said...

John, I don't claim to be an expert on either how public affairs representatives work in general or it works particularly with Church public affairs. However, I have been able to observe, even in a very small way, how public affairs positions work. And it appears that the way it works, particularly in the Church's case, is that the Church Public Affairs representatives are only allowed to go so far in speaking for the Church. While they are the voice of what the Church leaders feel on an issue, what they say is conditional on what has been approved for release. I can't say this with authority, but I imagine it is much the same way with anyone else that has a public affairs representative for any reason. The representative only has certain clearance to say what has been approved for public use. Any "answers" to other questions can more or less be answered through local leaders and/or your own personal study. At least, that's what I've observed. In regards to your statement about needing to value giving journalists full information, there is a reason that the Church has not been willing to do so. On some issues in particular, if full information was provided on any issue under consideration that has not been officially decided, it might color the way the members of the Church and the media respond to it. Take, for example, the recent news that the Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation to perform at the inauguration for President-elect Donald Trump. If in that case, the Church had made known the fact of the invitation before deciding to accept it, there would have been an earlier outcry, given how some Church members feel about that acceptance. It has gotten to the point where the Choir even lost a member among their number simply because this person had moral objections to the character of Donald Trump. While I understand that moral objection, the plain and simple fact is that the Choir has performed repeatedly for many US Presidents. There was nothing at all political about the Choir's acceptance of the invitation, as they have sung on numerous occasions for US Presidents regardless of party affiliation. The Church has congratulated the President-elect as per their usual custom. But the fallout from this situation will forever be a negative mark in the Choir's history. If the fact of the invitation had been known before it was accepted, many more would have objected. There has even been a petition to get the choir to back out of their commitment to perform at this event, but I highly doubt that petition will have any effect. In their conduct towards President-elect Trump, the Church in general and the Choir in particular have done no differently towards him than they have towards any other president in our history of friendliness and respect towards those who hold this office. And I'm sure that the Choir's acceptance of the invitation, which had been rejected by other popular music entities, had it been known about in advance, would have surely been met with greater opposition and uproar. FWIW, that's my take on all of this.

Bryan Baird said...

Since Belize did not hit stakehold in 2016 maybe it will hit it in 2017

Mike Johnson said...

Evans Ranch is a new development in Eagle Mountain with between 250 and 300 homes going in (mix of single family homes and town houses). Right now it appears that there are a few dozen houses already built. My guess is a branch was created to meet the needs of those who have moved in already and as it fills up it will become a ward (and potentially more than one).

James said...

Bryan and Mike, you make excellent points. Bryan, I would love to see Belize get a stake in 2017. We are entering a most unprecedented era of Church growth. At this point, I don't think any growth milestone can be ruled out. Mike, thanks for the great information as to the probable reason for the establishment of the branch. I am more familiar with Church growth in Utah than anything else. However, I have limited knowledge of how that correlates to what we have seen in Church growth in the Eagle Mountain area. Your explanation makes a lot of sense, to be sure. I can't wait to see what future growth might happen this year!

Also, as a sidenote, I have had a lot of reasons to post on my blog since the new year, and most of the posts, as per the usual tradition, have been about Church news. I would welcome any visits and comments on these posts. I include once again a link to my general blog and would invite any of you who may be interested to visit any post that strikes your fancy. Comments continue to be most welcome and always appreciated. Thanks.

James said...

Forgot to leave my blog address: http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

John Pack Lambert said...

I think in the specific case mentioned in the editorial, the Church representatives may not have had the information asked for. Also the nature of things like the negotiations gone into to create the inagural celebration may be governed by confidentiality agreements. I also have to admit that I still think an actual journalist would get more clear answers from Church public relations if they called a contact person than if they just emailed. I know the Church's website has journalist contact people listed on it, people who only journalists are supposed to contact.

On the other hand, I can see why the Church PR people do not want to answer a question like "has the choir ever turned down an invitation to participate in an inaguration." This would be unneccesarily gluing a decision in 2017 to decisions made decades ago, that may be kpet confidential for very good reasons. I personally doubt the choir ever has turned down such an invitation, but even if it had it would not change accepting the Trump one from what the Church has said about it.

I have to admit I put a lot more credence in journalists who try to call people than in those who write any articles about what happened when they emailed someone.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Paracicaba Brazil Stake just got to 9 wards. It has 1 branch, so in theory if that branch was made a ward it could be split.

James said...

John, I have to admit that, until just barely, I overlooked the link you had shared and had not read the specific editorial to which you were referring. Having read it, I now share my more honest assessment of the Church's response to the inquiries. I'm not saying the Church could not or would not have been able to better address the concerns of this journalist. However, having read the article in question, my concern is not so much about how thoroughly the Church did or did not address the questions, but rather how thoroughly the journalist may have done his research before asking such questions. It seems blatantly obvious from what the journalist asked that, had he simply been more thorough in his own research, which is the always-encouraged method for such questions about the Church, the questions he asked would have been shown to be unnecessary. As a Church member and avid follower of Choir doings and procedures, I know the answers to each question. For example:

1. The Choir is a volunteer unpaid organization, and as such, any events at which they appear are entirely voluntary and no participant receives any compensation of any kind for that participation.
2. The Choir has accepted any and all invitations extended to participate in any event that involves a current or future US President. By nature of the Church's devotion to political neutrality, no candidate receives special support, consideration or rejection of such invitations for any reason. If that were not the case, the Church could not maintain its professed political neutrality. Their actions would clearly set the lie to their words, and that's the last thing the Church wants or needs.
3. The only opportunities the Choir ever seeks or books as an entity is their appearances at special venues, such as during tours or for special events. They would never presume to seek an opportunity to perform for any government leader(especially one who clearly sees the Church and its members and practices through a very darkened lens) but willingly respond when invited to do so. That being said, the Church and Choir may have taken this opportunity as a way to see if the Church's image could be improved in the eyes of the President-elect.
4. Again, in the Church in general and with the Choir in particular, except where noted above for special events at particular venues, opportunities are never sought after nor declined. If it is true that the Choir has not for a while performed at an event for a Democratic President, it is because such an opportunity was never extended.

It galls me to my core that, had this journalist only done more research into the procedures, attitudes, and policies prevailing in the Church in general and with the Choir in particular, such questions would have been seen for having the lack of forethought and research that was apparent. It is therefore entirely understandable, in my mind, that the Church spokesperson responded in the way he did. This Church is all about people finding answers for themselves based on the knowledge they are able to ascertain from their own research. The journalist's failure to do his research justifies in full the way the spokesman addressed these issues. At least, FWIW, that's the way I see it.

Thanks for letting me drone on about this.

James said...

Also, John, FWIW, I love the information you shared about the growth of the above-mentioned stake in Brazil. I feel like you are one that I can always count on to inform people about such things, and that is a credit to you. Thanks for your continued inspiring comments.

Mike Johnson said...

Both Belize districts do appear to be possible stake candidates. At least one has the required membership. Both have sufficient numbers of congregations. What we don't know is about active full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders or about how many of the branches could become wards.

Jamaica recently had one of two districts become a stake. One major difference between the two is the 5 direct report mission branches on Jamaica (Kingston Stake = 6 wards + 2 branches, Mandeville District = 5 branches). The Kingston Jamaica Mission Branch is also based in Jamaica but has no territory in Jamaica but instead in the Bahamas and the Turk and Caicos, which are (with the Cayman Islands) in the mission. Of course, having a mission based in Jamaica is also a difference.

The nominal membership last year was closer than one might think, with Jamaica higher: 5,152 in Belize (plus one Guatemala branch in one of the districts which would count toward one potential stake) and 6,008 in Jamaica.

By guess with Belize is that paper work for a stake was submitted but has not yet been approved or if it has may not take place for a few months. Or Salt Lake could have turned down the stake.

James said...

Mike, you are another upon whom I can always count for excellent comments and for bringing to light something of which I had not been aware before now. Great observations, as always, regarding Belize and Jamaica. I don't care how often I need to repeat this: I am ever more convinced of my opinion that the prediction of Church growth milestones. except in cases where sufficient data makes an educated guess more likely, is unpredictable at best and highly speculative in so many ways at worst. That being said, the Lord is inspiring more and more people to use the internet to share many and various aspects about the work and progression of the gospel. For Matt, that involves the creation of units and missions and the opening of countries to the gospel message, to say nothing of most educated guesses for future developments. His ability to be so accurate in a majority of cases is awe-inspiring.

Then there's Rick Satterfield. Without his tireless devotion to his self-proclaimed "labor of love", we would have no knowledge of the latest temple events or construction progress milestones. And now he has recently seemed to feel confident enough to venture a time of year estimate for the potential completion of temples in 2018 and in early 2019. He also is very diligent in reporting unit growth.

I end reluctantly by including myself. At the risk of "tooting my own horn", I will say that I was gratified to learn from someone who has knowledge to back it up that my own blog has become one of the top Google search results related to all facets of temple-related developments, including construction progress updates, potential future temple sites, and also (as recently as last year) my best-guess estimated timetable that may prevail in the announcement of future temple related events and the timeline of the events themselves. I have taken the opportunity to mention more frequently lately the fact that I feel a solemn and sacred sense of obligation to keep the world informed about the developments related to temples. It is something I hope I do not take lightly.

I hope that in paying this verbal tribute to Matt and Rick that I do not embarrass them. That is never my intent. But as I freely and frequently admit, if I have achieved any degree of success in my own small labor of love, it is almost entirely due to the fact of their diligence in keeping interested people like me informed of such developments. Any success I have achieved I can therefore rightfully attribute to their efforts in this regard. It certainly has very little if anything to do with my personal efforts. In the words of the old famous saying, "I only call them as I see them."

Words cannot do justice to how grateful I am to not only have been able to frequently check the relevant sites for updates, but to have readers who, for some strange reason, find value and inspiration in what I have to report. I am so humbled to think that the Lord has seen fit to use me to inspire those who regularly read and comment on my musings, such as they have been. That is an attitude I certainly hope to keep in mind in approaching the continuation of this tradition with this new year.

Thanks again, Mike!

John Pack Lambert said...

I remember a few years ago some people started a program on facebook where they would run facebook adds in places where the Church didn'y yet have a presence to build up interest. Sometime where the Church had a minimal presence. Any word on how it is going.

John Pack Lambert said...

Looking over the international growth summarizes in the related site, it appears that at least twice as many wards are created as branches, although some of this is because wards are upgraded to branches. For example if you have 2 branches made wards and 3 branches created, your net change is +1 branches and +2 wards. New branches usually represent true growth to new areas, and we are seeing that in Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon especially. New stake creations can sometimes lead to net negative for branch increases.

It is hard to compare over time since in the past things were made branches that would now be kept as groups.

Pascal Friedmann said...

Hi John, I am still working on this Facebook Ads project. I manage a Facebook page ("LDS Conversion Stories") where I boost a call-to-action-type post once a month. In the past few months, I have targeted East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Liberia and French Guyana. Right now, I am targeting several large English-speaking metropolitan areas in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The results look excellent most of the time (French Guyana was probably the weakest).

David Todd said...

Pascal, I would love to hear more about the results you are referring to. Is that the number of clicks on the ad or something?

Also, does anyone know if there is access to information on the number of temple sealings that occur each year or even at each temple? It would be interesting to see if the age change for missionary service is correlating with an increase in temple marriages, and from that, we could expect that perhaps the greatest church growth benefit of the age change will come 10-15 years from now with an increase of children of record baptisms.

I am also still considering creating a forum for church growth discussion if people express interest in it. It shouldn't be too difficult to create and manage. What do you all think about that?

Unknown said...

Quite disappointing for the slow growth of Philippines last year and we just hope the "resting" period is used as a way to prepare creation of new stake this year. I hope the Puerto Princesa Stake is approved and there are plans announced by our stake president that a re-alignment of wards will be done in the Capital Region to create the Mandaluyong Stake.

James said...

David, as one who was a temple worker for six years, I can answer your question. The temples do not release to the general public the records of any ordinances done in the temple. The temple recorder verifies their correctness at the end of every shift*(those shifts can run anywhere fro 4-8 hours), adds his signature as a testament to and a verification of the fact that such ordinances have been done according to the Church's policies. I have been witness to the level of attendance at the temple, so I can state with reasonable certainty (and my six years as a temple worker should qualify me to be able to say this) that there was a spike in temple marriages at least at the Mount Timpanogos Utah temple as a direct result of the increase in the number of missionaries going out into the field at a younger age, then coming home and not delaying marriage. That being said, even if the age change had not happened, the Mount Timp. Temple is definitely one of the busiest in the Church. This strengthens my belief that yet another temple will need to be built somewhere within the current district alignment of the Mount Timp. Temple. Of the very many options, the city of Lehi would appear to be the very most likely candidate.

In regard to your comment, David, regarding, setting up a forum for Church growth discussions, I would be in favor of that personally and I would love the opportunity to be able to talk more about all these developments there.

Unknown, while the growth in the Philippines of late has been disappointing, don't lose heart. While so many elements related to Church growth in the Philippines have been slow or have not been happening at all, never give up. In so very many ways, we are entering a most unusual, extraordinary, and unprecedented period of time in Church history. Because of the miracles related to the work of the Lord that have been so prevalent lately, the gospel is progressing at an astonishing rate. We will see so many Church growth milestones in the future that are so very unexpected and it will make us grateful to be part of this work and to believe that the Lord knows exactly what he's doing.

L. Chris Jones said...

James, Do you know how much the transfer of Orem stakes to the Provo Utah temple effected how busy the Mount Time is. How busy are both Provo temples and the Payson temple right no

David Todd said...

I know Provo is still one of the busiest temples in the church. I don't know about Payson. I too think a temple in northern Utah county is imminent. It would take from the mt timp temple and some of Provo would probably go back to mt timp.

Cory Ward said...

I have the feeling that perhaps the church will relocate the Urndaneta temple. The first site was too saturated with water to meet the building standards of a temple. It's a relatively small City and perhaps will find a better site nearby in Rosales, Dagupan, or even Baguio.

I've attended the Provo Temple somewhat regularly over the past few months. I usually have attended Saturday morning and the sessions are less than half full, maybe an average of 30 people. I went on a Friday night at 5pm and there was a super low session of around 15. I went once to the Payson and Provo City Center Temples on Saturday mornings and they were each full. I acknowledge that they have less frequent sessions than Provo, but I have felt like many in the Provo District like to attend other temples. One person told me it was "still the house of the lord, but just not as good as his other ones." So, I'm sure they are preforming significantly less sealings now. Perhaps it has the same problem that Ogden had before its renovation. However the Provo Temple has remained having sessions every 20 minutes, unlike the Ogden and Jordan River Temples which were reduced to every 30 minutes. So There are still abundant temple Workers from its district.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the Philippines, there was a new ward created there in San Jose del Monte stake on December 11th that just got reported on LDS Church Temples.com yesterday. That is the only change in the Philippines reported yet this year, a small plus, but a plus and with only one Sunday so far this year nothing much has happened.

David Todd said...

I went to a fireside from the former temple president and matron of the Provo temple and they mentioned how many temple workers it takes to staff it. I wish I could remember the exact number, but I'm pretty sure it was 4000 or something near that. Also, I heard before the city center temple was dedicated in Provo that over 500 Sealings were already scheduled there, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Provo temple had a significant decrease in Sealings after the new temple was dedicated. Payson probably contributed a lot as well to the decrease.

James said...

Chris, as a former temple worker at the Mount Timpanogos Temple, I can answer to the questions of both how busy the temple has been since its creation, and also how busy it continues to be. First, though, let me address your initial question, in regards to how the transfer of the stakes from Orem has impacted the normal activity level at the Mount Timpanogos Temple. The answer is, it has not been detrimental. If anything, because of that transfer, the other stakes in the Mount Timp. Temple district have stepped up in a big way so as to compensate for any lack of activity that could have been caused by that transfer.
Also, because I have such close ties to the Mount Timp Temple thanks to not only my six year service period and meeting, serving with, dating and courting, and marrying my wife there, but also thanks to the fact that my own mother is now a temple worker herself. She works mainly with ordinance recording rather than as a regular ordinance worker. But in this, she is no less serviceable than my wife and I were in our responsibilities. But as to your question, since its dedication 20 years ago last September 20th, and continuing on through to the present (during which time period the three of us have served there), the Mount Timpanogos Temple was and continues to be to this day the busiest temple in Utah County next to the Provo Temple. In those terms, it may rank as one of the busiest temples also in the state of Utah and perhaps even in the United States as a nation. I would welcome correction on this point if I am wrong.
During the time spanning the service we all rendered, it has not been at all uncommon to have as few as 7 or less patrons in a session, with the biggest session to date having been jam-packed (with the approval and consent of the city fire marshall, who happened to be in attendance at that session) with a whopping 115-120 patrons. According to a comment made on my blog by one of my other regular readers, the fact of that temple being busy continues to be the case. The comment was made about the excessive size of the line that stretched from the temple chapel clear around the perimeter of the four ordinance rooms, and stretching down the stairs and even into the entrance hallway. If that's not a clear enough indicator of how very busy that temple is during a majority of the scheduled sessions, I don't know what else might do the job sufficiently.

James said...

As to the level of activity at the Provo temple, it continues to be, by all reports, the busiest temple of the Church. Take the busiest session I described above at the Mount Timp Temple and multiply that by pretty much every session the Provo temple offers, and you will begin to get the tiniest degree of understanding possible into how busy that temple is. I am sure that was one of the many factors which ultimately led to the decision to take the burnt-out Provo Tabernacle and rebuild it as the beautiful Provo City Center Temple. While the second Provo temple is reportedly less busy, the level of activity I have heard that is happening for the Provo City Center Temple makes it clear why a second temple for that city was so necessary.
In speaking of Payson, I reiterate my overwhelmed feeling of intense joy about the fact that there is now a temple there. Having been a resident of Payson in my boyhood years, I always felt sure that a temple would eventually be built there. I hoped for it most earnestly, but for a variety of reasons, I never thought it would happen during my lifetime. I was never more pleased to be proven wrong in that regard. I remember well my attendance at the open house for the completed temple. It was absolutely jam-packed! I hoped that this would indicate how the temple would be kept busy once dedicated. And this hope has proven to be justified. By one of those miraculous coincidences that have been very prevalent in my life, it happened that when my family moved to American Fork in 1999, we found a great dentist in Alpine. During a visit shortly thereafter, my family was very surprised to be greeted by the dental hygienist, who happened to be a very dear friend from our ward in Payson. Without fail since the dedication of the Payson temple, whenever I have visited with her during an appointment, she has been gracious enough to keep me informed on the level of attendance at the temple in question. And it too has been jam-packed. By her report, the attendance there exceeds the capacity of each session throughout most of the week. That is an absolute witness to me of the vital importance behind the decision of the Church to build the temple there.

James said...

Now, David, in response to what you said regarding another temple in northern Utah county, I have before expressed my opinion on that. Because the city of Lehi has had a building boom that has expanded its population considerably, (to say nothing of the fact that it happens to be my wife's hometown), I have no doubt or hesitation whatsoever in sharing my opinion that the next northern Utah County temple will be built in Lehi. As to the exact area it might be built, most of the latest developed land in Lehi surrounds the parcels of property owned by my father-in-law's land, somewhere in that same region may be a possible location for that purpose. It is a beautiful area to be sure. And that city, in view of leaders that some consider to be selfish and even somewhat corrupt, badly needs a temple to preserve the spirit surrounding what the city used to be. Some have suggested that a temple site is more likely to be located instead in the Eagle Mountain/Saratoga Springs area, which is growing fast as well, but I disagree. Of the two options, Lehi is the more likely possibility and would benefit more from it. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of temples one day being located in every major Utah County city, but Lehi seems to be the best candidate for Utah County's next temple.

James said...

Cory, as far as the Urdaneta temple site goes, the nature and specifics of the delay have not been made public. Because the reason for the delay is so unknown, it is almost impossible to tell how easy or difficult it might be to get the issues, whatever they may be, resolved. We have had temple announcements dropped before, temple sites relocated, and serious delays that took a lot of time to resolve. Until more is known, I personally am not comfortable with the idea of saying with any degree of certainty that the temple announcement is likely to be dropped. At this point, until we know more, it will have to be sufficient to drop it down several slots in terms of when construction might commence. In those terms, it still ranks above those that are still just in the planning stage. But it would not surprise me in the least if there was no resolution to these delays for the foreseeable future. However, in the same breath, I would never rule out the possibility of such delays being cleared up much more quickly than anyone might expect. Either has been known to happen before. Until more is known, that's the way I see it.

James said...

John, interesting tidbit about the Philippines ward created on December 11. While information on the LDS Church Temples site is added as it becomes available, sometimes that takes longer than others. It has been a most interesting process to watch how Church unit creations have been reported over time there. And that makes me look forward even more to whatever events we might see happen in terms of Church-related milestones (whether that involves unit growth, temple progress of all kinds, mission creations and realignments, or any other facet of LDS news and developments) during 2017. And hopefully my blog can be one of many resources to which others will look for information on such milestones. Thanks for sharing this most interesting development.

David, as far as your other comment, I have heard from so many people who shared your expressed opinion regarding how the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple would take away patrons from the Provo temple. It was likely in an effort to prevent that from happening that the Orem stakes were transferred to the Provo Temple. Again, from the reports I have heard from those who would know, by all accounts, the Provo temple is far and away still the busiest temple of the Church. And the Mount Timp. Temple runs it a close second. We are seeing an unprecedented era in terms of how busy the Utah county temples have become, and it is all too apparent that Utah County will need more temples as time goes on. And again, a temple in Lehi makes a lot of sense. FWIW, those are my thoughts.

David Todd said...

I never claimed the Provo temple was less busy. I live in its district and have several roommates who are temple workers. It is definitely still one of the if not the busiest in the church. I was only saying that less of the temple Sealings in the valley are happening there than before because the Payson and City Center temples seem more glamorous.

James said...

David, I never meant any offense, and I certainly hope none was taken. My intention was only to demonstrate what I personally had heard regarding the level of activity at these temples since such a question was directly specifically to me by L. Chris Jones in the comment above. I was basing my comments on what I heard. I think it's absolutely wonderful to hear that you have firsthand knowledge of how busy the first Provo temple is. Technically, my wife and I, no living in Orem, fall within the boundaries of the Provo Temple district. But the Provo City Center temple is closer to where we are living in Orem, and additionally, as I observed above, the Mount Timpanogos Temple will always and forever be "our temple" because it is where we met and were married. I thank you for your clarification. I learned a lot from your comment. And, as I have repeatedly observed, I always welcome hearing comments on my thoughts and observations from others who might have more information regarding certain things I comment on, both here and on my own blog. Thanks so much for the enlightening comment. As for me, I personally understand what you are saying in terms of people thinking that the Payson and Provo City Center temples might be more "glamorous" or "historically significant" in nature. But if there's one thing I've found that holds true all around, it's that certain temples may mean more to some people than others. For me, the Mount Timpanogos temple holds significance personally because of its role in my personal life. I love that the Church rebuilt the Provo Tabernacle as the Provo City Center Temple. The St. George temple is where my parents got married, as my dad was born and raised there. The operating temple in Johannesburg means a lot to me because my mother was born and raised there. The temple in Durban resides in another city she called home for several years before coming to the US on a "short vacation." I grew up in the Payson area and love that there's now a temple there. I have loved the French language all my life and was overjoyed about the announcement of the Paris France temple. And I have ties to the Rome Italy temple by virtue of the fact that a classmate from high school served his mission there, and at a time when he wrote to me of his discouragement about the lack of progress the Church was having, in my response, I felt to reassure him with the promise that I could see a temple in Rome happening within his lifetime and that he would live to see the fruits of his labors in the mission field. Because of all of these ties to temples around the world, I have a great love for these houses of the Lord, wherever they may be. And because of that love, I have felt a great responsibility to share my musings about temples on my blog with as much frequency as I feel is necessary. Again, thank you for your thoughts. They meant a lot to me personally. I meant no offense at all and hope none was taken. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Eduardo Clinch said...

It's interesting to consider our feelings toward each temple, which hold significance almost as manifestations of how we may love the Lord and His message and the Prophets and His works.
I wonder, speaking for depictions of the ancient temples of Israel, if other visitors' centers like the DC Temple have recreated models displayed of the original temples of the Bible?
Also, I think the years running for each temple is interesting, back to the mobile sanctuary or the Temple of Zerubbabel or Herod,contrasted now with Salt Lake or London or Lima.

Eduardo Clinch said...

It would also be good to consider the lifespans of the Book of Mormon temples, like in Bountiful. Did it have like a 300 year run?

Christopher Nicholson said...

I think the Provo Temple should undergo a renovation similar to the Ogden Temple that used to have the same design. With no disrespect intended to its sacred functions, it's hideous. I can see why people would rather get sealed in the Provo City Center Temple, which is gorgeous.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I did my endowments in the Provo Temple, and call me biased, but I think it is a beautiful ediface. Seeing it at night from across the valley in Orem was also a pleasant memory.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I am glad we all have different subjectivities.
The Santiago, Chile Temple is the plainest Jane of the whole lot, in my opinion. But it is still holy and worthy of merit.

Bryce .Gillespie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryce .Gillespie said...

I haven't been to the prove temple but I have been to the city center temple. And I don'tknow the city all that will only spending 3days there this summer for mission reunion, but it seems like the city center temple is easy to get to then the prove temple.
And being in downtown is a bonus for thoses who went to make a date out of it.

Kenny said...

The biggest issue with the Provo and old Ogden Temples was simply the missed meaning behind their designs. They were to be clouds with a pilar of fire as was true with the tabernacle in the wilderness. The Lord was over the tabernacle in a cloud by day and a pilar of fire by night. When the cloud moved the Isrealites moved. Knowing that symbolism makes me hope the church never changes the Provo Temple. Though some of that has been lost with the spire being painted white and is no longer golden so an Angel Moroni could be placed on top.

James said...

My wife and I were both devastated when, as part of the renovation of the Ogden temple, the design was modernized to bring it more in conformity with other recently constructed temples around the world. The previous design was unique in nature. However, in the same breath, I will freely admit that I don't know all of the reasons that the redesign became necessary. They wouldn't have changed things so much if it wasn't either necessary or, more importantly, the Lord's will. Now the Provo temple stands as the last one with such a unique design, as far as I know. I hope that temple is never renovated. Speaking of temples being renovated, I wanted to get a discussion going here on the subject of which temples might reasonably be predicted to have a renovation done. If no other temples begin being renovated before then, we will have no further renovations for a while after the rededication of the Frankfurt Germany temple, which is anticipated to happen sometime between the early and middle part of next year. While I have been known for religiously following and reporting on temple construction progress, and while I have thoroughly studied to try and determine when future events might be announced and scheduled, and to even offer my ideas about what future temples might be announced soon, I am not nearly as familiar with the factors involved in determining which temples might need renovating and when. I welcome thoughts about that. Thanks for the continuing discussion.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

I would thank in the next 10 years or so some of the temples bullet by prisdent Hinckley would be expended to hold a greater number of patterns.

Ryan Searcy said...

I agree, the Provo Temple should not be changed (unless of course the Lord requires it). I really like the design and symbolism behind it. One good thing about the Ogden renovation is that it makes the Provo Temple a truly unique temple, and increases the value in its design. It would be a shame to lose it.

Pascal Friedmann said...

One of the main reasons why the Ogden Temple was entirely redesigned was earthquake security. As an Ogden resident, I am aware that the city is a geological mess of fault lines - especially, but not exclusively, on the benches. I am not certain if the old temple (or, very many of the other structures in Ogden, to be honest) would survive a major earthquake. With the new design, I feel pretty confident to about magnitude 7.0 or so. It is very robust by design.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I did my endowments in the Provo Temple, and call me biased, but I think it is a beautiful ediface. Seeing it at night from across the valley in Orem was also a pleasant memory.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I am glad we all have different subjectivities.
The Santiago, Chile Temple is the plainest Jane of the whole lot, in my opinion. But it is still holy and worthy of merit.

Johnathan Whiting said...

A rumor I heard about the Ogden Temple (I believe I heard this from some temple engineers last year when I was volunteering to do some repainting and cleaning in the Ogden Temple for my stake).

I was told that couples were eschewing getting married in the old Ogden Temple because they considered the design ugly (especially for wedding pics). They preferred instead to go to Salt Lake and to other more "beautiful" temples to get sealed. The Church decided to rebuild the temple in order to encourage couples to get married at their local temple in Ogden.

Another reason (not a rumor) that I read in the Church News about the renovation, was that the church wanted to "revitalize downtown Ogden." This reason I can attest to, as it's one of the only towns in Utah that I've visited or lived in that is the butt of a lot of jokes. The downtown is pretty rundown (comparatively). The town has an old west frontier/railroad feel to it more reminiscent to me of towns I've visited/lived in in Idaho or Montana. Even my brother doesn't want to live here because of the weird reputation other Utahns (mostly white middle-class suburbanites in my experience) give to Ogden.

That said, I like living in Ogden. I approve the Church's decision to upgrade the Ogden Temple in order to revitalize the downtown. Based on some architecture changes to the surrounding area, and the beauty of the Ogden Temple grounds themselves, I believe it was an inspired and so far successful decision.

As far as the old design is concerned:

I have always liked and defended the design of the old Ogden Temple and the Provo Temple. As listed above by others, the design is a metaphor for the ancient Jewish tabernacle. Also, the uniqueness of design adds a refreshing modern-designed tone to a Church that has many cookie-cutter boxy edifices. As an artist, I personally like the variety the Provo Temple adds.

However, I can see why some would consider it ugly. Aside from the scriptural metaphor, the building kind of looks like a giant cake or spaceship with a candle on top. (I've sometimes even semi-blasphemously joked about the "saucer-section" of the Provo Temple taking off. Yes, I know, I'm a terrible person. ;)). Of the two, the Ogden always looked slightly tackier. The designs on the "saucer-section" of the old Ogden Temple somehow made it seem eternally stuck in the 1970's. I understand why some would want to get married in a more fairy tale, majestic, castle-like structure such as the Salt Lake, San Diego, or Manti Temples.

As far as the new Ogden temple is concerned, I am a huge fan of the Art Nouveau elements in it's design. To me, it seems like a step up as a landmark, though I kind of do miss the kitchiness of the old design just for uniqueness' and nostalgia's sake. If they ever do upgrade or renovate the old Provo Temple, I hope they at least make some nod to the old design elements, and maybe even find a way to keep some of the Biblical metaphor of the cloud and pillar in its design.

If anyone is interested in learning a little more about the Ogden Temple's renovation history, here is an interesting post I found:

http://ogdeninsights.blogspot.com/2010/02/rebirth-ogden-temple-to-be-rebuilt.html

P.S. I didn't even know about the Old Victorian-style Ogden Tabernacle until now! I wish they could have incorporated some of those elements into the original design!

L. Chris Jones said...

I anticipate that some of those smaller design temples will be expanded. President Hinkley stated during his announcments of them. But many are on smaller lots with little room for expansion. But we could potentially purchase agacent lots.

Michael Worley said...

Anyone know of any Missions that will be created/consolidated this year? They could keep everything the same.

James said...

Great comments about the reasons, purpose, and intention behind the renovation of the Ogden Temple. To me, a temple is a temple, and regardless of the design, they are all sacred houses of the Lord. However, I can understand how some might feel that original designs are "an eyesore" and not aesthetically pleasing. But it was good to hear the knowledge shared here. Much of what was said in that regard was not known to me before now. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Michael, as to your inquiry about the creation/consolidation of missions this year, it may still be too early to tell what, if any, changes have been made in that regard. In an earlier comment, Matt reported that new missions and mission presidents would likely be announced early this year. As we are only 8 days into the new year, to say nothing of the two spiritual giants we lost at the end of 2016 (Bruce D. Porter and Glen L. Rudd), it is understandable, in my opinion, that the Church has yet to announce those changes.

However, that being said, on the Church's website, one of the featured articles on the main page is about how the Utah Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission took effect on January 1. So that makes that mission the first one created in 2017, even though its creation was announced towards the end of last year. I imagine that once the Church has had time to sufficiently celebrate the lives of the men who passed away, such changes will be announced.

I am equally certain that we will soon hear news of how the Europe East Area Presidency was reorganized following the release of Elder Porter at the beginning of December. Also certain are near-future announcements for the temple site in Harare Zimbabwe, and of groundbreakings for both Arequipa Peru and Harare. As I have said before, while I can't vouch for how fast Matt and Rick may be able to report on these things once they happen, I at least will be keeping my eyes and ears open for all such developments, and you can be sure to find every announcement in a prominent place on my blog. Hope that helps.

Michael Worley said...

Great summary James. Thanks.

James said...

My pleasure, Michael! On a personal note, I would say that I am like you. In matters like this, I get frustrated and impatient and start champing at the proverbial bit in my anticipation and intense longing to hear more about this news. And what makes it really hard to wait in my case is that I have among my many acquaintances and friends those who have an inside track on such things and hear of the changes through the grapevine. However, because of the nature of their knowledge of these things and because of the fact that they are not at liberty to reveal details of those changes until they are made official (which I totally get because of past experiences where I've had to sign a confidentiality agreement), all that they can tell me is that such changes are in the works or have been made, and that an announcement of such information will happen very shortly. I don't know how much of an inside track Matt and Rick may have in regards to Church growth and temple developments respectively. But, as I observed in my comment above, Matt commented on an earlier thread that the announcement of those changes in missions (new creations and boundary realignments and new mission presidents) will be announced very soon. In looking at what has historically happened in years past, it seems such changes are usually made known within the first half of January, if not before. The last few years, the announcement has been made around roughly this time in January, but I honestly can't say how or if the deaths of Elders Rudd and Porter might have factored into that. Area presidency assignment changes for each year are typically announced in late April or early May of each year, taking effect on August 1. The obvious exceptions to that rule come into play in cases like the reassignment of Elder Porter subsequent to his death. That area presidency change happened in early December, as I have before noted, but it is anyone's guess how soon that change may be officially known. As for temple events, Rick Satterfield has indicated on my blog that we may consider the groundbreaking announcement in Arequipa Peru to be more imminent than the site and subsequent groundbreaking announcements for the temple in Harare Zimbabwe. However, with those announcements, I would not be at all surprised if such was made known for both temples before the end of this month. Hopefully this additional information is also helpful to you. Thanks, Michael, for giving me a chance to share what I know from observation and experience.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think top candidates for missions are Malawi, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ivory Coast Yamousoukrou and a seperate mission covering Rwanda and Burundi. While I would love to see Papua New Guinea get a 3rd mission, I don't see that happening this year, but I could be wrong. I think Nigeria could easily get an additional mission, maybe either splitting the Lagos Mission, or making one out of parts of Lagos and Enugu. Enugu Mission takes in probably 80% of the population of Nigeria, at least 75%. Although much of that area the Church has no presence, the Church has presence in large parts of that mission and there are other areas in it where the Church could extend its presence.

I would not be surprised if a mission in Russia is discontinued, but hope not. It would be nice to see a 2nd mission in Indonesia, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. A 3rd mission in India is a little more likely, but I would be surprised if this year is the one that it happens.

I could see an Austin and or a Plano Mission organized in Texas. Houston has 3 missions while metro-Dallas with more people only has 2. There is an outside possibility that the Hartford Mission will be reorganized, but that would surprise me. There might be potential for an additional mission in Brazil, but I have not looked into the growth factors enough to place it clearly. I think maybe Matto Grosso do Sul State does not have a mission and has seen population and Church growth at a level that might justify one.

Cambodia is another outside candidate for a second mission. Even though its 15 million people is well below the 67 million in Thailand, the Church has had quite a bit of success in Cambodia. An additional mission organized in Myanmar is also a possibility, although maybe not this year.

It would also be nice if Sri Lanka with 20 million people could have a seperate mission instead of being part of the India Banglore Mission. However with the militantly Buddhist government in Sri Lanka and its strong antagonism towards Christian missionaries a change in the LDS status in that nation seems unlikely soon. However a year ago I would not have predicted a mission in Vietnam, so who knows.

While a 4th mission in the DR Congo would be wonderful, I am thinking making Burundi part of a seperate mission will come before DR Congo gets another mission. Kisangani would be a good candidate for another mission in DR Congo. It is the 3rd largest city in DR Congo and the largest in the whole north of the country. I would love to see a mission organized there this year. That would be an extremely bold move and show a vision of growth for the DR Congo and Africa, especially Africa Southeast area in general.

The thing is, A Kisangani mission would most logically have that as the only current branch when organized. I have no way to know if there are many groups in the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission branch in the north of Congo. I think a mission could be organized there, and it would be a good move for Church growth.

On the Rwanda/Burundi Mission, it might make sense for such a mission to include Uvira in the DR Congo as well. DR Congo has 81 million people, and 3 mission, one of which also includes Burundi. Ghana has 27 million people, 4 missions, and still has areas in the east of the country, and the north west that the Church has no brnaches in, in fact probably over half the area of the Ghana Kumasi Mission is in the Mission branch.

John Pack Lambert said...

I expect us to have the announcement of new missions in about a week, but some may not be made until a little latter. Same with announcements of new mission presidents.

James said...
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James said...

John, excellent thoughts as always. I find this subject most interesting. I have loved the thoughts Matt gave on this matter, and I have loved yours. As I have before observed, when it comes to general ideas about Church growth developments, Matt seems to have the sixth sense on such things. I have loved watching how accurate his predictions have been. The same is true for Rick's instinctive nature in terms of temple developments. I have always loved hearing from both of them regarding my thoughts, such as they have been, on all facets of Church developments. And if I do say so myself, if I am like them at all in the sense of having a sixth sense, mine seems to be in terms of future temple developments and timelines, and also in regards to General Conference speaking patterns, changes in Church leadership, end of the year statistics (included once a year in my April conference predictions) and future temple announcements. As I noted, while I was blown away by and couldn't have properly or adequately have predicted or anticipated the three locations that had a temple site announced in April 2015, for my April 2016 choices, I had the exact location nailed for two of the four (Harare Zimbabwe and Quito Ecuador) and the wrong city but the right nation for the other two (I correctly predicted Brazil and Peru, but I was mistaken about the exact location). And it seems that with every general conference prediction I have made, I am getting better and more accurate each time. On average, my predictions have run between 60-80% in terms of correctness. That's not bad at all. And the improvement percentage keeps increasing. I can never aspire to 100% accuracy, but I will take what I can get. In point of fact, in preparation for the General Conference we will have in April, I have assembled my predictions already. The only thing I'm not sure of is how exact and accurate my predictions for 2016 year-end statistics are. Some things, like the exact number of Church units (stakes, missions, districts, wards and branches, temples dedicated and rededicated, and the total number of temples in operation) are easily ascertained by the information on the LDS Church Temples website and from this blog. But for things like the number of full-time and service missionaries, the increase in children of record, the number of convert baptism, and the total Church membership, it's anyone's guess how accurate the numbers I have calculated may be. I can't wait to see just how right or wrong I may be on these things. And, like I say, if there is enough demand for them as expressed via the comments either here or on my blog posts themselves, I may open these projected statistics for comment, correction, and suggestion. Thanks for letting me ramble. I love the fact that so much progress is being made around the world. And, though it's true (as I indicated above) that by the time this date rolled around in past years, new missions and mission president assignments had already been announced, the deaths of Elders Rudd and Porter mean that a lot of the announcements may have been put on hold to allow a proper period of life celebration and commemoration for these two men. I can't verify that belief by any source now available. It's just my impression. Thanks again.

Christopher Nicholson said...

A new ward was organized in the Philippines in December that wasn't reported until this year. We've heard multiple times that several Latin American countries are focusing on getting larger wards, and are getting a more appropriate number of active members in wards that were barely able to keep functioning, so I wouldn't be surprised if something similar is going on in the Philippines, which of course has also historically had abysmal convert retention and activity.

There is an Indian student at USU who joined the Church and is in my ward. Yesterday he taught Elders' Quorum. He talked about how, even before joining the Church, he felt that drinking and smoking were wrong and didn't do it even though they were very widespread in his culture, and so when he heard the gospel it just clicked that this was the reason for what he had already known. He said he has a group of friends back in India who were the same way and he's going to share the Book of Mormon with them when he goes back to visit.

Croft Payne said...

The Shreveport Louisiana stake just had a ward created and a branch reinstated. It now has 8 wards and 3 branches. That seems to me like the stake could be split. Does anyone else agree? It would be exciting if Louisiana had another stake created because the most recently created right now was organized in 1985.

Johnathan Whiting said...


Interesting article about an elderly Church Service Mission couple who just keep on serving:


https://www.lds.org/callings/missionary/church-service-missionary/csm-stories/the-gatrells?lang=eng

Ryan Searcy said...

Looks like we already have a stake discontinuation for this year - the Guatemala City Alameda Stake.

James said...

Christopher, that was a most interesting tidbit from you about the new ward in the Philippines. It will be interesting to see the Church growth developments that happen this year. I loved your story about the Indian student and his experiences. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Croft, interesting thoughts about the stake that might split. I agree that it would be a good candidate for another stake, if that is the Lord's will in this case. However, I know of several stakes in the Church with a larger number of units that might be more likely to have another stake formed before the one you are suggesting. That said, if there's one thing I have learned via observation about Church unit growth, it is that such developments are in the Lord's hands, and that His way of thinking and doing things in His Church is so vastly different from the way anyone else thinks it should be done. For that reason, I don't feel personally confident enough to venture an opinion one way or another on this matter. Either way, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Jonathan, what a wonderful and amazing example this couple has set in terms of service in the Lord's kingdom. If I can be even partially as involved in the furthering of the Lord's work when I am their age, I will consider myself most lucky. Thanks for sharing that amazing account, Absolutely loved reading it.

It seems as though, in spite of the fact that we are only 9 days into 2017, landmark developments are taking place with the Lord's Church. And we are most blessed to be witnesses of all the wonderful things that are happening in that regard. Hopefully between the labors of love maintained by Matt, Rick, and (if I may be so bold) myself, the world can be kept informed about all of these very important things that are happening with the Church throughout this year. If I can be even in a small part as successful in this regard as Matt and Rick have been, it will be more than I can ask for. Thanks again for the ongoing discussion. Loving it.

James said...

Ryan, that is an interesting tidbit. Thanks. I had not been aware of that. Though Matt has yet to report on this, it appears that Rick has. And while no date has been specified, I imagine that was just this last week. I will await developments on this front. One thing I am wondering: in view of the health issues my wife and I have been having, our Church attendance has not been very good lately. The last time we were in a Sacrament Meeting was, I think, in November, if not earlier than that. Anyways, we had a visit from our home teachers last night. They told us something we had not been aware of: apparently, in view of New Year's Day being on a Sunday, our stake elected to have Fast Sunday yesterday instead. Apparently that was an option available worldwide. What I'm wondering is how many stakes in the Church might have done as ours did? Any thoughts in this regard would be appreciated. In the meantime, on the issue of the discontinued stake, I imagine that this will be reported on this blog within the next week or so, and that a more specific date will be added on the LDS Church Temples website report of it before too much longer. Thanks again.

Ryan Searcy said...

The ward I'm in (YSA) had Fast Sunday on the 8th only because of a New Year's Dance on Saturday Night that included breakfast after midnight.

I have actually thought a lot about the possibility of the Shreveport Stake splitting. Texarkana could be a good candidate for a new stake, as it could involve congregations from other stakes as well.

Levi said...

The family branch that we just moved into had fast Sunday on New Years. Even though rest of the stake had fast Sunday omN the 8th.

John Pack Lambert said...

Not only that but Louisiana lost a stake after Katrina. Here in Michigan our most recent stake was formed in 1979. Traverse City might be close to being made a stake but sadly we are not close to getting an additional stake in metro Detroit. With the number of baptisms we had in Detroit in the 1990s we should have gotten another stake by now. However retention has not been what it should be.

John Pack Lambert said...

I dont mean to seem down. Many things are looking up. I know multiple people who were baptized in Detroit in the 1990s who were inactive for long periods of time who are now active. My girlfriends branch now has enough high priests the high priests will meet seperately from the elders once a quarter. I know an African-American sister from Detroit (ok she is my girlfriends roommate) who joined the church at 18, served a mission and is about to get married in the temple. True she may be the only person to have ever left on a mission from Belle Isle Branch. Things are looking up but I still wish they would look up more. In Detroit there is one place with two Jehovah Witnesses Kingdom Halls side by side. I wish we could have a deeper LDS presence in the city.

John Pack Lambert said...

I know my home ward and the branch my girlfriend is in did fast Sunday on the 8th. I am not definitively sure about anywhere else in my stake. My stake used to have an everyone 14+ dance on New Years Eve. I wish they still did.

James said...

Ryan and Levi, excellent comments. Nice to hear your feedback on my question. John, cheer up. Think of areas you have been in as being in different phases of Church history. Some, as we have seen by experience, are in the New York phase, as it's been termed. Others are in the Kirtland phase. Still others fall under the Missouri phase or the Nauvoo phase. And still others fall under the category of what has been termed the Salt Lake Valley phase. If there's one thing I know for certain in regards to Church growth, it is this: the Lord has different timetables in mind when determining the progress of all areas of the world towards the furthering of the gospel. And wherever your labor in the kingdom takes you, you can keep your head up and take comfort in the sure and certain knowledge that the Lord is at the helm. it is His work, and it progresses according to His wisdom and timing. Just think of it. Isn't it thrilling> The Church is now expanding into areas that, heretofore, have had a small or nonexistent Church presence. And who can forget the Lord's words when he said that His ways are higher than our ways? Even those areas that currently struggle in terms of Church presence will one day thrive. There is a reason Brother Joseph so clearly saw the Church rolling forth to fill the whole earth. While that happens at differing rates for different parts of the world, the Lord is mindful of His Church and the lives of His people. And in his wisdom, He hastens His work in its time. The pacing of that hastening is in the Lord's control. When He wills it to be so, miracles happen. Doors are open. Walls come down. And the gospel moves forward. If the progress of the Church in your area is discouraging, please know that he Lord may be giving you an opportunity to further the work in your own field. Maybe that can best be done by comments on other people's blogs. For those like Matt, Rick, and myself, we feel to keep the world informed of developments about the Church we love. Right now, though my blog is getting more traffic than it ever has, I sometimes get discouraged that it is not yet as successful as I hope it will be. And yet, in so many ways, it has become so much more popular than I ever could have believed. It was only very recently when a comment on one of my posts from someone who would know alerted me to the fact that my blog ranks among the top Google search results for all temple-related news and developments. When I started reporting on that subject, I could never have imagined or hoped to achieve that level of success. And so, even though I do get discouraged at times, I look forward, never backward. And I feel to rejoice if I ever find out that my musings, such as they have been, have had an impact on just one person. Maybe your role in all of this is different from the one the Lord has led me to. That I don't know. But I know that you can find out for yourself what that will entail for you personally. I did, and the results, such as they are, speak for themselves. Does that help you at all?

Rolf said...

Take a look at this article about LDS mission presidents:
http://utahvalley360.com/2017/01/05/a-look-at-lds-mission-presidents-6-interesting-stats/

Johnathan Whiting said...

Our ward in Ogden did Fast Sunday on the 8th, so did my brother's ward in South Jordan.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

The whole Panama city FL stack was in the 8th as will.

Gnesileah said...

The Billings Montana Stake observed Fast Sunday on the 8th too. I would venture most of the Church did, with exceptions here and there. I remember we did the same thing in the Gilbert Arizona Stapley Stake in 2012 and 2006, and in the Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake in 1995.

L. Chris Jones said...

Church was closed for us on Christmas day due to weather. Our ward choir held the Christmas program on the 1st. We had fast Sunday this week.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

Do you live in Billings? I saved in the Billings mission from 2013-2015

James said...

Rolf, that is a most interesting article detailing information about mission presidents that I had not heard before. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Thanks to all who have shared their experiences regarding how your local units handled Fast Sunday in terms of the usual day of the month being New Year's Day. I can't honestly remember if that held true for my stakes growing up. I will have to ask my parents about that. Really fascinating to discuss.

Bryce, I am assuming (but not sure) that your comment above was in response to the one posted by Gnesileah. If she is confused on that point, it might be best to redirect the comment to her. As for me, I have a close friend of the family who has lived in Montana for quite a while (though I am not sure if her family is still there now). Montana seems to be fast-growing in terms of Church presence. I can definitely understand the idea behind Elder Bednar's informal proposal for a temple in Missoula. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens regarding the idea of a temple there.

On another note, I do see that, while Matt has yet to do a formal blog post this year, he has posted information on the sidebar about the discontinuation of the Guatemala City Alameda Stake. He is also reporting in that sidebar that it appears that another stake is set to be created in April for the DR Congo (in the Ruashi region). I wonder how soon we might hear reports of the first stake creations in 2017.

FWIW, I am still keeping an eye out for any new missions to be announced and for the 2017 mission president assignments to be made known. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later. More to come as I hear of it.

Also, I may have been slightly more optimistic than I should have been regarding the timeline by which the future temples in Harare Zimbabwe and Arequipa Peru may have a groundbreaking announcement. Still no word yet on the site location for Zimbabwe's temple.

Thanks for wading through this. I always appreciate hearing other's thoughts, and hopefully, there are those out there who enjoy reading mine. Thanks again to you all.

Levi said...

Here's something of note. In the branch that we just moved into that is part of the Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake, it was transfer week for the missionaries. Both are being transferred and the area is being closed. This is because the Omaha Nebraska Mission only received 3 missionaries while having 18 going home. Have any of the rest of you seen similar phenomenon occurring In Your own areas? Is it the last bit of the drawdown from the age lowering bulge?

Gnesileah said...

Bryce, yes I presently live in Billings, same ward as the mission home. I actually recall hearing a senior missionary once speak about a young elder from Panama City with an amazing personal story. That must have been you!

Montana presently has 84 wards and 40 branches, plus portions of 10 others wards and branches from adjacent states and provinces. Of the 124 Montana units:
- 4 are YSA
- 1 is for a correctional facility*
- 119 are family units
- All have English as their primary language

Since 9/1/2009 (the date I began keeping track of all U.S. units), we've had:
- 5 new wards created
- 1 new branch
- 3 branches upgraded into wards
- 2 wards discontinued

Trivia Question -- what is the only type of branch that is led by a bishop? Answer: a correctional facility branch. The First Presidency has authorized select correctional facility branches to be led by bishops rather than branch presidents. There are presently 114 correctional facility branches, located in 12 U.S. states. Only 11 are led by bishops. (http://bit.ly/2jg83rc)

P.S. James, I am male. Gnesileah is just the name of a language I made up.

John Pack Lambert said...

I noticed the listing of a new stake for Ruashi in DR Congo with an anticipated organization date of April. Ruashi is a mine about 6 miles from Lumbumbashi. I assume this would be about where the stake would be.

John Pack Lambert said...

So with 34% of mission presidents being from Utah, but only about 1/6th of the Church living in Utah, Utah is over represented by about twice. However there are complex factors at play. Actually, with barely over 2 million Church members, Utah is more like at 1/7. So hopefully the percentage of mission presidents from Utah will decline.

My general impression is that it has.

John Pack Lambert said...

Lynn A. Sorensen, who was a general authority, just died. He was possibly the American Church leader who spent the most time in Brazil. He was a missionary, mission president, director of temporal affairs for the LDS Church there for 3 years, in the area presidency, and the first president of the Porto Alegre Temple. He probably spent at least 12 years of his life in Brazil.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Adzope Ivory Coast District is up to 11 branches, one of which is the District Branch which may indicate it covers multiple groups. That is a lot for a district. The district was only formed on Feb. 21 of last year. It would be nice to see it made a stake, but it might be split in two first, and then the two new units progress to being stakes. I have a feeling this will be another exciting year of growth in Ivory Coast.

James said...

Levi, that is interesting, to be sure. I have not heard of that happening before anywhere in my area, but then I was born and have been raised in Utah as a lifelong citizen of the state. It is almost unheard of, in my opinion. for something like that to happen in Utah. I can't say it never has, but I haven't heard of it personally. I do imagine that any reduction in missionary force is because we have seen the peak of the results of the change of missionary age. I have heard we have had a reduced force of missionaries for that reason. And, since I have done the research to back this up, I can say that, through observation, I know that the number of full-time missionaries has seemed to plummet in recent years. What else could that be due to if not the fact that it's been long enough for the initial ripple effect to no longer be happening? These are just my musings. As a qualifier for this opinion, I would just share the fact that I have closely monitored the statistics of the Church for many years, and I have seen recently a decrease in the number of full-time missionaries. I always hope to hear that it has rebounded and that the numbers will be more like they were after the missionary age was lowered, but I've not seen evidence of that happening. FWIW, that's my opinion, such as it is.

James said...

Gnesileah, sorry about that confusion on my part. That makes twice today I have incorrectly identified someone as a woman when they were both males. One of those occurrences happened at work. In both cases, as I'm sure you can imagine, I felt incredibly stupid. My apologies. No offense meant. Hope you know that. Cool tidbit about your blogger name being the name of a language you made up. I remember doing something similar growing up, but I never maintained it, so it was lost. Hope you don't make the same mistake in relation to your made-up language. It's something I have regretted for years. I do enjoy the insight you shared in your post, though, and I thank you for it.

John, as I have before said (perhaps on this very thread), I can always count on your thoughtful comments here, and your feedback is something to which I always look forward. I was also intrigued by the announced future creation of the stake in the DR Congo. It will be interesting to see future growth in that nation. Just in the last year, there has been more than sufficient growth in that nation to warrant another temple. And one such site has been proposed for the Kasai region. That was done early in 2016 by Elder Neil L. Andersen. I could see it happening soon. Although it is anyone's guess as to if that might happen before the temple in Kinshasa is completed. As for my personal opinion, I am torn on the subject. I can see the pros and cons for and against doing so. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me either way.

As to your continuing comments regarding mission presidents, as I said, it is interesting to consider all the factors involved. If it has not happened already, I think we can be assured of such a decline in the number of mission presidents from Utah. This has not been strictly a "Utah" church for about a century, if not longer. And the growth reported in the last year is a testament to the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. As that happens, I am sure we will see a great decline in the percentage of mission presidents coming from Utah.

Sad news indeed about Elder Sorensen. By all reports, we lost another great man in the Lord's kingdom. It is hard to think about the great ones that have passed away over the years. Elder Sorensen served long enough to leave a lasting imprint on the Church that will not soon be forgotten. I will have to blog about this later as time allows.

And, John, if I may say so, I certainly share your hopes regarding 2017 being another great year of growth for the Ivory Coast. I have heard from some who are saying that the growth of the Church in the Ivory Coast is sufficient enough for the Church to justify another temple or two there, but I honestly don't see that coming to pass until at least the time when the Abidjan temple is under construction, whenever that might be.

Excellent thoughts all around, guys, as always. Thanks for the continuing discussion. I feel enlightened and greatly inspired by it all.

Levi said...

My anecdote of the current situation is opposite of what it was when I came home in early 2013, 3 of us went home but 28 came in that transfer. Part of it may just be this transfer cycle. Replacents may show up next transfer from bulge of missionaries going to the MTC after Christmas and going to school this last fall semester.

Levi said...

At LDS Church Temples, it says that there is a total of 22944 wards in the world and 4743 wards in Utah. So about 21% of the Wards are based in Utah. I know I'm not counting branches, where there is a greater share of presence outside the United States, but the standards for creating wards and stakes is higher in the United States, resulting in a smaller share of wards for Utah. So, I would say 34% is not too far out of line.

James said...

Interesting, as always. Thanks for that information, Levi! I enjoy talking about and considering Church growth and the factors and statistics involved with all of that. I have said it before and I will say it again in the future, it is awesome to consider how much the Church has grown in the last year, and 2017 is on track to indicate historic future growth in all aspects of the work. How wonderful it is that we are able to be eyewitnesses to the process of Church growth and the unnumbered factors involved in all of that. I love considering these things. Thanks again for sharing this information with me, Levi!

Mike Johnson said...

I don't think it is that relevant that some percentage of mission presidents come from Utah a percentage that is somewhat higher than the nominal membership percentage.

The pool of available members who could be mission presidents is much smaller than the nominal membership. It is generally men between about 45 to 65 (a few outliers outside these ages) that have had many years of experience in wards and stakes (most have been stake presidents) and who are in a position to leave their careers behind for three years. In many countries, the Church has grow so rapidly that very few members have several decades of experience.

Despite the Church's clear position for people to build up Zion in their own countries, Utah continues to be a land with lots of people from all over the world.

For me, every time a mission president is called from countries outside of a core set of countries, I get excited at the sign that the Church is taking such root in that area. Trying to play a quota game trying to track some notion of progress on irrelevant numbers only cheapens that in my opinion.

Adam said...

An interesting stat from the article that Jonathan posted was that 25% of the mission presidents were working for the church when they were called. When you think of paid institute teachers, professors, higher-up MTC employees, anyone else at church HQ, etc., the bulk are found in Utah. This probably helps tilt the number in Utah's direction. There's also the common thought that taking a stake president out of Cambodia to be a mission president might hurt the country more than just having an imported American. Utah doesn't lose much when they export members.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

Yes that elder was me.
I thank I may of been to your home once I remember that I was talking to some one about this blog and courch growth when I saved in the Shiloh and was on a exchange, anther elder in his ward,
I also was in mornad and blue Creek word's for some time after that.

John Pack Lambert said...

I actually expect Lumbumbashi to get a temple before the Kasai region. Interestingly enough Lumbumbashi although in DR Congo will probably be assigned to the Harare Zimbabwe Temple since that is significantly less travel time than to Kinshasa.

John Pack Lambert said...

It is worth noting that for example Haiti, where the last 3 of so mission presidents have all been from Haiti, has seen a mission president called in his late 20s. I believe his last name was Joseph. He was the mission president when the huge earthquake happened. At the time his wife was in Florida having a child.

I would put the minimum age for mission presidents at more like 40, with a few younger. Still I believe last year when a Tongan was called as mission president in Zambia was the first time a Tongan was called as mission president anywhere but Tonga. Also, I think Elder Michael J. U. Teh, the president of one of the missions in Taiwan, may have been counted as one of the Utah Mission Presidents in the report. I am assuming they based it on place of residence when called not place of birth. However Elder Teh was only living in Utah because he was a general authority assigned to work out of Church headquarters. True he is the only example of such among the presence general authorities, but location called from is not always a long term place of residence.

My mission president had never been a bishop or stake president. I once had a stake president who had previously been a mission president. My mission president had been a counselor in a stake presidency. Mission presidents also need to have wives who are firm in the faith. I really can not see a bishop or stake president called with that not being the case, but I have known single men who served as branch presidents.

John Pack Lambert said...

A lot of the full-time Church employees who become mission presidents are actually from outside the US.

OK, I did my search to get the article on Alexander A. Odume, the former temple president and area seventy who is now president of the Benin City Nigeria Mission, the city where he was also the 1st stake president back starting in 1993. We start with a Utah businessman, followed by a Brazilian who is said to be " Partner, Colleoni & Associados. " That sounds like a businessman, unless that is a lawfirm, then he would be a lawyer. The 3rd is a pre-field services manager for the missionary department living in Utah, the next is a general contractor living in Utah (I guess this counts as another of the 51% businessmen, maybe, but why are lawyers counted as law and general contractors not counted as construction trades?), the next is mayor pro tem of a city in California and a dentist, Brother Odume was living in Nigeria and working as the Area Welfare Specialist for the Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric, the next was the executive director of a research and business development center in Idaho, the last, Peter Vidmar, was a member of the executive committee of the International Gymnastics Committee. So 2 of 8, or 25% were LDS Church employees, and half those were from Utah.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Lee Shumway from Denver recently was called as a new mission president; I think he is listed as a CEO, i.e. doing pretty well financially.
I don't know if any missions have been announced yet, or their presidents.
Utah deserves its presidents called in many ways, but I understand the need to have presidents from other areas.
Callings can be considered political or socio-economic, which to degree they inherently are, but faithful members take in stride that priesthood authorities in their respective stewardships are inspired by God to call the right anointed.
It is good to see the expansion and diversity of the leaders, however.
Any other presidents identified yet?

John Pack Lambert said...

I did the other way of starting with the most recent report from last June and working back. The first I found who was an LDS Church employee was the director of CES for Utah South Area, followed by manager of the MTC in Bogota, Colombia. then the international security manager for the Africa West Area. The third lived in Lagos where the Africa West Area is headquartered but is actually a native of Abia State, which is where Aba and Nigeria's one temple is. His home town appears to be a branch in the Okpuala Ngwa Nigeria Stake. He was sent to the Enugu Mission, so unlike President Odume President Nmeribe does not preside over his home town, since it is in the Port Harcourt Mission if I figured things right. Enugu however is the mission that covers the northern 2/3rds or more of Nigeria, and is probably the mission in Nigeria where having a sense of keeping people secure matters the most. The mission includes the areas where Boko Haram operates, although no missionaries are in those areas.

James said...

This continues to be a most illuminating discussion. In regards to my personal experience, I have had two very dear friends serve as mission presidents who were called from what I term to be my "home stake", in American Fork. The first man was our stake president at the time of his call. The reason for his release as stake president was to free him up for the two month preparation he would need to set things in order before his service began. The other man was from my parent's ward, and he had had experiences as a bishop and such but not in our ward. He and his wife have subsequently served a time or two in other leadership capacities, including as visitor's center directors and the director of the MTC. From my observation (having watched the calling of mission presidents for some years), I will say that I have not seen any evidence that there is any kind of "average age" qualification. Generally, it seems that those called are seasoned leaders, but they don't have to be. Just during President Monson's almost nine-year presidency, we have seen several current general authorities simultaneously serving as mission presidents. Elder Teh is the latest example. He is currently one of the younger general authorities, and from what I hear, is a prolific, wise, and trusted leader. I would have to read up again on Elder Teh's history to qualify this statement, but I believe that, even being as young as he is, he has had extensive experience with leading in the Church. Again, from my observation, I feel safe in saying that currently serving General Authorities are asked to step in and serve as mission presidents where someone with that level of experience would be in a good position to fix any issues that might exist within the mission. In all of these things, I have found it important to remember two vital principles taught in the Church: The Lord's ways of thinking and doing things are vastly different from the way we think they should be done. And whom the Lord calls, He does qualify. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord uses various avenues and life experiences to prepare these men and women to lead the missions to which they are assigned. I have no firsthand knowledge of these things because of my own experiences in this matter. I never served a proselyting mission. But through my extensive study of the calls that have come recently, this has been the result. Thank you for letting me share this. Still no word as of yet on what new missions may be organized this year and who may be called to lead missions that are "due" for a leadership change. But I am keeping my eyes open and will post on that subject on my blog when that information becomes available. FWIW, those are my thoughts.

John Pack Lambert said...

That same article with the Utah, Bogota and Lagos based LDS Church employees also included a coordinator of seminaries and institutes living in Dortmund Germany who was called to be mission president in Poland. This man is a native of Poland. The position he has is what I think often gets called an institute director at least outside of really large institutes. I believe we have 3 in Michigan, one based in Ann Arbor who works in the Institute building by the University of Michigan and teaches institute there but also oversees all institute and seminary teachers, most of whom do so as a calling, in 3 stakes. Another is based in East Lansing by Michigan State. The 3rd is based in the Stake Center in Midland Michigan, and has a lot less obvious work with institue, although he does teach institute in that stake, and maybe specifically go to Mount Pleasant and teach day-time institute to students at Central Michigan University. Here in Michigan there are 3 stakes/districts per seminary institute coordinator. I do not know if this is average. If so, this would end up with about 1,000 people employed by CES at this level, spread somewhat uniformly through the Church. The Church also employees a lot of people in facilities management, some of them quite dispersed to. I am guessing in general seminary/institute coordinators get called as mission presidents at a higher rate. In part because they largely deal with teaching people in the general age range of missionaries. There may also be differences in the age and longevity in the position.

John Pack Lambert said...

Going back another week I founded a CES coordinator from the Phillippines. A division director for CES from Utah. The travel manager for the South America South Area from Buenos Aires. So far all the Church employees from the US have been from Utah, but those from outside the US outnumber those from in the US.

I do know one current mission president is Ahmad Corbett who was the director of the Church Public and Government Affairs Office in New York City before he became a mission president. President Corbett is African-American.

John Pack Lambert said...

Going back I found an assistant to the area director of CES from Idaho. Not on the note of LDS employees but on the note of the questionability of the 51% businessmen figure, I found President Regaldo from Mexico who is described as a "retired physician and business owner". So does he get put in two categories, or arbitrarily put in 1? Back to Church employees, I find a CES coordinator from Spain. Later I come to someone who is the retired facilities technical services manager for Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric. He is living in Utah at the time of his call, but that is not clearly where he worked for the Church. A CES coordinator in Portugal. A materials management supervisor for the Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric in Ivory Coast. Then a seminary principal who lives in Springville, Utah. A senior facilities manager for the Corporation of the Presiding bishopric in Guatemala. Is this the director of a local PM group, or is this over multiple physical facilities groups? I am not sure.

John Pack Lambert said...

Continuing on I find a regional CES director from Congo. I am thinking this is higher up than a coordinator.

I find a professor at BYU-Idaho. A temple recorder currently living in Washington State. A CES coordinator from Brazil. A CES coordinator from Chile. It is looking like LDS Church employees from outside the US are a higher percentage of mission presidents than Church employees from in the US.

John Pack Lambert said...

In going over recent new mission presidents I noticed a Kenneth Boyd Packer, who was 38 in 2014. This means he was born in about 1976. His father is Kenneth William Packer. I am wondering if he is a grandson of Boyd K. Packer. He was called as president of the Ukraine Kyiv Mission.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was just reading an article that mentioned that half of the Church goers in London are black. I know that back in about 1995 President Hinckley had an interview in England where he mentioned that about a third of the Latter-day Saints in London are black. I wish there was strong indications that the Church was making inroads in this community. I know Alex Boye is a well known example of such success. However I feel like more could be done.

Croft Payne said...

I just saw the first report of a stake created in 2017. The Las Vegas Nevada Blue Diamond stake was created on January 8th.

Levi said...

My mission president would be counted in that statistic, if working for Deseret News counts as working for the Church.

John Pack Lambert said...

I would say yes, since the Church owns the Deseret News. However since I do not know how the statistics were developed, I am not sure. I did more looking, and it looks like LDS Church employee mission presidents from outside the US outnumber those from in the US.

John Pack Lambert said...

A man who used to be in our stake presidency here in Detroit is among the mission presidents staarting in 2017. I am not sure where he lives now. I think he may have been born in South America, definately grew up there some. His name is David Wells, his sister Charlene was Miss America in 1985.

John Pack Lambert said...

Interestingly in the organization of the new stake in Las Vegas, wards were transfered both ways between two other stakes.

Andrew Matishen said...

Kenneth Boyd Packer is a grandson of Elder Packer. I am familiar with the family. His family had a rough time in Kiev being there during the war and with the culture change. They will be blessed.

James said...

John, your comments continue to amaze me. FWIW, since I have done the study on this question myself, I am able to confirm for you that Kenneth Boyd Packer is indeed a grandson of President Boyd K. Packer. This is confirmed by the fact that this relationship was particularly made mention of in an article featured in the New Era some years ago covering President Packer's service. If the mission presidents called could be expanded to those who have some relationship or another to a current or former general authority, then this would be a prime example of that. And as with the calls of Elders Allan F. Packer, Richard G. Hinckley, and Michael T. Ringwood (a son-in-law of President Nelson), there is nothing nepotistic at all about such calls. Rather, it is evidence that such family members have come to be trusted in such positions on their own merit and qualifications, rather than on the coattails of their General Authority relatives. As we know for sure with the call of Elder Richard Hinckley, his father "recused" himself from participating in the decision, though he did consider his son worthy of that position by virtue of his mother's goodness. So far, no one has cried nepotism in response to the calls of Elders Packer and Ringwood or with the call of Mission President Packer.

Croft, I was overjoyed to read more about that stake creation in Nevada during a routine check of unit information on the LDS Church Temples site. Just by way of information, the new stake was created last Sunday. The new stake in question contains the following 8 wards: Charleston Park, Coronado, Desert Hill, Homestead, Manse Springs, Painted Mountain, Sierra Vista, and Southern Hills. I have no doubt Matt will do a blog post very soon which focuses on this first stake creation of 2017. I'm a little surprised he has yet to post anything so far for 2017. I'm sure that will happen, given time.

Levi, I would say that working for the Deseret News definitely "counts" in terms of employment of any kind with anything related to the Church. At least, that's my opinion, FWIW.

This conversation continues to be interesting. As I have before said, we are just 11 days into the new year, and the Church News developments thus far have been most intriguing and inspiring to follow.

I do apologize if I am overly zealous in responding as much as I have to comments on a blog that is not my own. I just have been finding, especially lately, that each comment I read brings me a greater desire to share my insights and experiences in terms of what has been said lately. I hope that doesn't bother anyone.

James said...

This blog has been one of my many "lifelines" in helping me adjust to the rigors of working again, and doing so in an environment where I am surrounded by people whose personal standards and beliefs are vastly different from mine. I'm afraid that, even with working as a representative of this particular company up until July, my experiences to this point have been that I am surrounded by people who have shared my beliefs. With my new position, I am finding that I am among many more people with vastly different standards and beliefs, and it has been hard to adjust.

There have been many opportunities to share my faith, with some of my coworkers noticing I spend most of my downtime at work on Church-related websites like this and asking about what I am reading and doing. But it has been a difficult adjustment. I am getting through it, though, and that is mostly thanks to my wife's encouragement for me to look at this situation as being similar to the one Ammon faced in the Book of Mormon. If I can touch someone I work with by quietly living my faith, even if I don't know how to approach anyone in terms of sharing what I believe, then I will consider myself a success in this opportunity. It's new territory for me, being in the minority, and something I would not have expected living in Utah. But it will be good for me. The project manager who alerted me to this position told those of our campaign just yesterday that it was because of my influence and perseverance in working in spite of my serious health issues, and because of my quiet example of being a Church member that helped him personally get through a very difficult time in my life. He credited my influence and example as the reason he was able to get to where he now is. And he has trusted me enough to have told me that he is willing to justify to the agent company any campaign-related decision I may make or any advice I might give to others on our campaign when there are no supervisors around. And there have been many opportunities to advise my coworkers on things in such situations. Also, my work responsibilities have been expanded somewhat just as recently as yesterday. I have been meaning to do a personal blog post update on all of this, but I have been busy today at home with not feeling well, so I haven't had the energy to blog today yet. I do need to. Thanks for reading this comment. If there's one thing these ongoing personal and Church-related developments have taught me, it is that the Lord is in control of everything, and that, with Him in charge, the Church in general and each of us in particular are secure in His hands. There is little or no need to fear, and all is well. Thanks again.

James said...

And it seems that since I started writing the comments above, there have been more such comments. I am glad to see that. John, again, I agree fully with your assessment that being a Deseret News employee qualifies in terms of those who come from Church employment. That is a more than fair statement. Thanks also for your insight regarding the call of the man from your area who will be a mission president this year. it is interesting how many such people there are among those I know, and it's nice to hear that this is true for others. Also, thanks for the additional tidbit about the Las Vegas stake creation. Interesting indeed that there were so many other units involved in that. But it makes sense for sure.

Andrew, thanks to you also for your confirmation of something I always personally believed: that Kenneth Boyd Packer is President Packer's grandson. Nice to have that verified by someone who actually knows him. I was just basing my belief that he was on the New Era article about President Packer that made mention of that grandson. I wish I could remember in which New Era I read that article. But it is nice to hear that verified by someone who actually knows. Thanks for that.

Great discussion continues. Thanks to you all. Again, sorry if I am monopolizing this conversation in any way. I appreciate the insights shared. I have been greatly inspired.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I think the new President Packer may have served in Malaga Spain in the mid 1990s (or maybe a brother or cousin). Also in that mission were basketball player and now coach Mark Madsen and the son of former Seventy and BYU president, Merrill Bateman.
I know at least 3 others who served then under native Spaniard, Presidente Lopez. I forgot his first name.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Maybe Faustino Lopez, from Madrid. Spain has some good members.

Johnathan Whiting said...

@Gnesileah:

Thanks for the info on the Church growth in Montana. I was born and raised there.

A long-term dream of mine is for a temple to be built in Missoula, near where I grew up. Another one in Great Falls would be great as well.

James said...

Jonathan: While I know you had expressed on my blog an interest in the temple that I heard has been proposed in Missoula by Elder Bednar, I don't know that you mentioned that you were born and raised there. That's interesting to me. Now that I know just how personally you are invested in learning about the developments in this regard, I will try to be more diligent in finding more information out about that. As for the future of the Church in Montana, I believe it is as bright as anywhere else in the United States. I believe we will likely see temples in both Missoula and Great Falls at some point. How likely or imminent that may be remains to be seen.

Gnesileah, the more I think about it, the more I feel that you and I may have crossed paths earlier. I love reading LDS related literature, and as such, I have been a big Chris Heimerdinger fan for years. Up until several years ago, he had a website with a forum. I posted regularly on that forum as a youth under the name "Jim" because my own actual first name was taken. I was devastated when the website was taken down because I lost a lot of friends in the process. I have never been able to reconnect with anyone from that original site, though I do still stay in contact with Chris himself somewhat regularly. On that original forum, I had started posting bits and pieces of a book I was working on. When the website was shut down, I lost the support I had gained with my writing efforts. For that reason, though I worked on other things, I shelved the story for a while.

Then I got married in 2010, and I discovered my wife and I had a mutual interest in writing. I showed her what I had written and began working on it again with her encouragement and support. In the meantime, the ward we had been living in was home to Brandon Sanderson, another well-known writer. When I had the opportunity to share what I had written with him, his advice was to turn what I had envisioned as one book into a series: the first book covering my character's teenage years, the second on missions, the third on courtship and marriages, and subsequent books discussing my character's posterities. The idea has fired my imagination. But because writing ideas don't come for the asking, the book is on hold while I try to earn a living. In the meantime, I started my own personal blog, which was originally devoted to just personal news but soon became a forum on which all facets of Church news, particularly updates in temple developments. I seem to have found my niche in blogging by posting about current and possible future events and milestones related to that work. In this, I have been told that my blog ranks among the top Google searches for such developments. And that is at once humbling and frightening.

But my main point got lost amidst my loquacity. I was trying to say that I think I might have had interactions with you in the past. If it's not from those forums, I don't know where we might have run into each other previously. Maybe you would be able to pinpoint that better than I have. It's just that, in the back of my mind, your name rings a bell somehow, and I seem to remember hearing something about a made-up language as you mentioned above in the discussions that took place on that forum. Whether I am correct or not, it is good to hear what you have had to say about topics presented on this blog. Thanks for indulging this man's ramblings, such as they have been.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

It would be great there is a need for a temple in West Montana.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

I know around 2013-2014 the Montana Billings mission would have 50+ baptisms a month and was for some time the highest English speeking baptizing mission out side of Utah so by the numbers there is a lot of grouth I just hope they still active, and Missoula stack had about 90 baptisms in 2014 and I thank about 70 in 2015, the stivienvill stack also sees a high number of baptisms each year.

Gnesileah said...

Bryce, I remember speaking with an elder about this blog and him mentioning that he regularly checked it too. So that was you! Glad to see that you are still a regular here.

James, I wasn't familiar with Chris Heimerdinger's blog. I'm not sure where we could have interacted before. Maybe in the early Cumorah Yahoo group maintained by David Stewart? We don't hear too much about him on here anymore, but to me he is like the Father of Church Growth Analysis, and provided much of the early groundwork that Matt has taken to new heights.

My interest in Church Growth stems from my love of the Gospel and the organizational structure of the Church, combined with my love of political geography. I maintain a database (fine, a spreadsheet) on all Church units throughout the world, and update it daily, made possible by the new unit information available on Rick's website (I am incredibly thankful that he has access to CDOL to share this information with us -- I think I would wither away if that ever stopped. I wish the Church would provide a simple way to communicate unit changes throughout the world for regular members like us, because many of us rely on this information!)

I also love temples, and at various times, have enjoyed having a picture of every operating temple on the walls of my home (back when there were only 50 temples; now I just use Rick's temple screensaver for inspiration.) I can recite every temple in chronological order, and have been able to visit 74 temples in person.

And I love the Book of Mormon. I have a copy in every language published by the Church, and recently I started collecting copies of the Bible in other languages. Just a few months ago, I received the Arabic Bible from the Church Distribution Center, and it is such a unique and beautiful book to handle.

Having said all this, I feel guilty for making a long comment like this. I generally try to limit my comments in frequency and length, as I am sensitive to the fact that this is Matt's blog and platform, not mine. It is a privilege for us to comment, but if comments become too excessive and off-topic, that privilege might be revoked, and understandably so. It wasn't too long ago that Matt censured another comment contributor for making excessive comments, and removed some of them. So I will try to keep my future comments brief and on-topic.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I don't know for sure if the person censored/comments removed were due to excessiveness. I thought it had to do with negativity or personal attacks. There is nothing wrong, per se, with criticism or cynacism, but pjorative comments directed personally deserves heightened scrutiny and possible redaction.

On another note, any predictions on total number of mission cteated this year? I think on the small side, probably under 10.

James said...

Well, good to know. I don't know where else we might have interacted. I have never been on the Cumorah Yahoo Group, though I do appreciate knowing it existed. From what I understand, this blog evolved from that group, and this address is where I found this blog. Not sure how or when that happened. I also have a great love for temples and all developments relating thereunto. For that reason, such news and developments, as well as the prediction of possible timetables for future milestones, have been a big part of my personal blogging efforts.

That said, I too would like to apologize to Matt if our comments have become too lengthy or off topic. That was never my intention. But FWIW, I would like to mention here one Church growth milestone of no small significance. The New Mission President Assignments for 2017 were announced today. Contrary to what anyone could have predicted, it appears that the only "new" mission of the Church for this year will be the Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission, announced just last month. It also appears that many incoming mission presidents are current or former Area Seventies. And, in a move that is becoming more common again of late, the Church announced that one of those new mission presidents would be current General Authority Seventy Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, who is now serving in one of the Asia Area Presidencies.

For that reason, we can look forward to many more changes in area leadership later this year. Nothing yet on how the Europe East Area Presidency has been reorganized following Elder Porter's recent reassignment to Church headquarters and his subsequent death. But again, I am doing my best to keep an eye on all such developments, and to announce them on my personal blog when the opportunity arises to do so. I can post that blog address again for all who might want it.

Again, I appreciate the ongoing discussion, and I hope that I am contributing in at least some small way. Thanks to you all for keeping this discussion about Church growth milestones going. I am enjoying it very much.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

James said...

Eduardo, it seems that your comment above mine was posted while I was still gathering my thoughts above. That question is dealt with directly in my above comment. And I'm sure that Matt will focus on that in a future blog post. Interesting to consider, to be sure. Thanks.

Croft Payne said...

Gnesileah, I think we are kindred spirits! I also have a spreadsheet of all units, collect copies of the book of Mormon in different languages, can recite all operating and announced/under construction temples (but not in chronological order) and enjoy visiting new temples. I am fourteen right now and my cousin and I (who is also fourteen) have a goal to do baptisms for the dead in thirty temples before our missions. We are currently at eight. I think it would be fun and challenging to visit all operating temples. Have you been to the Albuquerque, New Mexico temple? I live in Albuquerque. What information do you include on your spreadsheet?

Gnesileah said...

Croft, that is so awesome! What a great goal! Yes, I have been to the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple a couple of times; it's a beautiful one! If you'd like to share spreadsheet data, you (or anyone else) may email me directly at gnesileah at gmail dot com, and I'll send you a copy of it. Thanks!

James said...

Croft, I did not realize you were 14. You're less than half my age! And yet you have left such inspirational comments on my blog and on this blog. I never would have guessed. I was like you at your exact age in one respect: I was an avid student of Church history and could, when called upon, indicate who was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at any time during the presidencies of President Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson. I committed to memory all kinds of facts and figures about Church Presidents and apostles. And that interest expanded to my efforts now. I weekly update spreadsheets on how long each President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has served (focusing particularly on the milestones our current one, President Nelson, is approaching), where President Monson is at in terms of age and tenure length in comparison with the 15 men that have preceded him (including when and if future milestones will be reached) and the current age of each apostle, how many days it has been since their birthdays, and where President Nelson ranks among the other nonagenarian apostles that have gone before, and how soon each apostle will join the ranks of the nonagenarian apostles. Those updates I try to post weekly on my blog, generally sometime between Friday and Sunday. I continue to welcome any thoughts from those who express interest in what I do (which covers so much more than these weekly updates), and you can find my labor of love, such as it may be, in the link below. Thanks.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

John Pack Lambert said...

Croft and James you remind me of me although at 36 I am just over twice Croft's age.

I still can recite all the temples but do it geograpgically imagining a map in my head.

Also I never set any diing baptisms for the dead goals with lots of temples. I hadnt done any anywhere but Toronto before I went to BYU and when I was 14 there were only about 47 temples.

James said...

John, I didn't realize that you are just 6 years older than I am. I just turned 30 on December 16 last year. For a lot or reasons, you seem much older than that. That is not an insult but a compliment. Your extensive work on Wikipedia has been inspiring for me in working with you there during the past almost 10 years I have been editing there. And now we have this additional association. It is great and always inspiring to read your comments. I hope many people feel that same way about things I have posted here and on my own blog.

My own experiences doing baptisms for the dead have been mainly done in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. I remember that one year, as a young man, my birthday fell on a Saturday. I expressed to my dad the idea that the best birthday gift he could give me would be to take me to the temple to do baptisms. That made that particular birthday very special. And temples will always and forever hold a special place in my heart because I have loved them for so long. My service in that temple for six years led me to my wife, who I met there. So we are a temple service success story. It was just icing on the cake that we continued to serve together there until our health failed. Admittedly, my zealous desire to continue led to us serving longer than my wife could physically handle. But she has told me she has never regretted my insistence that we continue as long as we did.

It was because of that closeness I feel to the temple that I have lately focused my blog on all temple-related developments. And it has paid off. I have it on very good authority that my blog has ranked among the top Google search results for temple-related developments, whether those searches have entailed temple construction progress milestones, future temple sites, or the estimates I periodically give for when future temple events may be announced and scheduled. That is at once humbling and very frightening. I hope I will not let anyone down.

In the meantime, I continue to advertise any posts I feel will be of interest through the comments on this blog, and I have certainly seen an increase in the number of views and comments on the blog posts I advertise here. Thanks.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I don't know for sure if the person censored/comments removed were due to excessiveness. I thought it had to do with negativity or personal attacks. There is nothing wrong, per se, with criticism or cynacism, but pjorative comments directed personally deserves heightened scrutiny and possible redaction.

On another note, any predictions on total number of mission cteated this year? I think on the small side, probably under 10.

James said...

Eduardo, when you say missions created this year, do you refer to 2016 or 2017? I am assuming that you mean the latter. It appears that, for now at least, the only new mission this year (2017) is the newly reorganized Utah Salt Lake City Church Headquarters Mission. Additionally, though I only have my own research to qualify this statement, I think it is safe to assume that the number of operating missions at the end of last year (including the three or four announced during 2016) was somewhere around 421. The statistical report that will be presented during the April General Conference in less than 3 months will give more exact numbers. But it seems to be right around there at the end of 2016, which means that there are now 422 missions, with the creation of the Utah Salt Lake City Church Headquarters Mission. I have a somewhat interesting tie to that mission. When I was of missionary age (19 at that time), I was excused from full-time service in a proselyting mission in view of my health and disabilities that prevented such a call. My parents and I had a visit with my bishop and stake president to discuss what service I might render. The two leaders made it clear to me that the form and manner of whatever I did would be up to me. My family (particularly my parents) strongly encouraged me to serve in what was then the Family and Church History Mission. But in praying about it, I felt to go along another path. I elected to serve 2-3 days per week as a Welfare Services Missionary with the Humanitarian program of the Church, and to serve two shifts at the Mount Timpanogos Temple as well. My physical capabilities that I was granted while working with the Humanitarian efforts were amazing, as I could do things during that time that I was physically unable to do outside that service. Additionally, at the temple, I soon became known as one who would attempt to assist any foreign language patron coming through, no matter how badly I butchered their native tongue. And it was through extending my service at the temple that I was able to meet my wife. So on the whole, it worked out better for me than the other option would have. Sorry for the sidetrack. Hope that answers your questions.

Johnathan Whiting said...

@Bryce .Gillespie:

Did you ever personally serve in the Stevensville, MT Stake? That was my home stake growing up.

Thanks for posting the info about the recent high level of baptisms during 2013-2015. I didn't know the work was progressing so well in Montana.

Also, @James:

Thanks for your interest in posting more about Montana. I'm excited for any new info on my home state.

For those interested, here is a brief autobiographical sketch from my family history blog:

http://thehistoryofmygenes.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html

Johnathan Whiting said...

Some info about the church in Montana:

Around the time of my mission in 2003-2004, I read an article in the Church News about the U.S. states with the highest percentage of LDS church members. Montana was 7th on that list, most likely due to the low overall population of the state itself. Montana is the 4th largest state geographically, but at the time of that article only had about a million people. I seem to recall there being about 50,000 members of the church according to the article.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find that article itself, but here's some more recent reports:

Some current stats on Church membership in Montana: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics/country/united-states/state/montana

And here's a couple of other posts about the top U.S. states for Mormon membership percentage-wise (in 2012 and 2015): http://utahvalley360.com/2015/07/13/top-10-states-mormons/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/most-and-least-mormon-states_n_1533973.html

Bryce .Gillespie said...

Yes Corvallis ward.

Gnesileah said...

Missionaries in the Montana Billings Mission believe there were about 370 convert baptisms in the mission during 2016. This is lower than the 600+ baptisms seen a few years ago.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

Sounds about right at the end of my Mission in 2015 the number baptisms a month was dripping to around 30 a month.

James said...

Interesting information and Church facts and figures about Montana. I wish I knew where it was I originally heard about the "proposal" for the temple in Missoula. I would have to go back into previous blog posts about potential future temple sites to try and pinpoint that. Right now, it's just a vague memory. But I will certainly keep my eyes and ears peeled for developments in that regard. In the meantime, while I will have no problem keeping up with reading and (when I feel inclined to do so) responding to posts and comments on this blog for this weekend, I was given more responsibility at work just today, and in looking towards where that will take me, it may serve to severely cut any down time I might have had up to this point during work hours, and it may result in my having to post on my blog and respond to comments here less frequently during work hours from Monday-Friday, assuming I will be able to squeeze in any time at all to do so while at work. I know that, with just today, it has taken me until now to make my second (or perhaps third) multi-daily check of Church websites in general and this blog in particular. It is too early to tell how much my new work-related duties will play into all this in the future. But I will be happy to comment when I can. And the nature of the new responsibilities is such that I don't know how long I may have them. It may only be temporary until some other things get settled in terms of what the job entails. But it may be a long-lasting change. I will likely do a post on my blog about what's happened today. It is good news. But how it will impact things like commenting here or regularly doing blog posts during downtime at work remains to be seen. More to come when I can gather my thoughts and catch my breath enough to report on things. Is that cryptic enough? If so, it's meant to be. Thanks.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

with the Missoule temple that may of been me

James said...

I suppose it could have been, Bryce. And that would make sense since you served your mission there. I honestly don't remember all the details of which I was informed. I do recall something about the temple proposal being made at a stake conference which was presided over by Elder David A. Bednar. And, from what I recall, the nature of the proposal was such that Elder Bednar indicated that it might not happen for a while, depending entirely on how faithfully the saints in the Missoula area were in attending the temple in Billings. Because of the lack of detail about this, and particularly the lack of its verification in published reliable sources, I know of several people who do not accept Missoula as the typical "proposed temple site" that Rick has been including in his list of publicly proposed temples. However, I feel confident enough in what I've heard regarding the proposal that I have been including it on my personal list of near-future possibile temple sites.

That said, a quick look at the latest Church statistics for Montana is interesting. I admit that I'm not very good geographically, so for that reason, I don't know which surrounding communities a temple in Missoula might serve. What I do know is what I was able to read on Rick's temple site. According to his listing of LDS Church units in Montana, that state is home to the one temple in Billings (and the fact that the Billings temple will mark its 17th anniversary of dedication in November). Additionally, as of right now, there is one mission there (Montana Billings) and 11 stakes. The unit distribution is 84 wards and 40 branches. The most recent stake creation in Montana was the Glendive stake, and that stake will mark the 20th anniversary of its creation May 4.

I am not sure what that indicates in terms of how likely or imminent an announcement would be for a temple in Missoula. Elder Bednar's "proposal", such as it was, may indicate its near-future likelihood, but then again, it may not. FWIW, those are some additional thoughts.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

For the temple I know one of things would be needed was for the Missoule stack would have to splat.
Missoule is about 5-6 hours from a temple.
A temple there would take most of the stacks in Montana and some from Idaho.
I would thank the Montana stacks would be.
Missoule, (Missoula 2nd if the church went the stack to splat befor a temple) stevensville, Kalispell,Butte, Helen and at least one great fulls, so 7 or 9 stacks depending on Missoule and Idaho. But I was not there at that stack counferice but was told by all the members in the collvilles ward.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

For the temple I know one of things would be needed was for the Missoule stack would have to splat.
Missoule is about 5-6 hours from a temple.
A temple there would take most of the stacks in Montana and some from Idaho.
I would thank the Montana stacks would be.
Missoule, (Missoula 2nd if the church went the stack to splat befor a temple) stevensville, Kalispell,Butte, Helen and at least one great fulls, so 7 or 9 stacks depending on Missoule and Idaho. But I was not there at that stack counferice but was told by all the members in the collvilles ward.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

On a side note I'm on my way back from a youth temple Trip to Orlando with the Callaway ward of the Panama city stack we had 2 youth from our ward that went down, there was a hard time to fiend parking at the temple with a lot of groups going to the temple, our ward had to take on about 15 walk-ins for baptisms not include the missanrrays and parients that was just there so it was standing room only for baptisms in Orlando, the priesthood from my ward spent 3 hours and did over 400 names today.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

20 youth not 2

James Anderson said...

Which temple was that backed up as you described it?

Bryce .Gillespie said...

Orlando FL

John Pack Lambert said...

Detroit Temple does not have capacity for that many youth at a time so my ward can only take half or so of our youths at most maybe 15 at once.

John Pack Lambert said...

Detroit Temple does not have capacity for that many youth at a time so my ward can only take half or so of our youths at most maybe 15 at once.

James said...

Bryce, thanks for sharing your feelings regarding the stakes that might be involved in forming a temple district for such an edifice in Missoula. interesting theories. As far as how busy it was at the Orlando Temple when you went there, I can relate to that.

Next to the Provo Utah Temple, the Mount Timpanogos Temple seems to be one of the busiest in the Church. I have heard of and have been a firsthand witness (by virtue of my six-year tenure as a temple worker there) to the fact that the sessions are generally jam-packed. It was especially busy on Friday nights and Saturdays, and that continues, according to all the reports I have received. My mom works at that temple herself now, and I have had firsthand accounts also from those who have waited extensively and in very long lines to get in to a session at that temple.

I think that the busiest session I ever witnessed was on one Friday evening. There were enough in attendance to warrant considering whether everyone could fit in one session, or if the group eneded to be split into two smaller sessions. I was working there that night, and I heard about the deliberation on that question. Usually, when there have been that many people in a session, to take precautions in terms of safety and potential fire hazards, the group has been split. But the fire marshall for the city was in attendance at that session, and he gave us the okay to put everyone in one group. It was (and may still be) the record-making busiest session in the history of that temple, with a total of either 115 or 120 people, which is about 25 more than the maximum capacity of the sessions, with 2 rooms having 96 seats, and the other two having 97. And so it continues even now.

Though I have technically moved out of the district (living in Orem, my assigned temple is Provo), I still hear regular reports on activity at the Americcan, and it has not let up. For that reason, another temple in that part of Utah County makes a lot of sense. And from what I've heard, Lehi is the top contender for the next Utah County temple. Some have suggested Eagle Mountain or Saratoga Springs would be better or more ideal, but I do strongly suspect it will be Lehi that gets that honor. It has nothing to do with Lehi being my wife's hometown, and everything to do with the fact that Utah County does need another temple, and Lehi is centrally located but yet far distant enough from the temple in American Fork that it is, in my mind, the best possible option. Others may disagree on this point, but that's what I feel is likely to happen there.

John, that is interesting about the Detriot Temple. I had not been aware of that factor. That makes it more likely that either a renovation of the temple to make it larger will happen at some point, or that another such edifice will be announced to breakup the district. Thanks for letting me drone on like this. I continue to enjoy following this conversation.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today I went to the other ward that meetsin the same building as my home ward. The closing prayer was given by a recent convert originally from China. I also met a man who was visiting because he had come from France on a business trip.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today I went to the other ward that meetsin the same building as my home ward. The closing prayer was given by a recent convert originally from China. I also met a man who was visiting because he had come from France on a business trip.

James Anderson said...

Detroit sits on three acres of spare property next to the stake center on
Detroit sits on three acres of spare property that was purchased with the lot that George Romney helped procure in the early 50s but didn't fully utilize for the stake center there,

Joseph Smith is said to have traveled the road by it that we now know as Woodward Ave. (M-1). President Hinckley made mention of the fact at the dedication. One of the Macks apparently was involved in building the original trail at some point, and we still have Mack trucks on the road from that same family, one of them ran a gristmill near Rochester.










woodward, and anecdotal evidenc

James said...

This conversation continues to be inspirational, enlightening, and informative. Thanks to all for the continuing insights. Michigan is one state I am watching for signs of Church growth sufficient to warrant a future temple. I think it could happen within my lifetime, if not within the foreseeable future. No city, state, nation, or country can, in my mind, be ruled out as a candidate for a future temple. And that is especially true for Michigan. I would love to see it happen at any time. For now, based on what little I know about the growth there, I don't see it as an imminent near-future possibility. Those are my thoughts. I welcome any disagreement. Thanks, as always, for this grat ongoing discussion.

David Todd said...

I served in the Lansing Michigan mission, which basically covers the whole state outside of Detroit. While a temple would be an incredible blessing to the saints there, I can't see it happening any time soon. Over the last ten years the church has actually shrunk there as people moved to better economic situations for work. Western Michigan is doing much better and it is starting to grow again in some areas, but they are still a long ways from a temple. Before the Detroit Temple was built, there was a proposed temple site in Ada, a small and wealthy area outside of Grand Rapids, that was offered to be donated to the church, but they went with Detroit (in Bloomfield Hills) instead.

I'm looking forward to the progression of the Traverse City District into a Stake. I don't think it will be too long now. They moved a branch from the Midland Stake into the District not too long ago, probably to get it closer to Stake status. I think the main hold up is having enough wards. Traverse City could probably become two small wards, or at least give some members to the Kalkaska branch and make two wards between them. Other than that, the Petoskey branch is large enough to become a good ward in the summer, but is a seasonal area, where people leave in the winter and leave the branch pretty small which might cause problems should they want to make a ward. Cadillac and Gaylord are probably on the threshold of being able to become wards. Last I heard, they get between 70-90 people at church each week. Alpena, Houghton Lake, and Sault Ste Marie are all too small to become wards, but there has been decent progress since I left as I can see. I am a part of the Alpena Branch Facebook group and there seems to be lots of new faces and some youth actually, whereas when I was there, it was rare to get 30 at church and there were no youth at all and only 2 primary kids. There is also a small group operating in the cheboygan/ Rogers city part of the district.

James Anderson said...

The Cedar City Temple will make a difference but only really in terms of endowment and sealing work moving partly over when done. Got a report yesterday that recently someone went one weekday afternoon and the baptistry workers were just about to flip out because so many had shown up after school to do some. St. George has a metro population of 152K while Cedar City may have up to a third that but it is growing too so could a third temple in the region be all that far off?

John Pack Lambert said...

That sounds like 4 wards at best, pushing it a lot to get 5 which is the minimum for a stake. And 5 sounds like it would leave things extremely thin.

I have heard people propose a temple could be built by theinstitute building in East Lansing.

Here in the Detroit Mission boundaries 5 wards and 3 branches were discontinued all around 4 to 6 years ago and nothing new has been formed since. My home ward and the ward my sister is in are probably the closest to splitting. Ann Arbor might also be able to suuport an additional ward.

John Pack Lambert said...

That sounds like 4 wards at best, pushing it a lot to get 5 which is the minimum for a stake. And 5 sounds like it would leave things extremely thin.

I have heard people propose a temple could be built by theinstitute building in East Lansing.

Here in the Detroit Mission boundaries 5 wards and 3 branches were discontinued all around 4 to 6 years ago and nothing new has been formed since. My home ward and the ward my sister is in are probably the closest to splitting. Ann Arbor might also be able to suuport an additional ward.

James Anderson said...

One of the discontined units was related to one formed after an early church leader went through and among other things prophesied that even the churchdeacon would be baptized. That happened and about 70 others joined too. It was last known as the Pontiac branch and I don't know if it was ever a ward. One location they had is now a Assembly of God church, I think it is on or close to what we now know as Wide Track Drive. When it was discontinued, it was folded into the /rochester Ward and they meet in a building just west of Rochester, but not as far west as Squirrel Road.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually Pontiac Branch was divided 3 ways into Clarkston, Rochester and Lake Orion Wards. It was discontinued earlier than the last 7 years, probably 10 or more years ago, so it didn't get in my count. To say it was related to the work of Hyrum Smith and John Murdock is not sustainable. When a branch was formed in Ann Arbor in the 1890s it was the only LDS unit in Michigan. The Pontiac Branch existed by the 1930s, but just can't be dated continuously back to the 1830s.

James said...

Interesting insights regarding Church growth and developments in Michigan. I feel that I've learned a lot personally from this information. I am surprised by how many people who comment on this blog have ties of one sort or another to Michigan. Speaking personally, I would love to see Michigan get another temple in the not-too-distant future, and I do believe we will see it happen sooner rather than later. However, in the same breath, I will admit that I do not see that happening for at least the next several years. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this point. I'm sure, given all I've heard, that the Saints in Michigan would greatly benefit from another temple. Thanks to you all for sharing this information. I love keeping an eye on Church growth and unit developments, and now that I know growth is possible in Michigan very soon, I will redouble my efforts to keep track of that.

James Anderson, thanks to you also for what you shared regarding the Cedar City temple. Because of my personal love for and life experiences relating to the temple, to say nothing of all I post regarding that subject in my comments here and on my own blog, I am always interested in hearing more regarding the level of activity that prevails in other temples. Could a third temple be built at some point in the area covered now by the St. George Temple and that will be covered by the Cedar City temple? I certainly wouldn't rule it out. But there are many other potential locations in Utah that might benefit more from temples in those cities, especially since we don't know yet what impact the Cedar City temple will have in terms of temple attendance. It might happen in the future, but doesn't, in my opinion, seem as likely as other temple sites in Utah that have been mentioned. I welcome any disagreement on this point, but those are my thoughts and feelings in this regard, for what that may be worth. Thanks again, everyone!

James Anderson said...

There had been a Pontiac congregation, but yes it didn't exist again until your stated date, and the rest about the modern unit is also true.

Johnathan Whiting said...


Rio Temple groundbreaking officially announced today.

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/%C2%A0groundbreaking-announced-for-the-rio-de-janeiro-brazil-temple

James said...

I posted about that very announcement on my own blog just a little while ago. It is exciting to have the groundbreaking officially confirmed. It is interesting that the listing for the Rio temple on the LDS Church Temples site references the fact that the groundbreaking will be presided over by Brazil Area President Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, while the official newsroom release does not specify this. It is also interesting to me (and I noted this on my blog) how assignments to preside at a groundbreaking sometimes change. When the groundbreaking for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple was announced, the official news release from the Church stated that Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy would preside there, accompanied by Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Executive Director of the Church's Temple Department. However, it was Elder Wilson who actual presided at that groundbreaking. Similarly, I believe that when the Church originally announced the groundbreaking ceremony for the Tucson Arizona Temple, they had initially assigned Senior President of the Seventy Elder Ronald A. Rasband to preside there. Obviously, with the call to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church felt that he needed time to adjust to his new role prior to representing the Church at such an event. So President Uchtdorf was sent instead. My point is that while the Church has specified in the past who would preside at a temple groundbreaking, that may be subject to change due to extenuating circumstances. That said, Elder Costa seems to be a lock on presiding at this groundbreaking as announced. And that will be a very good thing. Elder Costa is the senior General Authority Seventy in terms of tenure length. His experience as a Seventy is very widespread. In August of this year, he will have served for six years as the Brazil Area President. Six years without a change in assignment is almost unheard of for a General Authority Seventy, so this year might see a change there. Those are just my thoughts on the confirmation of the Rio groundbreaking. It is so wonderful to have that verified now!

Sam Shillate said...

I am loathe to say this, but will anyway--low member participation in missionary work might be attributable to a few factors, although it would be difficult to study these objectively; but they might serve as "research questions" for those far better skilled than I:

1. Some members of the church, notably returned missionaries who served faithfully, might recall the pressure they were under to baptize to make the numbers instead of baptizing souls. I know a good number who feel that things have not changed and they would rather not participate in something that focuses on numbers and not quality;

2. Others may feel that the member-missionary campaigns have been stale and there still exists a lack of enthusiasm by most concerned.;

3. Members are simply not as willing to talk religion with work partners or in public, particularly in an age when anything that the public does not approve of is some kind of "-ism" fated to derision and anti-LDS discrimination;

4. Along the lines of (1) above, I am certain there are a fair number of LDS who are concerned that their friends and associates might fall victim to the "numbers game," and would rather not have 18 t0 22 year olds, interested in making their numbers, teach them.

In the US at least (and as a matter of open disclosure, I agree with them), there is an increased sense of cynicism that church's missionary leadership cares more about aggregate numbers than individual conversions, and would rather not participate.

For what it's worth--I am not a detractor or apostate of any kind, but this is what I have heard and/or observed....