Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017 Monthly Newsletter

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

83 comments:

James said...

That was another awesome newsletter. How wonderful it was to hear of the milestones that have been reached. I am most intrigued in particular about the developments the newsletter reported about Africa. I am excited to see how soon Sierra Leone might get a temple, and also how soon Nigeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast may get a second temple. I appreciate you passing this information along, Matt!

Bryan Baird said...

With the growth rate of the church in Africa as a whole, I estimate that the number of wards and branches will hit 2,000 by the end of the year.

Ray said...

Bryan, you may be right. Through Oct 31 there were 1,945 wards and branches in Africa, including 193 new ones in 2017 to date, so 55 new units in 2 months is very possible. At the same time there is flat growth in the US, although Utah has had almost 40 new wards and branches, and Texas 11 more. This is offset by California and Washington State, down 37 units in CA and 9 units in WA, as well as minor increases and declines in other states.

James said...

That would be wonderful. I have been very impressed with how well the Church has progressed in the nations of Africa. The last three times temples were announced (during April General Conference), Africa had 1 new temple announced each time. It would not surprise me at all if the Church had several occasions between now and 2032 where multiple Africa Temples were announced. It will be interesting to see.

Levi said...

California has less than 80 more wards than Idaho now.

James Anderson said...

KSL is reporting that Bonneville is re-acquiring some Bay Area and Sacramento radio stations, including two they previously had although one is now on a different frequency. Included are two top-40 stations, and those have really deteriorated as far as the subjects of a lot of songs they played including one recent #1 that was extremely vulgar.

One of the SF properties is said to have been recently to have catered heavily to the LGBT community as well.

James said...

Levi, thanks for that update on California and Idaho. I was curious, so I looked into this further. It appears that one effect of the mass exodus from California may also affect how and when the Church might realign and consolidate the 20 missions in California. Additionally, California is down to 154 stakes (doesn't appear to have had any districts in the recent future), which are further subdivided into 1,141 wards and 141 branches, for a total of 1,282 congregations. I did wonder in passing if this mass exodus would result in the Church electing to close one or more of the seven operating temples in that state, but that would be unheard of, and wouldn't be needed if those remaining keep them busy enough.

Idaho, by contrast, will have its 5th temple dedicated this year, and had its 6th announced in April, so I could easily see Idaho having more temples than California within the next 5-15 years. And while we don't know yet how many (if any) of the 4 missions in Idaho will be closed, it is great to see that Idaho now has 129 stakes (but no districts that I can see), which further break down into 1,064 wards and 59 branches, resulting in a total of 1,123 congregations.

If the congregational consolidations continue in California and elsewhere, I am not sure what that might do as far as the prospect of future temples in such areas. It will be interesting to see.

That said, I wanted to post about this here, even though I mentioned it in other threads on this blog. With all the general Church news and many temple developments, I have been busy blogging about it all. And I wanted to note that, among other topics I have been covering, I have started a new series of posts exploring the prospective options for future temple sites. I would appreciate any comments anyone has on any or all of these posts. You can find them at the link below. Thanks again to you all for these great discussions, and my thanks also to Matt for allowing me to share these links.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

Gnesileah said...

With the creation of two new administrative branches in the Africa Southeast Area, one each for Djibouti and Sudan, there are now four such Administrative branches that I am aware of within the area, the other two being for Eritrea and Somalia. The latter two are designated sensitive units.

John Pack Lambert said...

Despite the fact that it is only 38 miles from Port Harcourt to the Aba Nigeria Temple the drive still takes an hour and a half.

What really surprises me is that there are areas between the cities, especially directly north of Port Harcourt but straight west of Aba, while Aba is north east of Port Harcourt, that at least if LDS maps is right are still in mission administrative branches.

I have to wonder how many groups exist in small villages in Nigeria. Even with the Church having been in Nigeria almost 40 years, there are still places, maybe even places visited by th e Canons and Mabeys on the first mission, that are not in a branch. In his book on their mission Brother Mabey mentions going with Brother Gilbert Onyiri who had been baptized in Switzerland and may have been the only Nigerian priesthood holder in Nigeria at that point, to visit his home village of Ogbogu. I could not identify any branch with that name, and the map in Brother Mabey's book suggests Ogbogu may be in the area north of the city of Port Harcourt that is in the Port Harcourt Mission Branch. I have not managed to find Ogbogu on any other map or any other mention of it. Searches showed multiple people with this as a first or last name, but I could find no other references to the place.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today lds church temples dot com reported a new branch in the Ibadan staje in the Yoruba area of Nigeria. Church groth in Yoruba areas is,very encouraging.

I dont think the Church is anywhere near closing temples in California permanently. While it does appear that Church members may be moving out of California, and the number of active Church members in the state may be in decline, unit consolidation is,not always a sign of such. To some ext ent the Church has decided its purposes can be better achieved through larger wards and branches.

I think if the unit consolidations in California mean anything it is that we are not lukely to see an 8th temple in the state soon. However the most likely 8th temple is probably Bakersfield, and that area has not been much hit by consolidations, although Tulare not too far from there has been.

San Jose is,below its peak membership although it has not lost many units recently. So I doubt we will see a San Jose Temple in the foreseable future. I'm a little surprised that the Church has maintained its current membership levels in the San Francisco Bay Area and not seen more congregation consolidations over the past decade. Merced did just see a ward elimanated and I guess Merced sort of counts as Bay Area, but not much unit consolidation has occured in the Bay Area.

If some things I have read are any indication, we may see more unit consolidation in the Bay Area soon as higher housing prices drive out families. Only time will tell.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today lds church temples dot com reported a new branch in the Ibadan staje in the Yoruba area of Nigeria. Church groth in Yoruba areas is,very encouraging.

I dont think the Church is anywhere near closing temples in California permanently. While it does appear that Church members may be moving out of California, and the number of active Church members in the state may be in decline, unit consolidation is,not always a sign of such. To some ext ent the Church has decided its purposes can be better achieved through larger wards and branches.

I think if the unit consolidations in California mean anything it is that we are not lukely to see an 8th temple in the state soon. However the most likely 8th temple is probably Bakersfield, and that area has not been much hit by consolidations, although Tulare not too far from there has been.

San Jose is,below its peak membership although it has not lost many units recently. So I doubt we will see a San Jose Temple in the foreseable future. I'm a little surprised that the Church has maintained its current membership levels in the San Francisco Bay Area and not seen more congregation consolidations over the past decade. Merced did just see a ward elimanated and I guess Merced sort of counts as Bay Area, but not much unit consolidation has occured in the Bay Area.

If some things I have read are any indication, we may see more unit consolidation in the Bay Area soon as higher housing prices drive out families. Only time will tell.

John Pack Lambert said...

Despite the fact that it is only 38 miles from Port Harcourt to the Aba Nigeria Temple the drive still takes an hour and a half.

What really surprises me is that there are areas between the cities, especially directly north of Port Harcourt but straight west of Aba, while Aba is north east of Port Harcourt, that at least if LDS maps is right are still in mission administrative branches.

I have to wonder how many groups exist in small villages in Nigeria. Even with the Church having been in Nigeria almost 40 years, there are still places, maybe even places visited by th e Canons and Mabeys on the first mission, that are not in a branch. In his book on their mission Brother Mabey mentions going with Brother Gilbert Onyiri who had been baptized in Switzerland and may have been the only Nigerian priesthood holder in Nigeria at that point, to visit his home village of Ogbogu. I could not identify any branch with that name, and the map in Brother Mabey's book suggests Ogbogu may be in the area north of the city of Port Harcourt that is in the Port Harcourt Mission Branch. I have not managed to find Ogbogu on any other map or any other mention of it. Searches showed multiple people with this as a first or last name, but I could find no other references to the place.

Ohhappydane33 said...

To call Stockton or Modesto part of the Bay Area is a stretch, let alone Merced. Merced is in NO WAY considered part of the Bay Area by anybody. It is also in the Fresno temple district, not Oakland's. Some of you also underestimate the fact that there are many Church members working in high level positions at many world class corporations across the Bay Area/Silicon Valley and makes lots of $$. So granted, high housing prices do push out families here, but to suggest a total demise or collapse of the Church here is laughable.

L. Chris Jones said...

I wonder where the next Idaho temple would be. I don't see one too soon . But I have suggested a temple in Northern Cache valley. I have thought to centrally locate it in Smithfield, it could be announced for Preston, ID. With other temples I thought the next southern Utah county temple would be in Spanish Fork and it was announced for Payson. For a Northwest Utah county temple I thought to place in Lehi but it was announced for Saratoga Springs or closer the other edge of the then proposed temple district.

James Anderson said...

People are moving out to the CA-99 corridor from where I-580 and I-205 reach I-5, and they also tend to take CA-4 in, all three freeways have been expanded with additional lanes, but as soon as those lanes were built, everybody filled them up and all three have serious traffic jams at times. The traffic problems developed because people kept their jobs in the Bay Area, but moved out to the CA-99/I-5 area due to known cost-of-living factors. That is why this area is being colloquially called the 'outer Bay Area and the areas inside Dublin Canyon and Altamont Pass and the rest inside the mountains the 'inner' Bay Area. However, I still have yet to confirm media uses of those.

Ohhappydane33 said...

James Anderson, No offense, but you clearly do not live here in the Bay Area, I do and have for most of my life. Let me make it easy for you. Alameda and Contra Costa counties are considered the Bay Area. San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties have never been and are still not considered the Bay Area.

James Anderson said...

Figured that, but have heard of the traffic woes from those outlying areas that I still do not consider part of the Bay Area, the commute is no worse otherwise than the few that come from Sacramento.

I, like you, consider everything within the mountains that contain the two canyons named earler, and from San Jose into Marin, the real Bay Area.

Johnathan Whiting said...

What is an "Administrative Branch?“

Grant Emery said...

Administration branches are those which don't fall under the stewardship of any stake or district. Some of these are "mission administrative branches" that report directly to the mission president (like the Cherbourg Branch that reports to the France Paris Mission), while others report to an area presidency (like some North African/Middle Eastern branches).

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually administrative branches are not the same as a branch like the Cherbourg Branch. A branch like Cherbourg is a regular mission branch that is directly under the mission instead of being part of a district. Administrative branches can exist in districts, missions or areas. Instead of having a normal branch president the district president, mission oresident or area president serves as branch president. The main purpose of such units is to hold records of members not living in existing wards or branches. They also can exist to hold small congregations, called groups, that are not yet to the level to be made branches. Other groups exist as sub-units under organized wards or branches that hold seperate meetings. The Church does not report group counts. 20 years ago in my stake we had branches that I am almost positive would not count as anything more than groups today. At one point a branch was formed with 1 melchizedek priesthood holder which is well below the m8nimum number for a branch in a stake today.

John Pack Lambert said...

What I do know is when my Dad had a job offer from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories my parents looked at maybe moving to Merced.

Another thing I know is a 1200 square foot house in Pleasanton costs 1 million dollars. That is what people mean by California not being afordable.

Fredrick said...

Idaho won't be seeing a temple for a very long time after Pocatello. The north part of the state is too clase to Spokane (and Missoula assuming a temple is announced there). If there are more temples announced in the future, the only places I can see is around Burley (and that's a very big if) and Nampa over a decade from now after the Boise area continues to grow.
The Cache Valley stakes are too close to Logan and Star Valley to warrant another temple. But who knows?

Ohhappydane33 said...

Merced to Livermore is NINETY miles one way, not even remotely close. It would have been dumb to live in Merced and work in Livermore. Yes, housing is pricey here, but you would be surprised how many people can and do afford it. Annual salaries above $100K are the norm, and if the spouse works as well, you can pull if off. I would dare say the majority of folks working at the Lawrence Livermore Lab make in excess of $100k/year.

L. Chris Jones said...

Cache valley is growing. I Expect another temple in the Cache Valley area in the next ten to fifteen years, maybe twenty at most.

James Anderson said...

They have had to add lanes on 580 and 4 out past the mountains, additionally a BART line goes out close to there on 580, the tracks are in the center divider, that is how major things have become as far as people going out.

99 has six lanes to Merced, with room to add more when needed and they will at some point

Ohhappydane33 said...

James, Other than Mt. Diablo, what are these "mountains" you keep talking about?! BART was extended along 580 to Dublin 20 years ago in 1997, and extended to Pittsburg along Highway 4 22 years ago in 1995. Yes, the traffic gets bad. But it is not a new or even a recent phenomenon. Again, there is no "inner" or "outer" Bay Area. If Hwy 99 is the Bay Area, you might as well include Sacramento and Fresno. Yes, folks out there do commute to the Bay Area, but that area in and of itself is not generally considered the Bay Area.

Michael said...

Cherbourg branch is part of the Rennes stake now

Michael said...

Cherbourg branch is part of the Rennes stake now, FYI

Matt said...

Two new branches created in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire: Kpangbassou and N'Zuessy 4th. So far for 2017 we are at 91 new wards/branches for Nigeria, 27 new wards/branches for Cote d'Ivoire, and 27 new wards/branches in Ghana.

James Anderson said...

There is Dublin Canyon, 580 and the BART line go right up that. Those 'mountains' are obviously low hills but they proved to be the only places to run both 580 and 4, and because of that the hills act a lot like mountains and in a case or two on 580 it does look like you are in mountains. Particularly just before you hit where Caltrans put in the toll lanes.

Ohhappydane33 said...

James, I just find your comments amusing because folks from Utah, and I see that you are, usually laugh at the suggestion that the hills in the Bay Area be called mountains.

James Anderson said...

Part of it may be that they even call it Dublin Canyon, it is really just a low pass on a similar scale to Altamont Pass, except you level off instead of drop back down.

James said...

If I may, I would just like to make a comment on the potential for future temples in Utah and Idaho. I fully believe that, once the Meridian temple is dedicated later this month, and once Pocatello is constructed and dedicated, it may be some time before another temple is built in that state. If, when, and where that might happen is anyone's guess, but my understanding is that Pocatello is the last major Idaho city that needed a temple. So I see other Idaho possibilities as perhaps 15-30 years down the line.

In terms of Utah, however, the possibilities seem more abundant. As many of you may recall, I was one who was convinced at one time that the next Utah County temple would be in Lehi. I should have listened to the compelling arguments favoring Saratoga Springs, where the temple will be more central to Lehi, SS and Eagle Mountain.

In the three Utah areas of the Church, I see the following possibilities as most likely: Layton Utah (that one has been talked about for years, both here and elsewhere), Tooele Utah, and Heber City Utah. While I have not done the study yet on these Utah cities that would verify the prospects of each of these locations, I have heard each of them floated around by a number of people who have commented on my previous blog posts about such prospects. While many said before the announcement of the Saratoga Springs temple that Layton would be the next Utah city to get one, and while that didn't happen, it likely will sooner than later. Additionally, we do have the 2005 statement from President Hinckley about the Southwest Salt Lake Valley site that has been held in reserve for years for a temple when Church membership and temple attendance in the area warrant that announcement. I heard from some who tried to claim that that temple site had already been announced, but my study shows otherwise.

The study of potential future sites has been intriguing to me, and I am very appreciative of those who have commented to share their thoughts with me. For anyone else who would like to, I welcome your thoughts as well. Thanks again, everyone, for letting me be part of this discussion.

Michael Worley said...

All the talk has been about Nigeria's near-20% congregational growth this year-- and understandably so! But Ivory Coast's 15-17% is not shabby either!

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

What I do know is when my Dad had a job offer from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories my parents looked at maybe moving to Merced.

Another thing I know is a 1200 square foot house in Pleasanton costs 1 million dollars. That is what people mean by California not being afordable.

Ohhappydane33 said...

John, Nobody in his right mind would commute 90 miles each way from Merced to Livermore on a daily basis. There are plenty of other places to live that are much closer and almost just as cheap. Also, as hard it is for you to believe, six figure salaries are very common in this part of California and people therefore can and do pay these home prices. Too bad your dad didn't take the job in Livermore because he would likely be retired and be living like a king from his California pension in Michigan.

James Anderson said...

State transportation officials say they expect Tooele Valley to hit 100k population if not more by 2030 so studies are underway to make a major highway, although not a freeway, between Tooele and Grantsville.

Four cities and two towns make it up, and those are Tooele, Erda, Grantsville, and Stansbury Park. Then you have the two smaller places, Stockton and Rush Valley, and the military area at Dugway. The split between members and nonmembers is not known to me, but some are moving there from Salt Lake.

Heber City is more a member area though but so far has a smaller population but the ratio to nonmembers may be more pronounced. A temple there would serve Park City which has always skewed to be more nonmembers. Brigham Young told members not to get involved with the mining industry so few members went to that area early on. A short freeway connects Park City to Heber Valley though.

Kenny said...

A temple in Tooele would be a huge bleeding to those saints, though it would take a away a large support base from the Salt Lake Temple.

Between there and Reno, the only other place on I-80 would be a small temple in Elko NV.

I grow up in Los Angeles and I was one that moved out and for a while lived in UT. I moved out because of the housing costs. Unless I wanted bars on my windows or commute for over a hour on way, I had to move away. Even as a youth, the LA temple was never close to fill during sessions, though the rooms are huge compared to all other temples. You could fit 3 full Provo temple sessions into 1, but yet other temple were still built to make them closer to the saints.

Kenny said...

* blessing not bleeding

Skyline said...


California is undergoing congregational decline but there are also areas in California where the Church thrives. An example of that would perhaps be the Temecula area. This city appears to have a rather high percentage of LDS members in the state. The Temecula Stake currently has 12 wards and 2 branches. They all meet in 4 buildings. A map found on cumorah.com (a site that this blog's owner is also associated with) shows that two of the wards that meet in one of the buildings had 250+ sacrament attendance in the period 2013-2015. This may not seem like a lot for other areas but in California I think this is kind of a big deal. My ward in Southern California (not Temecula) has weekly sacrament attendance of roughly 110. If those numbers are accurate (I don't know what/where the source is for the reports of attendance) and haven't gone down significantly, then these two wards can split to make 3 wards between the former 2, raising the number of congregations to 13 wards and 2 units, easily justifying a stake split and maybe creating another building, since all buildings in the stake already carry several congregations. The Church seems to be reluctant to create new meetinghouses, and I can see why, given the current trends of the Church here. However, this reluctance may be hindering growth, and creating a new chapel would likely spur growth. An article from 2011 shows that the stake used to have 11 wards. (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-mormons-open-new-temecula-chapel-2011mar17-story.html) So since then, the stake must have had 1 new ward and 2 new branches (unless the branches were excluded from the count, then just 1 ward) One of the few newly organized stakes in California in the recent years is the nearby Lake Elsinore Stake. I'm not saying that the Church should DEFINITELY build a new chapel there, since there are several factors, such as cost and obtaining a site, that can make it difficult. The above article states that the newest chapel in Temecula costed $6.4 million. Just that this stake and some of its wards has the potential to split in the near future, and building a new meetinghouse would help lessen the use of each building. If the wards do split to create 15 total congregations, having 5 meetinghouses would host each of them more comfortably than 4 would.

Gnesileah said...

The Church has been considering a temple for Tooele since at least 2003. That was before they announced additional temples for Salt Lake County in 2004/2005, so that may have delayed a temple announcement there, but the Tooele Valley I think could still support their own. I could see one being announced there, and also one in the Heber Valley, within 5-10 years. Maybe sooner?

OC Surfer said...

A couple of issues I see about California that's not bring addressed of a lot of the California stakes.

1) Currently in California over 50% of the adult membership of the Church is single. And yet, most stakes have little to no programs for Midsingles 31-45 or Single Adults 31+ or 46+. As a result over 90% of singles over age 30 are inactive. Over 90%! Just imagine the growth of the wards and stakes in California, if stakes actually ministered and cared for their singles of different age. Where are the divorce support groups? Single parent support groups? Singles Wards for 46+ Singles? Meaningful singles activities? You can talk church leaders, and often times all you get are the deer the headlight looks. It's an easy fix, and that could be help so much, and yet, stake leaders do nothing.

2) More and more Latinos in California speak more English and less Spanish. Same concept applies to Asian Americans and their perspective languages.

So they feel the English speaking wards culturally are "too white", but the Spanish wards cater to the recent immigrant crowd who don't know English. So a lot of English speaking Latinos feel caught in the middle, and feel lost in the shuffle.

So much more needs to be done in the English speaking wards to be more culturally inclusive, and not for people to assume English wards are only for "white people" or the Brady Bunch crowd.

OC Surfer said...

A couple of issues I see about California that's not bring addressed of a lot of the California stakes.

1) Currently in California over 50% of the adult membership of the Church is single. And yet, most stakes have little to no programs for Midsingles 31-45 or Single Adults 31+ or 46+. As a result over 90% of singles over age 30 are inactive. Over 90%! Just imagine the growth of the wards and stakes in California, if stakes actually ministered and cared for their singles of different age. Where are the divorce support groups? Single parent support groups? Singles Wards for 46+ Singles? Meaningful singles activities? You can talk church leaders, and often times all you get are the deer the headlight looks. It's an easy fix, and that could be help so much, and yet, stake leaders do nothing.

2) More and more Latinos in California speak more English and less Spanish. Same concept applies to Asian Americans and their perspective languages.

So they feel the English speaking wards culturally are "too white", but the Spanish wards cater to the recent immigrant crowd who don't know English. So a lot of English speaking Latinos feel caught in the middle, and feel lost in the shuffle.

So much more needs to be done in the English speaking wards to be more culturally inclusive, and not for people to assume English wards are only for "white people" or the Brady Bunch crowd.

Ohhappydane33 said...

OC Surfer, I agree with you and I strongly suspect the stats you quote regarding singles likely aren't all that unique to California.

Skyline said...

OC Surfer,
I can't say much about the first point, but about your second point: My ward shares the building with a Chinese Ward.
Our convert baptism rate is typically single-digit every year, while they have perhaps a dozen every year, give or take. I imagine that the retention rate is low, but it shows that the gospel is being shared with more people in that ward. They have two pairs of missionaries,two elders and two sisters to our one pair of elders, which may be considered better outreach. The Chinese ward does have members who speak English better than Chinese. Sometimes they drop by our ward times. So if people feel more comfortable in an English ward, perhaps they should be invited to one.

Unknown said...

OC Surfer, to the extent that Latino members in California get lost in the shuffle because they feel that English speaking wards are culturally "too white", I believe the fault lies with those Latino members and not their fellow "white" members. That's basically racist thinking, and at the very least shows an unwillingness to assimilate with the culture they voluntarily moved into.

OC Surfer said...

Unknown, I totally agree. But often, perception is reality. And if that is their perception, what can be done to change that -- either by the English speaking Latinos and/or the English Ward itself?

OC Surfer said...

Unknown, I totally agree. But often, perception is reality. And if that is their perception, what can be done to change that -- either by the English speaking Latinos and/or the English Ward itself?

Grant Emery said...

Blaming either side unilaterally is racist. People come to the United States for many reasons. Some come to form a better life, hoping to become American. Some come out of desperation to escape their circumstances. To say that all Latinos are to blame is wrong.

Likewise, removing all blame from whites is wrong.

James said...

If I may, I would like to comment here about something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and which relates to some of the things that have been discussed here on this thread in recent comments. I would ask that you all bear with me as I try to say what I have felt a need to in this comment.

I know that it is easy for me to wonder at times why certain individuals have been called to certain positions, especially when something they have done or are not doing makes it harder for me to do what the Lord needs me to do. And I think that would be amplified even further regarding problems we see that appear to any of us as though they are not being properly addressed by anyone on any level of Church leadership. It may be easy for us to try and solve these problems, or to suggest that more should be done in certain ways about certain things.

But in such cases, I have found it useful to remember, where I know of it, the background of the individuals involved in such decisions. In my study of our current group of apostles, I have discovered some interesting things. For example, President Eyring was one who was not able to get married until he was 29. Because of that, he is no stranger to how YSAs, and by extension, older Single Adults in the Church, feel about the programs and practices of the Church that affect the outreach to them.

Also, among the 14 apostles, we have at least two of which I know that are fluent in more than one foreign language, and as such, have served in leadership among several minority groups of the Church. So the problem of outreach to such individuals is not a foreign issue to the general leadership of the Church.

Additionally, just recently, we have seen modern revelation at work in terms of how General Conference will be simplified, how missionary safety has been evaluated (including how the number of missions will be adjusted to enable greater missionary safety by providing greater strength in numbers for problematic area, and by cutting the number of missionaries needed in areas where the safety and security is too problematic to safely allow missionary work to continue), how the Church will be embracing modern technology on a greater scale to move the missionary program into more of an effort to find religiously-minded individuals worldwide.

So I for one do not spend time pontificating about what the Church could or should do differently in terms of areas I might otherwise consider a problem. The Brethren, like all of us, are not perfect, but because of their background and experience, to say nothing of their worldwide ministry to Church members, have a unique understanding of all such issues, including factors of which we, as individual members considering such things, may not be fully aware. I instead choose to trust that, in the Lord's way and time, He will reveal the answers needed to those who have the authority to receive such direction, and that those solutions will be what is needed at that time, if not necessarily what any one or all of us think it should be. That is one of many reasons why the Lord has directed the calls of each of these Brethren at the times those calls have come to them. And that is also why the Brethren have in turn directed and approved the calls of those serving in area presidencies, as general and area seventies, as mission, stake, and district presidencies, as bishopric and branch presidency members, and on down to the home teachers and Aaronic Priesthood leaders of each congregation. None of us are perfect, and we won't ever be during our mortal sojourn, but we don't have to be. As long as we keep trying and continue in patience until we are perfected, the Lord will compensate for whatever we (or He) feels we lack. Just wanted to share these thoughts, for what they may be worth to any of you.

John Pack Lambert said...

My stake designated a ward the mid-singles magnet ward. In general it has not lead to higher levels of activity on the part of mid-single members of the Church. The reasons that singles of any age do not come to church have very little to do with outreach and activities.

There are probably some things that could be done better to reach out to such people. However nourishing by the good word of God is key to all growth.

John Pack Lambert said...

However some people seem to not want to go to wards where there are no other members of the same cultural background as them. This in some cases becomes a self-perpetuating problem. Beyond this, mass grouping people as "white" etc. and assuming you understand them based on this is inherently the type of action that is normally denominated "racist".

If someone said that they did not want to go to a ward becuase it was too culturally "Hispanic" what would you call that?

On the other hand I have heard of members of the Church in California who are beligerent against the use of Spanish in any way, shape, means or form at Church. Such an attitude does not breed openess or friendliness.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I remember a former Indiana stake president who retired as a BYU professor commenting on a person who would commute an inordinate distance to get to their job in San Francisco. Maybe it took over two hours?
Many people in Rohnert Park will travel to the Bay Area cities for their work, it can be hard to match residence with job locale.
In the DC area people commute from parts of West Virginia, from New York City people cross New Jersey into Pennsylvania, etcetera.
California is losing members in significant ways but the temples should maintain their activity, although perhaps reduced. People on this forum used to ruminate about Oxnard or Bakersfield as future temple sites, but for now hopefully the seven they have maintain productivity.
I have seen Hispanics integrate successfully into English Wards, but I also know of many Spanish speakers who very much prefer services in their native language.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

The thing with YSAs is that they ether don't feel there's a place for them in the church. Or that they don't have the friendship of other YSAs that they need to keep going.
It can be hard for someone to come to church and set by themselves, or feel out of place when ever one is talking about there kids.
I know for myself and all other YSA in my ward we may hangout at activities but outside of that we don't talk or even see each other.
This like of friendships can easily led some to think that in order to have the friendships that they are looking for they would have to skip going to church to reach it.
One of the things that helps to keep me active is my callings in the Young mens. When ever I feel like not going to church or just taking a break from the gospel I think of my young men and how I need to be there for a lesson or some activitie.
The church can do more YSa activitie but in places with some numbers it would help if the older members toke in the YSA and made them feel that there's a place for them. Or what would be even butter if non YSA members would find something in common with a YSA they could invite them to do it with them. Just this alone would give the YSA the friendship that they need and our looking for.
It can be hard being a YSA your friends leave the church or move away away some go on Mission some don't .coming home from a mission or having a friend come home and not have anything in common anymore.
All of this takes a impact on YSA members of the church ever where.

MainTour said...

First Persian speaking branch starts tomorrow in Del Mar, CA.

Matt said...

MainTour - Can you confirm whether this is an official Branch or a member group?

James Anderson said...

Elder Bednar, in a Europe-wide broadcast in 2014 did address a couple of things in regards to cultural and language differences, then asked, quoting a line in 4 Nephi, Why can;t there be 'no manner of -ites?'

Later he did that broadcast out of Buenos Aires that was largely misunderstood for about the same reasons, where he said that there were 'no gays in the church'. The LGBT people did not understand that what he meant was we do not set up groups for other than language reasons.

In the general Christian world there are groups of al kinds that center on a subjet, it is sort of like setting up clubs, examples might include bikers for Jesus or any other interest, that is very common.

I also thought that setting up a language unit was so that everyone could hear the gospel in their own language, that is why the apparent Persian unit tomorrow if that is true, and Spanish units originally, or any other language grouping for that matter.

It also has led to Elder Cook's statement just last month in General Conference, after some things were said around Charlottesville happening, but could be applied much more broadly.

Paul said...

I've seen photos of the Oklahoma City and Memphis temples since they were recently closed for renovation. The photos show a much larger renovation project than I thought it would be. Are these temples being torn down completely and then being rebuilt? Are the other temples scheduled for renovation looking at the same pattern?

John Pack Lambert said...

On the issue of integration across cultural boundaries in California, I had a roommate at BYU from northern California who would refer to Mexicans in racist ways. I found it highly offensive. That sort of attitude makes it not surprising the Church is growing in northern California.

On the other hand I come from a background where I cannot easily tell all my Mexican and Hispanic connections in the Church. My favorite primary teacher was a native of Mexico, getting a masters in education, whose wife was of Lebanese descent. His family had first come to the US as undocumented immigrants.

When I was a teenager one of the counselors in our bishopric was named Ceasar Riccardo Gonzalez, although he went by Rick. He was born in Holland, Michigan, and was not very fluent in Spanish, but was of fully Mexican descent. I believe his family growing up were agricultural migrant laborers.

Both my scout masters were Anglo men with Hispanic wives. The first his wife was from Uruguay, the second his wife was from Venezuela.

Our ward mission leader before the current one was a native of Mexico, whose mom was fully Mexican and whose dad was the son of an Anglo from Idaho and an American of Hispanic descent raised in the south-west US. His grandfather had served a Spanis-speaking mission in the southwest US and that is where his grandparents met. After farming in Idaho for a while, when his father was fairly young, his grandfather decided he missed Hispanic culture, and so moved the family to Mexico. Our ward mission leaders wife was from Colombia, although her father was an American.

The ward clerk in our ward is the son of a Texas born Mexican American who grew up as the daughter of agricultural migrant workers. We have two more families with a member of Mexican descent, and one family with lots of teenagers where the husband is half Cuban.

We also have two families in the ward where both husband and wife are natives of Mexico. Then we have another woman, whose husband used to be bishop and who has been relief society president and was my seminary teacher. She was born in Brazil but her parents were from Argentina and Uruguay. When I was little we had another family from Uruguay.

I can think of other families of Mexican or other Hispanic origin, or partially such origin we have had in the ward. Also other such families in the stake. Including a few were the father was a high ranking executive with automotive supply companies.

Of course the main outreach we need to do in this area to a specific ethnic group is to Chaldeans. We have had members who are chaldeans, and baptized some over the years. However with new converts of Chaldean background they do face strong family pressure to return to Catholicism. As a people who have spent centuries as Catholic minority members in Iraq, and with a very strong ethno-religious identify, conversion of Chaldeans is at times difficult.

However at least a large portion of Chaldeans are fluent in English. We even had a Chaldean brother in the ward who had served a mission. He moved to the ward to our west though. His wife was a Coloured (mixed Swazi and English descent) woman who was from Swaziland, but I believe joined the Church in Durban, South Africa. Actually I believe her father was of Afrikaans descent. Her mother was Coloured, both her grandfathers were British immigrants to Swaziland and both her grandmothers were Swazi women.

On the south-west side of Detroit there is a branch where they are fully bilingual, and alternate between English and Spanish as the main language in the services. The branch covers mot of Detroit's true downtown, a good portion of what is designated mid-town, and all the heavily Hispanic areas of the city, but also some neighborhoods were virtually 100% of the population is African-American. Up until recently the president of the branch was a native of Uruguay, who was the younger brother of my first scout master's wife.



Cory Ward said...

The same type of renovation was done to Montreal Temple in 2014-2015. I suspect that most of the other small temples scheduled for renovations will receive the same type of work done. However, during the same time, the Suva Fiji Temple was also renovated. This renovation did not change the Exterior. It is interesting to compare the interior photos of these two temples. One can tell they are very similar temples, but the colors in the Suva temple are cool colores: Blue, Silver, White. While the Montreal Temple has warm colors: Yellow, light Blue, and Cream. The paintings in the Baptistery and the Brides rooms are the exact same, but the hues are altered to reflect the temperature of the color theme of the temple. It makes sense. For those in Canada, a warm place must seem heavenly compared to the cold climate, and in Fiji, the cool ambient must be heavenly compared to the humid tropical weather.

Many complain about President Hinkley's cookie cutter temples. But they served a great purpose to rapidly expand temple growth in only a matter of three years and catch up with Church growth around the world. So I suspect that over the next 20-30 years these temples will be renovated and made unique in the process.

Michael Worley said...

In the New Delhi Stale, Dwarka and the 4 Delhi branches are wards.

John Pack Lambert said...

Having temples dedicated 14 months after announcement was a worthwhile plus to having temples with few locally unique features.

Michael Worley said...

I can confirm a Farsi-speaking branch was organized in Del Mar, CA, today.

Skyline said...

I'm guessing that if there actually is one, the Farsi-speaking congregation is a dependent member group, since I didn't see it on ldschurchtemples recent church congregational activity and it's not on lds.org/maps. I'll check again tomorrow, but is the name of the congregation known?

Michael Worley said...

I've been looking for the name, but I don't have it.

https://www.facebook.com/nico.rooseboomdevries/posts/10215186918970403

Usually these things take 1-4 days to show up on ldschurchtemples, and, at times, 1-4 weeks.

David Todd said...

I don't know about this particular case, but Michael is right that if it was created today it likely won't show up for several more days anywhere that you can see.

MainTour said...

I can also confirm that the first Farsi/Persian speaking branch in the world was formally organized yesterday in Del Mar CA with a very close friend of mine set apart as the branch president along with two counselors. Their family facebook / twitter accounts have all lit up like crazy. A giant feast was held at the church afterwards to celebrate this momentous occasion. See also #firstpersianbranch #moderndaypioneers

TempleRick said...

It's the Del Mar 2nd Branch (Persian) in the Del Mar California Stake.

John Pack Lambert said...

lds church temples often reports changes many days if not weeks afterward. I am glad since this makes it an interesting place to check all week long. Two new wards were just reported in Idaho.

John Pack Lambert said...

lds church temples often reports changes many days if not weeks afterward. I am glad since this makes it an interesting place to check all week long. Two new wards were just reported in Idaho.

OC Surfer said...

FYI, there's also a good sized LDS Persian Group and soon to be branch in Los Angeles in the Westwood Bldg behind the LA Temple, and Irvine Stake is considering to start a Farsi Sunday School Class.

Michael Worley said...

Looks like the church may announce new mission presidents and mission alignments early.

"New mission president assignments will be announced later this year."

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900003526/uvu-president-matt-holland-to-leave-in-june-to-serve-as-a-mormon-mission-president.html

J S A said...

Del Mar 2nd Branch (Persian) (2110881)

Grant Emery said...

Re: "New mission president assignments will be announced later this year."

I think they always announce to the newly called where they're going at the end of the year, but it's not publicly known until about February. I think that might be what was meant.

Source: a conversation I vaguely remember with a friend who was called as mission president.

Skyline said...
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Skyline said...
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Cory Ward said...

My mission president told us that first they received a friendly, casual conference call from an apostle, only hinting that they would be called to be mission presidents. Then they received a more formal conference call from a member of the First presidency. However, they had to keep it a secret until the church officially announced it. I think President Holland is in that process, but he has permission to tell people so UVU can prepare for his departure.

Bryan Baird said...

My count (and I could be wrong) was 1,989 as of Nov 5. Of course I had to add each unit from each country, and then add each unit that was recorded from ldschurchtemples website. I even added the one in Mali and Guinea I haven't added the branches in Sudan and Djibouti I don't know if they count as official units nor did I are groups, I just added branches and wards.

Bryan Baird said...

Also Canada only needs one more to hit 500. (If they haven't already)

Skyline said...


Ah, I had always thought that the site updated in real time.
The branch showed up on it now, and I'm quite (pleasantly) surprised that such a congregation was able to be created. Hope it may prosper.
This truly is remarkable in the sense that California gained a congregation for onceand more significantly, the first Persian-speaking branch of the church since the closure of the Tehran mission.
Could it be a nominally-Persian branch and conduct meetings in English if there aren't sufficient church materials? From what I've heard the Samoan ward I know does this, although there are church materials in Samoan. Apparently it's more of a cultural congregation.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am not actually sure there were branches meeting in Iranian when there was a Tehran Mission. That mission may have mainly focused on missionary outreach to expatriates in Iran, but I am not sure. I know,most Church members in Iran were expatriates.

I believe thd last few years the Church has anounced new mission presidents assignments in January. Before 2010 or so it was not done until March.

There was at least one other new congregation in California this year. Considering that the population of California goes up bec ause migration from outside the US exceeds that from in the US, having new congegarions formed that are language specific is a good thing.

I have to say I do not think having specific congregations is justified unless it is languafe based. Culture based congregations are to me a horrible idea. However considering some American members are beligerent against the use of languages other than English to give a prayer in sacrament meeting, having a whole ward to accomadate the need of a few grandmothers might be justified.

My ward over the years has even let people give talks half or more in Spanish with no translation, but we just are not beligerently pro-English. It might be a different story if we covered inner city Detroit and someone came in and started giving their testimony in Chaldean. Some members might object to feeling like they were at the gas station where tye clerks will talk to each other behind the counter in Chaldean.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am not actually sure there were branches meeting in Iranian when there was a Tehran Mission. That mission may have mainly focused on missionary outreach to expatriates in Iran, but I am not sure. I know,most Church members in Iran were expatriates.

I believe thd last few years the Church has anounced new mission presidents assignments in January. Before 2010 or so it was not done until March.

There was at least one other new congregation in California this year. Considering that the population of California goes up bec ause migration from outside the US exceeds that from in the US, having new congegarions formed that are language specific is a good thing.

I have to say I do not think having specific congregations is justified unless it is languafe based. Culture based congregations are to me a horrible idea. However considering some American members are beligerent against the use of languages other than English to give a prayer in sacrament meeting, having a whole ward to accomadate the need of a few grandmothers might be justified.

My ward over the years has even let people give talks half or more in Spanish with no translation, but we just are not beligerently pro-English. It might be a different story if we covered inner city Detroit and someone came in and started giving their testimony in Chaldean. Some members might object to feeling like they were at the gas station where tye clerks will talk to each other behind the counter in Chaldean.