Thursday, November 1, 2018

October 2018 Newsletter

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

28 comments:

James said...

Great report, Matt! As always, thank you for this research. The strength of the Church in Nigeria continues to increase and expand, so it makes sense that a temple was announced for Lagos earlier this month. Based on the reports you have provided this year on Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Liberia, I am assuming temples are not far off for those locations. My top picks for future temples in Africa are Freetown Sierra Leone and Antananarivo Madagascar, but based on what we have seen just this year, it would not shock me to see temples announced for those locations in addition to Maputo Mozambique and Monrovia Liberia within the next few years or less.

It is interesting to see the Lord's hand at work in hastening the process whereby the gospel is rolling forward to fill the earth, and I very much appreciate your ongoing reports which put such growth into perspective. Keep up the great work, Matt, and thanks again!

John Pack Lambert said...

In some ways it surprises me that Ebonyi State only just got a stake. Ebonyi State borders Abia Stake, where the temple in Aba is. Aba got the first stake in Nigeria in 1988, 30 years ago.

Ebonyi state is primarily Christian, although Afikpo has a large number of Muslims, is the main area of Igbo Muslims, and has what is by some considered the best secondary school of Islamic studies in Nigeria that as of 2014 was planning to also open a university. I am not sure if that has happened.

However unlike the north of Nigeria, the presence of Muslims in Afikpo may indicate a higher level of religious pluralism than in other parts of south-east Nigeria. On the other hand the myriad numbers of Pentecostal and African-origin forms of Christianity present in much of south-east Nigeria indicate both strong religious pluralism and strong openness to the ideas of revelation and seeking personal direction from Jesus which are both center to the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and even more central to the process of true conversion.

The key to why Ebonyi is only just now getting a stake is probably that unlike Abia and Akwa Ibom states it was not home to congregations waiting for the coming of the missionaries in 1978, and with the Enugu Mission covering two thirds or more of Nigeria its resources were spread thin and a state with under 2 million people was not a high priority especially when the city of Enugu itself had 800,000 people in 2006, I have no clue how many now, and has been highly receptive to the gospel since the Cannons and Mabeys made their home base there in 1978.

John Pack Lambert said...

Since July 22, 2018 57 articles I created on Wikipedia about Church members, mainly about general authorities and general officers of the Church, have been put up for deletion. Most have been deleted. This is not all the articles during this time that have involved attempts to exclude any publication of the LDS Church, including BYU studies and publications of the Church Historians Press, as reliable secondary sources on Church members. It is a very tiring process to see articles I had spent so much time and energy creating deleted over and over and over again.

I have gotten to the point where I contribute to few of these discussions. My views are constantly ignored by the one editor who has driven so much of this deletion craze. He has nominated up to 5 articles per day at times, and has unbelievably broad views on use of terms like "primary source", demands a lot to be a substnatial reference, and basically has set up a system where only people who sources hostile to the Church care about will have articles on Wikipedia.

He has also consistently ignored the much worse sourcing on Catholic Bishops, or the fact that many members of state legislatures who are considered default notable never make impact at all like what is made by general authorities.

John Pack Lambert said...

The action that boils my blood the most though is shown here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Michael_John_U._Teh_(2nd_nomination) where there was no clear consensus to delete, and the fact that sources totally unconnected to the Church from the Phillipines spoke of Elder Teh was just totally ignored by the administrator who closed the debate.

James said...

It is certainly interesting to watch the way the Lord moves mountains at the right time to allow the Church to expand in various areas of the world. And the Lord has been very much aware of the Saints in the southern hemisphere of the world. Based on what has been reported on this blog within the last couple of years, particularly in relation to Nigeria, I am not at all surprised that a second temple was announced for that nation during General Conference last month.

What a blessing it is to have a front-seat from which to witness the ongoing expansion of the Lord's work. He is truly "hastening [His] work in [His] time." And from recent statements made in public by President Nelson during the first South American leg of his Global Ministry Tour, we are just seeing the beginnings of the way the Church will continue to expand worldwide as the gospel continues to roll forward to fill the whole earth.

Christopher Nicholson said...

With all the locations closed in October, I'd say the negative developments far outweighed the positives. I don't think it's realistic to try to spin that positively. Best just hope November goes better.

James said...

Christopher, I understand what you are saying and why you said it, but I disagree. The negative developments may have outweighed the positive developments this month, but that might not be a safe statement to make about the overall growth that has occurred Church-wide throughout this year. Have this year's developments been as significant as those seen in past years? Perhaps not. But the positive developments for this year on their own merits, need to be weighed against the negative developments. And I think we will all find in doing so that, even if 2018 has not seen as much overall Church growth, this year, as in years past, the positive developments overall outweigh the negative. I am all for looking at life realistically, but I am not convinced that one month of what you might call negative growth trends can wipe out some of the amazing developments which have occurred throughout this year. And either way, if the announcement of 19 temples this year alone is not a resoundingly positive statement on the Church's progress this year under President Nelson's prophetic leadership, I don't know what is. Do issues exist? Of course, and we would do well to recognize that. But as someone who is still learning the truth of these words, I can tell you that when the problems being encountered become bigger than the solutions and remedies which are falling into place and being made available, or those that will yet come to light once sufficient efforts are expended, then any one of us who choose that former focus will always have a negative spin on things, whether in relation to Church growth matters or anything else in our lives. I mean no offense by this, and hope none is taken.

Michael Worley said...

9-10 new stakes in Nigeria through the first 10 months is big. Even 8 stakes a year would be an amazing long-term pace for Nigeria.

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Eduardo Clinch said...

John, please share the name of the anti-Church of Jesus Christ Wiki-admin guy. Sounds like a Korihor Nehors. He appears to be anti-knowledge. Ridiculous. I think I will never donate to Wikipedia for this gross negligence. Spread the word. Disgusting. Reprehensible.

James Anderson said...

We may also need to see if Public Affairs wants to try and work with Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization behind Wikipedia, I don't know who at either to contact but maybe a stake president or stake public affairs person could run it up that flagpole.

Michael Worley said...

No need to protest. As the church gets bigger, we'll naturally be recognized more in the press and on Wikipedia.

Minority views and religions always have a hard time on Wikipedia, even though some views--and our faith--are true.

James Anderson said...

It is not so much 'protest', what I am thinking is that things can be done to reign in people who think their views rule and disregard facts. Many still regard Wikipedia as not trustworthy because of rogue 'admins' who dismiss facts, it exists on Wikipedia in many other fields--not just religion. Sometimes you can see it, others you don't.

Chris said...

Now, back to the question at hand, about Church growth, I see that the churchtemples site from Rick, posted today an update on the Bangkok Thailand Temple construction. Stating the clearing of the Temple site lot and demolition of existing buildings in preparation for future groundbreaking.

James said...

Chris, I appreciate you steering the discussion back on topic. That is most admirable. At the same time, I feel a need to return to the Wikipedia issue to offer my two cents on this ongoing matter. As one who has regularly edited Wikipedia for a decade or more, on the one hand, I find it odd that articles about Church leaders (which weren't a problem for most of that decade) have suddenly been subjected to mass deletions by several editors. It has been discouraging, as I have worked on many of those articles.

It has likewise been frustrating for me within the last few years as those deletions have occurred to balance my desire to be a faithful Church member who defends the Church and its' leaders on the one hand with my duty to adhere to Wikipedia policies on the other. There may be some editors who have an ax to grind against the Church for whatever their reason. But the crux of the problem is that there has been no specific standard of notability for general authorities which has been established according to the Wikipedia guidelines. Because no such exceptions exist, the deleted articles do not meet the current standard of notability (which has been established for most public figures on a large scale), and there is a lack of independent sourcing for the articles that have been nominated for deletion. When I say "independent sourcing", I refer to sources not connected to or published by the Church.

James said...

Unfortunately, aside from those nominating the articles for deletion to begin with, there are many who agree with the deletion nominations, and any argument any of us have tried to make in favor of a delay or halting of that process has fallen on deaf ears. But to complicate this situation further, most of the articles that have now been deleted were tagged for a while with a list of the problems that needed to be cleared up, and those who tagged those articles are not connected to the groups who subsequently nominated them for deletion.

My frustration over the general situation about the mass deletion of those articles has been one factor, along with my health, which has limited my desire and ability to regularly contribute to Wikipedia for the moment. The difficulty I see in this situation is that some (if not all) of the editors nominating these articles for deletion may have a bias against the Church, but there are some who do not, and who are just seeing the problem that the articles in their current form violate the policies. There are also some participating in those discussions who likewise might have an ax to grind against the Church, but there are many participating in those discussions that do not fit that description.

In point of fact, before my latest extended absence from Wikipedia (which is still ongoing for the moment), I had a very nice message from one of the editors participating in these discussions. That individual said he recognized the issues I raised about what was going on, and he pointed me in the direction of some potential solutions, which is the most any editor has done to recognize the concerns some of us have about these mass deletions of those articles. One of the options suggested was to see if I could request another exception to the notability guidelines which would be specific to General Authority Seventies. I tried through a few different avenues to follow that recommendation, but came up empty.

James said...

The crux of the issue behind these mass deletions seems to be the lack of independent sourcing. Most of the articles that have been subject to deletion only had references from entities or publications owned by the Church, and although a few of those articles had one or two sources that, by Wikipedia standards, were independent of the Church, the fact that a majority of the cited sources were from publications owned, operated, or endorsed by the Church created a problem.

This is quite a thorny issue (and one that has frustrated me greatly over the last few years that these mass deletions have occurred), but the issue may not be as black-and-white as John Pack Lambert's comments above might suggest (by which I mean no disrespect whatsoever to JPL, whose work on Wikipedia I greatly respect, even if he and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye on Wikipedia matters). Because I have not logged on to Wikipedia for a while, I honestly cannot say whether anything more has come of the efforts I tried based on the one editor's recommendation.

But I also wanted to note that edits to Wikipedia, like entries in the comment threads of blogs like this one, are done under user names, and those user names may not provide much of a clue to the identities of those responsible for these mass deletions. There may be other options open to those of us who have a problem with these mass deletions of articles, before anyone jumps into any kind of legal action. For example, there are a few procedures whereby any of us who disagree with decisions that are made can appeal to an administrator not connected with the matter. I don't know how fully that has been tried. There are also ways to propose an exception to the current notability guidelines that would apply to general authority seventies, or to establish justification for using what Wikipedia would call the current "primary sources" (those published by Church entities or entities that support Church values and leaders).

But I find too often in these situations that many of us who have edited these pages are so concerned about the mass deletions that we forget to utilize these other avenues and resources to resolve the issues. I know that has happened to me repeatedly, and generally, an editor outside of the situation who recognizes some validity or merit to my concerns will point out something I have overlooked.

And James Anderson, if I may, I would like to address what you said above. While Wikipedia is fact-based to a certain degree (it has to be to qualify under the definition of an online encyclopedia), one commonly-misunderstood principle by which Wikipedia operates is verifiability vs. truth. Something may be true, and many may accept it as truth, but if it cannot be sufficiently verified by reliable independent sources, the addition of such information tends to raise red flags. What constitutes a verifiable and reliable source varies based on any exceptions which have been established and agreed upon by consensus, but there is enough consistency all around the board to provide general guidelines. If an exception were established for General Authority Seventies, in the same way as has been done for leaders of other religions, some political figures or monarchs, or those in the sports or entertainment industries, a different set of standards would then be applied to all who fall under the group for which such an exception has been established. I hope this additional contextual information on this matter is helpful to at least some of you.

James said...

hris, having said my piece, I will be happy to get back to the question at hand. As I understand it, the razing of the building is not expected to take too terribly long, and once the debris has been cleared, a groundbreaking could be just a matter of time for that temple. I am hoping that will occur either later this month, next month, or within the first half of next year (but won't be shocked if it is sooner rather than later). We also have the Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple groundbreaking set to occur on the 8th of this month. And depending on what else needs to be done to prepare the Urdaneta Philippines Temple site, a groundbreaking could occur for that temple before the end of this year as well.

I am also anticipating that 2019 will be a huge year for temple events. Right now, there are 2 dedications scheduled for next year already, and up to 4 others that will likely occur next year as well. And 6 or 7 of the temples currently undergoing renovation will likely be rededicated next year as well. If the Bangkok and Urdaneta Temples are both able to have construction begin before the end of this year, there are at least 6 other announced temples on which I am keeping my eyes for a potential groundbreaking in 2019.

Given President Nelson's enthusiasm for the subject of temples, I would anticipate something big is coming to help clear the current backlog of 31 announced temples. If it is true that more personnel and staff have been hired for the Temple Department, then I would certainly be prepared for an influx of temple events over the next couple of years and beyond. If what we have seen of President Nelson is any indication, then it may be safe to say that, for however long he is President of the Church, the days of having more than 5 years between a temple announcement and groundbreaking ceremony may be gone.

I would also hope that, within the next 6 months, more will be revealed about the extent and duration of the plans President Nelson referenced for the Church to renovate pioneer-era temples (which, I am assuming, applies to the St. George, Logan, and Manti temples, in addition to the Salt Lake Temple). What will be really interesting to see is where the apostles will have their weekly meetings for the duration of the Salt Lake Temple closure.I would assume Jordan River will serve that purpose, that is, assuming that President Nelson is referring to a full-scale renovation for Salt Lake which will make an official closure necessary. I imagine we will hear preliminary details about that part of things before General Conference next April. It will be exciting to learn more on all of that.

Ray said...

Who's to say all these locations were truly closed? Many of them may have been consolidated with neighboring branches, and some may have reverted to groups. Church history has always seen movement from one area to another, and the effect over time has always been positive.

Ray said...

Good response to Christopher's post.

Ray said...

Why can't the editors just use standard disclaimers and let the articles stand? It is an example of ongoing mistreatment and disrespect by the Church's enemies.

James said...

Ray, the problem lies in the fact that Wikipedia relies on verifiable sources, for which there is a high standard expected, and that there is a difference between how Wikipedia sees what is true and what is verifiable. Something may be true, valid, and accurate, but unless an exception can be established, many of these same editors seem to see the coverage of the service of these men by Church-owned, Church-sponsored, or Church-endorsed outlets as problematic, and not sufficiently independent of the subjects (General Authority Seventies) whose ministry they cover.

And instead of a disclaimer, as i noted in my lengthy and numerous comments above, each of these articles had been tagged with a description of the issues that needed to be addressed, and since most of those issues were not properly addressed in what Wikipedia defines as a reasonable amount of time, deletion discussions had to be started. During the course of my personal participation in many of these discussions, those involved made it clear that those of us who wanted the articles kept on Wikipedia would have a short period of time to address the issues, but those discussions unfortunately could not remain open indefinitely. Are there trigger-happy admins involved in some of these nominations who may prematurely be closing these discussions? Yes. But I can see how it may be unreasonable in some ways for some of us involved in those discussions to request that discussion or a decision on those articles should be halted while the issues are more fully sorted out on a larger scale. My hope is that I can get back on Wikipedia within the next month or two and work with the editors that have reached out to me on these mass deletions to see if some exception can be crafted specific to General Authority Seventies. And if that can occur, the odds are very good that the newly-established exception could enable the restoration of articles which have been subjected to those mass deletions. There are further measures which can be taken, but I don't have the health or time currently to personally pursue those other avenues. There are cooler heads involved in these discussions, which see the merits of both sides of the issue, but until a suitable alteration in policy can be enacted (with the support of the majority as a consensus), then these mass deletions might continue to occur. As I also noted, though there are some with a potential personal ax to grind against the Church and its' leaders, I have found most of those involved in the discussions in which I have personally participated to be genuinely interested in weighing the problems with the articles as they now stand (in terms of the policy issues which are involved) against the validity and justifications surrounding the arguments in favor of keeping the articles. While some of those involved may fit the definition of "enemies of the Church", most of those I have worked with (whether through the course of such discussions or on other articles) are genuinely trying to strike a careful and appropriate balance between understanding the important roles these leaders play in the Church's day-to-day administration and ministry efforts on the one hand and doing what needs to be done to ensure that such articles are either up to the currently-established standards, or else deleted until such time as an exception can be appropriately agreed upon. Policy issues are thorny, but I want to be very clear that not everyone participating in these discussions is a bad person with ill or evil intent in the matter. Hope this additional information is helpful to all who read it.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Why does Wikipedia erase stuff that is freely given? Because the sourcing is not verifiable? Hogwash. Balderdash.
Wiki editors seem to be a bunch of chumps, at least the ones deleting veriable Church of Jesus Christ general authority info.

Eduardo Clinch said...

*Verifiable. The onus is on one editor to be deleted by another? That is reason to not contribute.

James said...

Eduardo, it is more than just an issue of verifiability. As I explained in one of my comments above, if such articles use sources which, according to the current Wikipedia standards, are considered too close to the subject they cover (for example, using the Church news or Church-owned or -supported websites to verify content about the leaders of the Church), there are some who would look at such sources with suspicion, and use that to rationalize the idea of deleting the articles.

And as I also noted above, there are processes in the works to establish a special exception to that, but the problem is that those of us working on that exception have been directed elsewhere repeatedly to try and resolve it.

I hope you know that, in general, I always appreciate hearing your insightful comments. But if there is not sufficient support from editors who see the good value in such articles and who are working together to try to appropriately handle the issues involved in accordance with current policies, or who are actively working to change the established policies, that becomes a problem in and of itself. And I understand the frustration expressed by many here, including yourself and John Pack Lambert, about how troubling this is.

My only hope was to provide more context, as one who has interacted with editors on both sides of this issue, to the discussion of what the issue actually was. I too have had articles which I have put hard work into deleted, and that's not been fun for me to observe. At the same time, I hope that it is clearly understood that this issue is not entirely borne of anti-Church bias. One of the hardest things I have had to do, as I also explained above, is balance my enthusiasm for Church-related topics I edit on Wikipedia with my duty as an editor to understand, work around, or change the policies involved. And that is a tough process.

It is easy for people to see only one side of this issue when they either choose not to be involved in such discussions, or when only one side is presented. Things have been, and can and will yet be done to deal with this problem. I just haven't had the physical health lately to be part of that process for the last couple of months. Again, this is a multi-faceted issue, and a near-impossible situation for those of us who see the merits in such articles to work around. But, as I also noted, there are editors with whom I have personally worked who have referred me to other measures I can try, once I can get back on Wikipedia again.

I hope you know that I appreciate and respect your opinion on this, which I share to a certain degree. But there are other issues at play here, which only those of us who have participated in the relevant discussions would fully be aware of, so I hope that, if nothing else, the comments I have made here on this issue would demonstrate just how complex this issue is. Again, not all of the editors involved in these discussions have evil intent or ill will towards the Church. But it is often the case that editors who see the merits of both sides of this issue can, will, and do provide encouragement on how to resolve these complex issues. Thanks.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Sure, fine and dandy. Wikipedia is known for being on dubious and shaky ground to begin with, so when I find out from a reliable source that I am confident in that some biased Wiki editors eliminate information provided by hard work and effort, I call bullocks. My 75 percent confidence in the forum and information (not a bad start, like so many things in life) is now down to 60 or 55 percent.
Why, again, delete or refuse information on Church officials that is provided by a willing and able editor? Is he known for libel or false information. I smell a high stink.
On a better note, great to see progress in Italy and Cote d'Ivoire.
Finally, prayers to California victims. Special recognition to the Crabtrees of Paradise and all others there. We pray for your safety.

James said...

Eduardo, I meant no offense, and I hope none was taken. As I said, not everyone involved in those discussions has a bias, though there are some that do. You should know that I did finally log on to wikipedia again late last night, and the deletions have continued. The editor I mentioned previously here who sees both the merit in keeping the articles as well as a certain degree of bias which has driven such nominations reached out to me on my user talk page in my absence, and he noted that the bias driving some but certainly not all to nominate these articles for deletion has bothered him too. We are beginning the next phase to correct this situation. But the problem is that the voices clamoring for the deletion of those articles currently outweigh those who support keeping it. We present an argument that seems sound, only to have others throw an existing policy in the ring that (for the moment) counteracts the arguments presented in favor of keeping them.

Crafting new policies takes time, and feedback from others, and we are not getting sufficient support from those who are neutral enough or from those who would support keeping them. It is frustrating, but I will be working on that issue as I can over the next little while for however long it takes to get things resolved.

One other thing: You refer to John Pack Lambert's account of what is going on in this situation as a "reliable source that [you] are confident in." I am sorry that I have not done or said enough to merit the same kind of trust from you, and for that I apologize. Again, in a situation where "split loyalties" lie, some will only see the Church's side of this issue, and some will only see Wikipedia's side. Then there are those like me, who would like the articles kept, recognizing the individuals covered in them as important, but failing to find the right avenue, rationale, or argument which would allow that to occur. It is being worked on, but it is a slow process, and only time will tell how soon and to what extent we are able to get currently-deleted articles restored based on newly-established exceptions.

The crux of the problem is that so many who might see the merits of such articles and would support keeping them around are not involved in these discussions, and thus do not see what is going on behind the scenes, as the saying goes. I tried to provide a credible account in previous comments of my observations about this situation, and however it happened, I failed to do so, and for that I also sincerely apologize. I could say more on this situation which might point to one other side of this that is involved, but I think this discussion has gone far enough afield from the purposes for which it was started.

So I will merely end by saying that I can echo the final sentence of your comment above. Again, I mean no disrespect to you personally, Eduardo, or to anyone else concerned about this issue (as I have been increasingly concerned about this as well). The efforts to resolve this issue have been ongoing over the last couple of years (during which time we have seen a spike in the factors involved). My only hope and intention was to provide a more balanced look at the issues involved. Clearly I failed, and that's on me. My apologies for gumming up the conversation here with too much of what clearly seems to be just my personal rhetoric, which, for whatever reason, is not seen as being equally credible as John Pack Lambert's first comment about this dilemma. I am in full accord with the idea of moving on to other topics, and beg not only your pardon, Eduardo, but that of other people who comment here for continuing to deviate from the subject at hand. Hope there are no hard feelings between us. I certainly bear you no ill will for being justifiably angry about a situation that is spiraling, and applaud your defensive comments in that regard.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I am not questioning confidence in you by placing confidence in John. I am accusing the deleting Wiki editors of being a bit fascist, ignoramuses, or haters. Anti-information, especially non-hateful information as presented by these authors, is a travesty to deny and delete. It is a criminal type thing to do. A pox upon them.