Monday, March 13, 2017

Second Stake in Sierra Leone Approved

Missionaries serving in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission report that the Church will organize a new stake in Freetown within the near future. The new stake will become the Church's second stake in Sierra Leone. It is unclear whether the new stake in Freetown will be organized from a division of the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake, or the advancement of the Kissy Sierra Leone District into a stake. The first stake in Sierra Leone was organized in late 2012 and holds the official title as the 3,000th stake in the worldwide church.

The Church in Sierra Leone has experienced rapid growth since approximately 2011. Since year-end 2011, the number of congregations has increased from 24 to 59, the number of members has increased from 10,084 to 16,115, and the number of stakes and districts has increased from zero stakes and three districts to one stake and six districts. Missionaries report hopes that one or two of the three member districts in Bo will become stakes within the next year. Also, three new branches have been organized in Bo within the past few weeks and there are plans to organize additional branches in Kenema in the near future. Mission leadership has also begun to visit isolated groups of members and investigators that meet in locations without official congregations such as in Kailahun and Mogbewa. However, it is unclear when the Church will official organize branches in these locations.

Lastly, it is interesting to note that Sierra Leone has the highest percentage of Latter-day Saints of any country in continental Africa. At year-end 2015, LDS membership constituted 0.27% of the population of Sierra Leone. The country with the next highest percentage of members in the population is Ghana at 0.26%.

90 comments:

James said...

That is wonderful news about Sierra Leone! Thanks for sharing this news with us, Matt! This strengthens my argument that Sierra Leone would make a great candidate for a temple. In terms of temple developments, several of the posts I have made to my own blog lately, a few of them have been about temples, including the report I made today about the Port-au-Prince Haiti temple site being officially confirmed today. This strengthens the likelihood that we will see a groundbreaking for Haiti's first temple soon, perhaps even before we have a site announcement and groundbreaking in Harare Zimbabwe. What an exciting time for the Church! For any who would like to read any posts I have done, I include a link to my blog. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. Thanks!

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

Eduardo Clinch said...

My parents served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone before joining the Church. They loved the people, I think they must be blessed. More recently my California nephew served his mission there and loved it. He was whisked out by (I think) a Portuguese contractor company ovrernight with 6 weeks to go in his mission because of the Ebola crisis. It was a quick egress by design. He did the MTC in Accra and I think despite fighting illnesses a lot he had a great experience.
Many other missionaries from Africa were part of the mission.
My dad and mom lived a while near Sherbro Island in the south, then extended and finished in Freetown. Also, a Croation boss I had was a UN peacekeeper there back in 2000.
Sierra Leone seems to be special place, glad to hear of this progress.

Eduardo Clinch said...

My parents served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone before joining the Church. They loved the people, I think they must be blessed. More recently my California nephew served his mission there and loved it. He was whisked out by (I think) a Portuguese contractor company ovrernight with 6 weeks to go in his mission because of the Ebola crisis. It was a quick egress by design. He did the MTC in Accra and I think despite fighting illnesses a lot he had a great experience.
Many other missionaries from Africa were part of the mission.
My dad and mom lived a while near Sherbro Island in the south, then extended and finished in Freetown. Also, a Croation boss I had was a UN peacekeeper there back in 2000.
Sierra Leone seems to be special place, glad to hear of this progress.

John Pack Lambert said...

This is great news. If the 1 or 2 Bo Stakes happen by March of 2018 I expect a temple announced for Freetown no later than the end of 2019.

If the Freetown Stake is split hopefully Kissy will be made a stake this year too.

On another note it is looking like the Ibarra Ecuadore District may be advanced to a stake soon. The number of branches there was hust doubled through boundary changes and one of the added units had been a ward.

John Pack Lambert said...

The growth in Sierra Leone is all the more impressive because it was during that time that missionaries were removed due to the Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone is also a majority Muslim Country. Only 60% Muslim so far below the often 90% seen in much of north Africa and south-west Asia. I knew a couple who while missionaries in New York City baptized a man who had been a leader of over 1 million Muslims in Sierra Leone. I get the sense that in Sierra Leone as in the Lagos Nigeria region devotion to Islam is not seen as part of ones ethnicity and leaving does not bring violence on oneself as it does in northern Nigeria.

James said...

John, thanks for those additional inspirational comments. I appreciate your continued insights. I personally am anticipating a Freetown temple within the next two conferences or so. Even though Church growth in the United States appears by all reports to be stagnating in so many ways, the growth in the African continent means that we are very likely to continue to see unprecedented growth continue and expand in the next few years. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we will see a fair few new temples announced in Africa alone in the next 5 years or so, perhaps more than anyone expects.

That said, I also appreciate your comments regarding the Muslim religion and how the growth of the LDS Church is affected in Sierra Leone and Lagos Nigeria by the prevalence of those who adhere to Muslim beliefs. It is good to see such substantial and significant Church growth in Africa, and I look forward to seeing the Lord's plan unfold more fully as it pertains to the African continent.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I am not sure how you qualify or quantify "stagnant growth" in the US when almost every state continues to grow in membership, stake growth, and temple activity and expansion.
Sure, California may have lost some units the last few years but this is a state with 7 temples, the second most LDS in the nation, and by last count the second biggest organized religion in the most populated state.
Montana just added a new stake for the first time in years, our fifth biggest city just got a temple downtown (Philly), formerly economically stressed Las Vegas is still growing (counting suburbs), and frankly I do not see where in the United States the Church is NOT growing.
Michigan?
I see positive, constant, steady Church growth in the US.
Not to take away from the robust progress in many African nations...

james anderson said...

India has some major cultural issues to work through before we see significant and substantial growth there. The biggest one is the 'caste system' where people who are gravediggers are considered less than those who are farmers or shopkeepers.

Another one is languages. The country recognizes 14 languages as official, and we may only have a few languages done as far as basic materials. For that reason, and the caste system issue, we are only proselyting among English-speakers now

james anderson said...

Last year's breakouts of the statistical report showed only 1 percent convert growth over the previous year, about 65,000 members. 2/3 of that was said to have been in Utah. That was mentioned here in a long-buried comment on a post from about last April or May

Ryan Searcy said...

Speaking of Sierra Leone having the highest % of LDS:Population, are we going to get a new LDS:Population Ratio chart after the 2016 stats are in? The last ratio chart per continent was done nearly 8 years ago, it would be wonderful to see how much it has changed.

Mike Johnson said...

From Dec 2011 to Dec 2015, the following are the average member annual growth rates:

9.11% North Dakota
2.79% Texas
2.28% Florida
2.19% Iowa
2.03% Arkansas
1.78% District of Columbia
1.74% Oklahoma
1.69% Nebraska
1.68% North Carolina
1.62% Kansas
1.60% Massachusetts
1.50% Kentucky
1.48% Tennessee
1.46% Arizona
1.44% Indiana
1.43% South Carolina
1.32% Utah
1.30% Georgia
1.30% Montana
1.27% Delaware
1.24% Wyoming

1.19% USA average

1.19% Alabama
1.18% Idaho
1.18% Washington
1.16% Vermont
1.16% Minnesota
1.13% Colorado
1.03% Virginia
1.02% Missouri
0.94% Wisconsin
0.94% Hawaii
0.93% Ohio
0.91% Rhode Island
0.90% Alaska
0.87% Michigan
0.86% New Jersey
0.82% South Dakota
0.81% Nevada
0.80% Connecticut
0.75% Oregon
0.72% New York
0.72% Louisiana
0.68% Maryland
0.57% Maine
0.47% Illinois
0.45% New Mexico
0.37% Pennsylvania
0.32% Mississippi
0.18% California
0.08% West Virginia
-0.05% New Hampshire

james anderson said...

North Dakota has previously been very hard to get anything done,

One man I tracted into answered the door and while I was smelling beer on his breath about 11am said 'Now let me get one thing straight, if I wanted to hear this bull**** I'd go to church'. And that was the only time I had anyone swear at me whe whole two years.

Some months we only saw five baptisms in that whole mission, and that was common.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

James Anderson when did you sarved in ND?

Mike Johnson said...

Ok, this is still 2015 end of year data (for LDS membership) with 2016 population

Africa
Cape Verde 41.2:1 (526,993:12,786)
Sierra Leone 408.1:1 (6,592,102:16,155)
Ghana 415.9:1 (28,033,375:67,398)
Liberia 477.0:1 (4,615,222:9,675)
Zimbabwe 573.8:1 (15,966,810:27,825)
Swaziland 709.9:1 (1,304,063:1,837)
Cote d'Ivoire 720.9:1 (23,254,184:32,258)
Botswana 727.4:1 (2,303,820:3,167)
Republic of the Congo 739.3:1 (4,740,992:6,413)
South Africa 878.3:1 (54,978,907:62,600)
Nigeria 1316.5:1 (186,987,563:142,033)
Democratic Republic of the Congo 1663.3:1 (79,722,624:47,929)
Togo 2286.3:1 (7,496,833:3,279)
Madagascar 2294.5:1 (24,915,822:10,859)
Lesotho 2474.6:1 (2,160,309:873)
Mauritius 2712.2:1 (1,277,459:471)
Uganda 2821.9:1 (40,322,768:14,289)
Namibia 2964.6:1 (2,513,981:848)
Mozambique 3349.4:1 (28,751,362:8,584)
Kenya 3663.5:1 (47,251,449:12,898)
Zambia 4673.6:1 (16,717,332:3,577)
Benin 4952.0:1 (11,166,658:2,255)
Malawi 8282.7:1 (17,749,826:2,143)
Angola 13538.2:1 (25,830,958:1,908)
Cameroon 16165.1:1 (23,924,407:1,480)
Burundi 19351.0:1 (11,552,561:597)
Central African Republic 22824.2:1 (4,998,493:219)
Rwanda 34542.9:1 (11,882,766:344)
Tanzania 37881.5:1 (55,155,473:1,456)
Ethiopia 53522.5:1 (101,853,268:1,903)

Americas
Chile 31.2:1 (18,131,850:581,155)
Uruguay 33.3:1 (3,444,071:103,477)
Honduras 48.4:1 (8,189,501:169,140)
United States 49.6:1 (324,118,787:6,531,656)
El Salvador 50.1:1 (6,146,419:122,799)
Bolivia 55.7:1 (10,888,402:195,516)
Peru 55.9:1 (31,774,225:568,559)
Guatemala 63.9:1 (16,672,956:261,013)
Nicaragua 66.7:1 (6,150,035:92,152)
Ecuador 69.8:1 (16,385,450:234,606)
Belize 71.2:1 (366,942:5,152)
Paraguay 74.2:1 (6,725,430:90,627)
Panama 77.0:1 (3,990,406:51,818)
Dominican Republic 82.5:1 (10,648,613:129,017)
Mexico 92.2:1 (128,632,004:1,394,708)
Argentina 100.1:1 (43,847,277:438,056)
Costa Rica 105.3:1 (4,857,218:46,116)
Guyana 136.4:1 (770,610:5,648)
Brazil 158.0:1 (209,567,920:1,326,738)
Puerto Rico 158.7:1 (3,680,772:23,191)
Saint Maarten 162.0:1 (39,538:244)
Canada 187.2:1 (36,286,378:193,850)
Venezuela 190.4:1 (31,518,855:165,527)
Aruba 195.2:1 (104,263:534)
Colombia 251.6:1 (48,654,392:193,350)
Saint Kitts and Nevis 266.3:1 (56,183:211)
Grenada 277.3:1 (107,327:387)
Barbados 300.3:1 (285,006:949)
Cayman Islands 302.3:1 (60,764:201)
Suriname 369.3:1 (547,610:1,483)
Bahamas 390.4:1 (392,718:1,006)
Trinidad and Tobago 400.9:1 (1,364,973:3,405)
Dominica 437.2:1 (73,016:167)
Jamaica 466.6:1 (2,803,362:6,008)
Antigua and Barbuda 485.5:1 (92,738:191)
Haiti 506.6:1 (10,848,175:21,414)
Saint Lucia 551.4:1 (186,383:338)
French Guiana 719.8:1 (275,688:383)
Guadeloupe 928.1:1 (470,547:507)
Martinique 1860.9:1 (396,364:213)

Asia
Philippines 140.4:1 (102,250,133:728,295)
Mongolia 267.2:1 (3,006,444:11,250)
Hong Kong 295.6:1 (7,346,248:24,856)
Taiwan 398.2:1 (23,395,600:58,756)
Macau 423.5:1 (597,126:1,410)
South Korea 578.5:1 (50,503,933:87,296)
Armenia 858.5:1 (3,026,048:3,525)
Japan 985.2:1 (126,323,715:128,216)
Cambodia 1185.6:1 (15,827,241:13,349)
Singapore 1577.5:1 (5,696,506:3,611)
Malaysia 3162.1:1 (30,751,602:9,725)
Thailand 3287.3:1 (68,146,609:20,730)
United Arab Emirates 6080.7:1 (9,266,971:1,524)
Georgia 13770.9:1 (3,979,781:289)
Sri Lanka 15223.7:1 (20,810,816:1,367)
Indonesia 36282.5:1 (260,581,100:7,182)
Israel 37928.1:1 (8,192,463:216)
Kazakhstan 64928.7:1 (17,855,384:275)
India 104464.3:1 (1,326,801,576:12,701)
Turkey 181371.4:1 (79,622,062:439)

Mike Johnson said...

Continued


Europe
Portugal 238.3:1 (10,304,434:43,240)
Isle of Man 279.8:1 (88,421:316)
United Kingdom 349.3:1 (65,111,143:186,423)
Spain 854.1:1 (46,064,604:53,933)
Switzerland 923.7:1 (8,379,477:9,072)
Sweden 1032.6:1 (9,851,852:9,541)
Albania 1037.4:1 (2,903,700:2,799)
Finland 1113.5:1 (5,523,904:4,961)
Norway 1126.2:1 (5,271,958:4,681)
Estonia 1165.7:1 (1,309,104:1,123)
Iceland 1210.9:1 (331,778:274)
Denmark 1290.4:1 (5,690,750:4,410)
Luxembourg 1349.5:1 (576,243:427)
Ireland 1371.5:1 (4,713,993:3,437)
Latvia 1609.7:1 (1,955,742:1,215)
Belgium 1683.2:1 (11,371,928:6,756)
France 1702.0:1 (64,668,129:37,996)
Austria 1846.5:1 (8,569,633:4,641)
Netherlands 1883.1:1 (16,979,729:9,017)
Hungary 1897.5:1 (9,821,318:5,176)
Germany 2031.0:1 (80,682,351:39,726)
Malta 2220.2:1 (419,615:189)
Italy 2278.3:1 (59,801,004:26,248)
Cyprus 2644.0:1 (1,176,598:445)
Cyprus 2644.0:1 (1,176,598:445)
Lithuania 2902.3:1 (2,850,030:982)
Bulgaria 2928.1:1 (7,097,796:2,424)
Ukraine 3860.6:1 (44,624,373:11,559)
Czech Republic 4214.2:1 (10,548,058:2,503)
Slovenia 4779.1:1 (2,069,362:433)
Russia 6313.4:1 (143,439,832:22,720)
Romania 6366.3:1 (19,372,734:3,043)
Croatia 7077.1:1 (4,225,001:597)
Moldova 10834.3:1 (4,062,862:375)
Greece 14386.6:1 (10,919,459:759)
Poland 20737.9:1 (38,593,161:1,861)
Slovakia 21291.8:1 (5,429,418:255)
Serbia 24547.9:1 (8,812,705:359)
Montenegro 36829.5:1 (626,101:17)
Bosnia and Herzegovina 59408.3:1 (3,802,134:64)

Pacific
Tonga 1.7:1 (106,915:63,392)
Samoa 2.5:1 (194,523:77,353)
American Samoa 3.4:1 (55,602:16,149)
Niue 5.3:1 (1,612:302)
Kiribati 6.6:1 (114,405:17,462)
Marshall Islands 7.3:1 (53,069:7,233)
French Polynesia 11.1:1 (285,735:25,841)
Cook Islands 11.4:1 (20,948:1,835)
Vanuatu 37.4:1 (270,470:7,237)
New Zealand 41.1:1 (4,565,185:111,141)
Palau 43.8:1 (21,501:491)
Tuvalu 44.8:1 (9,943:222)
Fiji 47.5:1 (897,537:18,912)
Northern Mariana Islands 69.8:1 (55,389:793)
Guam 75.0:1 (172,094:2,295)
Nauru 99.6:1 (10,263:103)
New Caledonia 114.8:1 (266,431:2,320)
Australia 166.0:1 (24,309,330:146,443)
Papua New Guinea 313.8:1 (7,776,115:24,780)
Solomon Islands 749.3:1 (594,934:794)

Mike Johnson said...

James, the North Dakota growth is heavily in the western counties and is the result of people moving in for the expanding job market for oil.

Ryan Searcy said...

I quickly did my own ratios based on 2015 membership and population, and these are changes in the LDS:Population ratio greater than 1,000.
Country (2009) 2015 [change]

Central African Republic (11,285) 21,932 [+10,647]
Romania (8,131) 7,091 [-1,040]
Lesotho (3,512) 2,439 [-1,-73]
Lithuania (4,209) 3,054 [-1,155]
Mozambique (4,388) 3,160 [-1,228]

Malaysia (4,474) 3,152 [-1,322]
Indonesia (37,152) 35,604 [-1,548]
Croatia (8,755) 7,128 [-1,627]
Solomon Islands (2,363) 736 [-1,627]
Uganda (4,534) 2,809 [-1,725]

DR Congo (3,257) 1,486 [-1,771]
Madagascar (4,203) 2,232 [-1,971]
Poland (24,807) 20,538 [-4,269]
Togo (4,203) 2,232 [-5,201]
Moldova (15,174) 9,165 [-6,009]

Angola (19,368) 11,960 [-7,408]
Tanzania (43,949) 35,914 [-8,035]
Cameroon (25,403) 15,806 [-9,597]
Serbia (36,675) 26,251 [-10,424]
Malawi (18,776) 8,077 [-10,699]

Georgia (26,016) 14,895 [-11,121]
Slovakia (39,248) 21,403 [-17,845]
Benin (32,786) 4,825 [-27,961]
Ethiopia (92,281) 51,993 [-40,288]
India (151,531) 100,968 [-50,563]

Kazakhstan (113,634) 60,983 [-52,651]
Turkey (325,307) 174,694 [-150,613]
Rwanda (599,180) 36,128 [-563,052]

Eduardo Clinch said...

So in the last 5 years only New Hampshire has had slight negative growth? That's not bad.
In the 50 States.
Stake growth and temple growth are still going well, even though convert rates may be down. With first world secularization and demographic shift, I think it's okay. It could always be better, but I think the kingdom is progressing.

Levi said...

So Ryan, if I'm looking at your last comment. Tell me if I understand this right. An negative change means that the membership density in a county has increased from 2015 to 2016. Am I understanding that right?

Levi said...

I mean from 2009 to 2015

james anderson said...

The Bismarck/Williston/Jamestown region has always been an area membership has grown, so the job market will help.

I was there 1986-87, 13 months in Fargo.

At that time there was just a district in Bismarck, took in Minot, and they had a building the size of a Wasatch Front stake center, probably from the 70s although some design elements may have been from earlier. Even then, they were hoping for a stake although that didn't pan out until much later.

james anderson said...

One other oddity about Williston. For many years they had KSL-TV available over the air, not on cable, satellite was the big dishes and there were hoops to go through to put one in, so most had rabbit ears and that is how you got that. The translator started operations probably well before 1980 and missionaries mentioned seeing it.

Ryan Searcy said...

The negative is a comparison from 2009 to 2015, if a country had 1 LDS per 100 people in 2009, and 1 LDS per 75 people in 2015, that is a "loss" of 25 people that are not LDS in terms of the general population.

James said...

If any of these comments have been directed to me, I was basing my statement that the expansion of the Church has stagnated in the United States based on a news article at the following address:

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4776326-155/mormon-growth-slowing-dramatically-in-us

The article, written this year and quoting our own Matthew Martinich, indicates why Matt has voiced the opinion covered in the article, that Church growth is stagnating in the United States. And with that in mind, it is little wonder that the seven temples announced in the last two years are for locations outside the United States. And that is a wonderful witness to the fact that this Church is no longer the "Utah" or "United States Church" which it started out as being. Rather than discouraging, I find that fact most encouraging.

That said, I hope for many temples to be announced this time around, particularly for locations in the United States. Hope that helps explain my statement more.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

I had a company that was moved into my Mission from the South Dakota mission and back in 2014 they had around 400 batismes but they also had almost 300 Missanrrays at that time.

james anderson said...

While we had that very low baptism rate, the 400 in one year still sounds a little low based on scattered records we found in various areas that said that in around 1984 they had around 50-60 a month for a while there and the decline happened just about the time I arrived in `995, the mission had `29 or so missionaries then, give or take.

John Pack Lambert said...

Vermont may be seeing less LDS growth than Michigan. Even in Michigan in the metro Detroit area I think the number and strength of members has grown. In the Lansing mission boundaries another ward was created in the last 5 years and at least one branch was advanced to being a ward. Not spectacular but still a positive growth trend.

John Pack Lambert said...

So New Hampshire is the only state loosing members. Which makes it more interesting that a new stake was formed largely from NH based stakes last year.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church has congregations meeting in Telugu, Kannada and Tamil in India so I strongly suspect that the policies of only proselyting in English that were in place 15 years ago have been modified.

John Pack Lambert said...

The 2 missions may have different policies. Only the Bangaluru Mission has units in langusges other than English in India.

The main thing keeping down growth in India is not culture per se but politics. Specifically the politivs that keeps a low limit on missionary visas. However I have a sense that with 3 stakes India is starting to send out more of its own missionaries.

John Pack Lambert said...

There are areas in the DR Congo that almost reached stake status without ever having had fulltime missionaries so the missionary issues is not the only factor that keeps groth low in India. Still it should be remembered that India has about 20 million Christians. In north-east India there are at least 2 ststes that are over 90% Christian. Nagaland and Manipur. Combined they have well under 5 million people but still way more people than Tonga and Samoa combined. The thing is the languages and culturez there are very different than that of southern India where the Church has its main base, partly as a result of the conversion of Paul Thiavadros back in the 1960s. Brother Thiavadros was a Pentecostal Minister before he joined the Church. He had learned about the Church from reading literature on it. In about 1963 Elder Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife Marjorie went on their first round the world tour. They stopped in India and met with Brother Thiavadros and some of his folloers. Elder Hinckley had been given permission to baptize Brother Thiavadros if he felt so inspired but he didnt feel that Brother Thiavadros was spiritually ready especially since there was no system in place to keep in contact. At some later time Brother Thiabadros was baptized.

John Pack Lambert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

I find all of this most interesting. Thanks for the ongoing discussion and the very inspirational comments. I am learning a lot about Church growth, and I hope that my comments, such as they have been, might prove equally inspiring to someone else.

Grant Emery said...

So, I feel like the Prodigal Son, embarrassed for being off this blog for so many months. (Though, I feel like I read more than I commented.) Anyway ...

The Paris Temple Open House starts in a few weeks. If memory serves me right, I thought that temple interior shots are generally released when the Open House is announced. Is that not the case? They haven't released any interior shots of the Paris Temple. I understand why they skipped a public groundbreaking ceremony (didn't want to attract more attention from potential opponents), but I don't really see the benefit of not releasing photos. Am I just off on timelines?

TempleRick said...

Welcome back, Grant! Interior photographs are released when the VIP/Media tours begin, usually 2-4 days before the public open house begins. Can't wait to see the photographs for Paris!

John Pack Lambert said...

This article in the Deseret News http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865675659/How-a-church-transforms-immigrants-and-immigrants-transform-a-church.html on the Catholic Church and immigrants begs almost for one on the same issue of the LDS Church and immigration. At my blog I am going to try to address the issues in more detail. My blog is http://michiganmormondefender.blogspot.com/

James said...

I too would like to welcome you back, Grant! Not sure if I have previously interacted with you personally, but I will enjoy the chance to hear more from you going forward. As I have mentioned many times previously, as I was growing up, I developed a great love for the country of France and the French language. Following the progress of Church growth in France has been a regular hobby of mine. If I had been able to serve a full-time proselyting mission, my preference would have been a call to Paris France. Based on what I had read up to that point, when I started my BYU secondary education experience in January 2009 (roughly eight months after concluding my part-time mission), I felt that a temple in France would happen at some point, but I didn't believe it would happen during my lifetime. I was therefore surprised two years after that to find out that a Parisian newspaper leaked the news that a temple in France was being looked at by the Church. I was elated when President Monson had Church Public Affairs put out a statement on July 15 confirming that a French temple was under consideration. I waited and watched with baited breath to see when we would have a groundbreaking for that temple. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised to find that it became the second temple of the Church (the other being in Tokyo Japan) that had construction commence quietly due to the opposition that could have been possible relating to a formally held groundbreaking. Fortunately, it appears that when those who viewed the French temple unfavorably did not seem to want to halt its progress once it got underway. And in just over two months, we will have the dedication of that temple. I am so excited about that. I am also no less excited about how many temples might potentially be announced in General Conference, the initial session of which, though I only realized it today, will be held eight days from now, with the remaining five held the following weekend. I am anxious to see how my semiannual General Conference predictions will stack up against what actually takes place. There are some things I am absolutely certain of in relation to those predictions, and I'm sure the Lord will surprise me by having some things happen that neither I nor anyone else could conceive of or predict. Whatever happens, you can be sure that I will report it all on my blog. I post a link for that for everyone generally, and particularly for you, Grant Emery, as well as any new readers that might not be familiar with my blog. Directly under that, I am also posting again the link to the LDS Growth forum established and administered by another great contributor to these blog comment threads, David Todd. As extensive as the discussions in the comment threads of this blog and my blog have been, the discussions on the forum are even more extensive and covering a wide array of topics. Even though the forum is, as yet, in its infancy, the hope is to allow for more broad and further-reaching give-and-take insight sharing on important subjects related to Church growth. I invite any who are interested to read and comment on both my blog and the forum as you feel inspired to do. Thanks to you all for this excellent ongoing public discussion of such important topics.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com
http://ldsgrowth.proboards.com/

John Pack Lambert said...

One of the newly called mission presidents is the son-in-law of emeritus general authority Sheldon F. Child. This person, Scott L. Hymas, also succeeded his father-in-law as head of the company RC Wiley.

John Pack Lambert said...

My favorite this week is Ruel E. Lacanienta. Brother Lacanienta is an example of why saying stats about mission presidents often obscure more than they reveal. Also, it might not be best to take the career listings in the Church News at face value. I see why Brother Lacanienta is called a retired financial analysts for American Airlines. He retired in 2009. He was born in about 1953. However according to his Linkedin account he has been a realtor since 2004.

The most interesting detail from the Linkedin account is that he was an accountant at the Polynesian Cultural Center from 1980-1983.

Brother Lacanienta is the first case of a Filipno man with an American wife that I have come across, at least if I have come across another I have forgotten.

Brother Lacanienta served his mission in the Philippines Mission. That mission was split in 1974, so he most likely started his mission before that date. The start of 1974 was also when mission names were shifted to all include a city as well as country or US state, although since then a few missions without a city in their official name (I believe 5 at present, Adriatic North, Adriatic South, Central Eurasian, Alpine German Speaking and Baltic) do not have a city in their name. I know the West Indies Mission also has existed more recently without a designated city, and there may still be a mission by that name.

If Brother Lacanienta is 64 he was probably born in 1963 (although 1962 is possible). He would have turned 19 by early 1972, and so my guess is served either 1971-1973 or 1972-1974.

Just to make things confusing the current Cebu Mission seems to date to 1987. I had to go to the 2005 Church Almanac, the last one to have the listings of all missions with their name changes, to figure things out. In 1987 the Cebu Mission was split, with the Cebu East Mission formed. In 1988 the Cebu East Mission was renamed the Philippines Cebu Mission with the Cebu Mission renamed to Bacolob.

Brother Lacanienta was born in Cebu City.

Missionary work does not start in the Philippines at least with full time missionaries until June 1961. I wish that the Church Almanac gave an indication of when missionaries first arrived in Cebu City, although to be fair I only know Brother Lacanienta was born in Cebu City. His family did not join the Church until some later date, although it appears his parents may have lived in Utah at some point, but that may have been much more recently.

Back to Brother Lacanienta, based on his Linkedin profile he probably started at BYU-Hawaii before his mission, and then finished there after his mission. He has an MBA from Chaminade University of Honolulu, and it appears he was working on that MBA when he was an accountant at the PCC. The linkedin entry also lists Union High School as a place attended by Lacanienta, but does not give me any clue which of the many institutions with this name it may be referring to.

As best I can tell, Brother Lacanienta is a Filipino born mission president, who served his mission in the Philippines and is being sent back there, who has spent all his adult life except his mission in the US, although to be fair he was in Hawaii for a few years, which is a very Filipino place. He may have spent his teenaged years somewhere in the US as well, but that is not at all clear.

Sister Lacanienta's maiden name is Pamela Ann Elwood. She was born in Butler, Pennsylvania which is 35 miles north of Pittsburgh. I can't figure out if her family was like that of Orrin Hatch, Utah's who had come east to work in the steel industry, or if they were local converts. Actually I do not know if her family were members then or joined the Church later.

John Pack Lambert said...

I came across a blog by Elder and Sister Lacanienta. It gives more light on one of the listings in the Church News Article. Elder Lacanienta is said to have been an Area Executive Secretary, and Sister Lacanienta an Assistant Area Executive Secretary. This is evidently different than Stephen R. Davis, who along with his wife will succeed James and Diane Toronto in running the Central Eurasian Mission, who serves as an executive secretary to an area seventy.

It was not clear from the Church News, but is from their blog, the Lacanientas served as executive secretary and assistant exectuvie secretary for the area as a mission assignment. I knew a couple when I was in Provo that was heading to Chile for a similar assignment. This was Benjamin De Hoyos and his wife. Not the Benjamin De Hoyos who is a general authority, but the one who is the brother of Arturo De Hoyos, much older than the general authority, and was the first head of BYU's Ballroom dance team back in about 1960 or so. He is a native of Mexico, although at that point had probably lived in Utah for 50 years.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here http://pimissionpossible.blogspot.com/p/our-story.html is a link to the Lacanienta's blog.

From this we learn that Brother Lacanienta's family joined the Church in 1963. This would have been when He was 10 or 11. So he is by all definitions a convert, unlike President Uchtdorf who since he was baptized at age 8 as the child of member parents did not count as a convert. There was a missionary in my mission from Yap who would tell people he was a convert, but actually his parents joined when he was 6 or 7 so his baptism did not count as a convert baptism.

Evidently Brother Lacanienta's parents were the first native Filipinos to be sealed in the temple. They were sealed in the Oakland Temple, which was dedicated in late 1964.

Sister Lacamienta is a convert who joined the Church in the early to mid 1980s. She was baptized in 1987, in her "small town in Pennsylvania", apparently Butler but maybe another one by that point.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have now been side tracked into learning about Ian S. Ardern. Elder Ardern is a New Zealander who served his mission in Belgium and France. He then worked at the Church College of New Zealand (a high school) as an English teacher and later principal. He was later area CES director in the Pacific. He was mission president in Fiji, then was an institute director in Hamilton, New Zealand. He has been president of the Philippines Area since 2014. Before that he was a counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency.

twinnumerouno said...

John, I don't know about Cebu but my father served part of his mission in the Philippines and was there when the Philippines Mission was split off from the Southern Far East mission in I believe the fall of 1967 (he started his mission in Hong Kong in 1966 and was there just over a year- then was sent to the Philippines a few months before the mission was divided). He served mostly in the Manila area until his release in 1968 but one of his areas was in Bacolod, the island to the west of Cebu. He said that he and 3 other missionaries covered the entire island. My guess would be that Cebu would have had a somewhat similar missionary coverage in the late 60's, though I don't know any specifics.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Ikot Ekpene stake just had a new ward, the Ikot Essien Ekot ward created. This is in Akwa Ibom Stake, which is actually the state in Nigeria with the most stakes, at I believe 11 or 12. It is just to the west and south of Abia state, and so not at all far from the Aba Nigeria Temple, and so not likely to see a new temple.

By the way, does anyone know what Ikot means. 4 stakes in Nigeria have names that are Ikot plus another word, as do 5 wards just in the Ikot Ekpene Stake. In all there are about 40 wards and brnaches with Ikot in their name, actually more like 45-50, but I only counted once if there was a 2nd or higher number with the same name.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the talk page on Wikipedia for Ikot Ekpene there is a statement that Ikot means "farm of". I am not sure how reliable this is, but that is a start. It appears to be part of the generalized language/cultural family of Igbo, the broad ethnic classification for those in Akwa Ibom and surrounding parts of Nigeria. I have to admit I feel like I need to do a lot more study to have even a limited grasp of south-east Nigeria.

Even though the Church is bigger in Nigeria than Ghana, I have a lot more confidence in talking on Ghana. This is because I have known more Ghanaians, went to a lecture at BYU by Brother Emmauel Abu Kissi, also attneded the 25th anniversary celbration of the 1978 revelation where Elder Merril J. Bateman spoke, and he gave mostly insight on Ghana, wrote a paper on the Church in Ghana (which was not all that good) for my International Church class at BYU, and most importantly read Dr. Kissi's "Walking in the Sand". No one has produced a similarly useful book on Nigeria. The fact that Nigeria has 184 million people to 27 million makes Ghana are more easy to understand place. Also Ghana's population is 47% Akan, while in Nigeria the largest ethnic listing in the CIA world factbook is the Hausa/Fulani who constitute 29% of the population. The Yoruba make 21% of the population, and the Igbo (who are probably the most numerous amongst LDS in Nigeria) are 18% of the population. That still means the Igbo population in Nigeria exceeds the total population in Ghana.

John Pack Lambert said...

2 of the new mission presidents listed this week are sons of general authorites, either present or past. Jairo Mazzagardi Jr from Itatiba Brazil is the son of Jairo Mazzagardi. Brother Mazzagardi is the CEO of Cumorah Real Estate, a firm his father used to run. He lives in Sao Paulo State, and his wife was born in Sao Paulo. They will be presiding over the Vitoria Mission, the next one north from the Rio de Jainero Mission.

Paul J. Sorensen is the son of David E. Sorensen, who was head of the temple department during the doubling of temples in just a few years under President Hinckley. Brother Sorenson was born in Pasadena, California, his father was a native of Aurora, Utah, a small town just a little south of Manti in Sevier County. Paul Sorensen was born in about 1973, when his father was 40 or so. His parents were married in 1958 and when their olderst children were small lived in Salt Lake City. It appears from my studies that Paul Sorensen was probably largely raised in California, although his father seems to have retained a connection with the family ranch, so they may have at times returned there.

Sister Sorensen (wife of Paul) was born in Acadia, California. Paul Sorensen served in the Geneva Switzerland Mission and is going to preside over the Paris France Mission. Sister Sorensen served in the Italy Rome Mission. 3 of the 8 wives of mission presidents in this weeks Church News served missions before their marriage. Paul and Allyson Sorensen live in Santa Barbara, California.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Arcadia, California. A former stake president of mine in Indiana was a missionary with his wife there.
Here's a question that makes me wonder: with all the missions in California there has to be thousands of converts there every year. However, as many of us observe, numerous units have fused there over the years. Are these converts moving away to Utah and Idaho and elsewhere? Have some moved back to Mexico? In the early 2000s I knew an immigrant couple from Oaxaca, Mexico, and El Salvador who moved to Utah from San Bernardino. I know of at least 3 Chileans from acquaintance in South America who have immigrated to Utah.
I think we should recognize Church growth in Utah often as results of missionary growth in other parts of the world.
And this is consistent since 1847.

james anderson said...

Found this video and transcript of the 2017 Africa West Area Plan. Could proveuseful.

https://africawest.lds.org/2017-area-plan-presentation-by-area-presidency?lang=eng-afw

James said...

That is interesting, to be sure. Thanks for sharing that, James! It is awesome to see the visions of area leaders unfold in the areas over which they preside. As I have before noted, the Church seems to be experiencing the most significant growth in South America and Africa. It is interesting to think that, for the seven temples announced within the last two years, 2 of them have been for Africa, 1 for the Caribbean, 1 for Asia, and 3 for South America. This suggests a definite focus by area leaders, missionaries, and members on working together to expand the work throughout the world. No less significant is the thought of where future temples might be announced in the next little while. On my own list alone, I count 4 possibilities for Africa, 1 for Central America, 2 for Europe, 1 for Mexico, 13 for the United States (2 of those for Utah), 1 each for Mexico and the Pacific, and 3 for South America. That brings the total on my list to 26.

It will be most interesting to see what happens in terms of temple announcements in the upcoming General Conference. And the fact that the discussion of such possibilities is so extensive on this blog, my own blog, and the LDS Growth Forum is a testament to how important this subject is to so many people. And I for one am so grateful that, even in the smallest possible degree, my thoughts on the subject are garnering so much feedback.

James said...

It is most amazing to consider the developments that have happened in terms of temples just in the 9+ years since President Monson became Church President. This, combined with the similarly significant focus on that topic by his two predecessors, means that the Church is really determined to bring the temples to the people, ensure that they are being utilized to the fullest extent, and to also ensure that every Church member is within at least 200 miles or less of the nearest temple. And the fact that this is not only becoming a reality, but that the distances are being substantially shortened above and beyond that, is astounding and inspiring. We are even seeing the idea of more than one temple in some cities being seriously considered. And even temples in some neighboring cities are becoming more prevalent. As I have before noted, I personally am within an easy driving distance of three temples, and I do occasionally hear whispers that my current home city of Orem might one day soon become home to another temple. My studies on the matter have led me to conclude that it might not happen that way for at least the next 5 years or so, and perhaps longer than that.


I also am the first to acknowledge that, even though I have extensively studied where future temples might be built, and even though I have had a lot of feedback that verifies how accurate some of my selections might be, my process of making such determinations is far from perfect. That said, I have had some success at times with correctly discerning some temple sites prior to their subsequent announcements. I always believed, for example, that temples would be built in Payson Utah and Paris France, but I never thought they would happen during my lifetime, and I am so grateful that the Payson Utah temple was dedicated in 2015 and that the one in Paris will be dedicated in roughly 2 months. I also felt impressed to promise one of my friends, who was serving a mission in Italy and became discouraged about the lack of progress he was seeing in his service there, that a temple would be built there someday, and that temple is anticipated to be one of the first dedicated next year. Additionally, as I have also before observed, of the four sites announced just last year, I had the correct nation for all four of them, and the correct exact location for two of those four. By contrast, the three temples announced the previous year came as a complete surprise to me. And so, I am counting on several new temples being announced two weekends from now. I am interested to see just how well my list of sites stack up to the actual site announcements. I will not be surprised if I have correctly discerned some of those announcements, but neither will I be disappointed at all if any or all of those announcements are for sites that I have not predicted or anticipated.

It always amazes me to consider where the Lord has placed previous temples, and to recognize that there is so much that goes into selecting and announcing future sites. One thing seems absolutely certain though: In the 13 years left between now and when the Church will mark the 200th anniversary of its restoration, we would only need 23 additional temples announced and to have the remaining 12 dedicated to reach the milestone of 200 temples. We would only need a minimum of 3 dedications per year in order to accomplish that. And it looks very much as though the next two or three years will almost completely clear out the current list of temples that are either announced, have had a groundbreaking but still have construction pending, or are in various phases of construction, so it is almost certain that the Church could do so, whether or not that is announced as an official goal by the Church. And that would be wonderful. I hope with all my heart that things happen that way.

James said...

After all, this year, we will have 4 dedications (1 above that average), and we could have 5 or 6 next year, with as many as 5 or 6 in 2019. If the Church keeps that average of between 4 and 6 per year, we could have around 20 dedications minimum by the end of 2020, which would mean that only 25 would be needed in the 9 years following. As the numbers don't lie, I could see it happening for sure. And hopefully, as all of these future developments unfold, all available resources (primarily the LDS Church temples website, this blog, and my own blog) will continue to be looked to for the latest developments.

I feel that it is because of the efforts of those who maintain the resources available to me that I have been able to achieve the degree of success which I have reached in my own efforts to keep the world informed of what is currently and may in the future happen regarding temple developments. And I look forward to seeing how temples will continue to dot the earth and be built in so many deserving places. We are truly in an unprecedented era of temple building, and the Saints in the locations that are being considered, selected, and announced for future edifices will surely be blessed as they embrace the blessings of those sacred places. Thanks for reading my additional thoughts on this matter.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Concepcion is a big deal as a temple as far as helping members within 200 miles of a location. Chile could use another two temples, at least, to help large numbers of membership to be within 500 miles of a temple. Southern Argentina has some similar concerns. I think even northern Argentina has needs as such.
It is great to see African nations able to support temples of the Lord. When the first temples of Kirtland, Nauvoo, St.George, Logan, and Manti were built, the Saints were very humble and poor. I can't help but think temple presence in locales help the regions materially as well as spiritually. Sierra Leone will be beautiful to witness. My parents went there on development and health missions, my former boss for security reasons, and most recently my nephew for spiritual proselytism. It is great to see the peoples of the earth being blessed by the saving ordinances of the Houses of the Lord.
What a day when Jerusalem and Independence and Far West have those temples in place.
And perhaps Beirut, Cairo, and Baghdad, or a nearby site like Hillah.
Or a future temple in Kurdistan, not to mention Constantinople.
Keep tithing and attending.

Ryan Searcy said...

Special Stake Conference in the Anchorage Alaska North Stake today: I didn't attend, but here are some details I have heard with certainty.

A few bishopric reassignments (my home ward bishop has been fighting cancer and got released)
Dillingham Branch has been downgraded to a group. (Branch Loss)
Turnagain and Inlet View Wards have been combined into the Westchester Ward. (Ward Loss)

This is where the details get a bit vague.
It appears the Northern Lights Ward (Samoan) has been renamed the Tudor Ward (Samoan).
I guess there is a new Samoan Ward called Tikishla Park Ward, but details are uncertain.

I will comment again when I gain all the facts.

John Pack Lambert said...

There has been a large exosuds of Church members, some convets, some life-long members, from California to other parts of the US. Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are probably the states that get the most, but they move elsewhere as well.

From time to time we get move-ins from California here in Michigan.

From about 1992-1994, and also I think from 2005-2007 the total number of members in California dropped. At times some areas of California have seen very high rates of members moving out. Some of this has been migration to other parts of California.

Christopher said...

Next month our stake here in Lethbridge Alberta West Stake (Canada) will be getting a new ward, a realignment of Sheran Park and Copperwood wards. Exciting since Copperwood is only five years old. That will make 11 wards in the stake, with 3 YSA wards. I have heard rumors of a making a YSA stake in Lethbridge and surrounding areas. Lots of member move ins in the Lethbridge West Stake: more young families and new couples living close to the University. The other two stakes in Lethbridge are a little more stagnant. About 1 in 10 people in Lethbridge is a member.

Ryan Searcy said...

Our YSA Ward is being moved to a building in the Anchorage North Stake, but I don't know if we have been moved to the North Stake. It makes sense since that building is next to the Institute building, but I wonder if this may be a precursor to organizing a YSA Branch in Eagle River since their commute to church has been extended.

Ryan Searcy said...

So, it looks like the Northern Lights (Samoan) and Lake Otis (Samoan) Wards were combined to form the Tudor Ward, but it is not clear if the Tudor Ward remains a Samoan ward, since the Stake presidency encourages all in the boundaries of the Tudor Ward to attend, regardless of language. The Tikishla Park Ward is a Samoan-speaking Ward.

Christopher Nicholson said...

So, I'm not taking an hour and a half to listen to this podcast, but in summary it claims that 800(!) units in Europe are going to be consolidated due to weak membership. http://www.mormonstories.org/contraction-of-lds-church-in-europe-and-the-netherlands/ Thoughts? If true, is there any conceivable silver lining in this or does the European situation just totally stink?

Ryan Searcy said...

It would not make sense for the Church to consolidate nearly 66% of the congregations in Western Europe. It does state that 800 units have weak membership, but that does not mean all 800 will be consolidated. Still, it is sad to think about how difficult the work may be in Europe.

miro said...

@Christopher
The europe area had the hightes church attendance ever in 2015 at a 110'000. Numbers went back againt in 2016 to around 100'000. A 100'000 sacrament meeting attendance was also has been reached just a few years ago for the first time. There has always been an up and down with attendance but over the long term it is still growing in Europe over the long term. The drop in 2016 may have to do with, that alll congregations where asked to start there meetings with sacrament from then on.

I have a frend that works in the europe offices of the church and is responsible for proposing changes in congregations. There are disscussion to consolidate some congragations and stakes in europe. Last time i heard (Mai 2016) nothing had been decieded then. Europe has a lot of congregations for it's acctive membership compared to other places.
Pristhood is strong limmited but strong in many congregations. Some have served for many years in branch leadership with no replacments. Nobody moving in, all the youth moving away. Since there are not many converts, it is important to keep the youth. Small congregations have specially struggeld with that. So fewer congregatons but bigger might also be a blessing.

In my country Switzerland some ward with attendance over a 100 struggle with parking. But by law they are not allowed to build more parking paces. So even if the church wants larger congregations this parking issue might cause problems.

Michael Worley said...

Mormon Stories has a bias in favor of claims that the church is shrinking.

Hal Bright said...

The name "Ikot" often replaces "the house of... or the people of ", referring to their origin or ancestors. Another meaning for Ikot in Ibibioland is bush. From a wikipedia entry, so take it with a grain of salt.

John Pack Lambert said...

House of/farm of probably end up being similar in usage in agricultural areas so I think we have a general sense of meaning.

So far this week we have 4 new wards and 1 new branch reported. 2 new wards in Utah both in 1 stake in West Jordan, a new Spanish-speaking ward in Mission in the McAllen West stake. A good sign but I still would be surprised by the announcement of a McAllen temple this year but no more than by the Hartford Temple.

Calabar Nigeria stake got another ward added. Also a new branch was formed directly under the Brazilia mission. The Church is still only minimally established in some parts of Brazil. To be fair Brazil has just a little more area than the continental US but only 2/3rds the population so some parts of Brazil have very thinnyly spread out population.

John Pack Lambert said...

The new branch in Brazil is in Paracatu which is in Minais Gerais state. It is the commercial hud for an agricultural and ranching area a third the size of Portugal. The municipality has a population of 84,000. There is also mining as well as agriculture. Most of the agriculture is irrigation.

Probably the closest existing unit is in Unai also a branch directly under the Brasilia mission. Hopefully a district can be formed covering this area soon. Although I have to admit that part of my wonders if the vision of groth needs to be elevated and the Daloa plan followed. Of course Brazilia mission has a mission branch so there could be lots of groups operating under it many of which hopefully will soon be branches.

John Pack Lambert said...

In some cases organizing a YSA group to draw from multiple wards but be under 1 specific ward may be more effective.

John Pack Lambert said...

Consolidating wards or branches is not always a bad thing. It is the apoststes at Mormon stories who try to spin it as bad. There is strength in numbers and so larger congregations are a plus. I can gaurantee the number of active members in Detroit today is higher than 20 years ago when there were 3 times as many church units.

james anderson said...

The northern area of Minas Gerais state is less populated so that figures with the member group. The largest city closest to Brasilia is Uberaba, that looks like it has as many as 250,000 people in it, and there are few larger places west and north of Brasilia as well outside of the Goiania and Angeles areas.

Ryan Searcy said...

I have ascertained the final changes made to the Anchorage Alaska North Stake:

1) Dillingham Branch reorganized as a group under the Westchester Ward. (-1 Branch)
2) The Turnagain and Inlet View Wards have combined to form the Westchester Ward. (-1 Ward)
3) The Lake Otis Ward (Samoan) has been split in half, the north portion of the ward combining with the Northern Lights Ward (Samoan) and renamed the Tikishla Park Ward (Samoan).
4) The south portion of the Lake Otis Ward (Samoan) was combined with the Campbell Park Ward to form the bi-lingual Tudor Ward (-1 Ward).

Current congregations of the Anchorage Alaska North Stake:
Airport Heights Ward
Chester Valley Ward
Dimond Ward (Samoan)
Lake Hood Ward (Tongan)
Russian Jack Ward
Tikishla Park Ward (Samoan)
Tudor Ward
Westchester Ward
Maplewood Branch (Spanish)

It is unclear if the Anchorage YSA Ward will be part of the Anchorage North Stake, since we will be meeting at a building in that stake, apparently, an announcement will be made on that first meeting.

There is a very large Polynesian population here in Anchorage, and a lot of them are LDS. Of those that are LDS, some attend the English-speaking wards, and some attend the Samoan-speaking wards. For some time, there has been an issue with several Samoans attending multiple wards on Sunday to bolster that ward's attendance, which most likely led to the creation of a third Samoan Ward nearly 7 years ago, and is probably also why a Samoan Ward was discontinued this past weekend.

Mike Johnson said...

Interesting that the former Dillingham Branch became a group of the Westchester Ward. I was expecting it to become part of the Anchorage Bush Branch which completely surrounds the Dillingham Branch and is many times larger in area. It surprised me to put it in a ward, particularly one that is the merger of 2 others.

Ryan Searcy said...

Yeah, that was interesting as well. When the Anchorage Bush District was discontinued, the Anchorage North Stake gained 2 branches from the former district: Dillingham and Naknek. Both have since been discontinued. I wonder if Naknek is also a group operating under the same ward. Officially, the Anchorage North Stake services only Anchorage.

james anderson said...

Since Mormon Stories came up again, I looked on stitcher.com as I can't otherwise seem to find general podcast popularity charts for religion and spirituality. Again a perfect blank, no faithful podcasts from the Church, organizations associated with BYU that discussed topics, or other known faithful groups or even individual members.

The most popular seeems to be 'Naked Mormonism, that is almost always top-20 in the category, and atheist podcasts are usually top-5. Mormon Stories is at 41 and that is down from 27 at one point, possibly just last week.

John Pack Lambert said...

Now 2 weeks in a row a new ward in Houston South Stake has been reported at ldschurchtemples.com.

On the issue of Dillingham Branch my understanding is that the Bush branch consits of individual families that call in. A group that has a specific place to meet seems to be something else entirely so putting it under a ward makes sense.

I also have a sense that in the early 1990s in my stake branches were formed that would never get appoved, especially in stakes, today. My girlfriends branch had 1 melchezidek priesthood holder when 1st organized. So some branches being made groups may reflect higher standards to make a branch more than anything else.

The fact that groups are not reported at all makes them frustratingly hard to track and annoys people like me who want to know everything.

John Pack Lambert said...

San Rafel Stake, where my mom lived when my parents got married, was just reduced to 4 wards (down from 6) and 2 branches. This makes me wonder if in the San Francisco Bay area a massive realighnment to have fewer stakes is in order. I would say to have a successful stake youth program having larger stakes is best.

David Todd said...

I met someone from Beira, Mozambique today. I asked him about the new stake and he responded in a way that I'm pretty sure means the new stake has now been created. I also met a guy who served his mission in Myanmar (Burma). I wanted to ask him more about the work there, but I also didn't want to bother him as I had just met him. He lives in my apartment building so I will probably have another opportunity. Interestingly enough, I learned he served there by inquiring about his outfit choice. He was wearing a form of skirt similar to those in Polynesian cultures and said that they were required to wear them all the time in Myanmar.

Unknown said...

John, I do think that a major re-alignment of the SF Bay Area stakes is long overdue. I grew up in the South Bay area and have seen numerous wards discontinued as well as two stakes discontinued (San Jose East and Santa Clara). The fact of the matter is that the demographics have changed so much since I was young in the Bay Area and it has created challenges for Church growth.

james anderson said...

On a separate issue, about Southeast Michigan, I just heard about a ward there that apparently allows for an 'intellectual' class outside of those prescribed by the Church for Sunday School, and constant carping over liberal politics and politicians in the halls. I am wondering if this is more widespread (no need to answer it as that is vague enough anyway) throughout the region and is affecting Church growth because of the constant sniping?

Joseph said...

List of faithful LDS podcasts I know of

http://www.ldsperspectives.com/
http://mi.byu.edu/mipodcast/
http://www.fairmormon.org/blog/category/podcast
https://leadinglds.org/category/mp3/
http://feeds.feedburner.com/mormoninterpretermp3

james anderson said...

Those podcasts are great, but the anti ones are grabbing all the audience, none of these have ever 'charted' on major podcast popularity lists

John Pack Lambert said...

I have never experienced this although it seemed many members of the Ann Arbor YSA ward were very focal in attacking people they felt were too orthodox.

The only case of people going outside prescibed Sunday School lessons I have heard of was my cousins ward in California that suspended gospel doctrine to study LDS women's history. It is this avoiding the pure gospel that makes me not surprised that the Church is shrinking in California.

John Pack Lambert said...

I've been told there is a hesitancy to elinate stakes because in some cases areas just keep dwindling, but I think this may confuse cause and effect.

If Pleasanton and Livermore stskes were combined they would end up with 10 wards and 1 branch.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am probably too anti-California at times. However the imperialistic tendencies of the state, such as its banning any sports team at a state college playing in Kansas to penialize Kansas for a law that protects the religious freedom of creative professionals, and Californias attempts to impose environmental regulations in a way that makes the rest of the US have to conform with them even though we never have a voice in there formulation makes me dislike the state greatly.

John Pack Lambert said...

Specificly it seemed Ann Arbor YSA members felt it was ok to speak ill of Elder Quentin L. Cook and mock him. Then there was the member who used a sacrament meeting talk to attack BYU for running him out for being a homosexual while being less than honest in admitting a major problem was his unwillingness to not date men. He then went on about how he had submitted all the names of the people Harvard expelled for homosexual activity in the early 1920s for temple work. Which is a total violation of Church directives that you should only submit the names of relatives for temple work.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another draw back of the Ann Arbor stake is the only addiction recovery meeting they had, at least when I was there, was way out in the Stake Center, a place not accesible by bus and thus not helpful to many university students. The Bloomfield Hills Stake on the other hand has ARP meetings at 4 different locations, although it might well be a good idea to rise the number of locations to all 7 buildings. For a time the high councilor who oversaw the program called it the "Advanced Repentance Program", and while some said this not in full sincerity, he fully believed this was what it was, and implemented it accordingly, with positive results coming about because of this viewpoint.

John Pack Lambert said...

After reading this article https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/fashion/weddings/wedding-planning-in-5-days.html?_r=2 I have decided I should not be so critical of California. If there are people like Emily Hardiman who will defend the Little Sisters of the Poor and have the faith to pull off a wedding in 5 days living there, it can't be all bad.

John Pack Lambert said...

This article http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865676001/Despite-tragedy-LDS-family-from-Taiwan-finds-comfort-in-fellowship-of-Japanese-members.html from the Deseret News illustrates the international Church at work. Taiwanese members being cared for by Japanese members when the father comes down with a heart attack while on vacation in Okinawa. The mission president mentioned is an American, and the missionary couple is, but the stake president in Okinawa and the Japanese doctor who was LDS who treated the man (sadly unable to prevent his death, but able to allow for comfort for the widdow), show the international church at work.

The Church is reaching and permeating the lives of members throughout the globe.

This is also why I have to rate "Freetown" as my favorite LDS film. It is the LDS film to date that has the least presence of Americans. The only American are the mission president and his wife, and they have bit parts in the closing scene. All the other characters in the film are either Liberian or Sierre Leonean.

James said...

This conversation continues to be interesting. I am grateful for the additional information that has been provided by you all. I always enjoy how much I learn about different aspects of Church growth from these discussions. I agree that some podcasts that are advertised as being about the Church are actually established to tear down, criticize, and discredit the Church. That said, one of my favorite authors, Chris Heimerdinger, has had a podcast for a while. And those serve as in-depth discussions of important gospel topics. While he apparently hasn't had time to do one recently, he has focused on such topics as various aspects which prove that the Book of Mormon is true, the time Moroni, the last Book of Mormon prophet, spent wandering as the one and only Nephite survivor, various aspects of the priesthood, and the importance of ensuring that we and those we interact with are not being too hard or harsh in our attitudes, thoughts, and expressions about Joseph Smith. While I don't always have time to listen to such podcasts, I at least read the transcripts, and they always inspire me. I post a link to those if anyone is interested in listening to or reading them.

https://foreverlds.com/

I am also grateful for the comments that have been shared about changes in Church units. It is interesting to note just how much the Church has grown this year alone. And even though we are only just barely nearing the quarter-year mark for 2017, the changes that have been noted are amazing to be sure, and it is almost a sure thing that we will see many more developments in that regard. I was amazed to do my initial check of the LDS Church Temples website and discover not only significant progress on temples that are under construction, but also numerous unit changes noted just today. I invite anybody interested to take a look at those unit changes at the link below.

http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/statistics/units/

In the meantime, the progress I mentioned above in temple construction led me to update my report tracking that progress. I have posted that on my blog, and the link follows. Thanks to you all for the excellent insights.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2017/03/temple-construction-progress-update_21.html

Mike Johnson said...

A couple of other faithful LDS podcasts:

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/
https://bookofmormoncentral.org/

james anderson said...

That last one is newer but already very good. We have them, now how to beat the antis on Stitcher's chart, I think the best way to do that is to get them on there, then use that as the podcatcher, that way they will register.

brycen said...

The only LDS podcast I listen to regularly is the Mormon Channel Daily podcast, with little inspirational messages 5 days a week that are usually less than 10 minutes long. It is found at https://www.mormonchannel.org/listen/series/mormon-channel-daily-audio

For some reason, the site was changed recently that made it so you have to do a search to get to the podcast, anyway it looks like a programming error because the top menu says Video twice now.

I will have to check out some of those other podcasts.

The Chatelain's said...

I like This Week in Mormons, they talk about the weeks events, some good banter. They also have Sunday School Bonanza and Third Hour of Power I think. They were faithful with a weekly podcast for almost seven years. Recently they've gone to monthly/crowd sourcing