Monday, December 24, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Moldova

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Moldova. There are approximately 400 members of the Church in Moldova and approximately 100 of them are active. The Church established presence in Moldova later than most countries in Eastern Europe. Although convert retention rates are good at present, the number of converts who join the Church has decreased. Furthermore, there has been no noticeable increase in the number of active members in Moldova during the past decade despite church-reported membership increasing by more than 100. All branches are led by a native branch president, suggesting some progress with local leadership development. Cultural conditions, dependence on full-time missionaries to find new investigators, and lack of active membership increase in the past decade constitute major barriers for future growth.


Eduardo Clinch said...

Moldova is culturally like an extra province of Romania, but as any former Soviet state is always prey to Russia. Russia and its orthodox approach, plus secularism are formidable opponents. Linguistically it must be difficult to crack. O know a former mission president of Romania and I am guessing that his German from a youth mission is still better than his adult Romanian.
One of his sons who served in Germany and Austria had his best converts in the early 90s who were Romanian. Emigres.
In some ways the Church is becoming less "American", now with two non-US apostles. But for better or worse the Restored Church of Christ is most always an American based faith.
Lots of factors figure into slow growth in places like Moldova.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church has clearly moved beyond being an American based faith. There are area presidencies where none of the members are American, two non-US aposltes, and whole missions with not one American in them.

That said, the scholarship on the Church is still heavily done by Americans, although the newly called head of the Rome Temple Visitors Center I believe has written a book in French on the history of the Church in France, he is a French national, and there was recently published an English translation of Nesor Curbello's Spanish-language history of the Church in Argentina. Dr. Kissi's "Walking in the sand" and Agricol Lozano's Spanish-language history of the Church in Mexico also stand out.

We are now over 40 years past Elder Maxwell's strong push to have the Church Educational System outside the US run by nationals of the particular countries in which it existed. This is key to us ender up with Elder Uceda, Elder Taylor Godoy, Elder Edward Dube and Elder Benjamin de Hoyos and maybe others I am forgetting who were country or area Church Educational System directors.

We even have examples like a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was head of the Church's oral history family history program in a large swath of Africa currently being the president of the Baltimore Maryland Mission, or the new president of the Port-au-Prince Haiti being a national of Haiti who has been a member in that nation most of the nearly 40 years he has been a church member, although he currently is working as a career trainer in Salt Lake City.

I am excited about the new developments in who the new mission presidents will be. I am looking forward to seeing the announcments starting next month. I hope we have a record number of non-Americans.

Eduardo Clinch said...

In the city of Concepcion I saw some resentment from many members towards a bishop who was also a CES admin/instructor; the perception, real or not, was that he was wealthy due to Church purse strings, and I suppose that this was another form of paid clergy. With every advance or reform there are externalities that are often not foreseen. Chile has many issues as do each culture. Many Chileans know people that were tortured, killed, or disappeared to an American encouraged coup d'etat and the consequent dictatorship. Some Chilenos see Americans and hearken back to some of those negative times and experiences. Hard to separate for some.
We taught and baptized an older sister, Maria Capot, who was tortured. She separated our nationality from our faith. I think it helped that the other companion was from Santiago.She would be about 90 if she is still alive.
If you visit or live abroad try seeing the Church from the external point of view; I am not saying all is completely different, but there are issues that many abroad feel towards centralized leadership. I think that is a natural phenomena.

Eduardo Clinch said...

So, in the perception of at least a few billion earth residents, the Church of Jesus Christ does not clearly moved on beyond being an American based faith. I don't see that perception changing until maybe we have a non-US president.

Bryan Baird said...

John Taylor the 3rd Church President was born in Milnthorpe, England.

Christopher Nicholson said...

If Elder Uchtdorf doesn't become president, then it will probably be thirty to forty years before we have another non-US president. Within that time, though, I hope we can get a solid majority of Apostles, Seventies, and missionaries from outside the United States and that they'll be visible enough to affect people's perception. On the one hand, a leader's nationality doesn't matter, but on the other hand, it kind of does, because at some point it would become impossible to rationalize an ostensibly impartial God who only chose Americans/white people to lead an ostensibly global church. And the psychological benefit for people, especially historically marginalized demographics, seeing people who look like them in positions of prominence should not be dismissed. I know it's not the point of the Church or the gospel, but it's not a non-issue either.

Even in the US, we need to overcome our reputation (partially deserved, partially not) of being predominantly white. I think it's a stumbling block for a lot of non-white Americans to ever give the gospel a chance. Here in Logan, Utah, the diversity that does exist in the community and especially on campus isn't reflected in our wards at all, because the non-white people are much, much less likely to be LDS. A lot of people aren't aware of the diversity that exists in some US congregations, let alone the rest of the world. I hope the new hymnbook will help with that. Last year when I visited my parents' fairly diverse ward in Indiana, a black convert from a Baptist background complained about how we "ruined" the hymns and made them boring, and I don't disagree with her. And again, I have nothing against my ward in Utah and I don't look down on virtually everyone in it for being white like me, but it really is a breath of fresh air to occasionally attend a congregation where everyone doesn't look the same.

James Anderson said...

What happened regarding the 'Invitation Sunday' part of the Light the World initiative this year? That was supposed to be a missionary effort combined with the sacrament meeting on the 23rd (three days ago) to invite nonmembers and less actives to church and have a normal sacrament meeting with the focus on Christmas.

I heard a couple of things, mostly misses though, like a much-shortened sacrament meeting in Pleasant Grove, Utah. In my ward I didn't hear of anything but the sacrament meeting went off well, combined with another ward due to heavy student population and most left town or went to nearby families' wards.

Eduardo Clinch said...

It's good to see top Church leadership reflecting the diversity of its world membership more. It can make a big difference on how people in various cultures perceive the Church of Jesus Christ.
It's amazing how cultural factors can and do influence activity or turn offs within a faith. Music, dietary laws, moral standards and mores, scriptures, doctrine, priesthood organization and requirements, tithing, linguistic options and limitations...
It's amazing a faith like ours grows as much as it does at all. There might be something to it.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am in a branch where diversity metrics are both encouraging and discouraring. About half the active members are African-American yet none of the members of the branch council are. There are lots of factors influencing that. Only two of the active African-American sisters in our branch have husbands who are active members (one is my wife). A third her very active husband died just six months ago in his 60s due to cancer. We have several active or semi-active African-American brethren, but other than the one I mentioned above, whose is in and out of the hosptial, they are all single. Before my wife the last African-American sister in the branch to get married in the temple got married to a white guy she met at BYU-Idaho and moved off to West Virginia where he was working. Then we had a very stalwart African-American sister who moved to Southfield.

This last fact illustrates a problem we face in Metro Detroit. People leave Detroit. The easiest African-Americans to reach out to live in Detroit, but those who persist in the Church end up moving to the suburbs. Even my wife is seriously considering moving out of Detroit. Another stalwart African-American sister who is a counselor in the relief society presidency has a story about how the only reason she is not dead from a stray bullet shot in her house is because he bus was delayed that day on her way home from work. One of the sisters I was assigned to minister to moved to another part of Detroit because of high crime in this one.

John Pack Lambert said...

One thing I have learned over time is the Church membership is more diverse than is sometimes realized at first glance. We have a missionary in my ward who is of Native Hawaiian descent, but no one would know that just looking at him.

We also have a missionary who has a white father of Mormon pioneer roots and a bi-racial (always read black and white) mother who grew up in North Carolina and converted to the church in Las Vegas after marrying his father. In fact it was after he was born his mom was baptized.

Lots of other examples of diversity can be given. Yet there are still many wards where racial diversity is still not achieved. We have seen major progress in outreach to African-Americans, especially in the last year. Still the perception in the African-American community that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a racist organization exists.

The missionaries in my branch tell me that concerns about the past restriction on those of African descent holding the priesthood hold back some from being baptized. Also the fact that not all these missionaries have even read the "race and the preisthood" essay tells me that they are coming to a mission based in a city that is 84% African-American, with most neighborhoods being more like 99% African-American, without at all being prepared to preach to and reach the people in their own culture.

James said...

John Pack Lambert, you noted in one of your earlier comments above that you were excited to see who the new mission presidents would be "starting next month." The official news release from the Church about these changes notes that "information about new mission presidents will be announced later this month." It is interesting and inspiring to me that the announcement of the mission changes came within one week of the new year, and that the announcement of the new mission presidents will be occurring before the end of this month. Both of those announcements have usually come 1-3 months later than they did this year. I had observed in another thread that President Nelson seems to be ahead of the curve in terms of the timing of such announcements. Last year, the changes in the Presidency of the Seventy which became effective on August 1 were sustained during the April General Conference before they became effective, which was a first. Then, within 3 days after General Conference, the changes in area leadership were announced, and that occurred 4-7 weeks before it had traditionally in previous years.

It was also mentioned in previous threads that President Nelson has a reportedly clear vision for the Church over the next 2-3 years, and has outlined the timing of such changes to his counselors. So I would anticipate that President Nelson will continue to do things in advance of when we have typically seen them occur in years past. As noted in the paragraph above, the timing of the announcement of the mission changes, along with the specified timing for the announcement of new mission presidents, are both being done considerably earlier than they have been in years past as well.

It was also mentioned in other threads that President Nelson's skill as a surgeon enabled him to hone his attention to minute details in a way that is surely aiding him in his prophetic administration now. And I think it is wise he is laying out plans for the future. I doubt it will happen, but if there ever comes a point when President Nelson is unable to carry on in his duties as prophet, his counselors would have a clear indication of what needs to be done and when in that case. And that is amazing to think about.

That said, given the reports that President Nelson appears as though he is 20-30 years younger than his 94 years of age when out among the people, there is surely more truth than we might realize in Elder Andersen's expressed hope (which is shared by his apostolic Brethren) that President Nelson will be around for the next decade or two. If that turns out to be the case, then we are surely in for a long season of unprecedented developments for the Church, especially if President Nelson's health remains as excellent as it is now. It will be exciting to see all of that unfold, and I can't wait to see what's next.