Thursday, August 3, 2017

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

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.

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.

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.


James said...

Great report, Matt! Thanks for sharing. I am amazed at how much the Church has grown within the last several weeks. All the stakes and districts created this last month are significant in terms of having been created during a month that the General Authorities traditionally take off. I am hoping that this bodes well for Church growth as we enter the last four months of 2017.

In the meantime, this last month has also been busy for me personally. There has been so much news and developments related to the Church that have had me blogging constantly when I am not doing anything else. For any who would like to catch up on the latest and leave their thoughts on my posts, I include a link.

For now, thanks, as always, to you, Matt, for letting me post about my blog on these comment threads. And thanks to all of you whose comments both here and on my blog have increased my understanding of all the subjects under discussion. I am glad to be able to be part of all of this. Thanks again to you all.

99 said...

I still think the Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia temple will (or ought to) be announced soon because the Cochabamba temple is hundreds of kilometers from Santa Cruz the members may not attend often because of the distance. By speculation I'd think a temple in both Cochabamba and Santa Cruz will increase overall temple attendance in Bolivia, as long as La Paz/El Alto is still assigned to Cochabamba. La Paz is also hundreds of kilometers away from Cochabamba but it is slightly closer than Santa Cruz and bus tickets are cheaper from La Paz. With the information about Bolivian temple attendance I don't think Cochabamba is ready to give up too many stakes in its temple district to both a La Paz and Santa Cruz temple just yet. But it may be the opposite, i.e. La Paz announced first. Can never tell for sure.

L. Chris Jones said...

How far would La Paz be from the Arequipa Peru Temple when it's finished?

Mike Johnson said...

It won't be just the 9 Santa Cruz stakes but also the Montero Stake and likely the Trinidad Stake in a Santa Cruz temple district.

It is 9 hours from Santa Cruz to the temple.

Of the 32 sessions each week, two are reserved for members from the interior of Bolivia. I wonder if that means Santa Cruz and surrounding area. Note, Philadelphia has 18 sessions each week and Washington DC has 91 (and we often add sessions on Saturdays). Oklahoma City has 29 sessions, but that doesn't stop speculation about a possible temple taking away several of its stakes.

I think 9 hours to the temple in Bolivia with a significant change in elevation for 9-10 stakes (and possibly 2 districts and 2 mission branches) has a good claim on a new temple.

It is almost 10 hours from Laz Paz to Arequipo, so Laz Paz will be closer to Cochabamba than to Arequipo.

James said...

Interesting thoughts, as always. I also believe that Santa Cruz will be announced first, but I can definitely see temples for La Paz announced within the next 15 years or so. It was also neat to hear about how close Santa Cruz and La Paz are to other temples. I appreciate those insights. It will be interesting, to be sure, to see where temples may rise in the near future. And for my part, I hope to be able to continue to report on such developments as they happen. Thanks again for increasing my understanding regarding these things.

James said...

And in terms of potential future temples, in light of the news contained in this post, with 1 stake and 2 districts organized in South Africa just within this last month, I am wondering if a third temple in that nation might be under consideration. Some may say that the fact that the dedication of that nation's second temple is not expected until late next year at earliest rules out that possibility, but to them I would say that we have two Brazilian temples under construction at the moment, with two more announced, so another South African temple may be needed. Thoughts?

L. Chris Jones said...

The Johanasberg Temple district has four other temples announced or under construction within it's current boundaries. It's possible, but probably not probable that another temple in the country of South Africa will be announced soon, I guess maybe in the next 15 to 20 years. What would you think about Madagascar, Mozambique, or Uganda?

James said...

Hey, Chris! I have a potential temple on my list. for the near future for Antananarivo Madagascar. The temple announced for Harare Zimbabwe is expected to provide a closer option for the Saints in Mozambique (as it would be 417 miles away). A temple in that nation may be possible in the next several years. And while Uganda was on my list of future possibilities at one time, until the Kenya temple is built and dedicated, Uganda (right next door to Kenya) may not get one. Does that help?

Christopher Nicholson said...

I still don't get what happened with Madagascar. If memory serves me, it was having explosive growth and then in 2011 or so that just evaporated. I don't think it's had a single congregation created since then. So it doesn't seem like a good prospect to me, but again, if we can get a temple in flipping Manitoba then who knows.

99 said...

South Africa has 16 stakes and 7 districts, which is roughly 5 stakes and 2 districts if split evenly, with one stake and one district left over. Not too sure if a temple in a country outside of the US and Canada can handle such a small district. But I think in the distant future (or wishfully, not-so-distant) when South Africa is ready for another temple, it might be in Cape Town. Perhaps when there are around 5 stakes in Cape Town's vicinity alone, that's likely when a temple there will be announced. As of now, it has 2 stakes in its vicinity. Cape Town is one of the, if not the farthest major city from both Durban and Johannesburg in the country. Both Durban and Johannesburg are on the eastern side of South Africa while Cape Town is on the west.

Kevin Wanderlan said...
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Kevin Wanderlan said...

So this comment might be ignored as it isn't related to any recent news but, do guys have any insights on the prospects of growth in southeastern Europe? Maybe regarding about temples, as you guys like to talk about, though I don't know if a temple in Albania (the most likely place for that in the region) is possible to be announced in less than 15 years.

According to Cumorah's statistics there was a net increase of 6 units in Madagascar since 2011. Still, weird such deceleration in a so especially receptive country. I don't know of any conflicts that could have pulled the missionaries out, so just a mission policy mistake, perhaps? Probably someone here has a good explanation.

Matt said...

A recent returned missionary I spoke to indicated that the primary reason LDS growth in Madagascar so dramatically slowed was due to changes in providing welfare to new converts. Apparently many of the converts who joined the Church during rapid growth in the 2000s appeared to join the Church for secondary gain and as a result many of these members stopped attending when they were no longer provided with welfare assistance.

99 said...

A temple in southeastern Europe will probably not be announced for a long time. The church just recently opened Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia for proselytizing. Albania is the only country there that has a stake. The church might not fare too well in Serbia and Greece because of anti-American sentiment and strong ethnic ties to their own heritage's church (Serbian Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox Church) In addition, there have been times when missionaries serving in Greece were arrested for proselytism, and in Serbia, the unstable political tension. In the two meetinghouses in Greece, most members are English-speakers and not native Greeks. The church recently closed a location in Romania. Overall, this looks unfavorable for church growth in most of these countries. Some cities that may open for proselytism in Southeastern Europe if more growth happens in each country are: Korce, Albania; Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria; Focsani, Romania; Suceava, Romania; and Baia Mare, Romania.
You can read more about each country at

R. Jofre said...
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R. Jofre said...

One thing that needs to be considered is that not only the fastest growing areas get temples.

Remember Japan wasn't doing any good and they still got two extra temples. Also back in 2000 New Zealand and Australia had similar numbers, but Australia got four extra temples and New Zealand none.

I still expect the day were we will have temporary and/or portable temples, to serve remote areas or support busy temples.

L. Chris Jones said...

I don't have direct sources, but I think I heard that at one time a temple on a ship may have been considered to travel to various countries and islands around the world.

L. Chris Jones said...

For the numbers between Australia and New Zealand, the membership is more spread out over a very large area. In New Zealand the members are much closer together. Even Hamilton and Aukland are not too far apart in comparison.

James said...

A few personal responses, thoughts, and observations on my part, if I may: Thanks to you all for those additional comments To you, Christopher, I would say that I was not aware of the nuances relating to Church growth ebbing and flowing in Madagascar. I still feel that Antananarivo may be a good candidate for a temple. That is definitely true in terms of President Monson's expressed desire to have every Church member within 200 miles of a temple. And because it is separated from the rest of the African continent, that makes me think it might have more than an outside chance.

99, as I may have mentioned, my mom is a South African native whose parents converted to the Church just prior to her birth. She has familiarity with Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, and many other cities in that nation. I agree that Cape Town might be the next South African city to get a temple. The question in my mind is how soon that might happen. I know that the Church may wait to see how busy the South African Saints keep the Durban temple once it is dedicated (which is anticipated to happen sometime within the next year and a half, if not sooner) before they announce another there. That said, if what my mom has indicated to me about the growth of the Church there recently is true (particularly in view of the fact that South Africa has had 2 districts and 1 stake created there just this last month), then a Cape Town temple may be on the Church's radar for announcement within the next 15-30 years or so, perhaps sooner if current growth trends continue there. I agree, Cape Town would be my top pick for the third South African temple. And I say that based mostly on what I know about South African Church growth and not just on the fact that it would mean a lot to my mom and her family members. The Saints there deserve temples, especially in view of their faithfulness and devotion to living the gospel in spite of some very corrupt government leaders.

James said...

Continuing my responses to the comments of others, to Kevin, I would say that, between what Matt has written in posts about European growth on this very blog and with what I found out additionally on the subject in a cursory Google search, the cities within southeastern Europe do not seem to have either a solid base for Church growth, the opportunity for mass expansion of the work within those countries, or any prospects for those things to change in the near future. That said, I also know full well (because of following such subjects in the best possible way) that the Lord has been known to move upon individuals and governments and to break down barriers when He needs His work to be hastened in certain areas. So I am not ruling out a miracle in any or all of these countries. If and when the time is right, the Lord will turn the tide in Southeastern Europe and expand His work there. Hope that helps.

Matt, thanks for those comments on Madagascar. I have heard and seen how the Lord has expanded and is spreading the gospel on the African continent. My recent research on Madagascar, which involved reviewing some of the material written by you, pointed me, as I noted above, to include a possible temple for Madagascar on my list of potential temple sites for the near future. Thanks again.

99, great observations on the prospects for a temple in Southeastern Europe. I agree, unless the Lord does something to hasten the work in that region, there may not be a temple there until 50 years from now at earliest.

R. Jofre, as one who served for six years in a temple, I can tell you that one of the greatest challenges for any temple that is in operation is making sure there are enough people to staff each shift for which the temple is open. For most of those six years, the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple was (and may still be) hurting for workers. If the Church were to institute some kind of portable temple arrangement, even with a basic design, the most practical thing would be to have it float around in areas where the Church is well established. Elswhere, there would not be enough workers to keep it staffed. And the portable temple only worked in Biblical times because the elements of it were easy to carry from place to place. Even the more modest and simple design from this dispensation would not be ideal or practical for a portable temple such as the one built in Moses's time. Unless the prophet had inspiration for such a thing, I don't see it happening. It's just not practical. At least, that has been my observation.

L. Chris Jones, I hadn't heard of the possibility of a portable temple in ship form. Again, the issue there would be staffing it with people (and in such a case, that kind of temple would likely need to be staffed by healthy younger people who could travel on the ship without any danger of getting seasick. And that kind of temple would also need to find such workers on a rotating basis.

In regards to the temples currently in operation, I would like to make one final observation. Unless things have changed in the five years since my tenure as a temple worker ended (due to health issues), temples worldwide are hurting for volunteers to work therein. If any of you have the capability and time to do so, your service would be greatly appreciated by the temple that serves your city. And there are great blessings associated with being a temple worker. In my case, the Lord blessed me with the ability to help many new missionaries, soon-to-be married couples, and foreign language patrons, and also led me to the woman I subsequently married. The blessings are there for all of those who serve in these houses of the Lord. If you can, please set up appointments with temples in your region to look into doing that. It will be the most wonderful experience for those who take that opportunity. Thanks.

L. Chris Jones said...

I don't Know where I heard it, but I think it was a concept being suggested before smaller temples were designed.

Cory Ward said...

Here is the source. It was posted on the Lds growth forum a few months ago:

Here is the original source:

It seems like David O McKay did consider it, but in the end turned down an offer to buy a ship.

R. Jofre said...

Good points here, thank you all for your comments. One of the things I thought might be possible is to dedicate existing buildings to function as temples only for a certain period, like for example when an actual temple is being renovated and there are no other temples nearby. Another way is using a new or restored meetinghouse as a temple for a few years, until an actual temple is built, and then turning the previous building to a normal meetinghouse.

And then even another thing I thought is designing temples that can be built in stages, where stage one allows the use of the building as a temple, but building stage two doesn't require the closure of stage one, and so on with the rest of the stages. Each stage will make the building seem finished and beautiful. This might be done in areas where the Church is expanding, but doesn't have enough members yet to operate the finished building (say stages one, two, three and four) but they have enough people to operate the small building in stage one or so.

Mike Johnson said...

Very interesting idea of a temple on a ship.

"Fred Baker, Garff’s assistant, added that the ship they envisioned–a thousand-ton vessel–would be able to sail both the high seas and the large rivers, including the Mississippi and Misouri, and repeat its circuit every year or so."

1000-ton vessel? That is how they could buy and operate it cheap (2 million to buy and a half a million to operate in the late 60s is a lot for most of us--times by about 8 to get to today--but not much compared to operating a larger vessel. But, I wouldn't operate such a small vessel around the world without a larger tender to support it.

"Smith “raised the question that Temples were to be constructed according to revelation in Stakes of Zion,” and argument that overlooked the fact that he and his colleagues on the Twelve had approved temples for England, Switzerland, and New Zealand where no stakes then existed."

Joseph Fielding Smith was correct about the tie between stakes and temples. All of these temples were built to prepare for stakes. The policy was changing from gathering to Zion and to building up stakes of Zion where people live. What was needed was to provide all the blessings of the gospel and that includes temples. The missions and districts of Europe and the South Pacific (the New Zealand temple covered far more than New Zealand, but also Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Tonga, both Samoas, etc.) had been about instilling a desire to immigrate to Zion. Now that was changing and temples were part of that change. In both Europe and the South Pacific there were enough members for a number of stakes and they would come soon enough. Usually in areas at a distance from a temple where few are endowed, the Church has a concerted effort to get a number of the potential leaders to the temple before creating the stake. The policy of gathering was increasing what could be called a central core of dedicated and faithful members in Utah, but not in Europe or in the South Pacific or anywhere else. The temples were needed to change the situation to allow for a faithful core to develop.

James said...

Regarding the idea of meetinghouses serving as temporary temples when needed, I think it might interest some of you to know that I heard somewhere (can't remember where or from whom) that the idea of the newer design for meetinghouses that have been built within the last 20 years or so is to construct them with a floor plan that would allow each of these to subsequently be converted into temples if and when the needs arise to do so. So I could see that happening, especially if the Church ever got to a point where that many temples were needed and would need to be converted into temples speedily. Again, I can't verify that because I'm not sure where I heard it, but there it is, for what it's worth. Hope that helps.

And regarding the additional comments about the prospects of ships being converted into portable temples, I could see where that idea would have had an appeal when the Church was in its early days, when a smaller Church meant a smaller number of people were needed to staff any temple, but in this day and age, where most temples cannot maintain a steady enough amount of workers and are spread thinly enough as it is, it would make more sense to build temples on solid ground where there might be sufficient numbers in a certain geographical area to keep such temples fully staffed.

Of course, I for one would not be at all surprised if the Lord proved me wrong in so thinking and asserting. He has done so before on so many things and in so many ways, and the one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that He will continue to do so. I don't mind that at all. Keeps me from becoming too vain and prideful. Anyways, those are some additional thoughts, for whatever they may be worth to any one of you who read them. Thanks.

bwebster said...

There are now 12 stakes within the greater San Pedro Sula metropolitan area.

That's just remarkable. I served in San Pedro Sula from November 1972 to about April 1973. At that point, San Pedro Sula had a single district with about 5 or 6 branches. It was a different era.

John Pack Lambert said...

One thought, if places are super far from the temple tithe paying and current temple recomend holding will probably be considered more than temple attendance.

In my ward today we had a just baptized 15-year-old confirmed. We also got a new young women's presidency all of whom are either Latina women married to Anglo men or Anglo women married to Latino men. I also learned one sister in the ward has a mother originally from Venezuela.

Christopher said...

This incredible growth in Stakes in Honduras boggles me. 8 stakes in two years so far. That would have been unthinkable to me on my mission ten years ago. This was a country that had great stagnation in growth until only recently. I really attribute the reversal of growth trends to the influence of the temple in that country, and the easier access members have to it. Most members while I served there in 2004-2006 went to the temple once for their own endowment and that was it. It can be hard to remember covenants and stay committed without the temple close by. Based on my correspondence with the members there, wards where 50-60 met when I was there, with very little leadership, are now bustling and full to capacity. This is in part due to younger couples marrying in the temple (which was difficult to do before the temple--members were often turned away at the Guatamala border) and becoming new leaders and raising second and third generation families there to help their wards grow. Most importantly, the spiritual strength, maturity, and leadership that comes from regular temple attendance cannot be overstated.

Nicaragua and Honduras are very comparable, I think. Nicaragua has followed a similar trend of stagnation after accelerated growth during the 1990s. This stagnation is partly due to poverty and lack of leadership and difficulty getting to the temple. I fully anticipate a temple to be announced there soon, and when it does I would expect a similar boom of growth and increase in stakes in the years following having a temple there. We are at 4 years since the dedication of the Tegucigalpa temple to the current boom in stake growth, and I would predict to see the same trend four years from the dedication of a Nicaragua temple.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think bus ticket prive is probably an even bigger factor than distance. On the other hand there are issues of ability to travel and travel time. In some cases a shorter distance takes more time.

I think the big issue is how many full tithe payers, preferrably ones who hold current temple recomends, are there. One of the counselors just called to the young women presidency in my ward is a narive of Bolivia. Despite the fact there are at least 15 Hispanics in my ward, she is one of only 2 who was born outside the US and the only one to have been a church member in a Latin American country. Well Brother Allred may have lived in Argentina when his parents lived there but his mom is a native of El Salvador and his dad is a natice of the US and not Hispanic.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another issue is how easy it is to cross from Bolivia to Peru. Even if some of Bolivia is,closer to Areqipa than Cochabamba the costs and time to cross the border could mean that it remains easier to go to Cochabamba.

9 hours is far more than we had to travel from Detroit to the Toronto Temple. I never had the impression the Toronto Temple was bursting at the seems with use. In fact Detroit ro the DC temple is only 10 hours so not much longer. 9 hours means it is virtually impossible to do the whole trip in one day, especially since driving 9 hours without stopping at all is very difficult. So I can see good arguments for a new temple as long as Santa Cruz has sufficient temple recomend holders.

John Pack Lambert said...

It should be kept in mind that growth of the Church and forming new units are not the sane. I have seen branches double or triple attendance and other indicators of member activity but not be split in 3.

John Pack Lambert said...

There was actually very little gathering from the south Pacific to Utah. The Hawaiians at Iosepa returned in 1915.

In the case of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple a stake was formed there at the time the temple was dedicated.

Writers like Price have a visvereal hatred towards Joseph Fielding Smith and his doctrinaire ways and seek to denounce him at every turn.

James said...

Excellent observations as always, guys! Thanks for sharing these insights. I have been of the opinion for a while now that it is only a matter of time before temples are announced for both Managua Nicaragua and San Pedro Sula Honduras. The only questions in my mind are how soon might either one happen, and of the two, which might be more likely to be announced first? I am not in any way ruling out them being announced at the same time, but I was just wondering which would be the greater priority if only one could be done at a time. But I would not be surprised if temples for both cities were being actively considered, and if one or both of them have an official announcement happen within the next couple of years or so. I found this somewhat interesting to consider: the General Conference coming up will only be the fourth one in which I have featured predictions for potential future temple sites. And of these four, I did not include Managua as a possibility until October 2016. I should have, but I didn't. In terms of San Pedro Sula, I had that on a list of 60 or so potential sites that I put together when I first started looking at and discussing those possibilities. But for some reason, this upcoming General Conference will be the first one in which I have officially listed that possible second Honduran temple. I am always intrigued to find out just how right or wrong I am in my thinking about potential future temple sites. Thanks again to you all for the ongoing fabulous conversations.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have been studying up on Wa, the old Kingdom of Wala, and related issues in the Upper West Region of Ghana. This is partly promted by Wa getting a branch earlier this year and thus every region of Ghana having at least one branch.

It appears that significant outreach in the Upper West in Ghana will have to wait until the Church is willing to reach out into the rural villages. Some of the districts of the Upper West have 95% of their population living in rural areas. However with Wa having over 100,000 people, it may well be a good candidate for a 2nd branch in the near future. I hope the Church has at least sent missionaries there.

The Upper West appears to be about 40% Catholic, but is also heavily Muslim. The Ahmadiyya Muslims have been present there since the 1930s, and in the 1950s Wa saw a civil war between the Ahmadiyya and the Sunni. Violence between these two groups also occured in 1978.

Peter Poreku Dery, the first Catholic Bishop of Wa, was present at Vatican II, was later a cardinal, and is being promoted for Catholic Sainthood. He was however a Dagaaba, not a Wala. The Wala and Dagaaba are, like many ethnic groups, actually split by political affiliation. The Wala are those who accepted the authority and actively identified with the Kingdom of Wala in 1900, and still conceive of their identity in these terms. The Dagaaba are those who follow did not. In fact in 1894 many villages inhabited by the Dagaaba rebelled and threw of the authority of the Wa Na, the ruler of the Kingdom of Wala.

In the early 1960s Bishop Dery had the Catholic mass translated into Dagaare, the language of the Dagaaba. This is actually closely related to Walaii, the language of the Wala, but due to their political disagreements would not make the Wala very receptive to the language.

On another issue, I watched the Face to Face from Accra with Elder and Sister Renlund. Elder Renlund did very well in using localized examples in his responses. His recounting of being the only member at his school in Sweden, and having to learn of the teachings of the state church was important. Also his use of terms like petrol instead of gasoline and a few others showed he understands English as it is used in Ghana and most other African countries where it is in wide use.

Mike Johnson said...

>>>There was actually very little gathering from the south Pacific to Utah. The Hawaiians at Iosepa returned in 1915.

>>>In the case of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple a stake was formed there at the time the temple was dedicated.


True about Hawaii although I wasn't considering Hawaii to be in the South Pacific. The concept of ending the gathering from Hawaii occurred well before it was promulgated for the rest of the world.

I was speaking of the late 1950s.

The first stake in New Zealand was created 1 month after the temple was dedicated (18 May 1958 while the temple was dedicated on 20–22 April 1958). It served Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and both Samoas. And yes people from the South Pacific had been gathering to Utah.

James said...

Hey, guys! Illuminating discussion, as always. Thanks for the ongoing inspirational comments. I always learn a lot from them. FWIW, I have been very busy posting on my own blog during the first week of this month. And it seems like every day has seen me add at least one new post, but often more. So much going on in the Church and on the front of temple-related developments. For any of you who would like to do so, I am accepting feedback on many temple-related posts written in the last week, including one with theories about the potential participant list for the Tucson Arizona Temple Dedication this week, when future temple-related events are likely within the next three years, and, just a few minutes ago, another update to my list of future temple site possibilities.

I know that I have said this on that latest post, but I want to note it here as well: I have had many of these possible locations that have turned out to be correct, but an equal or greater number that took me by surprise or have yet to be announced. I don't claim any expertise on such matters. What I do rely on heavily is my own research and the opinion of others who have familiarity either with the subject of temples generally or with one or more of the options on my list who can add credibility to such thoughts. So if I have been or continue to be reluctant to change my thinking on any of those options, I hope it is understood that I trust my research and my sources for this information.

I hope all of you are well. I look forward to the future discussion on all temple-related subjects. Thanks again to each and every one of you.

John Pack Lambert said...

Well, there was some gathering from Australia, and very minimal from New Zealand. However virtually no Maori had gathered to Utah by the 1950s, and at least in the late 1940s 80% of Church members in New Zealand were Maori. In the case of Samoa there had been more gathering to Hawaii than to Utah. A noticable number of Samoans had migrated to Laie specifically because the temple was there.

True, there were two Samoan boys living in Thomas S. Monson's ward when he was bishop. However this was rare enough that President Kimball, then the member of the quorum of the twelve who sought to advocate for the Native Americans, Hispanics and Polynesians in the Church, a duty that had previously been done by Elder George Albert Smith, whose uncle of the same name had been killed while on a mission to the Hopi. As president of the Church George ALbert Smith gave Elder Kimball a charge to take up the mantle of work with those three groups. Most of the coming of people from the south Pacific to Utah post dates the dedication of the New Zealand Temple.

On the issue of a 3rd temple in South Africa, I am not convinced that Cape Town is the best place. The Port Elizabeth to East London region has 3 stakes, while there are only 2 in the Cape Town region. In fact if you do a basic look at the geography, George, where there is currently only a district, almost seems the most logical place to put a temple.

Interestingly enough, at least if LDS maps are accurate, the entire land boundaries of the South Africa Cape Town mission are in places that are in the Cape Town Mission branch. None of the stakes or the one district extend to the mission boundaries.

Considering that the Church has been in South Africa on and off for over 150 years, and had a continual presence there over 100 its level of development seems fairly low.

The Church has been in South Africa longer than in any country in Asia or South America. OK, from 1865-1903 the Church had no presence in South Africa, so Japan was first opened before the contiguous point in South Africa. However since the Church had no presence in Japan from about 1924 until 1945, the comparison is still in South Africa's favor.

The first church building was built in South Africa in 1916-1917. Missionary work was largely focused on the white population until 1978, who constitute less than 10% of South Africa's population (but were a little higher at times in the past). There were many native Africans baptized in 1978, some like Moses Malungu who had waited years to be baptized.

John Pack Lambert said...

Another way to look at things is that South Africa has a population of 54 million, Ghana has 27 million. Yet Ghana has 19 stakes and 12 districts to South Africa's 16 stakes and 8 districts. By any measure the Church has been in South Africa longer, and in the case of Ghana from late 1989 through about the end of 1990 the Church was officially banned.

Ghana does have more missions, although since the Botswana/Namibia mission includes parts of South Africa (including the Peoria South Africa Stake) Both countries are split between 4 missions. In the case of Ghana all 4 missions are entirely in the country. In the case of South Africa, only the Cape Town Mission is entirely in the country. The Durban Mission includes Lesotho (the district there however stretches into South Africa). The Johannesburg Mission includes Swaziland.

Today 4 new branches were reported on It is interesting that all new units were branches. 2 in the district in Lesotho, bringing to 5 the number in that district. 1 in Sierra Leone under the mission and 1 in the Jos Nigeria District. 2017 is looking to be a banner year for Church growth in both Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

In Nigeria, while the Church continues to grow in the cradle region around Port Harcourt and Aba, it is also spreading furter into the north-east than it did previously, making major inroads in the center, and making substantial progress in the Yoruba lands in the south-west. I look forward to the day when there are branches in cities such as Kano, but that would probably take major changes in that area and in Muslim attitudes towards conversion to other religions.

In my studies on Wa and the Wala, it has become evident that attempts to convert people in that area to Islam did not really start until the efforts by the Ahmadiyya in the 1930s. Before that hte apparently less than 10% of the population of Wala that was Muslim was content to leave that as the situation. So at least in parts of countries like Ghana Islam is not as ingrained as some may think, and conversion of people with some sort of Islamic background does occur.

James said...

John, I hope you know how much I respect your opinion. The insights you continue to share on the comment threads of this blog always inspire and amaze me. You raised many good points of which I was not aware. However, I have to disagree with you on the matter of the most likely location for a 3rd South African temple. While the factors you have mentioned may play into this decision to a certain degree, here are the facts I know that support the idea of a Cape Town temple first:
1. My mother is a South African native whose parents converted to the Church shortly after their marriage and several months before her birth. So I have heard from her that the three most populous cities (and those that are most likely to see explosive Church growth in that nation) are Johannesburg (the home of the first temple in that nation), Durban (home to the second temple and set for completion either at the end of next year or the beginning of the year after that) and Cape Town. Port Elizabeth comes in at a close fourth. I know the numbers may say otherwise, but my mom's family lived in each of those areas at one time, including Port Elizabeth, and this was their experience. Some areas of South Africa may have some issues relating to member retention. I hear that Port Elizabeth may be one of those cities.
2. In terms of the argument for Port Elizabeth over Cape Town in terms of unit numbers, I cite a recent example from my own experience. Many who read and comment extensively on the comment threads of this blog will recall how convinced I was that Utah County's next temple would be announced for the city of Lehi, as that city had more Church units on its own than does Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain combined. Saratoga Springs was a more central location for this temple that will serve all three cities. Thus we see that a larger number of units in one city vs. another may not always be indicative of the feasibility for a temple.
3. As a piggyback follow-up to the point above, the number of units in Cape Town (which may be much smaller than the number of those units in Port Elizabeth) should not necessarily disqualify it from being a good candidate city for a temple. As many may be aware, the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple (which had a groundbreaking 8 months ago but for which full-scale construction is still pending) is smaller and is being built to serve just one stake. And that is primarily being done because the Winnipeg Saints have to travel long distances to attend the nearest temple(s). That one-unit status did not disqualify Winnipeg from getting a temple, so I don't think we can rule out a temple for Cape Town, which by comparison has several more units.

I could delve more into other reasons why I think that Cape Town might get a temple before one is built in Port Elizabeth, but I think that's enough to start with. Speaking personally, it wouldn't surprise me to see temples in both cities within the next 50 years, nor would it surprise me if the Lord proves me wrong on the most likely location for South Africa's third temple. I've been wrong before, and the prospect of being so again doesn't bother, deter, scare, or trouble me at all. I wanted to conclude this comment by thanking you again, John, for dialoguing with me about this. Again, I respect your opinion and your right to express it, I just disagree with it for these (and other) reasons. Hope that's not a problem. Thanks again.

James said...

And in follow-up to the rest of your comment, John, about unit growth in Sierra Leone and Nigeria, I also think that has been amazing to witness and hear about. I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for both of those nations going forward. In my opinion, I can see the merits of a Freetown temple (the first for Sierra Leone) and a temple in Lagos. I know that many people have told me they don't see a Freetown temple for a while, and that Nigeria's next temple is more likely to rise in Port Harcourt, but to them I would say that I have been right about the location and timing for many other temples that some of those same individuals were convinced would either not happen at around that time, or not necessarily in that location (Nairobi Kenya springs to mind as a prime example). But to me, as with everything, the chance to exchange ideas on such subjects (whether my thoughts in that regard are right or wrong) is part of what makes it so fun to be involved with. Just wanted to add that, FWIW.

James said...

Just wanted to add my thoughts on George. My mom traveled through many South African cities before coming to the United States on a "short vacation" (which has since spanned nearly 40 years and has been extended repeatedly to include a mission, marriage, raising four children and enjoying several grandchildren, and not much chance of her actually returning "home" anytime soon.) That travel included visits to branches within that land prior to heading for the US, and included George and Port Alfred. And within the intervening four decades or so, she has kept tabs on how the Church is doing in such places, as she has connections in each of these cities. She has often spoken of factors relating to how the faith of the members in some areas is vibrant, strong, and allowing substantial growth and expansion of the Church in many of these cities, while others have made comparatively little or no progress in the same amount of time. Some have even retrogressed. All of these things seem to support my conviction that Cape Town is more likely to be home to the third South African temple instead of any other location. I have no firsthand knowledge of this growth aside from believing what my mom says on that subject. I grew up hearing about such things regularly, especially a time or two during my teenage years when I grumbled about having to attend Church every week. My mom's reminders of the South African Saints' commitment to the gospel and the inspiring stories she shared about the members' devotion to attending Church and the temple even when having to travel inordinate distances to do so have always inspired me. And whenever any other temples are announced in South Africa, wherever they do wind up being constructed will give me many reasons to rejoice for these faithful Saints. Thanks to you all for wading through all of these comments I have made today.

Bryan Baird said...

About a 10 hour drive or 6 hour flight

Ray said...

Nigeria has a year-to-date increase in wards and branches of 61 units from an 2016 year-end total of 500. This is + 33 wards and + 28 branches, or at an annual rate of approximately 20%.

Cote d'Ivoire has had a unit increase of 23 wards and branches from a year-end total of 182. This is also about 20% on an annual basis.

Sierra Leone ended 2016 with 55 wards and branches, but now is + 7 (+ 7 wards with a new stake and + 0 branches). This increase is also about 20% on an annual basis.

Ghana'a increase is 20 over a year-end total of 277, a slightly lower increase, but higher than its 2016 increase of 13.5%.

Overall, Africa has had a total increase so far this year of 140 wards and branches, whereas the Church as a whole has had a total increase of 141, so the overwhelming majority of unit growth is from Africa.

Utah is next at a +26 increase in wards and branches (+ 26 wards + 0 branches).

Brazil follows with a growth total of + 19 in 2017. Again, all the increase was in wards, with the total of branches unchanged.

James said...

That's pretty amazing, any way it's considered. Thanks for sharing that information, Ray! That being the case, I would not be at all surprised if Africa was to get several new temples among the 80 that Elder Wilson stated were being considered for an announcement within the next 15 years or so. I know that I personally currently have 7 such possibilities on my personal list for the near future, which would work out to just under 9% of those 80 sites. I also know that not all of those 80 sites will subsequently get an announcement, and it wouldn't surprise me if more temples than just the 7 were announced for the African continent. Both Africa and South America have seemed to have the most substantial and significant Church growth of late, and I am sure that will continue to be the case. As we know, of the 12 temples announced since 2015 (when the hiatus on temple announcements came to an end), 7 (roughly 58%) of those have been for South America and Africa (with 3 of those 7, or roughly 43% being in Africa, and the other 4, or 57%, being in South America.) So I am confident that many other temples will be announced in those nations, particularly within the next 15 years. It will be interesting to see what happens in that regard. Just wanted to note that, for what it's worth.

L. Chris Jones said...

A young man Elder in my ward just got his mission call to the Sierra Leone Freetown mission.

Eduardo Clinch said...

My nephew served a mission in Freetown and was evacuated because of Ebola when he only had six weeks to go. His last name is Bogh;his mother ran a blog using his letters as the primary content. Perhaps we can find it?
I do not have access to it now but it was a fun read.I may share it later.
My parents served and loved Sierra Leonians in the Peace Corps before joining the Church, 1964-66. Great to see more progress there.

Mike Johnson said...

We have a young man who has been serving on our shift in the temple headed to Sierra Leone on his mission. He leaves this week for the Ghana MTC.

L. Chris Jones said...

The young man in my ward just went through the temple last week. But I think he doesn't leave for another month or two.