Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Two New Stakes in Monrovia, Liberia and the Expansion of the Church Beyond Monrovia

There are many significant growth developments from Liberia that have occurred or will soon occur.

First, the Liberia Monrovia Mission reports that two new stakes will be created in the country this coming Sunday. Both of the remaining districts in Monrovia - the Caldwell Liberia District and the Paynesville Liberia District - will become stakes in a historic conference. The mission reports that there are approximately 5,000 members in these two districts. Once the new stakes are created, there will be four stakes in Monrovia. The Church created its first stake in Monrovia back in 2000, but discontinued the stake in 2007 due to leadership challenges and member inactivity. The Church reestablished a stake in Monrovia in November 2016, called the Monrovia Liberia Bushrod Island Stake. A second stake was created in April 2017 - the Liberia Monrovia Stake.

Second, with both remaining districts in Monrovia advancing into stakes, the mission has begun to look at aggressive expansion into the almost entirely untouched remainder of the country since resources have been freed from the mission that previously supported and supervised member districts in Monrovia. The Church organized branches in Harbel and Kakata back in 2007, and since this time has added only one additional branch to Kakata in 2016. No other cities have had an official LDS presence. However, there are several cities where members have moved over the years that have requested an establishment of an official LDS presence and the assignment of missionaries. I have personally had members in multiple cities in Liberia contact me asking for advice and support such as from Ganta and other areas in the interior. However, these requests have not yet been granted for the most part due to previous struggles with Ebola and political conflict over the years. Nevertheless, the Africa West Area Presidency has recently approved plans for the mission to expand into new areas outside of Monrovia now that the political situation in the country has stabilized.

Third, the mission president visited members and prospective members in Totota and Buchanan in November 2017 and organized official member groups. Over 30 attended the first sacrament meeting in Totota on November 12th and a member group was officially organized. On November 19th, the mission president met with over 40 people who attended the first sacrament meeting in Buchanan and organized an official branch. A former district president from Monrovia is among isolated members who live in Buchanan. The mission found an apartment to lease for full-time missionaries and assigned the first missionaries to serve in Buchanan at the end of November. Missionaries are anticipated to be assigned to Totota within the next month or so. The mission also reports that the area presidency has already approved the creation of official branches for both Buchanan and Totota. These branches appear likely to be created in the immediate future. The mission created an official member group in extreme southeastern Liberia in the town of Harper several months ago where 15-20 members meet for church services every Sunday. The mission set 75 chairs to Harper to help provide adequate seating for the many who have been attending church services there. However, plans to open Harper to missionary work and organize a branch may require more time due to its remote location.

Fourth, the mission also reports plans to organize two new branches in Kakata and/or Harbel, and the creation of one or two member districts. There are approximately 1,000 members who live in the two Kakata branches and the one Harbel branch. The mission has recently averaged approximately 100 convert baptisms a month for the entire country.

These developments highlight the often sudden and quiet process in which the LDS Church grows and expands. Although little progress can occur for many years or even decades, the right combination of variables can lead to sudden and surprising growth such as what has been recently observed in Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria, and currently in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Conditions in Liberia appear highly favorable for additional expansion and growth that likely keeps up with recent rapid growth that began within the past five years.

See below for a map of LDS congregations in Liberia.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

New Stakes Created in Bolivia (2), Tonga (2), Brazil, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Nevada, Paraguay, Sierra Leone

Bolivia
The Church organized two new stakes in Bolivia on November 12th in the city of Cochabamba.

The Cochabamba Bolivia Aeropuerto Stake was organized from the Cochabamba Bolivia Cobija Stake (renamed the Cochabamba Bolivia Sarco Stake) and the Cochabamba Bolivia Jaihuayco Stake (renamed the Cochabamba Bolivia Alalay Stake). The new stake includes the following five wards: the Cobija, Jaihuayco, La Chimba, Lindo, and Villa México Wards.

The Cochabamba Bolivia Blanco Galindo Stake was organized from the Cochabamba Bolivia Quillacollo Stake (renamed the Cochabamba Bolivia Los Alamos Stake) and the Cochabamba Bolivia Cobija Stake (renamed the Cochabamba Bolivia Sarco Stake). The new stake includes the following five wards: the Colcapirhua, Ingavi, Jardin, La Floresta, and Los Alamos Wards.

There are now seven stakes in Cochabamba, and 32 stakes and eight districts in Bolivia.

Tonga
The Church organized two new stakes in Tonga.

The Nuku'alofa Tonga Capital Stake was organized on November 19th from a division of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Harbour Stake and the Nuku'alofa Tonga North Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Kolomotu'a, Longolongo, Nuku'alofa 5th, Nuku'alofa 7th, and Nuku'alofa 14th Wards.

The Neiafu Vava'u Tonga Central Stake was organized on November 26th from a division of the Neiafu Vava'u Tonga Stake, Neiafu Vava'u Tonga North Stake, and the Neiafu Vava'u Tonga West Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Feletoa, Leimatu'a 1st, Leimatu'a 2nd, Mataika, Neiafu 3rd, and Neiafu 5th Wards, and the Houma Branch.

There are now 21 stakes and two districts in Tonga.

Brazil
The Church organized a new stake in Parana State, Brazil on November 26th. The Foz do Iguaçu Brazil Stake was organized from a division of the Cascavel Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Cataratas, Foz do Iguaçu, Itaipu, Portal de Foz, and Porto Meira Wards, and the Medianeira Branch.

There are now 21 stakes and two districts in Parana State. There are now 268 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.

Costa Rica
The Church organized its eighth stake in the San Jose metropolitan area on November 19th. The Heredia Costa Rica Belén Stake was organized from a division of the Alajuela Costa Rica Stake and the Heredia Costa Rica Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Belén, El Tejar, Flores, La Ribera, and Ojo de Agua Wards, and the Santa Barbara Branch.

There are now 10 stakes and two districts in Costa Rica.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Abidjan on December 3rd. The Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon Centre Stake was organized from a division of the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon North Stake and the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon South Stake. It is unclear what wards are assigned to the new stake. There were 25 wards in the two original stakes prior to the creation of the new stake. The Church has experienced rapid growth in the Yopougon sector of Abidjan as new stakes have been organized in this area of the city in 1997, 2010, 2014, and 2015. Furthermore, the 20th anniversary of the creation of the first stake in Abidjan was recently held.

There are now 12 stakes in the Abidjan metropolitan area. There are more stakes in the Abidjan metropolitan area than in any other metropolitan area on the continental landmass of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

El Salvador
A new stake was created in western El Salvador on November 19th. The Ahuachapán El Salvador El Espino Stake was organized from a division of the Ahuachapán El Salvador Stake and the Atiquizaya El Salvador Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Campestre, El Arco, El Espino, Las Brisas, Las Rosas, and Suncuan Wards.

There are now 21 stakes in El Salvador.

Nevada
The Church organized a new stake in Las Vegas on December 3rd. The Las Vegas Nevada Desert Foothills Stake was organized from a division of the Las Vegas Nevada Meadows Stake and the Las Vegas Nevada Redrock Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Amber Hills, Carl, Cimarron, Hillpointe, Paseos, and Pueblo Wards.

There are now 27 stakes in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. There are now 42 stakes in Nevada.

Paraguay
The Church organized a new stake in Paraguay on November 19th. The Limpio Paraguay Stake was organized from the Mariano Roque Alonso Paraguay District and the Luque Paraguay Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and four branches: the Huguito, Juan de Salazar, Limpio, Mariano Roque Alonso, Piquete Cue, and Salado Wards, and the Benjamin Aceval, Emboscada, Remansito, and Villa Hayes Branches.

There are now 11 stakes and nine districts in Paraguay.

Sierra Leone
The Church organized a new stake in Freetown on December 3rd. The Freetown Sierra Leone East Stake was created from a division of the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake, marking the first time the Church in Sierra Leone has organized a new stake from the division of a previously operating stake. Organized as the Church's 3,000th stake and the first stake in Sierra Leone back in December 2012, the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake had 11 wards and three branches prior to the division of the stake. Information on which congregations are assigned to the new stake remains unavailable. Never has the Church ever grown in a country from one stake to five stakes as quickly as in Sierra Leone. Four of the five stakes in the country were organized in 2017. Additional new stakes in Sierra Leone appear likely to be organized in the new future based upon missionary reports.

There are now five stakes and four districts in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Freetown Mission appears highly likely to divide in the immediate future to create a second mission in the country with headquarters likely in Bo. Also, there has been a net increase of 335 stakes worldwide within the past five years since the creation of the original Freetown Sierra Leone Stake.

Colorado
The Church recently discontinued the Golden Colorado Stake. With only four wards, the stake was combined with the former Lakewood Colorado Stake (renamed the Front Range Colorado Stake). The Church has discontinued multiple wards within the Golden, Colorado area over the past 15 years primarily due to members moving away from the area. Furthermore, the Golden Colorado Stake was recently reduced in size with the reassignment of the Buena Vista Branch to the Alamosa Colorado Stake, the Granby Branch to the newly created Craig Colorado Stake, and the Frisco Ward and Vail Ward to the Rifle Colorado Stake. This marks the first time in LDS history that a stake has ever been discontinued in Colorado. It appears likely that one more stake may be discontinued in the Denver area within the foreseeable future due to members moving away from older areas of the city.

There are now 35 stakes in Colorado.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our November 2017 cumorah.com newsletter regarding church growth updates.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

New Stakes Created in Sierra Leone (2), Arizona, India, Kentucky, and Montana

Sierra Leone
Last Sunday, the Church in Sierra Leone organized its first two stakes in the second most populous city of Bo. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake was created from the Bo Sierra Leone North District, and the Bo Sierra Leone West Stake was created from the Bo Sierra Leone West District. The two stakes were created in a combined stake conference that was attended by 1,945 people. Local members in the Bo Sierra Leone North Stake report that all seven branches in the district became wards when the stake was organized. Thus, the new stake contains the following seven wards:  Batiama, Bo, Gbonda Town, Kortugbuma, Nduvuibu, Njaie Town, and Yemo Town. Information which of the seven branches in the Bo Sierra Leone West District became wards in the new stake remains unavailable. 

The Church in Bo has experienced some of the most rapid LDS growth ever reported in the worldwide Church. The Bo Sierra Leone District originally serviced all branches in the city of Bo until the district divided to create the Bo Sierra Leone East District in 2014. The two Bo districts divided to create a third district, the Bo Sierra Leone North District, in late November 2016. Four of the seven congregations in the Bo Sierra Leone North Stake have been organized since 2015, whereas four of the seven congregations in the Bo Sierra Leone West Stake have been organized since 2014, and two of the five branches in the Bo Sierra Leone East District have been organized since 2015. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake was created less than one year after the original Bo Sierra Leone North District was organized. Never in the history of the Church has a district so quickly been organized into a stake. To make this feat even more impressive, one of the districts that the Bo Sierra Leone North District was created from also became a stake at the same time. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake is also the first predominantly Mende-speaking stake in the Church. Of the seven wards in the new stake, five wards are designated as Mende speaking. No LDS materials have appeared to have been translated into Mende.

There are now four stakes and four districts in Sierra Leone.

Arizona
The Church organized a new stake in Gilbert, Arizona on November 12th. The Gilbert Arizona Superstition Springs Stake was organized from a division of the Mesa Arizona Boulder Creek Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Elliot Groves, Highland Groves, Highland Ranch, Highland, Meadows, Monterey Park, Redfield, and Towne Meadows Wards.

There are now 114 stakes in Arizona.

India
The Church organized its first predominantly Hindi-speaking stake in the worldwide Church on November 12th. The New Delhi India Stake was organized from the New Delhi India District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Dwarka, New Delhi 1st, New Delhi 2nd, New Delhi 3rd, and New Delhi 4th Wards, and the Noida and Pitampura Branches. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be organized in northern India and within the boundaries of the India New Delhi Mission.

There are now four stakes and three districts in India. The Church has previous organized stakes in India in Hyderabad (2012), Bengaluru (2015), and Rajahmundry (2016).

Kentucky
The Church organized a new stake in Kentucky on November 5th. The Elizabethtown Kentucky Stake was organized from a division of the New Albany Indiana Stake, Crestwood Kentucky Stake, and Louisville Kentucky Stake. The new stake includes the following five ward and five branches: the Brandenburg, Elizabethtown, Glasgow, Radcliff, and Sulphur Well Wards, and the Bardstown, Campbellsville, Lebanon, Leitchfield, and Shepherdsville Branches.

There are now eight stakes in Kentucky.

Montana
The Church organized a new stake in Montana. The Billings Montana South Stake was organized from a division of the Billings Montana Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Blue Creek, Canyon Creek, Laurel, Monad, Red Lodge, and Shiloh Wards, and the Absarokee Branch.

There are now 13 stakes in Montana.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Persian (Farsi) Speaking Branch Organized in California

Last Sunday, the Church organized a Persian (Farsi) speaking branch in Del Mar, California. The new branch is the Church's only Persian-speaking branch in the worldwide Church and may be the first branch to ever conduct meetings solely in the Persian language. The Church established several branches in Iran during the 1970s and operated the Iran Tehran Mission to service members in Iran between 1975 and 1979.

Iranians have been uniquely receptive to the LDS Gospel message among peoples in the Middle East. Thousands of Iranian members have joined the Church worldwide during the past four decades and rates of convert baptisms among Iranians have appeared to increase during the past decade. Comparatively few Arabs have joined the Church. Today, Persian-speaking members have joined the Church in sizable numbers in the United States, Canada, Turkey, Sweden, Germany, and several additional European countries. The creation of a Persian-speaking branch is a significant milestone as there appear to be sufficient leadership for Persian members to maintain their own congregation. Prospects appear favorable for the organization of additional Persian-speaking branches, member groups, and Sunday School classes in several countries and locations, especially in Los Angeles, California and Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to view our October 2017 monthly newsletter that provides news updates regarding church growth and missionary developments around the world.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Stakes Created in Utah (2), Colorado, Cote d'Ivoire, the DR Congo, Ghana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nigeria, and Togo; New Districts Created in Mexico and Mozambique; Stakes Discontineud in Mexico (2) and California

Utah
The Church in Utah recently organized two new stakes.

The Midway Utah West Stake was organized on October 15th. The new stake was created from a division of the Midway Utah Stake. The Midway Utah West Stake includes the following seven wards: the Deer Creek, Fort Midway, Homestead, Swiss Alpine, Wallsburg 1st, Wallsburg 2nd, and Wasatch Mountain Wards

The Saratoga Springs Utah Saratoga Hills Stake was organized on October 8th. The new stake was created from a division of the Saratoga Springs Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Legacy Farms, Saratoga Hills 1st, Saratoga Hills 2nd, Saratoga Hills 3rd, Saratoga Hills 4th, Saratoga Hills 5th, Saratoga Springs 1st, and Saratoga Springs 2nd Wards.

There are now 591 stakes and one district in Utah.

Colorado
The Craig Colorado Stake was organized on October 15th. The new stake was created from a division of the original Meeker Colorado Stake (renamed the Rifle Colorado Stake) and the Golden Colorado Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and two branches: the Craig 1st, Craig 2nd, Meeker, Rangely 1st, Rangely 2nd, and Steamboat Springs Wards, and the Baggs and Granby Branches.

There are now 36 stakes in Colorado.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on October 22nd. The Daloa Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from the Daloa Cote d'Ivoire District. Information on which of the eight branches in the former district that became wards remains unavailable. The Church organized its first six branches in Daloa in a single weekend in February 2014 - the most branches ever organized in a single weekend in a city where no official wards or branches previously operated. The Church organized branches in Daloa into their own district in April 2015 when the Yamoussoukro Cote d'Ivoire District became a stake. The period between the organization of the first official branch and the creation of the first stake in Daloa appears to be the shortest ever reported by the Church with the exception of the creation of stakes during the Mormon colonialism period in the Intermountain West during the 1800s.

There are now 13 stakes and 12 districts in Cote d'Ivoire. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first stake created in Cote d'Ivoire. At least two more stakes in Cote d'Ivoire may be organized before the end of 2017. An article on this milestone can be found here.

DR Congo
The Church organized a new stake in Lubumbashi on October 22nd. The Ruashi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Lubumbashi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake. Information on which wards are assigned to the new stake remain unavailable.

There are now four stakes in Lubumbashi, and 17 stakes and three districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on October 22nd. The Abomosu Ghana Stake was organized from the Abomosu Ghana District. Information on which of the seven retained branches in the district became wards remains unavailable. Local missionaries reported that approximately 1,400 attended the special conference to organize the new stake. This is an impressive feat, especially for the Church's first stake in Ghana that entirely services rural communities.

There are now 21 stakes and 10 districts in Ghana.

Louisiana
The Church reinstated a stake in Louisiana. The Slidell Louisiana Stake was reinstated on October 15th. The Church originally organized the Slidell Louisiana Stake in 1985, but discontinued the stake in 2007 after many active members left the area due to destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. The new stake was organized from a division of the Denham Springs Louisiana Stake, New Orleans Louisiana Stake, Gulfport Mississippi Stake, and Hattiesburg Mississippi Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Covington, Hammond, Picayune, Slidell, and Waveland Wards, and the Amite and Bogalusa Branches.

There are now seven stakes in Louisiana.

Massachusetts
The Blackstone Valley Massachusetts Stake was organized on October 22nd. The new stake was created from a division of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake and the Boston Massachusetts Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Foxboro, Framingham 1st, Franklin 1st, Marlborough, Worcester 1st, and Worcester 2nd Wards, and the Framingham 2nd (Spanish), Franklin 2nd, and Worcester 3rd (Spanish) Branches. The new stake is the Church's second new stake created in Massachusetts within the past year.

There are now six stakes in Massachusetts.

Nigeria
A new stake was organized in Akwa Ibom State on October 15th. The Etinan Nigeria North Stake was organized from the Etinan Nigeria North District. Information on which of the seven branches in the district became wards remains unavailable. The Church now reports 11 stakes and one district in Akwa Ibom State - a larger number of stakes than in nearly all other individual African countries except Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, and Cote d'Ivoire. Furthermore, the Etinan Nigeria North Stake was initially organized as a district from the Etinan Nigeria Stake in March 2016. Thus, the Etinan Nigeria North Stake may hold the record for the shortest period of time in which the Church has organized a stake from when a district was first organized.

There are now 44 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria.

Togo
The Church organized its second stake in the West African nation of Togo. The Lomé Togo Tokoin Stake was organized on October 22nd from a division of the original Lomé Togo Stake. Information on which of the 14 wards and three branches of the original Lomé Togo Stake are included in the new stake remain unavailable. The Church organized its first district in Togo in December 2009 and created its stake in Togo in December 2013.

Mozambique
The Church organized its first district in northern Mozambique on October 22nd. The Nampula Mozambique District was created from three branches that operate in the city of Nampula. Two of these branches (Murrapaniua and Mutauanha) were organized at the same time that the new district was created. Moreover, a couple new member groups were also recently organized in northern Mozambique in Maratane and Nacala.

There are now three stakes and one district in Mozambique.

Mexico
A new district was created in Oaxaca State. The Matías Romero México District was organized on October 8th. The organization of the new district occurred in conjunction with congregation consolidations in stakes within the Juchitán area. The new district includes the following four branches: Matías Romero 1st, Matías Romero 2nd, Mogoñe, and San Juan Guichicovi.

The Church recently discontinued the Ciudad Obregón México Yaqui Stake. Originally organized in 1984, the stake was discontinued and retained congregations were reassigned to the two remaining stakes in Ciudad Obregón. There were four wards and two branches in the stake before it was discontinued.

The Church recently discontinued the Mazatlán México West Stake. Originally organized in 2002, retained wards were reassigned to the sole remaining stake in Mazatlán. There were five wards in the stake before it was discontinued.

There are now 229 stakes and 42 districts in Mexico.

California
The Church recently discontinued the Garden Grove California Stake. Originally organized in 1961, there were only four wards and two branches in the stake before its discontinuation. Additional congregations closed when the stake was discontinued and retained congregations were reassigned to the Anaheim California Stake, Cypress California Stake, and the Huntington Beach California Stake.

There are now 154 stakes in California.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mission Realignments and Consolidations to Come

The Church reported yesterday that there will be many missions closing in the near future due to fewer members serving full-time missions. The Church previously reported approximately 58,000 full-time missionaries prior to the 2012 announcement that lowered the minimum age for full-time missionary service for men and women. Due to a subsequent double cohort of missionaries (i.e. members who entered the missionary force as anticipated prior to the age change announcement plus members who entered the missionary force earlier than expected due to the age change announcement), as well as an increased percentage of missionary service among some demographic groups such as women, the number of full-time missionaries increased to a high of 88,000 in 2014, but has since decreased to approximately 70,000 at present. Furthermore, the number of missions in the Church substantially increased from 347 in 2012 to 421 at present to accommodate larger numbers of missionaries serving.

I predict that there will be dozens of missions that will close/consolidate within the next two years given a decrease of approximately 18,000 full-time missionaries serving, and a lower-than-expected number of members serving full-time missions following the end to the double missionary cohort. During the "surge" of missionaries serving that lasted from 2013-2015, church leaders initially predicted that the number of full-time missionaries would stabilize in the high 70,000s and then slowly increase after that point. However, the number of full-time missionaries serving has stabilized nearly 10,000 less than anticipated. Given the Church's previous historical average of 163 members per mission prior to the age change announcement in 2012, this would indicate that there would need to be approximately 60 fewer missions to accommodate the current size of the worldwide full-time missionary force in comparison to what church leaders originally anticipated. Nevertheless, the Church reported an average of 168 missionaries per mission in 2016 - very close to the historical average for the Church prior to the minimal age change in 2012. The Church reported an average of 200 missionaries per mission in 2014 as missions accommodated larger numbers of missionaries than previously. Thus, it appears most likely that the Church will discontinue between 15-30 missions in the next couple years as part of these realignments given that missions are not understaffed in comparison to historical averages and a recent emphasis on larger numbers of missionaries serving in most missions.

Below is a list of locations where I believe missions will most likely be closed and consolidate with neighboring missions given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts serviced by missions, and populations targeted by missionary efforts. It is likely that many of these countries will have several missions discontinued.
  • Argentina
  • Australia 
  • Bolivia
  • Chile 
  • Japan
  • Russia 
  • Mexico 
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • Ukraine
  • United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington)
It also appears likely that many new missions may be organized in the next couple years given rapid growth in some areas of the world, expanding opportunities for missionary work, populations that exhibit good receptivity to LDS outreach, minimally reached populations, and/or good stability of the local/regional full-time missionary force. Below is a list of prospective new missions that appear likely to be organize in the foreseeable future:
  • Australia Brisbane (2nd mission)
  • Brazil Porto Velho
  • Brazil Sao Luis
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Abobo
  • Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa (2nd mission)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa
  • Ghana Kumasi (2nd mission)
  • Malawi Lilongwe
  • Myanmar Yangon
  • Nigeria Abuja
  • Nigeria Ibadan
  • Nigeria Uyo
  • Philippines Bacolod (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Cabanatuan
  • Philippines Davao (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Dumaguete
  • Philippines Lucena
  • Philippines Ormoc
  • Philippines Santiago
  • Rwanda Kigali 
  • Sierra Leone Bo
  • Solomon Islands Honiara
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Texas Austin
  • Texas Plano
  • Thailand Bangkok (2nd mission)
  • Togo Lome
  • Zimbabwe Bulawayo

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

First Stake in Northern India to be Organized in November

Full-time missionaries report that the first stake in the India New Delhi Mission will be organized on November 5th. The New Delhi India Stake will be created from the New Delhi India District. Currently, the district has seven branches. The first branch in New Delhi (New Delhi 1st Branch) was organized in 1981. A second branch, the New Delhi 2nd Branch, opened in 1985 and the two branches were organized into the New Delhi India District in 1986. Additional branches in the New Delhi metropolitan area later opened, including the New Delhi 3rd Branch (1995), Dwarka (2008), Noida (2008), Pitampura (2009), and New Delhi 4th Branch (2010). Three of these branches - the Dwarka, Noida, and Pitampura Branches - were originally organized as member groups to help reduce travel times to the nearest LDS meetinghouse and to spur greater growth. Without this effort to organize these branches initially as member groups, it is unlikely that the Church in New Delhi would be currently able to meet the minimum criteria for a stake to be organized.

The New Delhi India Stake will be the fourth stake in India. Previously organized stakes in India currently operate in Hyderabad (2012), Bengaluru (2015), and Rajahmundry (2016). Missionaries anticipate that the fifth stake in India may be organized within the foreseeable future in Visakhapatnam; however, only four branches currently operate in the Visakhapatnam India District at present. The organization of the first stake in Pakistan also appears likely in the foreseeable future in either Islamabad or Lahore.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Congregation Consolidations Accelerate in Mexico

The Church in Mexico has recently consolidated dozens of wards and branches in several major cities during the past four months. As a result, there has been a net decrease of approximately 30 wards and branches during this time - the largest net decrease in congregations in Mexico ever reported by the Church. Although this may sound like a large number, this decrease constitutes only a 1.5% decline in the number of wards and branches in Mexico during this period.

Local members report that the primary reason that these congregation consolidations have occurred has been due to efforts by the Mexico Area to better utilize meetinghouses (e.g. church attendance filling 80% or more of available seating). Members indicate that the Church has many meetinghouses that are not fully utilized by congregations due to a lack of active members. The number of active members in the Church in Mexico has not appeared to noticeably increase or decrease within the past five years based upon hundreds of reports I have received from returned missionaries and local members in Mexico. However, the Church in several areas of the world has recently placed an increased emphasis on the organization of wards with larger numbers of active members in order to better staff leadership positions and meet member socialization needs. Thus, these recent changes appear to reflect a movement to have the size and functionality of international LDS congregations to become more comparable to those in the United States (e.g. 150-300 active members per ward). In the past, the Church has generally maintained significantly smaller congregations outside of North America (e.g. 50-125 active members per ward).

These congregational consolidations in Mexico indicate significant, ongoing concerns in regards to member activity, convert attrition, and leadership development. Unlike many other Latin American countries, the Church in Mexico has appeared unable to postpone the creation of new wards until congregations increase in the number of active members to the point that meetinghouses are better utilized. These developments are even more considering when considering that the Church in Mexico operates 34 missions and has not yet reported any noticeable improvements within the past five years in regards to growth. The Church in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador has appeared capable of postponing the creation of new units, and usually avoiding the consolidation of smaller or weaker units, until membership maximizes meetinghouse space so that congregations become more analogous in size and functionality to those in the United States and Canada. For example, reports from members in Peru note that most wards currently have 100-250 active members, whereas in the past most wards had significantly fewer active members (e.g. usually 50-125 active members). These recent growth trends in Mexico will likely significantly affect worldwide LDS growth trends, especially considering that the Church operates 6.5% of its worldwide congregations and claims 9.0% of its worldwide membership in Mexico.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Translations of the Book of Mormon and Triple Combinations

The Church announced in a letter from the First Presidency dated October 9th that the Book of Mormon and the Triple Combination (e.g. Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) will be translated into 34 additional languages. Languages in which the Book of Mormon will be translated include:
  • Burmese
  • Efik (select passages already available)
  • Georgian
  • Navajo (select passages already available)
  • Pohnpeian (select passages already available)
  • Sesotho
  • Tshiluba
The letter noted that the Georgian translation of the Book of Mormon is nearing completion.

Languages into which the Church will translate the Triple Combination include:
  • American Sign Language
  • Afrikaans
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Bislama
  • Burmese
  • Efik
  • Georgian
  • Greek
  • Hiligaynon 
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Lao
  • Lingala
  • Malay
  • Navajo
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Pohnpeian
  • Polish
  • Serbian
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • Sinhala
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Tahitian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Tok Pisin
  • Turkish
  • Twi
  • Urdu
  • Yoruba 
 The following languages are nearing completion for Triple Combinations:
  • Afrikaans
  • Hmong
  • Lao
  • Malay
  • Polish
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenia
  • Tamil
Several of these languages have previously had the Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price translated. However, none of these languages have appeared to have had these scriptures translated into a single Triple Combination book.

With these new translations, the Church will have translated select passages or the entire Book of Mormon into 115 languages.

Monday, October 9, 2017

First Full-time Missionaries to Serve from Senegal

Senior missionaries who serve in Accra, Ghana report that the first Senegalese full-time missionaries recently began their training at the new Ghana Missionary Training Center (MTC). Two male missionaries were called at the same time from Senegal and constitute the first known members from Senegal to have ever served a full-time mission. The Church organized its first official branch in Senegal in May 2016. Currently the Dakar Branch pertains to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission. There are four members in the branch presidency and all appear to be native Black African members. No official membership statistics for the Church in Senegal are available. No young, full-time missionaries have ever appeared to have been assigned to serve in Senegal.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our September 2017 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Two Wards and Five Branches Created in Benin City, Nigeria in One Weekend

Unprecedented congregational growth continues in Nigeria. Thus far in 2017, there has been a net increase of 78 wards and branches. This is the largest net increase in congregations of any country outside of the United States since 2000 when the Church in the Philippines reported a net increase of 106 wards and branches. To contrast, the Church in Nigeria last year reported a net increase of 46 wards and branches.

Last Sunday, the Church in Benin City organized two new wards and five new branches. This appears to be the largest number of new wards and branches organized in a single city during a single weekend in the history of the Church in Sub-Saharan Africa. Even more impressive, the Church in Benin City has already maintained a steady stream of newly organized wards and branches. Prior to last Sunday, the Church in Benin City had already organized four new branches since late August for a grand total of 11 new wards and branches created within Benin City within approximately one month. A local member in Benin City reported that within the past year there has been an emphasis on the organization of smaller congregations that assemble closer to the homes of members and prospective members. Recently organized branches over the past year have experienced good results increasing the number of people who attend church services. Thus, this church-planting approach to growth may yield more impressive increases in membership and congregations with higher convert retention and member activity.

Potential New Temples - September 2017 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference this weekend. No new temple sites were added to the map of most likely locations for new temples to be announced within the foreseeable future. I think it is unlikely that new temples will be announced this conference since five new temples were announced last April. If any announcements are made, my top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements are as follows:
  • Auckland, New Zealand 
  • Bengaluru, India OR Hyderabad, India, OR New Delhi, India
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Davao, Philippines OR Cagayan del Oro, Philippines
  • Tarawa, Kiribati
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Managua, Nicaragua 
  • Praia, Cape Verde
  • Rogers, Arkansas
  • Salvador, Brazil 
As part of the semi-annual tradition, your lists of top picks are always appreciated :) 

New Stakes Created in Utah (3), the Philippines (2), and Cote d'Ivoire; New Districts Created in Nigeria and Vietnam

Philippines
The Church has organized two new stakes in the Philippines.

The Mandaluyong Philippines Stake was organized from a division of the Makati Philippines Stake and the Manila Philippines Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Mandaluyong 1st, Mandaluyong 2nd, Mandaluyong 3rd, Mandaluyong 5th, and San Juan Wards. A special conference was held as part of the stake organization as the new stake became the Church's 100th operating stake in the Philippines.

The Calasiao Philippines Stake was organized from the Calasiao Philippines District on September 17th. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Calasiao 1st, Calasiao 2nd, Malasiqui 1st, Malasiqui 2nd, and Santa Barbara Wards. There are now four stakes in the greater Dagupan metropolitan area.

There are now 101 stakes and 74 districts in the Philippines.

Utah
The Church in Utah organized two new stakes on September 10th, and one new stake on September 17th.

The South Jordan Utah North Shore Stake was organized from a division of the South Jordan Utah Oquirrh Lake Stake (renamed the South Jordan Utah Eastlake Stake). The new stake includes the following six wards: the North Shore 1st, North Shore 2nd, North Shore 3rd, North Shore 4th, North Shore 5th, and North Shore 6th Wards.

The South Jordan Utah Garden Park Stake was organized from a division of the South Jordan Utah Founders Park Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Garden Park 1st, Garden Park 2nd, Garden Park 3rd, Garden Park 4th, Garden Park 5th, and Garden Park 6th Wards, and the Sagewood Branch (Care Center).

The Morgan Utah West Stake was organized from a division of the Morgan Utah Stake and the Morgan Utah North Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Enterprise, Milton, Morgan 4th, Morgan 6th, Morgan 8th, Peterson, Silver Lake, and Stoddard Wards. The new stake is the first new stake to be organized in Morgan County since 1981.

There are now 589 stakes and one district in Utah.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on September 10th. The Anonkoua Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from a division of the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stake and the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire West Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and six branches: the Agnissankoi, Anonkoua 1st, Assomin, Avocatier, and Sagbe Wards, and the Anonkoua 2nd, Anonkoua 3rd, Banco, Bocabo, Celeste, and Sodeci Branches. The new stake is the Church's eleventh stake to be organized in Abidjan. No other metropolitan area on the continental landmass of Africa, Asia, and Europe has as many stakes.

There are now 12 stakes and 13 districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new district in Nigeria on September 3rd. The Makurdi Nigeria District was organized from three mission branches in the city of Makurdi, namely the Makurdi 1st, Makurdi 2nd, and Makurdi 3rd Branches. The Church organized its first branch in Makurdi in November 2015.

There are now 43 stakes and 17 districts in Nigeria.

Vietnam
The Church organized its second district in Vietnam on September 17th. The Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam District was organized from a division of the Hanoi Vietnam District. Moreover, three new branches were also organized in Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding areas. The new district includes the following six branches: the Binh Duong, Phu My Hung, Quan Sau, Tan Son Nhat, Thao Dien, and Thu Duc Branches. District leadership and branch leadership positions appear minimally staffed at present. The organization of these new branches has appeared to be in response to efforts to reduce travel times to church for members and investigators, and to expand proselytism efforts in the Vietnam Hanoi Mission. Moreover, the mission has also reported an increase in the number of missionaries assigned to the mission. The organization of the new district also coincided with the redesignation of the Hanoi Vietnam District Branch as the Vietnam Hanoi Mission Branch to administer members who reside in areas outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Missionaries report that branches may also be organized in additional cities in Vietnam in the foreseeable future pending government approval.

There are now two districts and 10 branches in Vietnam. In contrast, there were only four branches and one district in Vietnam at the beginning of 2017. Convert baptisms have appeared to occur more frequently in recent months in many of the branches.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New Stakes Created in Ecuador (2), Utah (2), Brazil, and Canada; Stake Discontinued in South Korea

Ecuador
Two new stakes were organized in Ecuador last Sunday.

The Guayaquil Ecuador Fortin Stake was organized from a division of the Guayaquil Ecuador Juan Montalvo Stake and the Guayaquil Ecuador Prosperina Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Elvira, Fortin, Nueva Prosperina, Nuevo Paraiso, and Sinai Wards, and the 31 de Octubre Branch. There are now 14 stakes in the immediate Guayaquil metropolitan area.

The Los Chillos Ecuador San Rafael Stake was organized from a division of the Los Chillos Ecuador Stake and possibly another stake in the Quito metropolitan area. Information on which congregations are assigned to the new stake remains unavailable. There are now eight stakes in the Quito metropolitan area.

There are now 39 stakes and nine districts in Ecuador.

Utah
The Church organized two new stakes in Utah on August 27th.

The Lehi Utah Central Stake was organized from a division of the Lehi Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Lehi 1st, Lehi 5th, Lehi 6th, Mill Pond, Spring Creek 1st, Spring Creek 2nd, and Spring Creek 3rd Wards.

The Eagle Mountain Utah Nolen Park Stake was organized from a division of the Eagle Mountain Utah Stake, Eagle Mountain Utah Cedar Pass Stake, Eagle Mountain Utah East Stake, and the Eagle Mountain Utah North Stake. The new stake includes the following nine wards: the Chimney Rock, Eagle's Gate 1st, Eagle's Gate 2nd, Kennekuk, Parkside, Rock Creek, Rush Valley, Sundance, and Willow Springs Wards.

There are now 586 stakes and one district in Utah.

Brazil
A new stake was organized in Porto Alegre, Brazil on September 3rd. Members report that the name of the new stake is the Porto Alegre Brazil Viamao Stake. However, information on which stakes were involved in the creation of the new stake and what wards have been assigned to the new stake remain unavailable.

There are now 267 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.

Canada
The Church organized its first young single adult (YSA) stake outside of the United States on August 27th. The Lethbridge Alberta YSA Stake was organized from the three original Lethbridge stakes and the Cardston Alberta Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Cardston YSA, Lakeview YSA, London Road YSA, University Heights YSA, Victoria Park YSA, Westbridge YSA, and Westview YSA Wards.

There are now 50 stakes and three districts in Canada.

South Korea
The Church discontinued a stake in the Seoul metropolitan area. The Seoul Korea Dongdaemun Stake was discontinued and retained wards were reassigned to the Seoul Korea East Stake. The Church in Seoul has experienced one of the most widespread restructurings of stakes and wards of any city in the world during the past decade as 25 wards and branches have been discontinued since 2011. Moreover, the Church has also discontinued five stakes in the Seoul metropolitan area during the past five years. Church leaders and local members report no significant changes in the number of active members in these congregations or stakes during the past decade. Rather, these stake and congregation consolidations have been motivated by an emphasis to reduce meetinghouse operational costs and organize wards with larger numbers of active members comparable to wards within the United States. Historically, most wards in Korea have had between 50-100 active members.

There are now 12 stakes and five districts in Korea.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our August 2017 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent LDS growth developments and new resources added to our website.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Houston Texas Temple Flooded

The Houston LDS Temple Facebook page is reporting that flood waters in Houston have entered the Houston Texas Temple and damaged the interior. Although I do not usually report about news stories regarding operating temples or natural disasters, I decided to make a post about this incident because I believe it is the first time that an operating temple has ever been significantly damaged by a natural disaster. Please comment if you have information about any other instances when the Church has ever had an operating temple damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Monday, August 14, 2017

2015 Philippine Census Data - Number of Self-affiliated Latter-day Saints by Administrative Division

The Philippine government recently released statistics regarding the number of self-affiliated Latter-day Saints in each of the 101 administrative divisions of the Philippines. These statistics were gathered as part of the 2015 census. Government census data shed insight into member activity rates in the Philippines when these data are compared to the number of church-reported members (e.g. individuals listed on church records regardless of self-affiliation or active participation in church activities). See below for a map that displays the number of self-affiliated Latter-day Saints by administrative division, and the percentage of Latter-day Saints in each administrative division.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

LDS Membership and Government Census Data - Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Philippines, and Scotland

Several governments have recently conducted censuses in which information on self-identified religious affiliation is gathered. Below are a list of countries where there have been recent figures released regarding the number of people who identify as Latter-day Saint on the census. These are new figures that I have not reported before on this site or cumorah.com. Previous data regarding Latter-day Saints and census data can be obtained here. The year of this data was obtained is provided in parentheses after the country name. Moreover, the percentage of church-reported membership who self-identify on the census is provided in parentheses after the government reported number of Latter-day Saints.
  • Australia (2016): 60,864 (41%)
  • Canada (2011): 105,365 (57%)
  • Finland (2009): 3,239 (71%)
  • New Zealand (2013): 40,728 (36%)
  • Philippines (2015): 196,303 (27%)
  • Scotland (2011): 4,651 (17%)
Census data provide valuable information regarding member activity rates in the LDS Church as people voluntarily provide information about their current religious affiliation. It is interesting to note that many Latter-day Saints on church records not only do not regularly attend church but also do not even identify as a Latter-day Saint anymore. Based upon the small sample of countries with the number of self-identified Latter-day Saints reported by the census, there does not appear to be a correlation with secularism and self-affiliation of nominal Latter-day Saints on government censuses. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Stakes in Bolivia and Honduras; New Districts in Mauritius and South Africa

Bolivia
The Church organized a new district in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on July 23rd. The Santa Cruz Bolivia Viru Viru Stake was organized from a division of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Equipetrol Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Pentaguazu, Satélite, Universitario, Viru Viru, and Warnes Wards, and the Valle Sanchez Branch. The new stake is the Church's ninth stake in the Santa Cruz metropolitan area. Prospects appear favorable for Bolivia's second temple to be announced in Santa Cruz one day due to the large concentration of stakes within a single city. However, it is unclear whether a temple will be announced within the foreseeable future given that the temple appears modestly utilized by Bolivian members according to the frequency of endowment session scheduled each week.

There are now 30 stakes and eight districts in Bolivia.

Honduras
The Church organized a new stake in Honduras on July 16th. The Potrerillos Honduras Stake was organized from a division of the Villa Nueva Honduras Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the El Mochito, Morelos, Potrerillos, Santa Cruz de Yojoa, and Yojoa Wards. There are now 12 stakes within the greater San Pedro Sula metropolitan area. San Pedro Sula appears a likely candidate for its own temple one day although it is unclear whether this will occur within the foreseeable future given the relatively recent completion of the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple (dedicated in 2013) and apparent moderate utilization of the temple by Honduran and Nicaraguan members as estimated by the number of endowment sessions scheduled a week.

There are now 31 stakes and five districts in Honduras.

Mauritius
The Church organized its first district in Mauritius on July 30th. The Mauritius District was organized from a division of the St Denis Reunion/Mauritius District (renamed the St Denis Reunion District). The new district includes all three branches that operate on Mauritius, namely the Flacq, Phoenix, and Rose Hill Branches. Mauritius is administered by the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission. The population has demonstrated good receptivity to LDS outreach, but significant shortages of foreign missionary visas have slowed growth.

South Africa
The Church organized a new district in South Africa on July 30th. The Ladysmith South Africa District was organized from a division of the Newcastle South Africa District. The new district includes the following three branches: the Ezakheni, Ladysmith, and Newcastle Branches.

Also, the South Africa Durban Mission President reported that another district will be organized in the mission later this month. The Phuthaditjhaba South Africa will be organized from the Phuthaditjhaba and Bethlehem Branches. Also, two member groups will also be organized in the soon-to-be-created district (one in the Bethlehem area and one in Phuthaditjhaba).

After the Phuthaditjhaba South Africa District is organized, there will be 16 stakes and eight districts in South Africa.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our July 2017 newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent LDS growth developments and new resources added to our website.

LDS Growth in West Africa - Review and Projections

Today I posted an article on cumorah.com that provides a review of LDS growth trends in West Africa and projections for future growth within the coming 15 years. Click here to access the article. Here are some figures from this article that I found particularly interesting:
  • The annual number of convert baptisms has nearly tripled since 2010 from approximately 10,000 in 2010 to 19,993 in 2013 to 23,000 in 2014 and approximately 27,000 in 2016.
  • Membership has increased proportionally throughout the area within the past 20 years (e.g. 57% versus 52% in Nigeria, 29% versus 25% in Ghana, 5% versus 6% in Sierra Leone, 3% versus 4% in Liberia) although Cote d’Ivoire has been an outlier (6% versus 12%). 
  • There are few members and no official church presence in Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, and Western Sahara. The combined population of these countries as of 2016 was 58.0 million, or 15.8% of the total population of the Africa West Area.
  • Forty-nine percent (47%) of congregations in West Africa operated in Nigeria in 2016, whereas 26% operated in Ghana. The remainder of West African congregations functioned in Cote d’Ivoire (17%), Sierra Leone (5%), Liberia (3%), Togo (2%), Benin (1%), and Senegal (0.1%).
  • In early 2017, the Church reported 340 cities and towns with an official LDS presence including 192 in Nigeria, 91 in Ghana, 41 in Cote d’Ivoire, seven in Sierra Leone, four in Benin, three in Liberia, one in Senegal, and one in Togo. As a whole, the number of cities with an LDS presence in West Africa increased by 233% between 2001 and early 2017.
  • Provided with the range of estimated membership by the year 2030 per low (e.g. 5% for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone; 7.5% for Liberia; 10% for Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin) and high (e.g. 10% for Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone; 15% for Liberia; 20% for Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin) growth rates given historical growth trends, projected LDS membership by nation for the year 2030 is as follows: Nigeria (300,000-600,000), Ghana (145,000-275,000), Cote d’Ivoire (150,000-500,000), Sierra Leone (35,000-67,000), Liberia (30,000-80,000), Togo (15,000-50,000), Benin (10,000-34,000), Senegal (1,000-2,000), Guinea (1,000-2,000), and Mali (1,000-2,000). 
  • The Church may operate as many as 30 missions in West Africa by 2025 and 37 missions by 2030 given historical growth trends in the number of missions for the region.
  • The Church may operate as many as 264 stakes in Nigeria, 120 stakes in Ghana, 72 stakes in Cote d’Ivoire, eight stakes in Benin, eight stakes in Liberia, eight stakes in Sierra Leone, and eight stakes in Togo by the year 2025 given historical growth trends. 
  • The Church in West Africa may operate as many as 13 temples by the year 2030 if the average temple administers 38 stakes given projected stake growth trends.  
  • The Church will continue to remain a small minority in West Africa as a whole and in individual nations for many decades to come even if high projections for growth rates are maintained due to the comparatively small size of the LDS Church at present. Membership may constitute as high as one percent of the population in a few nations by the 2030s.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

New Era of LDS Expansion in West Africa

I recently received a report that the Church in West Africa will organize its first branch in another previously unreached nation within the Africa West Area in the immediate future. Although the source did not disclose the country where this branch will be created, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso appear to be the most likely possibilities. The Church within the last 18 months has created its first branches in Senegal (May 2016), Guinea (June 2017), and Mali (July 2017). The opening of branches in these nations has been the greatest coordinated effort of the Church to expand into previously unreached countries since the Church organized official branches in the former Yugoslav republics during the early 2010s (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro). The seven countries within the Africa West Area without an official LDS presence currently include Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, and Western Sahara.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Potential New Mission Districts

See below for an updated list of mission districts which I think are likely to be organized in the next couple years. Mission districts are analogous to stakes as they administer multiple branches (usually three to ten), but they have less independence in church administration and leadership than stakes. The creation of mission districts signals progress in church growth as it is an important step for the Church to establish a "center of strength" in a new location from a handful of mission branches into a more organized entity which has potential to become a stake. The creation of a district from mission branches suggests maturation in local leadership to provide sufficient manpower and the emergency of a sizable number of quality leaders to staff both branch and district callings.

Potential new districts listed below were identified based on recent congregational growth trends, missionary reports on the number of convert baptisms and activity rates, and distance and location from other nearby stakes and districts. Previous lists are available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Locations where there are fewer than three branches are included if there is a high likelihood that additional branches will be organized within the near future in order for a district to be organized.

Like other administrative and congregational units, the creation of districts is approved by the First Presidency.  Information used to compile this list does not contain any unauthorized information and I take full responsibility for this work.

AFRICA (26)

  • Akure Nigeria (4) [Akure 1st, Akure 2nd, Akure 3rd, Akure 4th Branches - all assigned to the Nigeria Benin City Mission]
  • Atta Nigeria (6) [Amakohia Ward and the Atta, Amaimo, Ogwa, Orlu, and Umundugba Branches - all currently administered by the Owerri Nigeria Stake] 
  • Blankro Cote d'Ivoire (3) [Blankro 1st, Blankro 2nd, and Blankro 3rd Branches - all currently administered by the Agboville Cote d'Ivoire District)
  • Bonny Nigeria (3) [Asarama, Bonny, and Finima Branches - all currently assigned to the Okrika Nigeria District]
  • Bori Nigeria (3) [Bori, Nortem, and Sogho Branches - all currently assigned to the Okrika Nigeria District]
  • Bujumbura Burundi (5) [Bujumbura 1st, Bujumbura 2nd, Bujumbura 3rd, Kalundu, and Uvira Branches - all currently administered by the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission]
  • Fort Dauphin Madagascar (3) [Bazaribe, Fort Dauphin, and Tanambao Branches - all branches currently administered by the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission]
  • Francistown Botswana (3) [Francistown, Gerald, and Monarch Branches- all currently administered by the Botswana/Namibia Mission]
  • Gulu Uganda (2) [Bar Dege and Gulu Branches and the Kitgum Group - all currently administered by the Uganda Kampala Mission] 
  • Kadoma Zimbabwe (3) [Chegutu, Kadoma 1st, and Kadoma 2nd Branches - all currently assigned to the Zimbabwe Harare Mission] 
  • Kakanda  DR Congo (2) [Fungurume and Kakanda Branches - both currently assigned to the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission]
  • Kakata Liberia (3) [Harbel, Kakata 1st, and Kakata 2nd Branches - all currently assigned to the Liberia Monrovia Mission]
  • Kasambalesa DR Congo (4) [Bilanga, Golf, Kasambalesa 1st, and Kasambalesa 2nd Branches - all currently assigned to the Kisanga DR Congo Stake]
  • Kitale Kenya (5) [Kitale, Mautuma, Misikhu, Naitiri, and Sikhendu Branches - all currently administered by the Eldoret Kenya District] 
  • Klerksdorp South Africa (3) [Jouberton, Klerksdorp, and Potchefstroom Branches - all currently assigned to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission]
  • Libreville Gabon (2) [Libreville 1st and Libreville 2nd Branches - both assigned to the Republic of Congo Brazzaville Mission]
  • Lira Uganda (2) [Adyel and Lira Branches - both administered by the Uganda Kampala Mission]
  • Makurdi Nigeria (3) [Makurdi 1st, Makurdi 2nd, and Makurdi 3rd Branches - all currently assigned to the Nigeria Enugu Mission]
  • Man Cote d'Ivoire (5) [Bangolo, Danané, Duekoue, Logouale, and Man Branches - all currently assigned to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission] 
  • Matadi DR Congo (2) [Buima and Matadi Branches - both assigned to the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission]
  • Meagui Cote d'Ivoire (3) [Meagui 1st, Meagui 2nd, and Meagui 3rd Branches - all assigned to the Soubre Cote d'Ivoire District]
  • Nelspruit South Africa (2) [KaNyamazane and Nelspruit Branches - both currently assigned to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission]
  • Nsukwa Nigeria District (4) [Adonte 1st, Adonte 2nd, Nsukwa 1st, and Nsukwa 2nd Branches - all currently assigned to the Ogwashi-Nsukwa Nigeria District]
  • Sapele Nigeria (2) [Oghara and Sapele Branches - both currently assigned to the Nigeria Benin City Mission]
  • Techiman Ghana (4) [Dwumoh, Kenten, Krobo, and Vatican Branches - all currently assigned to the Ghana Kumasi Mission]
  • Ugep Nigeria (2) [Ugep 1st and Ugep 2nd Branches - both currently assigned to the Nigeria Calabar Mission]
ASIA (2)
  • Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam (3) [Thảo Điền, Than Son Nhat, and Quan Sau Branches - all currently assigned to the Hanoi Vietnam District]
  • Tagudin Philippines (4) [Balaoan, Bangar, Luna, and Tagudin Branches - branches currently assigned to either the Candon Phillipines or San Fernando Philippines Stakes] 
EUROPE (1)
  • Krasnodar Russia (3) [Krasnodar Tsentraly, Novorossiysk, and Sochi Tsentralny Branches - all branches currently assigned to the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission]
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (1)
  • Tefé Brazil (3) [Coari, Jutaí, and Tefé Branches - all currently assigned to the Brazil Manaus Mission]
OCEANIA (1)
  • Aoba Vanuatu (6) [Apopo, Lobori, Lolotinge, Lovutialao, Navuti, and Redcliff Branches - all currently assigned to the Luganville Vanuatu District]

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vijayawada, India Opens to Proselytism

Missionaries serving in the India Bangalore Mission report that the city of Vijayawada has opened to proselytism. Only a member group operates in Vijayawada although a branch once used to function in the city during the 1990s. Inhabited by approximately 1.5 million and located in Andhra Pradesh State, Vijayawada is the first city in India without an official ward or branch to have had full-time missionaries assigned in more than a decade. Initial proselytism efforts have been productive and there were 27 in attendance in the Vijayawada Group during a recent sacrament meeting service.

See below for a map of LDS congregations in India. Currently LDS congregations operate in cities and towns inhabited by approximately five percent of the national population.

Milestone of 3,300 Stakes Reached

The Church recently reached the milestone of 3,300 stakes in the worldwide Church. Steady increases in the number of new stakes organized have been maintained for many years now since the rate of new stake creations dramatically slowed in the early 2000s. The creation of stakes is one of the most reliable and valid measures of LDS growth as the organization of new stakes requires certain numbers of active members and full-tithe paying priesthood holders. These criteria have been increased in most areas of the world during the past 15 years in order to avoid the discontinuation of stakes in the future in case fewer converts join the Church and remain active, active members move away, or member activity rates decline.

See below for a list of when the Church reached previous milestones for stake growth (e.g. whenever the Church has achieved a net increase of 100 additional stakes).
  • 3,300 stakes - 2017
  • 3,200 stakes - 2016
  • 3,100 stakes - 2014
  • 3,000 stakes - 2012
  • 2,900 stakes - 2011
  • 2,800 stakes - 2008
  • 2,700 stakes - 2005
  • 2,600 stakes - 2001
  • 2,500 stakes - 1998
  • 2,400 stakes - 1997
  • 2,300 stakes - 1997
  • 2,200 stakes - 1996
  • 2,100 stakes - 1995
  • 2,000 stakes - 1994
  • 1,900 stakes - 1992
  • 1,800 stakes - 1991
  • 1,700 stakes - 1988
  • 1,600 stakes - 1986
  • 1,500 stakes - 1984
  • 1,400 stakes - 1983
  • 1,300 stakes - 1981
  • 1,200 stakes - 1980
  • 1,100 stakes - 1980
  • 1,000 stakes - 1979
  • 900 stakes - 1978
  • 800 stakes - 1977
  • 700 stakes - 1975
  • 600 stakes - 1973
  • 500 stakes - 1970
  • 400 stakes - 1964
  • 300 stakes - 1960
  • 200 stakes - 1952
  • 100 stakes - 1928

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Stake in South Africa; New District in Nigeria

South Africa
The Church organized a new stake in Eastern Cape Province on July 9th. The Mdantsane South Africa Stake was organized from a division of the East London South Africa Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the East London 2nd, King Williams Town, Mdantsane 1st, Mdantsane 2nd, and Mdantsane 3rd Wards.

There are now 16 stakes and six districts in South Africa.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new district in central Nigeria on July 16th. The Otukpo Nigeria District was organized from the Otukpo Branch - a former mission branch in the Nigeria Enugu Mission. Two new branches were also created at the same time that the district was organized. Thus, the new district includes the following three branches: the Otukpo 1st, Otukpo 2nd, and Otukpo 3rd Branches. The Otukpo Nigeria District is the Church's first district to be organized in Benue State (population: 5.6 million). The Church created its first official branches in Benue State in late 2015. Today there are seven branches in Benue State - the homelands of the predominantly Christian Tiv people. Another district appears likely to be organized in the immediate future in Makurdi where there are now three branches that operate.

There are now 43 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria. Thus far in 2017, there has been a net increase of 54 wards and branches. There have been 54 new wards and branches created, and no wards or branches discontinued. This represents the largest increase in the number of wards of branches of any country thus far in 2017, and the largest increase in the number of wards and branches for any country outside of the United States since the Church reported rapid congregational growth rates in the Philippines and certain Latin American countries during the late 1990s. However, the Church in Nigeria significantly differs from the Church in Latin America and the Philippines during the late 1990s as no North American or European missionaries serve in Nigerian missions. Also, member activity and convert retention rates in Nigeria number among the highest in the world among countries with more than 100,000 members at approximately 40-50%.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ten New Stakes to be Created in West Africa during the Remainder of 2017

A recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site indicates that the Church in West Africa expects to organize 10 new stakes in the Africa West Area before the end of 2017. Earlier this year, missionaries reported that the area presidency indicated that the Church is expected to reach 100 stakes in West Africa in 2018. As there are currently 80 stakes in the Africa West Area, it appears that there will be approximately 90 stakes in the area by the end of the year. So far, the Church has organized five new stakes and four new district in the Africa West Area during 2017 according to my count (see right column of blog for complete listing of new stakes and districts organized during the year) although the recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site states that there have been 11 new stakes and districts organized during the year thus far.

The following stakes in West Africa appear most likely to divide within the next six months. New stakes created from the division of these stakes may account for some of the 10 new stakes to be created before the end of the year:
  • Aba Nigeria North (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Aba Nigeria Ogbor Hill (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon North (12 wards)
  • Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon South (13 wards)
  • Accra Ghana Adenta (11 wards, 5 branches)
  • Freetown Sierra Leone (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Lomé Togo (14 wards, 3 branches)
The following districts in West Africa appear likely to become stakes within the next 6-12 months:
  • Adzope Cote d'Ivoire (7 branches)
  • Akamkpa Nigeria (9 branches)
  • Asaba Nigeria (7 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone East (5 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone North (7 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone West (7 branches)
  • Daloa Cote d'Ivoire (8 branches)
  • Ekpoma Nigeria (10 branches)
  • Kenema Sierra Leone (8 branches)
  • Ogwashi-Nsukwa Nigeria (12 branches)
  • Paynesville Liberia (11 branches)
  • San-Pedro Cote d'Ivoire (7 branches)

Monday, July 17, 2017

First LDS Branch Created in Mali

I have previously posted about the Church's recent efforts to establish an official presence in the West African nation of Mali. The first official branch in Mali was organized on July 9th and not on June 26th as I originally reported. The Bamako Branch was organized under the administration of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. Local members report that the first branch president is not a Malian native, but rather an African from another West African country. Currently, lds.org/maps indicates that only Bamako and northern, eastern, and southern areas within approximately 100 kilometers of Bamako are within the boundaries of the Bamako Branch and the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. Otherwise, the rest of Mali remains under the administration of the Africa West Area Branch. A member group also operates to the immediate southeast of Bamako in Mountougoula. Local members report that preparations are underway for the assignment of the first missionaries in the near future.

Mali is the third West African country to have its first LDS branch organized during the past 18 months. The Church organized its first branch in Senegal in mid-2016 and in Guinea in June 2017.

New Stake in Nicaragua; New District in South Africa

Nicaragua
The Church organized a new stake in Nicaragua on July 9th. The Masatepe Nicaragua Stake was organized from a division of the Jinotepe Nicaragua Stake and the Masaya Nicaragua Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the La Concepción, Masatepe, Monimbo, San Carlos, and San Marcos Wards, and the Diriomo and San Juan de Oriente Branches.

There are now 12 stakes and four districts in Nicaragua. With the creation of three new stakes in Nicaragua during the past 18 months, prospects for a future temple announcement in Managua appear highly likely within the near future.

South Africa
The Church organized a new district in northeastern South Africa on July 2nd. The Polokwane South Africa District was organized from a division of the Tzaneen South Africa District. The new district includes the following three branches: the Mokopane, Polokwane, and Seshego Branches. The new district was likely organized due to no realistic prospects of the Tzaneen South Africa District becoming a stake in the near future due to the relatively small size of many of the branches in the district and transportation challenges for the district to effectively administer all six branches. Furthermore, the new district may provide greater administrative support to branches in the area and prepare for the opening of additional congregations in the near future.

There are now 15 stakes and six districts in South Africa.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our monthly newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent LDS growth developments.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Stakes Created in El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Missouri, New York, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Texas; New Districts Created in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Sierra Leone; District Discontinued in Poland and South Korea

NEW STAKES

El Salvador
The Church organized a new stake in El Salvador on June 18th. The San Vicente El Salvador Stake was organized from the San Vicente El Salvador District (organized in 1995) and a portion of the San Salvador El Salvador Stake. The new stake includes the following three wards and five branches: the La Paz, Los Nonualcos, and Zacatecoluca Wards, and the Cojutepeque, Ilobasco, Sensuntepeque, La Espiga, and La Torre Branches. At least two of the branches have likely become wards. However, this information has not yet been updated in the official directory. The San Vicente El Salvador District was the last district of the Church in El Salvador. Now, the entire country is administered by stakes.

There are now 20 stakes in El Salvador.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on June 25th. The Koforidua Ghana Stake was created from the the Koforidua Ghana District. The new stake includes the following seven wards and four branches: the Adweso, Asokore, Effiduase, Koforidua 1st, Koforidua 2nd, Oyoko, and Suhum Wards, and the Maase, Mile 50, Osiem, and Tafo Branches. Coincidentally, the original Koforidua Ghana District was also organized on June 25th in 1995. The Church experienced slow growth in Koforidua until a few years ago. Approximately half of the congregations in the new stake were organized within the past two years. Koforidua is the eighth metropolitan area or large city in Ghana to have had a stake organized.

There are now 20 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

Guatemala
The Church organized two new stakes in Guatemala.

The Senahu Guatemala Stake was organized from the Senahu Guatemala District on June 4th. The new stake includes the following five wards and four branches: the Providencia, Santiaguila, Seamay 2nd, Vega, and Yalijux Wards, and the Chijolom, Seamay 1st, Semarac, and Seriquiche Branches. As previously reported, the new stake is the first Q'eqchi'-speaking stake in the Church.

The Guatemala City Don Justo Stake was organized on June 18th from a division of the Guatemala City Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Arrazola, Don Justo, El Pajón, Fraijanes, Las Flores, and San José Pinula Wards. The new stake is the Church's 22nd stake in the Guatemala City metropolitan area.

There are now 48 stakes and 15 districts in Guatemala.

Honduras
The Church organized a new stake in Tegucigalpa on June 25th. The Tegucigalpa Honduras Villa Olímpica Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Tegucigalpa Honduras La Esperanza Stake. No information is currently available regarding which congregations are assigned to the new stake. The new stake is the Church's 12th stake in the Tegucigalpa metropolitan area. Tegucigalpa also reports one of the highest percentages of Latter-day Saints of any major city of the world as the city appears to be at least 3.65% LDS.

There are now 30 stakes and five districts in Honduras.

Mexico
The Church organized a new stake in Mexico for the first time since 2013. The Puebla México Arboledas Stake was organized from the Puebla México Mayorazgo Stake (renamed the Puebla México Angelópolis Stake) on June 25th. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Castillotla, Dieciseis de Septiembre, El Refugio, Loma Bella, San Ramón, and Tres Cerritos Wards. There are now 13 stakes in the Puebla-Tlaxcala-Atlixco metropolitan area.

There are now 231 stakes and 41 districts in Mexico.

Missouri
The Church organized a new stake in the St Louis metropolitan area for the first time since 1987. The Hazelwood Missouri Stake was organized from a division of the St Louis Missouri North Stake (renamed the Lake St Louis Missouri Stake) and the St Louis Missouri Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Alton, Hazelwood, Maryland Heights, St Charles, St Peters, and Weldon Spring Wards, and the San Carlos Branch (Spanish). There are now four stakes in the St Louis metropolitan area.

There are now 18 stakes in Missouri.

New York
The Church organized its third YSA stake east of the Mississippi River on June 18th. The New York New York YSA Stake was organized from YSA wards and branches from several stakes in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The new stake includes the following five wards and five branches: the Harlem YSA, Hoboken YSA, Lincoln Square YSA, Manhattan YSA, and Waveny Park YSA Wards, and the Brooklyn YSA, East Brunswick YSA, Manhattan SA, Plainview YSA, and Queens YSA Branches. YSA stakes in the eastern United States also operate in Buena Vista, Virginia (organized in 2012) and Washington DC (organized in 2016).

There are now 17 stakes and one district in New York.

Nigeria
The Church organized its first stake in Bayelsa State, Nigeria on May 14th. The Yenagoa Nigeria Stake was organized from the Yenagoa Nigeria District. The new stake includes the following six wards and two branches: the Akenfa, Iboghene, Kpansia, Onopa-Ovom, Opolo, and Yenezuepie Wards, and the Amassoma and Azikoro Branches. The Church organized its first branch in Bayelsa State in 2009 and organized the Yenagoa Nigeria District in 2013.

There are now 43 stakes and 15 districts in Nigeria.

Philippines
The Church organized three new stakes in the Philippines

The Puerto Princesa Philippines Stake was organized on May 21st from the Puerto Princesa Philippines District (organized in 1987). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Puerto Princesa 1st, Puerto Princesa 2nd, Roxas, Santa Monica 1st, and Santa Monica 2nd Wards, and the Coron and Taytay Branches. The new stake is the first stake to be organized on Palawan Island - home to 1.1 million people.

The Olongapo Philippines Stake was organized on June 4th from the Olongapo Philippines District (organized in 1978). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Cabalan, Calapacuan, Olongapo 1st, Olongapo 2nd, and Olongapo 3rd Wards, and the Mabayo and Morong Branches. The Church previously operated a stake in Olongapo between 1989 and 1993, but discontinued the stake and reverted it back to a district due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo forcing the resettlement of many Latter-day Saints who lived in the area.

The San Jose del Monte Philippines North Stake was organized from a division of the San Jose del Monte Philippines Stake on June 18th. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Francisco Homes, Kaypian, Minuyan, Santo Cristo, and Sapang Palay Wards. Rapid growth has occurred in San Jose del Monte since the original San Jose del Monte Philippines District became a stake in 2013.

There are now 99 stakes and 75 districts in the Philippines. The Church will organized its 100th stake in the Philippines within the next couple months.

Sierra Leone
The Church organized its second stake in Sierra Leone on June 18th. The Kissy Sierra Leone Stake was organized from the Kissy Sierra Leone District. Most of the nine branches in the former district have appeared to be organized into wards in the new stake. Additionally, missionaries report that there are plans to organize three additional stakes before the end of the year in Bo and Kenema. Also, the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake now has 11 wards and one branch, and the stake appears likely to divide to create another stake. Thus, there may be as many as six stakes in Sierra Leone by late 2017 or early 2018.

There are now two stakes and six districts in Sierra Leone.

Texas
The Church organized a new stake in Texas on May 21st. The Tomball Texas Stake was organized from a division of the Klein Texas Stake and The Woodlands Texas Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Champions, Gleannloch Farms, Inverness, Magnolia 1st, Memorial Springs, Parkway, and Tomball 2nd Wards. The new stake is the Church's 18th stake in the Houston metropolitan area.

There are now 74 stakes and three districts in Texas.

NEW DISTRICTS

Brazil
The Church organized a new district in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil on June 4th. The Cabo Frio Brazil District was organized from a division of the Macaé Brazil Stake. The new district includes the following three branches: the Araruama, Búzios, and Cabo Frio. The Araruama and
Búzios Branches were organized in 2015.

There are now 266 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new district in Cote d'Ivoire on May 14th. The Alepe Cote d'Ivoire District was organized from a division of the Aboisso Cote d'Ivoire District. The new district includes the following five branches: the Ahoutoue 1st, Ahoutoue 2nd, Alepe 1st, Alepe 2nd, and the Alepe Cote d'Ivoire District Branch. Four of the five branches in the new district have been organized since October 2015.

There are now 11 stakes and 13 districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

Fiji
The Church organized a new district in Fiji on June 4th. The Labasa Fiji District was organized from a division of the Taveuni Fiji District. The new district includes the following seven branches: the Labasa, Nabua, Nakawakawa, Nuku, Savusavu, Seaqaqa, and Tukavesi Branches. The Church had previously operated a district headquartered in Labasa between 1989 and 2008.

There are now four stakes and three districts in Fiji.

Papua New Guinea
The Church organized a new district in Papua New Guinea on June 25th. The Lae Papua New Guinea District was organized from four mission branches in the Papua New Guinea Lae Mission. The new district includes the following four branches: the Lae, Ngasuwampu, Taraka, and Yalu Branches. Three of these four branches were organized in late May 2017.

There are now two stakes and 12 districts in Papua New Guinea.

Sierra Leone
The Church organized a new district in Sierra Leone on May 21st. The Makeni Sierra Leone District was organized from three mission branches in Makeni. These branches include the Makama, Rogbaneh, and Teko Road Branches. The Church organized its first branch in Makeni in 2013.

There are now two stakes and six districts in Sierra Leone

DISCONTINUED DISTRICTS

Poland
The Church recently discontinued the Bydgoszcz Poland District. The four branches that previously pertained to the district have since been reassigned to the Poland Warsaw Mission or the Warsaw Poland District.

There are now two districts in Poland.

South Korea
The Church discontinued a district in South Korea. The Hongseong Korea District was discontinued and two of the three branches in the former district were closed. Branches within the district have struggled for decades with few active members and a lack of priesthood leadership. The area previously administered by the district now pertains to the Daejeon Korea Stake.

There are now 13 stakes and five districts in South Korea.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nepali Translation of the Book of Mormon Completed

The Church has published its Nepali translation of the Book of Mormon. Translation work in Nepali began in May 2010. Currently, there are only two Nepali-speaking branches worldwide, including one branch in Nepal and one branch in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are hundreds of Nepali-speaking Latter-day Saints worldwide who primarily in the United States, Nepal, Europe, and Hong Kong. There are approximately 21 million native speakers of Nepali worldwide. To view the translation, click here. For more information about a recent celebration about the new translation, click here.

First LDS District created in Cuba

Last Sunday the Church created its first district in Cuba. The Havana Cuba District includes two branches that meet in the Havana area. The Church has slowly grown in Cuba during the past decade and currently appears to have approximately 100 members. Cuba is currently assigned to the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. No full-time missionaries have ever served in Cuba.

Monday, June 19, 2017

First LDS Branch Created in Guinea

Yesterday, the Church organized its first official branch in the West African country of Guinea. The Conakry Branch was created and the new branch was assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. The entire country of Guinea has also appeared to have been assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission - the first time that Guinea has ever been assigned to an official mission. Prior to this time, church activities were overseen by the Africa West Area Presidency through the Africa West Area Branch. The organization of the Conakry Branch has occurred less than a month after the first LDS apostle to visit Guinea, Elder David A. Bednar, met with church leaders in Guinea.

Guinea is inhabited by more than 12 million people. The population is 87% Muslim, 9% Christian, and 4% followers of other faiths. The percentage of Christians in Guinea is comparable to the percentage of Christians in Sierra Leone (e.g. 10%). Other nontraditional Christian faiths such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists report slow growth in Guinea. French is the official language although most speak their official ethnic languages such as Fulani, Malinke, and Susu. For more information about prospects for future LDS growth in Guinea, click here to access a case study I wrote three yeas ago about prospective LDS outreach in Guinea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Significant LDS Developments in Mali

Local members in Mali report several significant LDS developments in Mali. The Church has appeared to obtain official government registration in Mali. The first branch in Mali will be organized in the capital city, Bamako, on June 26th under the direction of the Africa West Area Presidency. The first proselytizing missionaries will also be assigned to Mali in July and one of the missions in Cote d'Ivoire will oversee church activities in the country. Local members anticipate perhaps several cities opening to proselytism within the near future once missionaries begin to serve in Bamako. Most of these cities will likely be opened in areas with significant numbers of Christians. Significant numbers of prospective members have been preparing for baptism and will likely be baptized once missionaries arrive in the country. These developments have occurred quickly after Elder David A. Bednar's visit to Mali in late May when he met with a congregation of approximately 250 prospective members. Recently, a handful of Malians have traveled to other nations such as Ghana to be baptized. Malians have joined the Church for several decades in other nations and only a couple have served full-time missions.

There are 17.5 million people who reside in Mali and the population is 95% Muslim according to CIA World Factbook estimates from 2009. Receptivity to LDS teachings appears high based upon initial reports - a surprising finding considering the prominence of Islam in society and the lack of growth of other nontraditional proselyting Christian faiths such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. For more information about prospects for future LDS growth in Mali, click here to access a previous case study I wrote for cumorah.com.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Internet and LDS Growth

Five years ago, I wrote a case study for cumorah.com regarding the influence of the internet on LDS growth trends worldwide. This case study identifies arguments that the internet may foster or deter LDS growth, and analyzes membership growth trends among the countries with the highest and lowest rates of internet usage. This case study examines these trends using data between 2000 and 2010. I want to reaffirm that internet usage continues to appear to have no significant influence on overall LDS growth rates within the past decade based upon the research I have conducted, namely pouring over thousands of member and return missionary surveys, and the examination of internet usage rates and LDS growth rates. Rather, socioeconomic conditions (e.g. GDP per capita, standard of living, etc.), secularism, and other cultural factors appear to most strongly affect the receptivity of specific populations to LDS teachings. Furthermore, church policies regarding missionary work, proselytism approaches, and member involvement in missionary work also appear to significantly influence LDS growth trends.

Below is the conclusion of this case study:

Factors identified that favor or deter LDS growth ... indicate that the positive and negative influences of the internet on LDS growth are nearly equal in strength resulting in little to no fluctuation in membership and congregational growth trends from the recent past in most countries around the world. Rather, fluctuations in membership and congregational growth rates appear caused by changes in convert baptismal standards, mission and area policies, initiatives in mission outreach expansion, and the level of religiosity and receptivity to nontraditional Christian denominations in individual countries. Countries in which internet usage is widespread have generally exhibited linear membership growth trends before and after the advent of the internet, suggesting that the internet has a limited influence on the number of convert baptisms if there is any relationship at all. Congregational growth rates have remained stagnant or have declined in the past decade in many of the countries with the highest rates of internet usage, but this has been largely the result of other factors [(e.g. effective meetinghouse utilization programs, emphasis on the establishment of congregations with larger numbers of active members to provide more diverse socialization opportunities, closure of smaller congregations to avoid member burnout, lack of missionary resources to provide member and leadership support)] . 

Click here to access the case study. Additional insights and feedback regarding this topic would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

LDS Branch Organized in Upper West Region of Ghana - All Regions of Ghana Reached by the Church

The Church organized its first official branch in the Upper West Region of Ghana on June 4th. The new branch is located in the administrative capital city of Wa and is called the Wa Branch. Inhabited by approximately 800,000 people, the Upper West Region was the last administrative region in Ghana without an official LDS presence. Thus, all 10 administrative regions of Ghana now have at least one official ward or branch. Furthermore, Wa was previously the most populous city in Ghana without an LDS presence and the only city in Ghana with more than 100,000 inhabitants without a ward or branch. Missionaries serving in the Ghana Kumasi Mission reported earlier this year that there were approximately one dozen active members who had moved to Wa and petitioned church leaders to organize a member group or branch. The new Wa Branch reports directly to the Ghana Kumasi Mission. It is unclear whether full-time missionaries currently serve in Wa, or whether there are plans to open Wa to formal proselytism efforts in the near future.

Ghana is the first country in West Africa or Central Africa inhabited by over 10 million people to have an LDS presence established in every administrative division. Most recently, the Church in Ghana organized its first ward or branch in Upper East Region (Bolgatanga) in 2016, Northern Region (Tamale) in 2014, Brong Ahafo (Sunyani) in 2011, and Volta Region (Ho) in 2005. Despite this progress, the Church reports an official presence in only one city in three of the 10 administrative regions of Ghana, namely all three most recently opened regions of the country (e.g. Northern, Upper East, Upper West).

Given potential for growth and recent growth trends, prospects appear favorable for the organization of a second mission in Kumasi or elsewhere in central or northern Ghana within the near future.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our monthly newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent church growth developments and new/updated resources on our website.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LDS Apostle Visits Guinea, Mali, and Senegal

Elder David A. Bednar became the first LDS apostle to visit the West African nations of Guinea, Mali, and Senegal on a recent trip to the region between May 21st-23rd. A recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site reported that Elder Bednar met with members of the Dakar Branch in Senegal and offered a special prayer in which he appeared to dedicate the country for missionary work. Elder Bednar also visited with a group of 17 Latter-day Saints and 250 prospective members in the rural village of Tabakoro, Mali. There are now two member groups that operate in Mali at present, including another group that has functioned for several years in Ouélessébougou. Unfortunately, the article does not give any information regarding the Church or Elder Bednar's visit to Guinea. This visit may signal plans in the near future to officially establish LDS congregations in Mali and Guinea, and begin formal missionary activity in Senegal. Currently there are seven West African nations without an official LDS presence, including Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.