Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Human Development Index (HDI) and Annual Membership Growth Rate: Correlational Analysis

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a widely quoted statistic that combines education, life expectancy, and standard of living into a single number ranging from 0-1. HDI by country provides a snapshot into some of the basic variables that define human development for individual nations (see more at http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-index-hdi).

See below for a graph that displays 2017 Human Development Index (HDI) and 2017 annual membership growth by country for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click on the graph to enlarge it. HDI numbers were retrieved here. Annual membership growth rates were obtained from year-end 2016 and year-end 2017 membership data published by the Church. Only 132 countries were included in the analysis as these were the only nations for which 2016 and 2017 membership data and HDI figures were available. A correlation analysis of the two variables revealed a moderate negative relationship between HDI and annual membership growth rates for 2017 (r = -0.517). Therefore, we can conclude that HDI accounts for 26.7% of the shared variability between the two variables. Thus, higher levels of education, life expectancy, and standard of living are negatively correlated with annual membership growth rates in the Church. This finding supports more comprehensive work done by Ryan Cragun and Ronald Lawson regarding "The Secular Transition" of nations in which groups like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports slower growth in high HDI countries in comparison to lower HDI countries.


See below for the data used to create the above graph:


COUNTRY HDI 2017 MEMBERSHIP GROWTH 2017
Albania 0.785 4.09%
Angola 0.581 15.78%
Antigua and Barbuda 0.780 3.04%
Argentina 0.825 1.62%
Armenia 0.755 -1.16%
Australia 0.939 1.47%
Austria 0.908 1.00%
Bahamas 0.807 1.26%
Barbados 0.800 4.18%
Belgium 0.916 -2.76%
Belize 0.708 0.79%
Benin 0.515 17.70%
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 0.693 2.02%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.768 4.55%
Botswana 0.717 4.36%
Brazil 0.759 2.19%
Bulgaria 0.813 -0.45%
Burundi 0.417 14.57%
Cambodia 0.582 3.94%
Cameroon 0.556 19.35%
Canada 0.926 0.72%
Cape Verde 0.654 5.19%
Central African Republic 0.367 8.33%
Chile 0.843 0.72%
Colombia 0.747 1.95%
Congo (Democratic Republic of th 0.457 9.16%
Congo 0.606 4.51%
Costa Rica 0.794 2.88%
Côte d'Ivoire 0.492 10.88%
Croatia 0.831 1.13%
Cyprus 0.869 0.00%
Czechia 0.888 1.84%
Denmark 0.929 0.54%
Dominica 0.715 -2.42%
Dominican Republic 0.736 2.15%
Ecuador 0.752 1.79%
El Salvador 0.674 1.03%
Estonia 0.871 -1.13%
Ethiopia 0.463 0.37%
Fiji 0.741 3.92%
Finland 0.920 -1.19%
France 0.901 1.68%
Georgia 0.780 1.13%
Germany 0.936 0.06%
Ghana 0.592 7.62%
Greece 0.870 3.89%
Grenada 0.772 2.16%
Guatemala 0.650 1.86%
Guyana 0.654 2.93%
Haiti 0.498 3.24%
Honduras 0.617 1.67%
Hong Kong, China (SAR) 0.933 -0.09%
Hungary 0.838 0.42%
Iceland 0.935 2.53%
India 0.640 3.26%
Indonesia 0.694 1.51%
Ireland 0.938 2.28%
Israel 0.903 11.63%
Italy 0.880 1.41%
Jamaica 0.732 1.24%
Japan 0.909 0.37%
Kazakhstan 0.800 -7.08%
Kenya 0.590 3.13%
Kiribati 0.612 7.20%
Korea (Republic of) 0.903 0.25%
Latvia 0.847 0.65%
Lesotho 0.520 8.19%
Liberia 0.435 9.18%
Lithuania 0.858 -0.41%
Luxembourg 0.904 5.34%
Madagascar 0.519 4.77%
Malawi 0.477 10.42%
Malaysia 0.802 2.14%
Malta 0.878 6.63%
Marshall Islands 0.708 -6.39%
Mauritius 0.790 0.78%
Mexico 0.774 1.30%
Micronesia (Federated States of) 0.627 3.84%
Moldova (Republic of) 0.700 4.79%
Mongolia 0.741 1.79%
Montenegro 0.814 -17.39%
Mozambique 0.437 15.18%
Namibia 0.647 -0.23%
Netherlands 0.931 2.26%
New Zealand 0.917 0.95%
Nicaragua 0.658 2.89%
Nigeria 0.532 7.09%
Norway 0.953 -0.22%
Palau 0.798 1.98%
Panama 0.789 5.23%
Papua New Guinea 0.544 5.05%
Paraguay 0.702 1.64%
Peru 0.750 2.00%
Philippines 0.699 2.61%
Poland 0.865 2.22%
Portugal 0.847 1.57%
Romania 0.811 -0.23%
Russian Federation 0.816 0.31%
Rwanda 0.524 52.82%
Saint Kitts and Nevis 0.778 -11.34%
Saint Lucia 0.747 4.84%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0.723 4.59%
Samoa 0.713 2.15%
Serbia 0.787 2.72%
Sierra Leone 0.419 10.03%
Singapore 0.932 -0.41%
Slovakia 0.855 1.49%
Slovenia 0.896 -2.07%
Solomon Islands 0.546 15.44%
South Africa 0.699 2.54%
Spain 0.891 2.51%
Sri Lanka 0.770 5.22%
Suriname 0.720 2.14%
Swaziland 0.588 2.78%
Sweden 0.933 0.74%
Switzerland 0.944 -2.29%
Tanzania (United Republic of) 0.538 8.31%
Thailand 0.755 3.88%
Togo 0.503 8.68%
Tonga 0.726 1.04%
Trinidad and Tobago 0.784 0.29%
Turkey 0.791 6.63%
Uganda 0.516 5.42%
Ukraine 0.751 0.63%
United Arab Emirates 0.863 0.78%
United Kingdom 0.922 0.54%
United States 0.924 0.75%
Uruguay 0.804 0.91%
Vanuatu 0.603 11.13%
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 0.761 0.46%
Zambia 0.588 7.25%
Zimbabwe 0.535 6.41%

Monday, November 12, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Syria

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Syria where there is one branch and at least two member groups. All members in the country are native Syrians. Most members are recent converts. Church operations in Syria are supervised by district leadership in neighboring Lebanon.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Second Most Populous City in Liberia Opens to Missionary Work

Yesterday, the Church organized its first member group in the Liberian city of Gbarnga. Gbarnga is the second most populous city in Liberia and is inhabited by at least 57,000 people. The mission reported 64 people in attendance for the first meeting of the Gbarnga Group. A single full-time missionary companionship has also been assigned to serve in the city. Gbarnga is the most distant city from Monrovia to have had full-time missionaries assigned. Click here to read the mission president's report about the creation of the new member group.

Earlier this year, the Church in Liberia organized its first branches in two additional cities: Buchanan and Totota. There are now five cities with an official branch, and nine cities with a ward, branch, or member group. Furthermore, rapid congregational growth has occurred in Monrovia during 2018. There are now 38 wards and branches in Monrovia - up from nine branches a decade earlier.

See below for a map of wards, branches, and member groups in Liberia.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

New Stakes Created in the Philippines (2) and Nigeria; New District in Romania; Two Stakes Discontinued in Mexico

Philippines
Today the Church organized two new stakes in the Philippines.

The Agoo Philippines Stake was organized from the Agoo Philippines District. The Agoo Philippines District included seven branches and most of the branches have become wards in the new stake. The Church initially organized the Agoo Philippines Stake in 1999, but discontinued the stake and reorganized retained congregations into branches in 2004. The Church has experienced steady progress in Agoo in recent years as two new branches have been organized in the district and branches in the district have had increases in active membership. The Agoo Philippines Stake is the third new stake organized within the Philippines Baguio Mission and Philippines Urdaneta Mission since 2015.

The Morong Rizal Philippines Stake was organized from the Morong Rizal Philippines District. Most, if not all, of the branches in the former district were organized into wards. The Morong Rizal Philippines District was originally created in 1992. With the advancement of the district into a stake, there are now no districts within the Greater Metro Manila area. Steady growth has occurred in the Greater Metro Manila as evidenced by four new stakes organized in the area since the beginning of 2017, and nine new stakes organized in the area since 2011. There are now 28 stakes in the Greater Metro Manila area - more than any other metropolitan area in all of Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania.

There are now 107 stakes and 68 districts in the Philippines.

Nigeria
A new stake was organized in Nigeria on October 28th. The Abakaliki Nigeria Stake was organized from the Abakaliki Nigeria District. Information on which of the 10 branches in the former district became wards remains unavailable. However, local members report that most of the branches were advanced into wards when the new stake was organized. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be organized in Ebonyi State, Nigeria - home to 2.9 million people. The Church organized its first branch in Ebonyi State in 2005 in Abakaliki, whereas the first branches were organized in Afikpo in 2006, Okposi in 2007, and Edda in 2018. Today, there are five congregations in Afikpo, two congregations in Abakaliki, two congregations in Okposi, and one congregation in Edda. The creation of the new stake came as a complete surprise to me considering half of the congregations were organized just within the past two years and the 10 branches were spread across four different cities. Generally in these situations, the Church divides districts instead of creating a stake to reduce travel times. Nevertheless, the organization of the new stake indicates strength in local leadership that has warranted the district to mature into a stake only four years after the district was initially organized from four mission branches.

There are now 54 stakes and 15 districts in Nigeria. The number of stakes in Nigeria has increased by nine since January 2018 - the largest annual increase in the number of stakes for an African country in the history of the Church. Nigeria is now the country in the world with the eighth most stakes.

Romania
A new district was organized in Romania. The Iaşi România District was organized from a division of the Bucharest Romania District. The new district includes the following four branches: the Bacãu, Braşov, Galati, and Iaşi Branches. The decision to organize the new district does not appear due to any recent growth in the area as overall membership growth has been stagnant in the country for several consecutive years. Rather, the decision to create the new district appears related to mission leaders abandoning plans to try to organize a stake from the Bucharest Romania District, and instead focus on strengthening individual branches while reducing travel times for district leadership. The Church in Romania used to operate two districts in eastern Romania, with a former district headquartered in Ploiesti until 2009. There are now three districts in Romania. The Romania Bucharest Mission closed last summer and was consolidated with the Hungary Budapest Mission.

Mexico
Two stakes were recently discontinued in Mexico City.

The Mexico City Xalostoc Stake (organized in 1997) and the Mexico City Pantitlan Stake (organized in 1997) were discontinued. The Mexico City Xalostoc Stake was consolidated with the Mexico City Azteca Stake and the Mexico City Ecatepec Stake, whereas the Mexico City Pantitlan Stake was consolidated with the Mexico City Netzahualcoyotl Stake and the Mexico City Moctezuma Stake. Additionally, five wards were discontinued as part of this realignment of stakes and congregations. Mexico City is one of the last metropolitan areas in Mexico where the Church had not combined congregations with smaller numbers of active members (usually between 50-100 active members). Additional stake and congregation realignments are underway, which will result in the discontinuation and creation of congregations and stakes in the immediate future. I predict there may be as many as 25-50 ward closures and 5-10 stake closures before the end of the year. However, there may also be several new congregations and stakes organized as part of these changes. The Church in Mexico City has sought for many years to make a plan to better utilize meetinghouse space to conserve costs and establish congregations with larger numbers of active members. I just received a report that the Mexico City Centenario Stake was discontinued today, and a new stake, Mexico City Villa Madero Stake, was organized. However, I will officially report these changes in another update once I have more information.

There are now 219 stakes and 45 districts in Mexico.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October 2018 Newsletter

Click here to access our October 2018 newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Iraq

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Iraq. The Church established its first official branches in Iraq during 2003 when the American-led coalition invaded Iraq. All military branches were discontinued by the early 2010s upon the removal of most foreign military personnel. In the mid-2010s, a Church presence was established among Kurdish and Assyrian/Chaldean peoples in Kurdistan. Today there are two member groups led by local leaders.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Graph with Labels - Temple Announcements and Number of Members: Analysis

I am not the greatest making graphs and charts with Excel, but I managed to put labels on for each of the points in the graph I presented in the post for Temple Announcements and Number of Members: Analysis. This way, it is easier to identify trends with when temples are announced by country or geographical area. For example, the Church has announced temples in Latin American countries when there are more members than in countries in other regions of the world. This is likely due to lower member activity rates. See below for the updated graph. Click on the graph so the labels are legible.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Kyrgyzstan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Kyrgyzstan. The Church missed its window of opportunity to enter Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s when religious freedom laws better accommodated foreign, proselytizing Christian groups. Today, the Church has the virtually insurmountable barrier for 200 adult citizen members required for government registration. Although a mission branch exclusively services Kyrgyzstan under the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission, no official branch meets within the country. A member group has historically functioned to service American military personnel. A senior missionary couple on humanitarian assignment has served in the country since the mid-2010s. There are no translations of Church materials into Kyrgyz although there is a small number of translations of materials in Kazakh which is mutually intelligible with Kyrgyz.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Temple Announcements and Number of Members: Analysis

Over the years I have wondered what the relationship between church membership and temple announcements has looked like, particularly in regards to when the Church announces its first temple in a given country. See below for a list of all countries with a dedicated or announced temple current as of October 2018. There are currently 57 countries and territories/dependencies that have a temple dedicated or announced. This list provides the year when the first temple was announced for each country and the number of members who lived in the country at the time the first temple was announced per official membership statistics from the Church (or best estimates for years without membership data available). There has not appeared to be a significant change in the number of members in countries when the first temple is announced. See below for a scatter plot that display these data:


On average, the Church typically announces a temple when there are 32,657 members in a country. However, the median membership for when the Church announces its first temple in a country is 23,326. The countries with the fewest members to have a temple announced was Switzerland in 1952 (approximately 2,000 members), Guam in 2018 (2,500 members), and the United States in 1832 (approximately 2,661 members). The countries with the most members to have a temple announced for the first time include Mexico in 1976 (141,768 members), Honduras in 2006 (116,416 members), and El Salvador in 2007 (98,575 members). The years 1981 and 2018 tie for the most new temple announcements in countries where no temples previously operated as there were seven countries for both of these years where temples were announced for the first time.
  • United States - 1832 - 2,661 members
  • Canada - 1913 - 10,000 members
  • Switzerland - 1952 - 2,000 members
  • United Kingdom - 1953 - 8,000 members
  • New Zealand - 1955 - 14,000 members
  • Japan - 1975 - 27,516 members
  • Brazil - 1975 - 45,747 members
  • Mexico - 1976 - 141,768 members
  • Samoa - 1977 - 21,890 members
  • French Polynesia - 1980 - 6,600 members
  • Tonga - 1980 - 18,563 members
  • Australia - 1980 - 37,537 members
  • Argentina - 1980 - 60,972 members
  • Chile - 1980 - 63,658 members
  • Sweden - 1981 - 6,410 members
  • South Africa - 1981 - 8,394 members
  • Guatemala - 1981 - 22,234 members
  • South Korea - 1981 - 23,400 members
  • Germany - 1981 - 26,177 members
  • Peru - 1981 - 40,646 members
  • Philippines - 1981 - 56,717 members
  • Taiwan - 1982 - 8,679 members
  • Ecuador - 1982 - 30,386 members
  • Colombia - 1984 - 45,800 members
  • Hong Kong - 1992 - 18,000 members
  • Spain - 1993 - 25,000 members
  • Dominican Republic - 1993 - 47,000 members
  • Venezuela - 1995 - 73,000 members
  • Bolivia - 1995 - 83,500 members
  • Ukraine - 1998 - 5,000 members
  • Fiji - 1998 - 12,000 members
  • Ghana - 1998 - 16,000 members
  • Uruguay - 1998 - 70,000 members
  • Denmark - 1999 - 4,600 members
  • Netherlands - 1999 - 7,627 members
  • Costa Rica - 1999 - 29,000 members
  • Finland - 2000 - 4,403 members
  • Nigeria - 2000 - 42,746 members
  • Paraguay - 2000 - 44,632 members
  • Panama - 2002 - 39,559 members
  • Honduras - 2006 - 116,416 members
  • El Salvador - 2007 - 98,575 members
  • Italy - 2008 - 22,886 members
  • Portugal - 2010 - 39,031 members
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo - 2011 - 30,435 members
  • France - 2011 - 36,403 members
  • Thailand - 2015 - 19,665 members
  • Haiti - 2015 - 20,414 members
  • Cote d'Ivoire - 2015 - 27,052 members
  • Zimbabwe - 2016 - 27,825 members
  • Kenya - 2017 - 13,189 members
  • Guam - 2018 - 2,500 members
  • India - 2018 - 13,570 members
  • Cambodia - 2018 - 14,600 members
  • Cape Verde - 2018 - 14,700 members
  • Puerto Rico - 2018 - 23,234 members
  • Russia - 2018 - 23,252 members
  • Nicaragua - 2018 - 98,534 members
Currently, there is only one country, Papua New Guinea, which has more than the median number of members for when the Church announces its first temple in a country.

New Stakes Created in Bolivia, Ecuador, Idaho, and Peru; District Discontinued in the Federated States of Micronesia

Bolivia
The Church organized a new stake in Santa Cruz on October 14th. The Santa Cruz Bolivia La Libertad Stake was organized from a division of the Santa Cruz Bolivia La Pampa Stake and the Santa Cruz Bolivia La Merced Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the La Cañada, La Libertad, Plan Tres Mil, and Primero de Mayo Wards. Based upon survey data from local members and returned missionaries obtained within the past 3-4 years, at least two of the wards had 140 or more active members. There are now 10 stakes in Santa Cruz - more than any other city in Bolivia. The Church has experienced steady stake growth in Santa Cruz since the first stake was organized in 1979 as additional stakes have been organized in 1981, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2017 (2), and 2018. Furthermore, the number of wards in Bolivia has also increased within the past 10 years from 165 in 2008 to 194 at present.

There are now 33 stakes and eight districts in Bolivia

Ecuador
The Santa Rosa Ecuador Stake was organized from the Santa Rosa Ecuador District on September 23rd. The district was originally organized in 1994 and has tried for many years to become a stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Huaquillas, Pasaje, Santa Rosa 1st, Santa Rosa 2nd, and Santa Rosa 3rd Wards, and the Arenillas and Piñas Branches.

There are now 41 stakes and eight districts in Ecuador. The Church has experienced steady stake growth in Ecuador due to increasing numbers of wards. For example, there were only 33 stakes and 10 districts in Ecuador in 2008.

Idaho
The Church organized a new stake in Rexburg at Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-Idaho) on September 30th. The Rexburg Idaho YSA 11th Stake was organized from the Rexburg Idaho YSA 1st Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 2nd Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 3rd Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 6th Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 7th Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 8th Stake, Rexburg Idaho YSA 9th Stake, and Rexburg Idaho YSA 10th Stake. The new stake includes the following 12 wards: the Rexburg YSA 11th, Rexburg YSA 16th, Rexburg YSA 28th, Rexburg YSA 35th, Rexburg YSA 49th,  Rexburg YSA 50th, Rexburg YSA 68th, Rexburg YSA 85th, Rexburg YSA 114th, Rexburg YSA 115th, Rexburg YSA 116th, and Rexburg YSA 117th Ward. There are now 11 YSA stakes and four student married stakes in Rexburg.

There are now 132 stakes in Idaho.

Perú
The Church organized a new stake in Lima, Peru on October 14th. The Lima Perú Mayorazgo Stake was organized from a division of the Lima Perú Santa Patricia Stake and the Lima Perú Vitarte Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Covima, Mayorazgo 1st, Mayorazgo 2nd, Portales, and Veintisiete de Abril Wards. The Lima Perú Mayorazgo Stake is the second stake in Lima to be organized in 2018. There are now 44 stakes in the Lima metropolitan area - more stakes than any other metropolitan area in the world outside of the United States.

There are now 104 stakes and 19 districts in Perú.

Federated States of Micronesia
The Yap Micronesia District was recently discontinued and the two branches that previously pertained to the district (Colonia and Thol) were reassigned to the Barrigada Guam Stake. Additionally, the Koror Branch on Palau was also reassigned to the Barrigada Guam Stake. Inclusion of these branches into a stake provides the opportunity for one or more branches to advance into wards if each branch meets the minimum criteria for a ward to function. The Yap Micronesia District was originally organized in 1989. There is now one stakes and two districts in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Afghanistan

Click here to access our Reaching the Nations country profile for Afghanistan. The Church's presence in Afghanistan has been solely limited to foreign military personnel although a few Afghan individuals have joined the Church, particularly in the United States and India. Government legislation that bars the proselytism and conversion of Muslims, societal intolerance for Christian proselytism, and the severe persecution of religious minorities pose significant barriers for any future Church presence in the foreseeable future.

Stake, District, and Temple Map

A new map from Church of Jesus Christ Temples (formerly www.ldschurchtemples.org) provides the location for all non-sensitive stakes and districts in the worldwide Church. The new map can be found here: https://churchofjesuschristtemples.org/maps/google/. This is a great resource for looking at the international distribution of the Church's "centers of strength" worldwide. Special thanks for Rick Satterfield for developing this resource!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Tajikistan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Tajikistan. Tajikistan is the only Persian nation in Central Asia that used to be part of the Soviet Union as the population of the four other former Soviet republics in the region are Turkic in ethnicity. The Church has operated a member group in Dushanbe to service foreign members although it is unclear whether this member group operates at present. There are only a few known Tajikistani converts. Significant restrictions on religious freedom, including the recent ban on individuals under age 18 attending public religious services, pose insurmountable obstacles for an official Church establishment at present. Nevertheless, the Church assigned Tajikistan to the Central Eurasian Mission in 2015 although prospects for outreach within the foreseeable future appear dim.

Monday, October 8, 2018

UPDATED: The 10 Countries/Territories with the Most Members without a Temple Announced, Under Construction, or in Operation

I have updated the list of the countries and dependencies with the most members without a temple with year-end 2017 membership totals or more recent membership data if available. Temples that service stakes, districts, and mission branches in each country are identified. Previous lists are also available for April 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, mid-2011, late 2008, and late 2007.

1. Papua New Guinea
  • 27,163 members
  • 2 stakes, 12 districts
  • 80 congregations
  • Sydney Australia Temple
2. Sierra Leone
  • 20,045 members
  • 5 stakes, 4 districts
  • 67 congregations
  • Accra Ghana Temple
3. Kiribati
  • 19,690 members
  • 2 stakes, 2 districts
  • 32 congregations
  • Suva Fiji Temple, Laie Hawaii Temple
4. American Samoa
  • 16,339 members
  • 5 stakes
  • 43 congregations
  • Apia Samoa Temple
5. Uganda
  • 15,979 members
  • 3 stakes, 0 districts
  • 31 congregations
  • Johannesburg South Africa Temple
6. Liberia
  • 12,544 members
  • 4 stakes, 1 districts
  • 44 congregations 
  • Accra Ghana Temple
7. Madagascar
  • 11,881 members
  • 2 stakes, 3 districts
  • 40 congregations
  • Johannesburg South Africa Temple 
8. Mongolia
  • 11,641 members
  • 2 stakes, 1 district
  • 25 congregations
  • Hong Kong China Temple
9. Mozambique
  • 10,835 members
  • 3 stakes, 1 district
  • 33 congregations
  • Johannesburg South Africa Temple
10. Malaysia
  • 10,224 members
  • 0 stakes, 6 districts
  • 32 congregations
  • Hong Kong China Temple

Updated Country Profile - Turkmenistan

Click here to access the updated country profile for Turkmenistan. The Church has never operated an official presence in Turkmenistan although a small group for American military personnel has historically functioned in the country. Turkmenistan was assigned to a full-time mission in 2015 when the Central Eurasian Mission was organized. Extremely few Turkmen have joined the Church abroad although there has been at least one Turkmen returned missionary. Severe government restrictions on religious freedom pose significant challenges for a Church establishment one day.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

October 2018 New Temple Announcements - Analysis

As noted in my post earlier today, today's historic announcement of twelve new temples sets a new record for the most new temples ever announced on a single day. See below for analysis and background on the Church for each of these twelve locations. Most of these temples appear likely to be small temples given the lack of members in each of these locations. The motivation for the construction of most of these temples appears to be to improve accessibility to temples for members, particularly those who live far from the nearest temple. With these twelve new temples announced, there are now 201 temples in the Church that are announced, under construction, or in operation. Additionally, the Church has posted membership data for several countries that appears current as of October 1st, 2018. This information can be found in the Church's official news release regarding today's announcement.

Mendoza Argentina Temple
The Mendoza Argentina Temple will be the Church's fourth temple to be built in Argentina after the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple (dedicated in 1986), Cordoba Argentina Temple (dedicated in 2015), and the Salta Argentina Temple (announced in April 2018). The Church first established a presence in South America in Argentina in 1925. The Church experienced rapid membership growth during most years in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, followed by moderate membership growth in the 1990s and slow membership growth since the 2000s. Today, there are nearly 459,000 members, 14 missions, 77 stakes, 29 districts, and 756 official congregations (485 wards, 271 branches) in Argentina. Thus far in 2018, membership has increased by 1.48%. If this rate of membership growth is maintained for the remainder of 2018, church membership for the year will increase by 1.97% - the highest annual percentage membership growth reported by the Church in Argentina since 2014. For more Church statistical data for Argentina, click here.

The Church organized its first stake in Mendoza in 1972. The Argentina Mendoza Mission was organized in 1990. There are now four stakes in the Mendoza metropolitan area. The new temple will likely service eight stakes and two districts in Mendoza and San Juan Provinces. 

Salvador Brazil Temple
The Salvador Brazil Temple will be the Church's eleventh temple to be built in Brazil after the São Paulo Brazil Temple (dedicated in 1978), Recife Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), Porto Alegre Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), Campinas Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2002), Curitiba Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2008), Manaus Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2012), Fortaleza Brazil Temple (announced in 2009 and currently under construction), Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple (announced in 2013 and currently under construction), Belém Brazil Temple (announced in 2016), and the Brasília Brazil Temple (announced in 2017). The Church first established a presence in Brazil in 1928. Slow membership growth occurred until the late 1950s, whereas rapid membership growth occurred most years between 1957 and the late 1990s. Slow-to-moderate membership growth has occurred since the early 2000s. Today there are 1.39 million members, 35 missions, 271 stakes, 38 districts, and 2,110 official congregations (1,689 wards, 421 branches) in Brazil. For more Church statistical data for Brazil, click here.

The Church created the Brazil Salvador Mission in 1990 and organized its first stake in Salvador in 1992. A second mission in Salvador was created in 1994. Today the Church operates four stakes in Salvador. The new temple will likely service 13 stakes and 4 districts in Bahia, Sergipe, and extreme western Pernambuco States.

Yuba City California Temple
The Yuba City California Temple will be the Church's eighth temple to be built in California after the Los Angeles California Temple (dedicated in 1956), Oakland California Temple (dedicated in 1964), San Diego California Temple (dedicated in 1993), Fresno California Temple (dedicated in 2000), Redlands California Temple (dedicated in 2003), Newport Beach California Temple (dedicated in 2005), and Sacramento California Temple (dedicated in 2006). The Church in California reported steady membership growth during the twentieth century until the late 1980s. For the past 30 years, the Church has experienced extremely slow or stagnant membership growth in state as membership has increased from 716,000 in 1989 to more than 760,000 in October 2018. During the past five years, membership has decreased by approximately 20,000 primarily due to members moving away from the state to other areas of the United States. For more Church statistical data for California, click here.

The announcement to build a temple in Yuba City came as a complete surprise to me. Yuba City is a one-hour drive from the Sacramento California Temple. Additionally, the new temple appears likely to only service five or six stakes from Redding on the north to Quincy on the east. The last time a new stake was organized in this area was in 1979. None of stakes in the area appear close to dividing to organize new stakes. The Church has reported slight decreases in the total number of wards and branches in this area within the past decade.

Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple
The Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple is the Church's first temple to be announced for Cambodia and the second temple to ever be announced for mainland Southeast Asia after the Bangkok Thailand Temple (announced in 2015). The Church organized its first branch in Cambodia in Phnom Penh in 1994 and created the Cambodia Phnom Pehn Mission in 1997. Rapid membership growth occurred until the mid-2000s followed by moderate or slow membership growth thereafter primarily due to mission leadership emphasis on strengthening local leadership in Phnom Penh and the establishment of stakes and additional districts. The first two stakes were organized on the same weekend in 2014. The Church reports an official ward or branch in seven cities. Prior to the announcement, Cambodia was the country with the seventh most members without a temple. Today there are more than 14,600 members, one mission, two stakes, four districts, and 29 official congregations (10 wards, 19 branches) in Cambodia. Thus far in 2018, membership has increased by 2.41%. If this rate of membership growth is maintained for the remainder of 2018, church membership for the year will increase by 3.22% - the second slowest annual percentage membership growth ever reported by the Church in Cambodia. For more Church statistical data for Cambodia, click here.

The announcement of the Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple also came as a surprise to me since the Church recently announced the nearby Bangkok Thailand Temple (which has yet to begin construction). A recent rendering of the Bangkok Thailand Temple revealed that the planned design is for a temple among the largest temples ever built by the Church on the Afro-Eurasian landmass with 44,405 square feet of floor area. The new temple will likely include two stakes and six districts located in Cambodia and Vietnam. Cambodia is now the country with the most recent Church establishment that has had a temple announced.

Praia Cape Verde Temple
The Praia Cape Verde Temple will be the Church's first temple ever built in Cape Verde - an island archipelago nation off the West African coast near Senegal. The Church organized its first branch in Cape Verde in 1989 and created the Cape Verde Praia Mission in 2002. The Church reported rapid membership growth during the early and mid 1990s, moderate membership growth in the late 1990s, rapid membership growth in the early 2000s, slow membership growth in the mid and late 2000s, rapid membership growth in the early 2010s, and moderate membership growth in the mid-2010s. Prior to the announcement, Cape Verde was the country with the eighth most members without a temple. Today there are 14,700 members, one mission, three stakes, two districts, and 42 official congregations (24 wards, 18 branches). Thus far in 2018, membership has increased by 3.48%. If this rate of membership growth is maintained for the remainder of 2018, church membership for the year will increase by 4.6% - the slowest annual percentage membership growth rate since 2010. For more statistical data on the Church in Cape Verde, click here.

Cape Verde has stood as an outlier as rapid growth occurred during the early and mid 2010s primarily after a mission president focused on leadership development at a time when there were only 18 branches and no stakes in the country. Although growth has decelerated in the last few years, the Church has risen to prominence in the country and current membership constitutes 2.5% of the national population - the highest percentage of members of any country in Africa, Europe, or Asia. The new temple will likely service only the three stakes and two districts in Cape Verde although the two mission branches in Senegal may be assigned to the temple due to close geographical proximity. Isolated location appears to be the primary factor for the announcement of the new temple since the nearest planned temples to Cape Verde are located in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and Lisbon, Portugal. 

Yigo Guam Temple
The Yigo Guam Temple is the Church's first temple to ever been announced for the region of Micronesia where the Church has experienced significant growth in the last 40 years. Although the Church reports only one stake on Guam with four wards (additional congregations assigned to the stake are located in the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and Yap), most neighboring countries report significantly more congregations. The Church numbers among the largest Christian denominations in several Micronesian nations that will likely be assigned to the new temple. The Church has maintained a presence in Guam since World War II and organized the Guam Micronesia Mission in 1980. The Church in Guam has experienced slow growth and currently reports approximately 2,500 members. The first and only stake on Guam was created in 2010. However, other nearby nations that appear likely to be assigned to the temple report significantly larger numbers of members. For example, at year-end 2017 the Church in the Federated States of Micronesia reported 6,217 members and 22 congregations, the Church in the Marshall Islands reported 6,970 members and 12 congregations, and the Church in Kiribati reported 19,690 members and 30 congregations. Altogether, the new temple will likely service members who live in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Nauru where there is a combined total of 36,000 members. The new temple will likely include six stakes and four districts in the Micronesian sub-region of Oceania. The decision to build the new temple on Guam instead of other Micronesian nations with significantly more members appears attributed to Guam's international accessibility, comparatively large population in the region, and availability of land at a sufficiently high elevation above sea level.

Puebla Mexico Temple
The Puebla Mexico Temple will be the Church's fourteenth temple in Mexico after the Mexico City Mexico Temple (dedicated in 1983), Colonia Juárez Chihuahua Mexico Temple (dedicated in 1999), Ciudad Juárez Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Hermosillo Sonora Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Oaxaca Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Tampico Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Villahermosa Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Mérida Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Veracruz Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), Guadalajara Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2001), Monterrey Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2002), and Tijuana Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2015). The Church has had a presence in Mexico since the 1870s although significant growth did not occur until the 1960s. Rapid membership growth occurred between 1960 and the late 1980s, followed by moderate or slow membership growth thereafter. Today the Church in Mexico reports 1.45 million members, 32 missions, 221 stakes, 45 districts, and 1,926 congregations (1,440 wards, 486 branches). The Church in Mexico has undergone a significant consolidation of smaller congregations and stakes to better utilize meetinghouse space, establish stronger leadership, and create congregations with more active members. As a result, the number of congregations has decreased by nearly 100 since early 2017. However, the Church in Puebla State has not experienced noticeable decline in the number of congregations. Instead, the Church in Puebla State has had one new stake organized and the establishment of several new wards and branches during this time.

The Church organized its first stake in Puebla in 1975. A mission was created in Puebla in 1988 followed by a second mission based in the city in 2012. The new temple will likely service 14 stakes and three districts in Puebla State. Puebla was previously one of the cities in the world with the most stakes without its own temple.

Auckland New Zealand Temple
The Auckland New Zealand Temple will be the Church's second temple in New Zealand after the Hamilton New Zealand Temple was dedicated in 1958. The Church has maintained a presence in New Zealand since 1854. Growth has primarily occurred among Pacific Islanders who live in the country, particularly the native Maori population. For example, half of self-identified Latter-day Saints on the 2006 census described their ethnicity as Maori. The Church in New Zealand has generally experienced slow growth throughout its history punctuated with brief periods of rapid or moderate growth. The Church in New Zealand currently reports more than 114,000 members, three missions, 30 stakes, two districts, and 226 official congregations (174 wards, 52 branches).

The Church organized its first stake in Auckland in 1958. There are now 13 stakes in the Auckland metropolitan area. The new temple will likely service 15 stakes in the Auckland area and in Northland. Auckland was previously one of the cities in the world with the most stakes without its own temple.

Lagos Nigeria Temple
The Lagos Nigeria Temple will be the Church's second temple in Nigeria after the Aba Nigeria Temple (dedicated in 2005). The Church in Nigeria has experienced moderate to rapid growth for its entire 40 year history since the first branch was created in 1978. The Church in Nigeria currently reports nearly 174,000 members, seven missions, 53 stakes, 16 districts, and 630 official congregations (378 wards, 252 branches). No other country had only one temple with as many stakes and congregations as Nigeria prior to today's announcement. Additionally, a total of 30 new stakes have been organized in Nigeria just within the past five years. There are another 10 or so stakes that appear likely to be organized within the immediate future. Thus far in 2018, membership has increased by 6.26%. If this rate of membership growth is maintained for the remainder of 2018, church membership for the year will increase by 8.35% - the highest annual percentage membership growth reported by the Church in Nigeria since 2015. For more statistical data on the Church in Nigeria, click here.

The Church has maintained a presence in Lagos since 1979. A mission was organized in Lagos in 1980 and the first stake in the city was created in 1997. Rapid growth has occurred in Lagos during the past 15 years as the number of stakes reached two in 2005, three in 2011, five in 2015, and six in 2018. The new temple will likely service 20 stakes and four districts in Nigeria, and one stake in Benin.

Davao Philippines Temple
The Davao Philippines Temple will be the Church's sixth temple in the Philippines after the Manila Philippines Temple (dedicated in 1984), Cebu City Philippines Temple (dedicated in 2010), Urdaneta Philippines Temple (announced in 2010), Greater Manila Philippines Temple (announced in 2017), and the Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple (announced in April 2018). The Church began missionary efforts in the Philippines in 1961. The first mission in the country was created in 1967. Rapid membership growth occurred until the mid-1990s, followed by moderate or slow growth thereafter. Currently the Church in the Philippines reports more than 780,000 members, 22 missions, 104 stakes, 71 districts, and 1,227 official congregations (671 wards, 556 branches). Thus far in 2018, membership has increased by 1.91%. If this rate of membership growth is maintained for the remainder of 2018, church membership for the year will increase by 2.54% - approximately the annual membership growth rate for the Philippines since 2015. For more statistical data on the Church in the Philippines, click here.

The Church appeared to create its first branch in Davao in 1968. The Philippines Davao Mission was organized in 1977 and the first stake in the city was created in 1981. There are currently three stakes in Davao. The new temple will likely serve six stakes and eight districts in southern Mindanao. The decision to announce a temple for Davao was also unexpected given the announcement of a temple in Cagayan de Oro just six months earlier. As a result, this marks the first time in Church history that the Church has announced two temples for the same island within so short a period of time. Also, the Church has never had two announced temples located on the same island where no temples have been previously constructed.

San Juan Puerto Rico Temple
The San Juan Puerto Rico Temple will be the Church's first temple in Puerto Rico. The Church organized its first branch in this United States territory in 1955. The Puerto Rico San Juan Mission was created in 1979 and the first stake was created in 1980. Rapid membership growth occurred in the 1980s followed by slow membership growth in the 1990s, membership decline in the early 2000s, and slow or stagnant membership growth since the late 2000s. Today there are over 23,000 members, one mission, five stakes, and 40 official congregations (28 wards, 12 branches) in Puerto Rico. The new temple will likely include the five stakes on Puerto Rico as well as two districts in the Lesser Antilles. Puerto Rico was previously the country/territory with the second most members without a temple.

Washington County Utah Temple
The Washington County Utah Temple will be the 20th temple to be built in Utah after the St. George Utah Temple (dedicated in 1877), Logan Utah Temple (dedicated in 1884), Manti Utah Temple (dedicated in 1888), Salt Lake Temple (dedicated in 1893), Ogden Utah Temple (dedicated in 1972), Provo Utah Temple (dedicated in 1972), Jordan River Utah Temple (dedicated in 1981), Bountiful Utah Temple (dedicated in 1995), Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple (dedicated in 1996), Vernal Utah Temple (dedicated in 1997), Monticello Utah Temple (dedicated in 1998), Draper Utah Temple (dedicated in 2009), Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple (dedicated in 2009), Brigham City Utah Temple (dedicated in 2012), Payson Utah Temple (dedicated in 2015), Cedar City Utah Temple (dedicated in 2017), Saratoga Springs Utah Temple (announced in 2017), and Layton Utah Temple (announced in April 2018). The new temple will be the second temple to be built in Washington County after the St. George Utah Temple - the oldest operating temple that remains in possession by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The precise name and location of the new temple remains unknown although likely locations for the new temple include Washington and Santa Clara. The Church has experienced rapid growth in the St. George metropolitan area for many years. Recently, the Church has added an average of one new stake per year in the St. George metropolitan area. There are 28 stakes within the greater St. George metropolitan area.

Twelve New Temples Announced - Largest Number of Temples Ever Announced in a Single Weekend

This afternoon, President Russell M. Nelson announced 12 new temples to be built in the following locations:
  • Mendoza, Argentina 
  • Salvador, Brazil 
  • Yuba City, California 
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
  • Praia, Cape Verde 
  • Yigo, Guam 
  • Puebla, Mexico 
  • Auckland, New Zealand 
  • Lagos, Nigeria 
  • Davao, Philippines 
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico 
  • Washington County, Utah
With these announcements, there will now be 201 temples announced, under construction, or in operation. For more information, click here.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Two-Hour Sunday Meeting Schedule Announced - To Begin January 2019

This morning, the Church announced adjustments to the Sunday meeting schedule. This schedule will include a 60 minute sacrament meeting, followed by a 10 minute transition to a second-hour class. This second hour class will last 50 minutes and consist of Sunday School on the first and third Sundays, and Priesthood/Relief Society/Young Men/Young Women classes on the second and fourth Sundays. Fifth Sunday meetings will be determined by the Bishop.

More information can found here.

LDS Church Temples Website Back Online

After nearly six months following a server failure, the LDS Church Temples website (now renamed Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is back online. The website can be found here. This website provides some of the most accurate and comprehensive information on temples in the Church, including news on temple construction. Special thanks to the owner and webmaster, Rick Satterfield, for his tireless efforts to restore the site which has proven an invaluable aid in the study of the growth of the Church.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Conference Rumors

It has been interesting to review the speculation online in recent weeks regarding potential changes that may be announced during the upcoming General Conference this weekend. I have reviewed many of these rumors. Most of these rumors lack credible information to substantiate them. However, recent comments from church leaders, such as President Eyring when he spoke in Seattle, Washington last month, hint that there will be "a new way of doing things" and the need for personal revelation to confirm to members that the "practical ways of doing things are changed by the Lord through his Prophet." In August, an article on lds.org quoted President Oaks in regards to changes in Church programs to help better address member needs. More specifically, President Oaks stated, “We have spent many hours talking about how we can simplify our Church programs to perform their essential function for a wide variety of family circumstances,” and, “Now, I am pleased to tell you that some help is on the way and more is under discussion.” These statements, as well as other information obtained from other unpublished sources, suggest significant changes may be in the works and may be announced this weekend.

As for the scope of this blog, it appears some of these changes may relate to church growth. As noted in a recent post, it appears highly likely that there will be a significant increase in temple announcements, perhaps with new temples announced numbering in the dozens in the immediate future. This is by far the most well-supported rumor for the coming conference. It appears that new temples will adopt a smaller building size with minimal maintenance to improve accessibility for membership. Thus, if these changes were to occur, it could significantly change the way we look at temple announcements as a sign of church growth if the standards for a temple to be announced for a given area are reduced.

Several other changes may be in the works but are not as well supported based upon sources I have reviewed. For example, there appears to be significant changes coming to the missionary program (such as discontinuation of the term "investigator" to refer to people who are not members of the Church and learning about the Church from missionaries) albeit it is unclear what changes may occur. Additionally, the Church's announcements of changes to its youth programs have been reported although details are scant. As for changes to the standard Sunday meeting schedule, what I can confirm from my direct knowledge is that the Church will likely continue to hold weekly Sunday School classes per the New Testament 2019 Come, Follow Me - For Sunday School manual. More specifically, this teacher manual specifically designates particular lessons to be taught on particular weeks (e.g. December 31st-January 6th introduction to the year and New Testament, January 7th-13th Matthew 1; Luke 1, etc). The manual was specifically developed just for the year 2019 and STRONGLY emphasizes individual scripture and gospel study during the course of the year.

I believe emphasis on use of the Church's full name and utilization of the Saints Church history series are likely topics to be addressed in the conference. The Saints book has enormous potential, particularly internationally, to help mature members' faith and familiarity with church history with accurate sources and within proper context as translations of the first volume in the series are available in 14 languages (Cebuano, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog and Tongan). All languages with at least 100,000 Latter-day Saint speakers have a translation of this new reference available, which is valuable considering the significant amount of negative, and often grossly inaccurate, information about the Church online in these languages.

In sum, the timing for these changes, whether already announced or speculated to be announced soon, does not appear to be a coincidence. Never in the history of the Church has there been as many active members as at present. Rates for missionary service among young adults have also increased albeit rates of early return from missions have also increased. Financial resources also appear to be the highest they have ever been. However, never in the history of the Church during the past 80 years has the international Church grown as slowly as it has in the past couple years (annual membership growth of 1.48% in 2017, number of convert baptisms in 2017 lowest since 1987). There are significant resources and manpower available, but significant problems of poor utilization of resources, lack of coordination between organizations, and unrealized potential - especially outside of North America. Announced and rumored changes have good potential to revitalize the growth of the Church, particularly in countries with large membership bases where growth has slowed in the past decade but where populations continue to appear receptive such as in Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. My greatest hope is that there will be a significant redistribution of mission resources and restructuring of the missionary program to enable more deliberate, methodical methods to open more cities and populated places to the Church. The greatest worldwide predictor for church growth is the creation of branches in cities where no LDS congregations previously operated. Therefore, the opening of thousands of additional cities to missionary activity will have likely the greatest impact on the growth and expansion of the Church in the coming years and decades.

Here are some statistics to put things into perspective with the size of the Church and its geographical reach. The Church currently has a legal presence in locations populated by approximately 20% of the world population. With only a few exceptions, nearly all countries report LDS congregations in locations populated by less than half of the national population. Even countries where the Church has had a legal presence for decades have vast unreached areas, including large cities. For example, the Church in Brazil continues to report more than 400 cities inhabited by 20,000 or more people without an official ward or branch. In India, there are over 200 cities with at least 200,000 inhabitants without a Church presence. Countries where the Church has a presence in at least 20 cities constitute only 25% of the world's countries. Significant advances in technology enable thrifty and efficient methods to expand the Church like never before and within the confides in the law in most nations. However, unless significant changes occur to the missionary program, the Church will continue to struggle to accomplish its mission to take the restored Gospel to the world as evidenced by steady recent declines in the number of converts joining the Church and lack of expansion into previously unreached or lesser-reached areas of the world. Although there will be challenges, there are also unparalleled opportunities for growth. It is therefore paramount that Church leaders seek out the needed inspiration and revelation to determine what can be done to mobilize the vast resources at the Church's disposal to maintain a vision for growth - a vision that maintains universal principles that can be adapted to meet the specific needs and opportunities for the diversity of cultures and societies throughout the world.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

September 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our September 2018 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Updated Country Profile - Uzbekistan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is the most populous Central Asian nation but also experiences some of the most significant religious freedom restrictions. Although a small member group meets in Tashkent to service foreign members who temporarily live in the country, there is no LDS presence among the native population. Uzbekistan was assigned to a mission for the first time in 2015 when the Central Eurasian Mission was organized with headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, the mission is headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Azerbaijan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Azerbaijan. There has never been a missionary presence in Azerbaijan although a branch for foreign members who temporarily lived in the country used to operate in Baku until it was discontinued in the mid-2010s. Other proselytizing, nontraditional Christian groups established a presence in the 1990s when there were fewer restrictions on religious freedom than today.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Iran

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Iran. Iran is one of only two homogeneously Muslim countries to have had an LDS mission during the past 60 years (the other country being Turkey) as the Iran Tehran Mission operated for a few years in the mid to late 1970s. Iranians have been uniquely receptive to the LDS gospel message among peoples in the Middle East and Southwestern Asia. Today, there are more than one thousand Iranian Latter-day Saints who primarily reside in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Furthermore, the Church organized its first Iranian Persian (Farsi) branch in late 2017 in Del Mar, California. Nevertheless, the size of the Church among Iranians abroad remains significantly smaller than some proselytism-focused faiths. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses operate hundreds of congregations or congregation groups that hold worship services in Iranian Persian, particularly in Europe, according to the Jehovah's Witness meetinghouse locator https://apps.jw.org/ui/E/meeting-search.html#/dashboard.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

New Stakes Created in Idaho (2), Florida, and Utah

Florida
The Church organized a new stake today in South Florida. The Naples Florida Stake was organized from a division of the Fort Myers Florida Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and five branches: the Bahia (Spanish), Bonita Springs, Cypress, Naples, and Vanderbilt Beach Wards, and the Estero YSA, Hibiscus (Haitian-Creole), Immokalee, Liberte (Haitian-Creole), and McGregor Branches.

There are now 32 stakes in Florida.

Idaho
Two new stakes were organized in Idaho on September 16th.

The Middleton Idaho East Stake was organized from a division of the Middleton Idaho Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Middleton 2nd, Middleton 4th, Middleton 5th, Middleton 7th, Middleton 8th, Middleton 11th, and Black Canyon YSA Wards.

The Idaho Falls YSA Stake was organized from several stakes in the Idaho Falls area. Information on which congregations are assigned to the new stake remains unavailable although it appears that there are five wards and three branches assigned to the new YSA stake.

There are now 131 stakes in Idaho.

Utah
A new stake was created in Cache County, Utah on September 16th. The Logan Utah YSA 7th Stake was organized from a division of the Logan Utah YSA 3rd Stake, Logan Utah YSA 4th, and Logan Utah YSA 6th Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Logan YSA 19th, Logan YSA 25th, Logan YSA 30th, Logan YSA 32nd, Logan YSA 43rd, Logan YSA 46th, and Logan YSA 52nd.

There are now 595 stakes and one district in Utah.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

New Stakes Created in Argentina, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Utah; Stakes Discontinued in Ghana (Downgraded to Distrct) and Mexico (Downgraded to District)

Argentina
The Church organized a new stake in Cordoba, Cordoba Province on September 2nd. The Córdoba Argentina Chacabuco Stake was organized from a division of the Córdoba Argentina North Stake (renamed Córdoba Argentina Patricio Stake), Córdoba Argentina Sierras Stake, and Córdoba Argentina West Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and two branches: the Alta Córdoba, Córdoba Chacabuco, Jesús María, and Nueve de Julio Wards, and the Los Boulevares and Parque Liceo Branches. Given the small number of wards in the new stake, it appears that one or both branches may advance into wards, or a new ward will be organized in the stake from a division of one of the four wards. The Church in Córdoba Province has organized six new branches in the past three years and some branches in the province have also advanced into wards during this time. The Church completed its second temple in Argentina, the Córdoba Argentina Temple, in 2015. There are now six stakes in the city of Córdoba, and eight stakes and one district in Córdoba Province.

There are now 77 stakes and 29 districts in Argentina.

Ecuador
The Church organized a new stake in the Guayaquil metropolitan area on August 19th. The Samborondón Ecuador Stake was organized from a division of the Duran Ecuador North Stake, Guayaquil Ecuador Las Orquideas, and the Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards: La Aurora, La Joya, Metrópolis, Pascuales, and Samborondón Wards. There are now 17 stakes in the Guayaquil metropolitan area.

There are now 40 stakes and 9 districts in Ecuador.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Central Region. The Assin Foso Ghana South Stake was organized on September 9th from a division of the Assin Foso Ghana Stake and the Yamoransa Ghana Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and six branches: the Abakrampa, Assin Achiasi, Assin Foso 1st, Assin Foso 2nd, and Paramu Wards, and the Abura Dunkwa, Asebu, Assin Akrofuom, Assin Anynabrem, Assin Darmang, and Assin Edubiase Branches. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in Central Region since 2015. There are now six stakes and two districts in Central Region.

Additionally, the Winneba Ghana Stake was discontinued following its division to create the Swedru Ghana Stake last month. This marks the first time in Church history that a stake has been discontinued in Ghana, albeit it is more accurate to state that the Church created a new district and no stake was discontinued given the administrative changes to stakes/districts in the Swedru/Winneba area. The Winneba Ghana District has five branches.

There are now 24 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

Haiti
The Church organized a new stake in Haiti on September 9th. The Les Palmes Haiti Stake was created from a division of the Carrefour Haiti Stake and three branches previously assigned directly to the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission in the Jacmel area. The new stake includes the following three wards and three branches: the Leogane 2nd, Petit-Goave 1st, and Petit-Goave 2nd Wards, and the Jacmel, Meyer, and Tenier Branches. It appears information on which congregations assigned to the new stake, and which branches became wards, remains unavailable based upon information provided on the LDS meetinghouse locator site given there are currently only three wards reported in the new stake.

There are now five stakes and four districts in Haiti.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in Ogun State, Nigeria on September 2nd. The Abeokuta Nigeria Ibara Stake was organized from a division of the Abeokuta Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Ibara, Ilewo-Orile, Lafenwa, Oke-Ata, Ope-Oluwa, and Rounda Wards, and the Ilaro, Obada-Oko, and Olomore Branches. The Church organized its first stake in Abeokuta in 2014. There are now two stakes in Ogun State - both of which are located in Abeokuta. There is also a district in Ogun State located in Ijebu-Ode which appears close to becoming a stake.

There are now 53 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria.

The Philippines
Today the Church organized a new stake in the Philippines Cavite Mission. The Naic Philippines Stake was organized from the Naic Philippines District. Information on which of the eight branches have become wards in the new stake remains unavailable. With the organization of the new stake, the Philippines Cavite Mission becomes the first mission in the Philippines to be entirely covered by stakes.

There are now 105 stakes and 70 districts in the Philippines

Utah
The Church organized a new stake in the Vineyard area of Orem, Utah. The Vineyard Utah Grove Park Stake was organized from the Orem Utah Suncrest Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Suncrest 11th, Suncrest 12th, Suncrest 13th, Suncrest 14th, Suncrest 15th, and Suncrest 16th Wards.

There are now 594 stakes and one district in Utah.

Mexico
The Church discontinued the Los Mochis Mexico Stake and reorganized the former stake as a district (Guasave Mexico District). There are six branches in the district. This is the eighth stake to be discontinued in Mexico in 2018 due to a significant restructuring of administrative organizations and congregations in Mexico designed to better utilize meetinghouse space, strengthen local leadership, and establish congregations with larger numbers of active members.

There are now 221 stakes and 45 districts in Mexico.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Jordan

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Jordan. The Church has maintained a native Jordanian LDS community for several decades in two cities, Amman and Irbid, although there has been little growth for many years. Leadership development has also struggled to be consistently maintained as there have been several iterations of native members staffing essential leadership positions followed by senior missionaries or foreigners filling these positions. Nevertheless, the Church occasionally has Jordanian members serve full-time missions. Emigration of Christians from Jordan is a major challenge as less than three percent of the population is Christian today. The Church continues to lack full registration with the government but has historically maintained a positive relationship with government officials.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Bahrain

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Bahrain - a small island nation in the Persian Gulf with 1.4 million inhabitants. The Church has more than 200 members in Bahrain and has operated a branch in the country since 1971. Membership has nearly doubled since 2009. Bahrain experiences significantly better religious freedom conditions than most countries in the Middle East. As a result, the Church headquarters the Manama Bahrain Stake in the country to service membership in nearby Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Church is officially registered with the government. There are good opportunities for member-missionary efforts among the non-Muslim population in Bahrain, which numbers approximately 200,000. Furthermore, with increasing numbers of members, it is likely that the Bahrain Branch will advance into a ward in the near future.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

New Branch in Myanmar (Burma)

Missionaries serving in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) report that the Church organized a second branch in Yangon last July. The North Dagon Branch now meets in a proselytism area that has been opened to proselytizing missionaries for more than two years. There appear to be at least 60 members in the new branch - essentially all of which are native members. Furthermore, there are now ten young, full-time missionaries assigned to serve in Myanmar under the supervision of the Thailand Bangkok Mission.

The Church assigned its first young, proselytizing missionaries to Yangon, Burma in February 2014 under the direction of the Thailand Bangkok Mission. The Church continues to classify its presence in the country as sensitive, but it appears that this classification may change in the near future. The translation of the Book of Mormon into Burmese is also underway. There are over 55 million people who live in Myanmar. Given its large population and improvements in religious freedom for Christian proselytism in government-controlled areas, prospects appear favorable for the creation of a mission headquartered in Yangon within the near future.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Potential New Temples - September 2018 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. Data I use to identify likely locations for future temples include the number of stakes and districts, the number of wards and branches, age of the oldest stake, trends in church growth, distance to the nearest temple, number of endowment sessions scheduled at the nearest temple, and member and missionary reports regarding member activity, temple attendance, and convert retention. Fifteen new temple sites were added to the map of the most likely locations for new temples to be announced within the foreseeable future. Furthermore, I removed Culiacan, Mexico from the list due to concerns with violence in Sinaloa State and recent consolidations of LDS stakes and congregations in the area. Locations added to the map of likely new temple announcements include:
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Bacolod, Philippines
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
  • Iquitos, Peru
  • João Pessoa, Brazil
  • Kumasi, Ghana 
  • Legazpi, Philippines OR Naga, Philippines
  • Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • Santiago, Philippines OR Tuguegarao, Philippines 
  • Tacloban City, Philippines
  • Uyo, Nigeria
So many are probably asking, why so many new locations added to your prediction map? Has the Church suddenly experienced a surge in growth? The short answer to that question is "no." LDS membership and congregational growth rates in the past couple years have ranked among the slowest reported in decades. However, there have been significant improvements in member activity and participation in areas such as temple work. Furthermore, steady membership and congregational growth in many areas of the world has, after many years or decades, appeared to finally warrant the construction of new temples in many areas of the world.

Recent information I have received from a variety of sources suggests that the Church may significantly accelerate temple construction within the near future. Moreover, Church President President Russell M. Nelson has recently placed a renewed emphasis on temple worship, temple construction, and family history work. There have been many positive developments regarding temple worship and member involvement in family history work. For example, the Church has been able use only family-file names for temple ordinances since 2016 based upon comments by Apostle Elder Dale G. Renlund at the 2018 Roots Tech Leadership Session earlier this year. Several of the new sites added to the temple prediction map have not had any significant changes in LDS growth trends in recent years, but appear good candidates for small temples if the Church were to recommence in the construction of Hinckley-era temples in the late 1990s and early 2000s (e.g. 15,000 square feet or less in size). Nevertheless, the Church has reported significant growth in many of these new locations, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, during the past 5-10 years to the point that a temple may be able to be supported by church membership.

It is unclear whether the Church will announce any new temples during the coming General Conference due to many recently announced temple which have yet to begin construction. There are 19 announced temples which have yet to have groundbreakings and there have not appeared to have been any groundbreakings scheduled for the foreseeable future (although site clearing has recently occurred for the Urdaneta Philippines Temple). Additionally, it is unclear whether the Church will announce additional new temples to be built during the October 2018 General Conference primarily due to the announcement of seven temples in the April 2018 General Conference. If any announcements are made, my top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements are as follows:
  • Benin City, Nigeria 
  • Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Lagos, Nigeria 
  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Praia, Cape Verde 
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Rogers, Arkansas 
  • Salvador, Brazil 
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Tarawa, Kiribati
Red squares on the map below are temples which are in operation, under construction, or officially announced. Yellow squares are potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. As part of the semi-annual tradition, your predictions for new temple announcements are appreciated and encouraged.