Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Russia Vladivostok Mission to Close This Summer

The Church announced on May 20th that the Russia Vladivostok Mission will close and that volunteers (missionaries) and branches within the mission will be reassigned to the Russia Novosibirsk Mission. Although the official announcement indicates that this mission consolidation will occur on July 1st, the mission president and his wife have already appeared to have been released. This decision appears primarily influenced by fewer volunteers called to serve in Russia due to visa problems and increasing government restrictions on religious freedom.

The decision to close the Russia Vladivostok Mission has appear long overdue. It is likely that additional mission consolidations in Russia will occur as the Church has for many years operated missions with a minimal number of missionaries. Furthermore, Russian missions baptize few converts and administer an average of 14 congregations. To contrast, most missions in the Church service between 50 and 150 congregations within their geographical boundaries. Russia's enormous geographical size, large population, and lack of church leaders have all appeared to play a significant roll in the significant LDS missionary presence in the country despite the small size of the Church.

32 comments:

Bryan Baird said...

On average how many missionaries are assigned to a mission. I know that each year the total number of missionaries fluctuate, and that some missions combine into one. like Connecticut Hartford Mission to Massachusetts Boston Mission and Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission to Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission.

Bryan Baird said...

On average how many missionaries are assigned to a mission. I know that each year the total number of missionaries fluctuate, and that some missions combine into one. like Connecticut Hartford Mission to Massachusetts Boston Mission and Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission to Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission.

James said...

That is an interesting question, Bryan, the answer of which I am not sure. I do know that I at one time heard that each fully-staffed mission contained between 300-500 missionaries, but that is likely not true of all missions. And I'm sure a lot of factors determine the number in each mission, like local support and needs, political and religious climate, any special conditions existing in every mission, and, of course, the diligence of every missionary, to just name a few. It would be interesting to find out the answer.

In the meantime, it appears, according to a statement released by the Church today, that President Monson is no longer able to actively participate in Church discussions, decisions, and meetings. I have provided analysis of this news on my own blog, where more will be posted in the coming days as more is known. In the meantime, I also know that, for a time, the ability of others to comment on any post on my blog was limited due to a program I was using to get rid of a troll. That programming, having outlived its usefulness, has been disabled, and people are able to comment as usual. I post a link to my analysis of the latest developments, and to my blog in general. Thanks to all who might read and comment on things I cover there.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2017/05/church-issues-statement-on-president.html
http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/

phxmars said...

I would bet there will be a new stake in St Louis in the next month or two. 11 wards, 3 branches in the St Louis North Stake and a ward was just transferred to St Louis Stake (now 9 wards and 1 branch) from the South Stake (retaining 6 wards). The move makes 20 wards and 4 branches between the two stakes.

David Todd said...

My mission never got above 200 missionaries in the surge we had and usually has about 150. (Michigan Lansing)

James said...

Hey, David! Good to hear from you! Do you have any idea why the forum has been so quiet lately? Hope I'm not responsible. In the latest posts I've done there, I have tried to drum up conversation again. I didn't know that you had served your mission in Michigan! That is awesome! Since I was not personally able to serve outside my own county (Utah), let alone outside my state (also Utah) or outside the United States, and since my service was only part-time, even though I served to the best of my ability as I hope all missionaries do, I can only speak in terms of what I have read about missionary service. So I appreciate hearing your report on the averages of your mission. I read once (can't remember where) that most missions try to keep an average of 300-500 missionaries now, but I also know that number is constantly fluctuating. And, of course, we do have the more recent development of the missions in Russia being combined (likely because the political environment is not conducive to missionary success). It is interesting to see things develop in that regard. Sorry for droning on. Hope I didn't ramble or bore anyone. Thanks to you all for this discussion.

David Todd said...

That's a false report. The largest missions I know are in the high 200s. There are about 70,000 missionaries in around 400 missions I think, so the average is around 175 per mission.

I've just gotten busy. I'm a full time student and I work two jobs. It didn't seem like a very popular idea so I have basically given up on it.

coachodeeps said...

Agreed with David Todd, 175 to 200 on average. My mission and the other missions in Guatemala were just that. My mission did get up to about 250 for a short time.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I think the 300 to 500 missionaries that James cites might be related to how many elders and sisters might tour through a mission during a three year tenure of presidency.
My Concepcion mission may have peaked at 240 and subsequently droppped down to 180, perhaps averaging 200.
Likewise, the DC South Mission may have bumped up to 240 back in 2013-14 with the surge; maybe they are at 200 now, not sure.
Incidentally, the DC South Mission may actually cover a DC and Maryland unit now since the DC YSA Stake was created last December.
About Siberia: Russia has faced a lot of problems politically and culturally; the missionaries displaced will go on to other places and cultures and continue to bless the world.
Russian nationalism is going through changes and we hope things will settle over time.

ScottS said...

James/David,

At first I thought the forum would be a great idea, but it was basically a duplicate of posts on James's site. It is just as easy to go to his site and read them there.

MainTour said...

I just met with the former president of the Fresno California Mission last weekend. He was very sharp on the exact number of missionaries that served under him during his 3 year tenure - 720. How that works with rotations of coming and going I don't know. And maybe his was a large mission?

Tyler said...

I served in the Russia Vladivostok Mission from 2002-2004 and I think that during that time we averaged around 50 missionaries, so I think it's always had fewer than average missionaries despite its enormous physical size.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Novosibirsk and the Vladisvostok Missions were already some of the largest missions in the Church by area. This required a level of responsibility and maturity on the part of volunteers not expected in missions of smaller physical area.

However with the major sacrifice of time that being a mission president is, as the operating costs of having seperate missions, I can understand why the Church has chosen to reduce the number of missions in Russia. Things I have read suggest these missions have about 30 or so volunteers per mission, which is much lower than most missions elsewhere. Even combining two will leave the mission president supervision fewer people than in most other missions.

Eduardo Clinch said...

A comment about political and religious cultures and histories: as "we", the US and many allies have been occupying and/or assisting fledling democracies in Iraq or Afghanistan, many have said that the peoples and governments have taken measures toward a Westernized self-rule but there have been many hazards and hiccups, to say the least. The USA had an awful civil war 70 years or so after its own independence, and did not permit LDS freedoms and rights very easily for many decades, even arresting and shutting down church leaders in drastic measures during the 1800s.
Russia is still trying to get its feet politically and religiously; its democracy and governance is still finding its way.
And our LDS faith will ride out the storms and intrigues there, eventually things will get better as far as freedom of worship and expression and assembly.
Then again, things could go worse everywhere. But I see the Church as moving forward in power and grace, despite restrictions and legalistic shenanigans.

John Pack Lambert said...

If one runs the number of about 70,000 missionaries and about 420 missions (it might be a few more now, but not much), one comes up to just under 170 missionaries per mission on average.

However due to various factors of size, visa restrictions, and other factors, the number of missionaries per mission varries a whole lot.

James said...

Hello, all! David, I'm sorry to hear that you have given up on the forum. And I am equally as sorry if my many posts to that forum eliminated anyone's desire to comment. Since I cannot honestly recall where I got the numbers I cited, I do not doubt that they are in error, and are likely false. Perhaps I heard that number round about the time when the number of missionaries spiked after the age change, which would obviously not apply now. I apologize for putting out false numbers. And they are really no better than whatever research I did at the time. I also cannot speak to the numbers involved in my own mission experience, which, as I have stated before, was atypical to that of most young men. Obviously, with missions in areas like Russia, the lack of success in the work, the strict laws involved, and the lack of governmental support for the Church factored into this decision. And it makes sense on so many levels.

It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of progress in other areas of the world as well. We know that certain areas in Africa and South America are really expanding the work worldwide. And the result of that labor is that more missions, Church units, and temples are being announced and established in those regions. I have often been amazed at what is going on for the work in areas like that.

For myself, I am making every effort to keep on top of everything. I have done so many posts of late focusing on what is going on with the latest Church news. And I have others in mind that I have not yet been able to get taken care of. That is part of the beauty of living in this day and age: there is so much more going on in one day for the Church than any one person can adequately report on. That is why I am grateful for efforts like this blog and the LDS Church Temples site, from which I get most of the information I post on my own blog. And it is amazing to think about how far the Church has come from when Joseph Smith first prophesied of the Church filling the world. It is amazing to see the little stone filling the earth. And I am thrilled that my own blog has come as far as it has in terms of readership and comments. Obviously discussions about important Church developments are relevant to so many, and I thank you all for letting me be a part of both participating in the discussions (in comment threads like this) and for allowing me to contribute to the direction of those discussions (on my own blog). May the Lord bless us all as we continue the discussion in all possible ways.

james anderson said...

The Church just put up this video focusing on 8 Mile, and it talks about some of the issues discussed here in a way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UZsquIDPCI

Bryce .Gillespie said...

My mission the Montana Billings mission had between 175-240 missanrys between July 2013 and July 2015.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was just watching on youtube a piece about President Hinckley's 1998 trip to Africa. I realized there are temples at least announced for every country he visited on that trip.

John Pack Lambert said...

My girlfriend and her oldest daughter are shown together reading the scriptures in the video linked to above. My girlfriend's mother is the lady shown at one point wearing a security gaurd uniform. Lamar Parker who provides the opening narration is the young men's president in Roseville Ward where bishop Rhodenizer is bishop.

The boundaries shown in the film are early 2012 boundaries. The boundaries of my current ward transcend 8 mile more than they did in 2012 although my ward is based in Southfield which was the first major destination of middle class black flight from Detroit in the 1980s and over 60% black by 2000. Southfield has since seen middle class blacks leave it for further out suburbs.

There have been two directors of the personal storehouse project since Brother Geiger. His successor was only in a short time due to developing cancer.

Brother Black who made yge closing comments I have seen multiple times on Belle Isle with hus wife and niece when I went there with my girlfriends grandson.

John Pack Lambert said...

My current ward is one of 2 pre-2008 north of 8 mile wards shown in the map although we transcended 8 mile at all points in our history. The 2008 revisions only took area from Southfield Ward mainly moving in to the Palmer Park Branch based in Detroit. Palmer Park Branch now meets in Southfield Building mainly because with an average Sunday attendance less than 50 it was not justified to continue operating a building that was lierally built as a grand scale Greek Orthodox Church with a full set of naves. Just the chapel gad seating for over 1000 with lots of other rooms as well and extremely high maintenance costs.

mrcuff said...

When Guatemala and El Salvador were all one mission many moons ago, we had about 200 missionaries. Circa 1971.

Fredrick said...

Did someone not notice that Texas got another new stake last month? Texas Tomball Stake.

Mike Johnson said...

Texas Tomball Stake created 21 May 2017:

Champions Ward
Gleannloch Farms Ward
Inverness Ward
Magnolia 1st Ward
Memorial Springs Ward
Parkway Ward
Tomball 2nd Ward

james anderson said...

The Tomball stake will basically be along Grand Parkway (SH-99) and the Parkway Ward's name has reference to that and the Tomball Parkway, both recently completed freeways in the same area. Champions has reference to Champions Forest Road, the one the temple is on.

Bryce said...

Sweet, the video for the Tucson Temple just came out, looking forward to going! https://youtu.be/j3ySmBVGGhk

James said...

It is awesome to see the developments happening in all facets of Church news. I have been busy of late blogging about many of those things. I am including again a link to my blog. Enjoy, and thanks to you all.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

John Pack Lambert said...

LDS Church Temples dot com reports a branch in a district in Nigeria made into a ward. I am wondering if this means the district was upgraded to a stake.

Other exciting developments includeva Spanish speaking branch in Nashua New Hampshire. This nay be the first Spanish speaking branch actually based in New Hampshire.

I do wonder how many non-English speaking groups there are in the US. I know my staje has gad such at times.

3 new branches were organized under the Papua New Guinea Lae Mission.

A stake in West Jordan just got to having 13 wards. This is generally enough to split a stake. We may see several new stakes in Utah before the end of the year.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the issue of number of missionaries the Salt Lake Headquarters mission supervises about 800 to 900 missionaries. However many of these only have part time assignments. Most are senior couples but about 90 are young elders on service missions. I beliefe the Salt Lake City Temple Square mission is also above average size.

Gnesileah said...

By my count, there are 978 non-English speaking wards and branches in the United States (not including territories). Like you, I also wonder how many non-English speaking groups in the U.S. there are.

It is interesting that the new ward in the South Jordan Utah Oquirrh Lake Stake was named the Eastlake 8th Ward, as there are no other wards with "Eastlake" in the name in the region. Perhaps several wards have had name changes that are not yet reflected in CDOL...and a stake split is on the horizon...to be called the South Jordan Utah Eastlake Stake?

John Pack Lambert said...

More reports on branches upgrading to wards make it appear that Nigeria got a new stake, the Yenagoa Stake. Yenagoa is the capital of Bayelsa State, in the heart of the Niger Delta. It is an area of petroleum production. Despite this, the majority of the population lives in poverty.

This apprears to be the first stake in Bayelsa State. The state only dates to 1996, before that it was part of Rivers State, which has its capital in Port Harcourt. Port Harcourt has 5 stakes and is maybe 35 miles from Aba in Abia State where the temple is. It is 97 miles drive from Yenagoa to the Temple. While this new stake does not directly help the case for a new temple elsewhere, it shows that Aba Temple will not be a weakened center temple if temples are built in Benin City and Lagos. I dont think that is much of a concern, I think it is mor a question are there resources to support the new temples, Aba/Port Harcourt greater region is the core of the Church in Nigeria and can clearly sustain a temple without any of the other regions of Nigeria.

James said...

I for one believe (and the study I have done on the matter backs up this idea fully) that we could indeed see another temple in Nigeria, and that study points to Lagos as the most likely possibility. I was going back and forth between Lagos and Benin City for a while, but within recent months, Lagos has emerged as the best candidate, in my opinion. Time will tell. But I am equally confident that there will be temples in both Lagos and Benin City in the not-too-distant future, especially if African growth continues as it has of late. Just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks.