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.

7 comments:

Gavin Arnett said...

Hi Matt,

New Ward in the Colorado Springs North Stake. Kings Deer Ward. 12 Wards... 3 YSA Air Force Academy, 9 family wards.

James said...

Great report, Matt! Given the sheer number of new stakes and districts you have reported as being created in the Philippines and in Nigeria over the last couple of years, I am not surprised at all that each of the last 3 sets of temple announcements included one for the Philippines, nor am I in any way shocked that Nigeria had a second temple announced last month either.

With Romania, I can see the merits in the Church's decision to create a second smaller district to make travel more easy for the Saints there. And I am not surprised that congregational consolidations continue in Mexico, nor was I shocked to see a temple announced in Puebla last month.

We are definitely seeing ample evidence that the Lord is well aware of His Church and its' members in all parts of the world. Thank you again, Matt, for your ongoing reports in that regard.

James Anderson said...

We also need to sort out one other parameter in relation to the spacing of temples. In the mid 70s, President Kimball spoke at BYU and some of the talk was about sealings of couples. He said two other things, first, that there would be hundreds of temples, and second, that no member would have to travel more than 1,000 miles to attend one.

So, from that point of view, what habitable areas of the world are still more than 1,000 miles from a temple and of those areas that may be still outside that, are there any members in those areas? As countries and areas within them open up there may be new areas that for a time will fall outside of that as well.

Christopher Nicholson said...

I've been wondering lately what factors go into deciding the size of a temple. Obviously the size of the temple district isn't the only factor, maybe not even the most important one, since Manitoba with its whopping one stake is getting a larger temple than Haiti. And the temple in Thailand will be much larger than the future temple district would seem to justify. I imagine in that case, one of the factors is image, and I don't mean that in a negative way, but it honestly wouldn't make the Church look very impressive to have one of its smallest temples in one of the largest and most major cities in the world. I personally think the bigger the better, having grown up using two of the small temples from the late 90s-early 00s splurge and much preferring the huge one I live by now, so while I recognize the necessity of conserving space and being frugal with resources I do hope the Church leans toward larger sizes whenever possible.

James said...

James Andeerson, President Kimball did indicate the 1,000 distance as you specified, but more recent Church presidents (particularly President Hinckley and President Monson) have lowered that maximum distance to 200 miles. So there is much work to do. President Nelson has continued the tradition. If you look at the 19 temples announced this year, Church members in a majority of those 19 locations traveled well above the 200-mile distance. I feel confident the President Nelson will cut that distance in half, if not in quarter, and if that happens (or if the intent is to make the mileage involved in a round road trip lower than that), then there will be many more locations likely to have a temple announced.

Christopher, in relation to the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, I am not sure it is correct to say that the Winnipeg Temple is larger, at least not as much as some people seem to suggest. The estimate provided for the construction time-frame on the Port-au-Prince Temple was 12-15 months originally, but will likely be closer to a 2-year period once that process concludes. For Winnipeg, the general estimate offered was 20 months, which may be almost spot on. The biggest difference between the two was that the Haiti temple was able to have construction begin within a month or so of the groundbreaking, while the Winnipeg temple had to wait over a year for that process to begin. As far as I am aware, the redesign on the Winnipeg temple has not changed the 20-month estimate.

And with the Bangkok Thailand Temple, in Asia, given the space of land involved, it makes more sense to build up than out, which seems to be true for other structures built in that part of Asia, so I am assuming that might be true for Cambodia as well. Asia is by far the biggest continent in the world, and the size of the Bangkok Temple is indicative of the large Church presence in that nation and the surrounding ones. Will a larger, upward design also be used for Cambodia and India? Time will tell.

The Pocatello Idaho and Saratoga Springs Utah Temples are anticipated to be on the larger size. The Abidjan Temple will be medium-sized because it will serve the Ivory Coast and a few surrounding nations. And the Nairobi Kenya Temple will be a smaller one for sure. No word yet on the likely size of the other announced temples. Time will tell on those as well.

From my own research, I can tell you point-blank that the Church is very careful about determining the size, location, and layout of temples worldwide, and does its' best to incorporate local customs, designs, and themes within the floor plans for each temple. It is interesting to see how that process occurs.

Whizzbang said...

The Winnipeg Temple also has a very small district as well, the Fort Frances district

Silverio Hernández said...

Any updates about Mexico consolidation?