Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Vijayawada Branch Created in India

Missionaries serving in the India Bengaluru Mission report that last Sunday the member group in Vijayawada was organized into an official branch. This marks the first time in over 10 years that the Church has created a new branch in India in a city where no branch previously operated. Missionaries serving in the two India missions report many members who live in cities where no official ward or branch operates. They appear to be many opportunities for the creation of additional member groups and branches in the near future especially given that several districts have recently advanced into stakes and resources can be channeled into expansion rather than strengthening districts to become stakes.


Eduardo Clinch said...

Very cool.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Are all the Bengalaru Stake units in Andhra Pradesh? How many Indian states have LDS units?

John Pack Lambert said...

I am pretty sure there are no units in Uttar Pradesh, and it has about 200,000,000 people. The 7 states of India that are east of Bangladesh do not have any church units, and some of those are 90% or so Christian.

Eduardo Clinch said...

UP is right next to New Delhi, which has a stake. I am curious how much the New Delhi Stake is concentrated.
The highest percentage of Christians in India that I am aware of is in Kerala, way down in the southwest.
Not sure about all those eastern states and minorities, some of whom try to fight for independence like Bihar.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Some have compared the relative growths of Turkey and Greece, which is compelling. Greece has been really slow.
Looking at China and India, China currently has 6 stakes and 6 districts. Meanwhile India has 5 stakes and 1 district, and you could argue that the subcontinent is growing faster and may pass up China in the next 5-10 years.
Based on past awful history in China for Christians, India seems to have a nicer way forward for LDS growth. The nature of English in India also seems like an advantage for Church expansiveness there.
But both giant nations are progressing, both should have temples soon enough.

David Todd said...

I think your inclusion of Hong Kong in your analysis of "China" is skewing your comparison of the two countries. Hong Kong already has a temple. There are active proselyting missionaries in Hong Kong and not in mainland China. I dont think India and "China" are really comparable in the way that you are trying to compare them.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Hong Kong has been part of mainland China since 1997. I remember it well.
I think the comparison is valid in that like Greece and Turkey, China and India both have had LDS proselytism in different durations of time but growth is more dynamic in the more recent one.
Again, Hong Kong is doing better than stagnant Greece, but growth is looking better in India than China, right?
That's the point of the comparisons.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Oh, I did throw in the Macau District in the numbers. I forget their PRC political status. Not sure how much Portuguese they speak anymore, either.

John Pack Lambert said...

Mainland China, excluding the special zones with different laws, has no stakes.

On the other hand the last 20 years have seen lots of anti-Christian violence in India as part of Hindu nationalism. Nagaland is 80% Christian. Mizoram is 88% Christian (by some counts 85% Baptist). Meghalaya is 83% Christian. Manipur is 41% Christian. Kerala is 18.4% Christian.

The Wikipedia article on Christianity in India has a map that gives a good sense of what is going on.

Andra Pradesh where Hyderabad is is in the 1 to 5 percent Christian part of India. So is Karnataka which is the lication of Bangalore.

Per LDS maps Ghazaiabad in Uttar Pradesh is within the boundaries of the Delhi Stake. Maybe 5 million of the inhabitants of Uttar Pradesh live in that stakes boundaries, probably less. Which still lives over 190 million outside unit boundaries including cities with millions hundreds of miles away.

Tamil Nadu where 6.2% of the populatuon is Christian has 2 stakes. Kerala has apparently no branches even extending into it. There is lots of potential for growth in India but it will need to come from member missionary work and in nation missions mainly because of laws but also because cultural issues mean that will work better than foriegn missionaries at work.

John Pack Lambert said...

Hyderabad is actually now in Telangana, a state created fairly recently. I have no idea hos this effects the perventage of Christiabs in what is left of Andra Predesh and in Telangana. The Bangalore mission includes 6 states of India including Goa, with 1 branch and a 25% Christian population.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Community of Christ numbers around 15,000 in India to the LDS Church's roughly 13,000. Jehovah's Witnesses number about 42,000 while Seventh-day adventists number 1.5 million. There are 17 million Catholics including lots of Eastern Rite Catholics.

The Indian Pentacostal Church of God has over 200,000 members, at least 150,000 in Kerala. They forbid the use of alcohol and smoking. However they also forbid jewelry and theatre going.

John Pack Lambert said...

Malayalam has about 38 million speakers. This would suggest it as a good candidate for Book of Mormon translation. This has not yet been done as far as I can tell.

John Pack Lambert said...

Over 95% of the population of Kerala speaks Malayalam meaning that materials in that language would be both useful and needed to build up the Church in that state. The 65,000 residents of the Laccadive Islands speak Malayalam at a rate of about 84%. Roughly 80% of the 2.5 million Indian s who live in the gulf states speak Malayalam, including almost 1 million in the UAE. This makes me wonder if there might be potential for missionary outreach to the roughly 75% of the Malayalam community who are non-Muslims there.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Excluding Hong Kong from "mainland" China does not make a lot of sense to me. That is akin to not counting San Francisco as part of California or the US because of their different laws.
Taiwan is "not" part of mainland China according to most of the Western world, even though PRC thinks otherwise.
Hong Kong certainly has different laws and history, but I think the LDS Church deserves credit for its presence there in 2018.
Don't Hong Kong citizens serve in the PRC military? Not sure.
Maybe it is a bit comparable to Puerto Rico and the US territories to the US, but I think of Hong Kong more like the District of Colombia. Different laws, but a significant part of the United States.
I didn't realize eastern India was so prevalent with Christian populations. And despite some anti-Christian acts in the sub-continent, the Indian government writ large is not as draconian as the Peoples' Republic of China against religious movements. True, the missionary quotas are a limiting factor for growth and outreach there (in India).
I wonder how foreign missionary laws are in Sri Lanka or Maldives?
Andaman Islands appear to have no LDS presence as far as I know.

David Todd said...

It isnt that I am not accepting that Hong Kong is part of China politically. It is that grouping them together to make comparisons between India and China as far as growth of the church is problematic because really you are just comparing India to Hong Kong along with a few random districts of baptized foreign nationals in other countries and ex pats from other countries living there. The approach and limitations of the church in the mainland, Hong Kong, and India deserve three different and separate groupings for comparison.

Matt said...

The size of the church in mainland China has become significant. There appear to be about 12,000 members, approximately 80 branches, and approximately 12 districts.

Mike Johnson said...

>>>The Community of Christ numbers around 15,000 in India.

John, I am curious as to your source.

The RLDS Church does have a significant presence in India, but it was higher a couple of decades ago. When the Reconstruction LDS Church was formed in the late 1980s it quickly had about 30,000 members, including a majority of those that were in India. This church was formed when the RLDS stake president (they had stakes back then) discontinued a Saturday night bible study that included two members of the RLDS 70. After an exchange of excommunications, the RLDS 70s involved organized the Reconstruction LDS Church, which by the early 2000s had become somewhat disorganized having grown fast because of the schism. They wanted to stress the Joseph Smith's Restoration and Joseph Smith III's Reorganization and end what they saw as apostasy in the main RLDS Church (becoming more protestant-like, professional clergy, women ordained to the Priesthood--back then to the volunteer Aaronic, but later to the profession clergy of the Melchizedek Priesthood). In the mid-2000s, they organized themselves into a movement called the 'Restoration Branches" which is somewhat of a loose confederation of branches, and out of that movement came what is now the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There are a number of CoC, RB, and RCJCLDS in India.

The CoC reported 9000 members in all of Asia in 2015. The website shows the South Asia Mission Centre as having five branches, 4 in India and 1 in Sri Lanka. As CoC branches in the US average 156 members per branch, I wonder how many in India are actually with the CoC and perhaps the stats you quote include break off groups.

Regardless, the RLDS Church did number in the 1000s in the 1980s in India, a curious anomaly, where they had more members in a country than the LDS Church did.

John Pack Lambert said...

For the purposes of religious freedom and function San Francisco is governed by the same laws as the rest of the US despite their attempts to deny basic religious freedom such as the anti-circumcision activists.

Hong Kong has very different legal structures including the legacy of British rule. It is a special administrative district.

In Hong Kong all Church members can legally meet together. The English district is a mix of American, British and other expats, Filipino domestic workers and then the Mandarin speaking branch. Yet probably some American and other expats attend the wards, any choice they make is driven by their own decision in light of guidance from church leaders.

On the other hand in China itself foriegn narionals are legally prohibited from Church meetings with citizens. There is a whole steucture of Chinese natiobal Church members, some of wgom leave to serve missions elsewhere, but their numbers and where they meet are known to few dorigners.

My figure on Community of Christ in India came from Wikipedia. I seem to recall a lack of a citation on it. The same article listed 1200 LDS in India claiming the 2011 Church Almanac as a source until I updated it to the figure from the current stat page, which is probably year end 2016.

The RLDS Church has a section in their doctrine and covenants allowing the practice of polygamy by those from ethnic groups that have traditionally done so. This was mainly to facilitate missionary work wirh some ethnic groups in India. The irony of the rabidly anti-polygamy RLDS accepting polygamy was not lost on observers.

My main takeaway from the Wikipedia article on Christianity in India is that it is undersourced and less informative than it ought to be. My second take away is that Christian and especially Evangelical Protestant and Pentecostal history in India is inadequately understood by peiple.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Speaking of India, the Dallit peoples have considered mass conversion to Christianity (The Economist, circa 1997), which they decided against. For then and now. In the meantime I am not sure of their possible conversions to other faiths. We are talking maybe 200 million people here!
I understand throwing Hong Kong out as a third entity, but again I see it like excluding Hawai'i or Alaska or maybe the Eastern US; Hong Kong IS part of China.
Too bad Greece never had such a city-state! Or that there are not Chinese speaking LDS communities in renegade provinces or elsewhere.
To divorce Hong Kong from China is not reality, at least not since '97.
Of course, Diu and Goa could easily be removed from India as a case study, but I do not think there are significant numbers of LDS in either enclaves, for what that's worth.

John Pack Lambert said...

Goa is governed by the same general laws as the rest of India, Hong Kong is not. Admission of foriegn missionaries, public proselyting and lots of other activities are legal in Hong Kong but illegal in China.

Mike Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Johnson said...

As Matt says, there are a lot of native Chinese units that are not counted in the statistics quoted. What is quoted are the five non-native (English speaking) districts (1 in Hong Kong), the district in Macau, and the six stakes in Hong Kong.

In India, the vast majority of members are native Indians (although some are undoubtedly ex-pats of the UK or the US). In China, there is a significant wall between the native and non-native members of the church.

Mike Johnson said...

I appreciate the debate on how to count Hong Kong as part of China. The analogy with San Francisco, in my opinion, is misleading. All six stakes are in Hong Kong and 5 were in existence before 1997 when the British Colonial government was replaced by the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region, which maintained most of the pre-existing laws and is arguably a colonial government as well, with a striking distinction with respect to missionary work. Missionaries can proselytize in Hong Kong, but not in the People's Republic (at least not non-native Chinese--the native members seem to have more freedom to spread the gospel).

I can't think of any place in the US (certainly not one with 7 million people) whose relationship to the rest of the US is remotely like that of Hong Kong and its relationship to mainland China. China is responsible for the foreign affairs and defense of Hong Kong, but does not play a role (well not an official role anyway) in the internal and economic affairs of Hong Kong. This is the relationship the US has with some of its territories and its commonwealths as well as the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Hong Kong has a separate customs regime from China. That in itself excludes Puerto Rico, my first thought as a counterpart. There is also a controlled border with one immigration control point and one ferry.

Hong Kong is still a common law country and people in legal profession and judges, still flow between commonwealth countries--the head of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal was born in Rhodesia, educated in England, served in the legal profession in England and Wales, before moving to Hong Kong. One thing different from the colonial government is that up to 1997, appeals could go to the judicial committee of the Privy Council in London, but today there is no appeal from Hong Kong courts to any court in Beijing (or anywhere in Mainland China).

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong has by the Basic Law (Constitution) of Hong Kong, pretty much the same functions as the Governor of Hong Kong up to 1997. The executive council that supported the Governor was retained and supports the Chief Executive. Many of David Patten's cabinet continued in Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet from 1997.

The Chief Executive is appointed by the Beijing government after about 1200 Hong Kong electors choose their candidate.

The PLA occupies military facilities in Hong Kong, pretty much as the British military handed it to them. They are separate organizational from the PLA military structure--they are not part of the Southern Joint Command for example. The Chief Executive serves as the representative of the Beijing government responsible for the PLA garrison. In effect, Beijing supplies a small military to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, although the personnel are mostly from Hong Kong.

The Legislative Council still exists in roughly the same form from its creation in 1837.

The electoral system is competitive in Hong Kong. Not so in Mainland China. Hong Kong has a free market economy.

In China, proselytizing is banned throughout mainland China, but is free and open in Hong Kong. In contrast, in India, freedom of religion is guaranteed in the All India constitution, but the individual states have significant differences when it comes to conversion some with vague definitions. Some of the state laws have been invalidated by the All India Supreme Court and some have been allowed to stand. I don't think any are as free and open as Hong Kong, but six are almost as restrictive as mainland China. Thus, I think we will see very uneven expansion of the gospel by state in India simply because of differences in state laws. Those Christian churches that began proselytizing before 1967--when the most restrictive of the state laws were passed--have a big advantage over those that didn't start that early.

Mike Johnson said...

Hong Kong also has it own dollar and not the Yaun.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Sure, the differences between the US and China and India are signficant, as pointed out, but to compare LDS growth I think it is valid to compare all of mainland China (Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, Xianjiang, etc.) versus all of India, including those 6 states that have religious limits.
In comparing Idaho versus California, we don't subtract original LDS colonies like San Bernardino or Montpelier simply because they had a head start or different laws or histories.
Chinese citizens are counted together. It may be a simple comparison, but the nuances of differentiating or removing Hong Kong from China, or to say for example, China does not have a temple is like saying DC or Virginia do not have a local temple.
They both do. Or rather, China has a temple as do DC and Virginia have a local temple. Its location in Kensington is a mere technicality but the peoples of the DMV enjoy the temple easier in access than maybe Tooele UT accesses Salt Lake, or Eagle Mountain accesses anything close by (someday Saratoga Springs).
Technicalities and semantics have there place, but comparing the two most populous nations in the world, I believe, makes sense beyond the minutia of history and present laws.
It's great to make smaller distinctions, too, but China and India in and of themselves are two entities that are worth comparing.
If they go to war, or for linguistic purposes, they are one to one, not every dialect in comparison to every other.
I remember people since 1997 claiming perhaps Hong Kong's inclusion is a bit more like the PRC has been infected by the West. I like to think of it that way in terms of LDS presence. The Spirit of the Lord is alive and well (ish) in the land of the center, however they view themselves.