Sunday, September 15, 2019

New Stakes Created in Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines, Texas, and Utah; New District Created in Nigeria

Brazil
The Church organized a new stake in Ceará State, Brazil on August 25th. The Fortaleza Brazil Lisboa Stake was organized from a division of the Fortaleza Brazil Bom Jardim Stake and the Caucaia Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Jatobá, Lisboa 1st, Lisboa 2nd, Novo Araturi, and Nova Conquista Wards. The new stake is the Church's fourth new stake organized in Ceará State since 2015. There are now 17 stakes in Fortaleza - the second most stake in a metropolitan area after Sao Paulo.

There are now 275 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil

Guatemala
The Church organized a new stake in southern Guatemala on September 8th. The Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa Guatemala Stake was organized from the Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa Guatemala District (organized in 1994). Information on which of the nine branches in the former district have become wards remains unavailable. The Church in Guatemala has recently experienced accelerated growth through the creation of new stakes from both districts maturing into stakes and the division of large stakes. Nine new stake have been organized in Guatemala since 2015.

There are now 51 stakes and 13 districts in Guatemala.

The Philippines
The Church organized a new stake on Luzon on September 1st. The Iba Philippines Stake was organized from the Iba Philippines District (created in 1983). The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Botolan, Iba, Liozon, Palauig, and San Agustin Wards, and the Bulawen Branch. The new stake is the Church's fourth new stake organized in the Philippines Olongapo Mission since 2017. Prior to that time, the mission had only one stake within its boundaries. The two remaining districts in the mission, headquartered in Dinalupihan and Santa Cruz, appear likely to become stakes within the near future based upon reports from local members.

There are now 114 stakes and 63 districts in the Philippines.

Texas
The Church organized a new stake in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area on August 25th. The Little Elm Texas Stake was created from the Frisco Texas Stake and the Frisco Texas Shawnee Trail Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Aubrey, Cross Roads, Frisco 6th, Little Elm 1st, Little Elm 2nd, Little Elm 3rd, and Oak Point Wards. The new stake is the Church's fifth new stake created in the Dallas/Forth Worth area since 2015.

There are now 76 stakes and two districts in Texas.

Utah
The Church organized a new stake in central Utah on August 25th. The Central Valley Utah Stake was created from the Monroe Utah Stake and the Richfield Utah East Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards and one branch: the Annabella 1st, Annabella 2nd, Central Valley 1st, Central Valley 2nd, Richfield 1st, Richfield 11th, and Richfield 15th Wards, and the Central Valley 3rd Branch (Spanish). The new stake is the first new stake created in the Richfield area of Utah since 1977.

There are now 603 stakes and one district in Utah.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new district in Rivers State, Nigeria on August 18th. The Bori Nigeria District was created from a division of the Okrika Nigeria District. The new stake includes the following eight branches: the Asarama, Bori, Bori Nigeria District, Nortem, Sogho, Taabaa, Unyeada, and Zaakpo Branches. The Church has experienced rapid congregational growth in the Bori area during the past few years, and the creation of the new district appeared warranted as the original Okrika Nigeria District had 13 branches.

There are now 58 stakes and 19 districts in Nigeria.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Indonesia

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Indonesia. Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country with 263 million people. However, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports only about 7,500 members in Indonesia despite a Church presence for 50 years. Indonesia ranks as the country with the 68th most Latter-day Saints among countries with membership figures reported as of year-end 2018. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Potential for church growth remains high, but Latter-day Saints continue to lack the needed nationwide infrastructure and increase in the number of local full-time missionaries to expand mission outreach and reverse the trend of stagnant growth over the past two decades. Decreases in the number of Indonesians who serve missions in the past three decades has been a major challenge not only for mission outreach expansion, but also with supplying leadership for the future as returned missionaries often provide a significant source for leadership positions. All but three congregations are on the island of Java, and there were only four more congregations in Indonesia in late 2019 than in 1995. Church administrative decisions not to translate any church materials into languages spoken by over sixty million Indonesians, low involvement member-missionary programs, the lack of coherent vision for expanding national outreach into unreached areas, and the failure to reach out to receptive ethnic groups and develop a core leadership among them, all bode poorly for the Church’s prospects to achieve breakthroughs in growth in Indonesia in the medium term. Other denominations that have implemented broader visions for national outreach and have made better use of available opportunities have achieved far more rapid growth in Indonesia than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Government restrictions on visas for foreign full-time missionaries has limited expansion of national outreach over the past two decades. Greater local member participation in missionary activity within the bounds of the law is needed to open additional areas to missionary work, although greater institutional vision could considerably facilitate this process. Other Christian groups have demonstrated that excellent church growth opportunities exist but must be properly approached due to restrictive cultural and governmental conditions. Latter-day Saints have developed a capable, sustained local leadership that can assist in opening new areas of the country to the church if desired by regional church leadership. Due to the creation two new stakes and reduced administrative burden on the Indonesia Jakarta Mission during the early 2010s, additional areas may open to proselytism. However, efforts will likely continue to focus on centers of strength for the Church in select cities on Java, and the establishment of centers of strength in Medan, Manado, and Bali, rather than expansion of the Church into totally unreached provinces inhabited by tens of millions of people. A small temple may be announced in Jakarta within the foreseeable future due to distance and self-sustaining membership and leadership.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Malaysia

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Malaysia. The Church experienced rapid membership and congregational growth during the 2000s, but with low convert retention rates. Membership increased from 1,300 members in 2000 to over 7,000 members in 2010. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article.

The outlook for the Church in Malaysia is noticeably bleaker for the coming decade compared to the 2000s and 2010s. Marked declines in membership growth rates from the previous decade, low member activity rates, leadership development challenges, and no expansion of the Church into additional cities in recent years, as well as a contraction in outreach with the sole branches in several cities closed in the 2010s, indicate that the Church in Malaysia’s focus has been on strengthening the core of active membership and preparing for some of the larger districts to become stakes, such as in Kuala Lumpur and Miri, rather than outward expansion. This approach may yield some long-term results with the formation of stakes in both East and West Malaysia in the foreseeable future. The translation of all Latter-day Saint scriptures and many Church materials into Malay within the past decade also presents good opportunities for testimony development and missionary activity. However, with uncertainty regarding the role of Islam in government and increasing societal intolerance toward religious minorities may result in greater limitations placed on nontraditional Christian denominations such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which may, in turn, result in insurmountable obstacles toward future expansion of the Church. Consequently, the Church may be vulnerable to miss the current window of opportunity to expand into additional cities both in East and West Malaysia if such restrictions come into effect. However, the Church in Malaysia will most importantly need to become self-sufficient in meeting its own leadership and missionary needs without assistance from foreign full-time missionaries or expatriate Westerners in order to develop a more solid membership base that can endure societal and political changes, and perpetuate growth for generations to come.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Singapore

Click here to access the updated country profile for Singapore. The Church in Singapore experienced steady membership growth until the early 2010s and has since experienced stagnant membership growth rates for most years. Nevertheless, there is a strong core of active members in the country with as many as 1,000 active members. Materialism and secularism are major obstacles for growth. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Slow, steady growth will likely occur for the Church in Singapore with fluctuations in growth rates depending most strongly on the ebb and flow of foreign members who temporarily work in the country. Secularism and materialism pose major obstacles for greater growth through Singaporean converts who join the Church and remain active. A second stake may be organized in Singapore if additional congregations are created, albeit recent ward consolidations suggest that a second stake may be many years or decades away from fruition. Additional language-specific congregations may be created, such as for Tamil and Indonesian speakers. Differentiated Chinese-speaking congregations (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkein, etc.) seem a likely possibility. However additional congregations will likely only be created as membership is strong enough to provide leadership and if functioning congregations are operating at capacity given high real estate prices. As hinted by President Hinckley and a former Singapore Stake President, Singapore is a likely location for a future small temple.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Sri Lanka

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Sri Lanka. The Church in Sri Lanka has experienced some of the slowest growth among Asian nations with a Church presence for over 40 years. As of year-end 2018, there were approximately 1,600 members, four branches, and one member group. Only about 25% of members appear to regularly attend church. Nevertheless, there have been some recent positive developments, such as sustained annual membership growth rates of 5% or higher per year since 2015, the full-time missionary force solely comprised to Sri Lankan members (with the exception of senior couples), and the creation of a second branch in Colombo. Also, senior missionaries a couple years ago reported that church attendance in Kandy increased from 15 to 115 in less than six months (albeit it is unclear whether this increase has since been sustained). See below for the Future Prospects section of this article.

Accelerated membership growth since the mid-2010s and the organization of a second branch in Colombo point to some recent improvements in growth trends. This has been significant given that only local Sri Lankan members and senior couples have served in Sri Lanka as full-time missionaries during this time. However, missionary efforts have not been able to replicate more rapid membership growth attained by foreign, fulltime missionaries during the 2000s, albeit a higher percentage of recent converts appears to have been retained. Branches in Negombo and Kandy may divide when warranted by sustained growth in active membership. Additional branches or member groups in lesser-reached areas of the Colombo metropolitan area appear most favorable for future efforts to expand outreach due to high population density, proximity to other branches, and difficulty accessing the meetinghouse from more distant urban areas. Once there are at least five branches, over 120 active Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and 1,900 members a stake may be established, although current trends suggest that this goal is far distant especially given low member activity rates. Improving convert retention through approaches tailored to the needs of individuals of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds and careful preparation of prospective converts to ensure that gospel habits are in place will be crucial to achieving real long-term growth.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

New Temple Predictions - September 2019 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. Data used 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. Given President Nelson's comments in a media conference a couple days ago, there will be new temples announced this October. The Church announced 19 new temples during 2018 and eight new temples in April 2019.

In March 2019, I added a new classification for less likely potential new temples to be announced (i.e. locations with few stakes and distant from the nearest temple). I have added this new category given the recent trend for the Church announcing more temples in locations with fewer stakes. Thus, there has been an emphasis on the construction of new temples in more remote locations with comparatively few members to improve accessibility to the temple. Locations I added to the map back in March in this category include:
  • Rosario, Argentina
  • Flagstaff, Arizona 
  • Londrina, Brazil
  • Natal, Brazil
  • Santa Maria, Brazil
  • Sao Jose, Brazil
  • Teresina, Brazil
  • Osorno, Chile
  • Vina del Mar, Chile
  • Cali, Colombia
  • Grand Junction, Colorado 
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic
  • Coban, Guatemala
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Augusta, Maine 
  • Aguascalientes, Mexico
  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Chihuahua, Mexico
  • Culiacan, Mexico
  • Torreon, Mexico
  • Farmington, New Mexico 
  • Enugu, Nigeria
  • Piura, Peru
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Rapid City, South Dakota 
  • Austin, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas 
  • Longview, Texas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Tacuarembo, Uruguay
  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
  • Casper, Wyoming
I have added the following 58 locations to the less likely list of temples that may be announced:
  • Fairbanks, Alaska 
  • Juneau, Alaska
  • Tirana, Albania 
  • Neuquen, Argentina
  • Trelew, Argentina
  • Hobart, Australia
  • Tarija, Bolivia
  • Campo Grande, Brazil
  • Cuiaba, Brazil
  • Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
  • Maceio, Brazil 
  • Pelotas, Brazil
  • Rio Branco, Brazil
  • Sao Paulo Guarulhos, Brazil
  • Sorocaba, Brazil 
  • Vitoria, Brazil
  • Punta Arenas, Chile
  • San Luis Valley, Colorado 
  • Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
  • Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire
  • Machala, Ecuador
  • Quevedo, Ecuador
  • Ra'atea, Tahiti, French Polynesia 
  • Kahului, Hawaii
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • New Delhi, India
  • Kingston, Jamaica 
  • Sendai, Japan
  • Busan, Korea
  • La Paz, Mexico 
  • Beira, Mozambique
  • Maputo, Mozambique
  • Elko, Nevada (previously on Likely Potential New Temples list)
  • Christchurch, New Zealand 
  • Abuja, Nigeria
  • Calabar, Nigeria
  • Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  • Cleveland, Ohio (previously on Likely Potential New Temples list)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
  • Cusco, Peru
  • Huancayo, Peru
  • Pisco, Peru
  • Puno, Peru
  • Tacna, Peru
  • Iloilo City, Philippines
  • Puerto Princesa, Philippines
  • Savaii, Samoa
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Kaohsiung, Taiwan 
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Lome, Togo
  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Delta, Utah
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Barcelona, Venezuela
Altogether, the temple prediction map has 140 potential sites for more likely and less likely locations where temples may be announced. Church growth trends in 2019 have appeared to slightly accelerate during the year compared to 2018 in regards to the creation of new congregations and stakes, and also increases in convert baptisms in many missions around the world. However, this significant increase in the number of locations added to the map is NOT due to a sudden increase in church growth, but rather a change in temple announcements to more cities with few members that are distant from the nearest temple (such as Yigo, Guam; Budapest, Hungary; Okinawa, Japan; and Moses Lake, Washington to name a few). As for what I see as the 10 most likely locations for new temples to be announced this October, see below:
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia 
  • Monrovia, Liberia 
  • Freetown or Bo, Sierra Leone 
  • Angeles, Philippines
  • Bacolod, Philippines
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Rogers, Arkansas 
  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Tarawa, Kiribati
Red squares on the map below are temples which are dedicated or planned. Yellow squares are likely potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. Blue circles are less likely potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. Please share your predictions for new temple announcements in the comments below.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

August 2019 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access the August 2019 monthly newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

New Temples and Other Announcements in General Conference This October; Rare Church Statistics on Brazil Released

A Church Newsroom article published yesterday noted that President Nelson informed news media that "more temples and other announcements will be made in the October general conference." It is unclear what these other announcements may be, but it appears that a reformation to the Church's missionary program is likely given the new missionary handbook's upcoming release and other matters I have discussed on this blog. Coincidentally, I will be publishing my predictions for temple announcements for this October General Conference over the weekend, which include some significant additions and changes given recent trends in temple announcements since President Nelson's tenure as President of the Church.

Also, the Church Newsroom article I mentioned at the beginning of this post provided some rare statistics published by the Church. More specifically, the article notes that there are currently 5,300 missionaries serving in Brazil at present - the second most of any country in the world after the United States. This indicates there is an average of 151 missionaries per mission in Brazil. The Church does not publish annual country-by-country figures for the number of full-time missionaries serving. There have only been a few other times in Church history that the Church has published information on the number of missionaries serving in a country, such as in the Philippines or Mexico.

Updated Reaching the Nations Country Profile - Myanmar (Burma)

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Myanmar (Burma). The Church has achieved significant progress within the past 5-6 years with the introduction of young, proselytizing full-time missionaries to Yangon, the creation of a second branch in Yangon, completion and publication online of portions of the Burmese translation of the Book of Mormon, and significant increases in convert baptisms and local members who are serving full-time missions. However, total church membership is estimated at only about 250 as of year-end 2018. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Prospects appear favorable for continued Church growth in Yangon due to recent successes with steady numbers of new converts joining the Church, increasing numbers of active members, the creation of a second branch in Yangon, high member activity and convert retention rates, and the forthcoming translation of more Church materials into Burmese. Additional member groups or branches appear likely to be organized to improve accessibility to congregations and spark greater growth. Local members who complete full-time missionary service and return and remain in Myanmar thereafter present the greatest opportunities for expansion and growth. Branches in Yangon may be organized into a district once there is sufficient local leadership to staff both branch and district callings. The Church may organize member groups in additional cities, primarily in areas under control of the federal government. However, expansion of the Church into additional cities appears more likely once a separate mission is organized in Myanmar. Nevertheless, the Church will need to secure full government recognition and become more self-sufficient in its local leadership to better prepare for future opportunities for growth. Translation of Church materials into additional languages, such as Karen, appears needed. However, given trends in language translation efforts among minority languages, such prospects appear dim for the foreseeable future notwithstanding good opportunities for these materials to be utilized in missionary efforts.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Nepal

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Nepal. The Church in Nepal appears to have approximately 200 members on Church records, but only about 50 appear to regularly attend church services. Despite a low member activity rate, the Kathmandu Branch, the only branch in the entire country of 30 million people, has had more than 30 members serve full-time missions since the branch was organized in 2001 as of 2017. However, the vast majority of these returned missionaries have immigrated to India. A sacrament meeting service held twice a month began to occur in Itahari in mid-2019. There are additional cities with isolated members albeit there do not appear to be any official member groups. Government restrictions on religious freedom and the consistent emigration of active returned missionaries are the greatest barriers for growth. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article.

As local members share their faith with family and friends and missionaries return home and stay in Nepal, greater growth will occur. A second branch in Kathmandu may be organized to reduce travel time for members or from a lack of space in the current renovated meetinghouse. However, recent reports on the number of active members in Kathmandu suggest no imminent plans or prospects for more units to be created given leadership shortages. Additional groups or small branches may be organized in larger cities as returned missionaries move to these locations, share their beliefs with those around them, and have adequate leadership experience to operate congregations. Greater outreach with humanitarian missionaries will likely not occur until greater religious freedom is granted. Translations of additional Latter-day Saint scriptures into Nepali are needed, as well as Gospel study and scriptures translated into additional languages spoken by more than one million people. Literacy programs also present good opportunities for passive missionary service.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Timor-Leste (East Timor). Timor-Leste is a small island nation in Indonesia inhabited by 1.3 million people that has a homogeneously Christian population (98% Roman Catholic) with a Portuguese colonial history. This profile underwent a major overhaul due to several significant Church developments, such as the dedication of the country for missionary work by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and assignment of the first senior missionary couple to Dili in 2015, the completion of the first Church meetinghouse in 2017, and the first convert baptisms in 2019. A member group has operated in Dili for four years. See below for the Future Prospects section of this profile:

The Church has established a strong foundation among less than one dozen Timorese members in Dili – all of whom appeared active as of July 2019. Continued mentoring and fellowship of these members by one another and by senior missionaries will likely result in the development of local leadership that can one day sustain an official branch. The reason why the Church continues to lack official government recognition remains unclear as there do not appear to be any legal obstacles that prevent registration. It is unlikely that the Church will experience significant growth until such registration is obtained and young, full-time proselytizing missionaries are assigned. In the meantime, growth will most likely consist of high-quality converts who self-refer for information about the Church or who have personal connections with senior missionary couples or local members. Distance from mission headquarters in Jakarta, a comparatively tiny population, no translations of Church materials in Tetun, and an extremely small Church membership pose long-term challenges for future proselytism efforts through traditional means.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Africa Central Area Details

Details on the new Africa Central Area released, with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. https://www.mormonnewsroom.co.za/article/africa-central-area-office-to-be-in-nairobi--kenya

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Stakes Created in Colombia, Ghana, Mexico, and Peru

Colombia
The Church created a new stake in Colombia on August 4th. The Ibague Colombia Stake was organized from the Ibague Colombia District (originally created in 1978). The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Campiña, Chicoral, Girardot, Montealegre, and Piedra Pintada Wards, and the Melgar Branch. Several branches in the former district were closed in 2012 when the Girardot Colombia District (organized in 1993) was consolidated with the Ibague Colombia District (click here for more information). However, the area appears to have finally met the minimal qualifications to become a stake, albeit this required two districts to be merged seven years ago.

There are now 30 stakes and 10 districts in Colombia.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on August 11th. The Winneba Ghana Stake was reinstated from the Winneba Ghana District. Additionally, part of the Accra Ghana Kasoa Stake was included in the new stake. The Winneba Ghana District was originally organized in 1989 and became a stake in 2014. However, the stake was discontinued when the stake was divided to organize the new stake in Swedru in 2018. The reinstated Winneba Ghana Stake includes the following five wards and three branches: the Ansaful, Buduburam 1st, Buduburam 2nd, Kojo Bedu, and Winneba 2nd Wards, and the Apam, Awutu Breku, and Winneba 1st Branches.

There are now 25 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

Mexico
The Church created a new stake in Veracruz, Mexico on August 4th. The Veracruz Mexico Puerto Stake was organized from a division of the Veracruz Mexico Villa Rica Stake and the Veracruz Mexico Reforma Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Altamirano, Buenavista, Constituyentes, Libertad, Reserva, and Tecnológico Wards. The new stake is the Church's fifth stake in Veracruz. Prior to the creation of the new stake this month, the most recently organized stake in Veracruz was created in 1995.

There are now 222 stakes and 47 districts in Mexico.

Peru
The Church organized another new stake in Lima, Peru - the fifth new stake to be created in Lima thus far in 2019. The Lima Peru Santa Clara Stake was created on August 11th from a division of the Lima Peru Campoy Stake, Lima Peru Vitarte Stake, and the Lima Peru Chaclacayo Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and two branches: the Cajamarquilla, Jicamarca, Santa Clara, and Praderas Wards, and the Carapongo and Nicolas de Pierola Branches. Following the pattern of other recently organized stakes in Lima, the Church has created new stakes from two or more stakes, and has often created additional wards or branches following the creation of new stakes. It is likely that the two branches in the new stake have become wards or will soon become wards. The Church in Lima has not created stakes with fewer numbers of wards than historical averages. Furthermore, the number of active members per ward or branch in Lima has significantly increased within the past decade to generally 100-200 active members (compared to 50-150 active members per unit previously).

There are now 49 stakes in the Lima metropolitan area - more than any other metropolitan area outside of the United States. There are only five metropolitan areas within the United States that have more stakes than Lima, including the greater Salt Lake City, Utah metropolitan area (approximately 180 stakes within Salt Lake County); the greater Orem, Utah metropolitan area (approximately 165 stakes within Utah County); the greater Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area (approximately 80 stakes); the greater Ogden/Roy/Layton/Farmington metropolitan area in Utah (approximately 80 stakes); and the greater Los Angeles, California metropolitan area (approximately 65 stakes).

There are now 110 stakes and 18 districts in Peru.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

First Young, Proselytizing Missionaries Assigned to Mali

Local members report that young, proselytizing missionaries were assigned to Mali for the first time in Church history. Two young Black African missionary companionships from the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission were assigned to the Bamako Branch and will begin teaching dozens of prospective members in multiple locations within the Bamako area. There are also additional villages near Frako (Mountougoula) that have as many as 1-2 dozen interested individuals. The Church currently has approximately 80 people who attend church meetings spread across one branch and one member group (Frako). Essentially all members on church records are active.

There have been small numbers of Malians who have joined the Church over the past several decades, but there were no overt efforts by the Africa West Area Presidency to establish an official Church presence until the past few years. Elder David A. Bednar visited Mali in May 2017. The Church organized its first branch in Mali, the Bamako Branch, in July 2017. The Bamako area was assigned to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission around this time. The first convert baptisms occurred in February 2018. There were 42 members in Mali in April 2018, and likely as many as 70 members in Mali by year-end 2018. The Church obtained official recognition from the government in January 2019. Other proselytism-focused Christians have maintained a presence in Mali for decades. However, these groups report few members and slow growth rates. Religious freedom is supported by the government in government-controlled areas of the country.

Prospects appear highly favorable for rapid initial growth with the introduction of full-time missionaries given sustained interest in many who wish to join the Church. However, language barriers and illiteracy pose challenges for growth. Leadership development also appears a challenge. Most individuals interested in joining the Church speak Bambara and demonstrate little fluency in French. Only two Church materials are translated into Bambara, and no Latter-day Saint scriptures. Local members fluent in French, English, and Bambara have been instrumental in the establishment of the Church in Mali. Only Black African missionaries appear likely to be assigned to Mali within the foreseeable future due to safety concerns with terrorism as non-Africans are often more susceptible to these attacks.

Mali is the second West African country to have had full-time missionaries assigned for the first time in the past 18 months. Senegal is the other country where full-time missionaries were first assigned in 2018. Both Mali and Senegal have homogeneously Muslim populations. However, converts have come from a mix of religious backgrounds.

Monday, August 12, 2019

July 2019 Newsletter

I know this is almost two weeks late, but please click here to access our July 2019 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com. I wanted to wait until the site was back up to post the newsletter so the links for the updated country profiles would work. I will include profiles updated in July in the August monthly newsletter since the links will not work at present, and I have not been able to post the updated Timor-Leste profile (where the Church has had some significant recent developments with convert baptisms). We are getting closer to fixing the issue with the site, and hopefully it will be back up in the next few days.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cumorah Website Down

I have received many inquiries into www.cumorah.com as the site is currently down. We had a hosting problem and hope that the site will be back up soon. I will publish the July newsletter once the site is restored so that way the links are active for the country profiles updated during the month, which include Bangladesh, Brunei, and Timor-Leste (East Timor).

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Rapid Church Growth in Mozambique

A recent Church Newsroom article noted that there has been significant progress with church growth in Mozambique. Some highlights from the article include:
  • Increasing numbers of convert baptisms in Beira after Cyclone Idai destroyed 90% of the buildings in the city four months ago
  • Thirteen convert baptisms in the Luaha Group in northern Mozambique (Luaha operated as a branch until a couple years ago)
  • Average attendance in sacrament meeting nationwide is nearly 70%
  • Three new stakes anticipated to be organized within the next year if current growth rates are sustained
  • Eleven of the thirteen branch presidents for branches outside of stakes have received temple ordinances since early 2018. Some areas where members live in the country require 100 hours of travel to reach the nearest temple.
  • Hope from members that a temple will one day be constructed in Mozambique
The two facts reported in the article that were most surprising to me were the high percentage of members who attend church services and plans to organize three new stakes within the next year. Even countries in Africa with moderate or high member activity rates generally report church attendance that constitutes only 50% of membership on church records. Although these percentages may be artificially higher due to large numbers of nonmembers in attendance, this nonetheless indicates significant progress with strengthening Church membership and activity. Also, the Church in Mozambique has historically struggled with inactivity and leadership development, particularly prior to the establishment of stakes in the country for the first time.

The Church created its first two stakes in Mozambique in 2015 (Maputo and Beira) followed by a third stake in 2017 (Beira Manga). Currently, only the Maputo Mozambique Stake has enough congregations to divide to create a new stake (10 wards, 2 branches), whereas the other two stakes do not have enough congregations to divide to organize new stakes (the Beira Mozambique Stake has seven wards, whereas the Beira Mozambique Manga Stake has five wards and two branches). The only district in the country, Nampula, has six branches although three of these branches were organized earlier this year. Thus, Nampula appears unlikely to become a stake given the recent establishment of most of the branches in the city (five of the six branches have been organized since October 2017). Therefore, many new wards appear likely to be organized soon if there are any realistic prospects for more stakes to be created. The Church reported 12,274 members, 22 wards, and 12 branches at year-end 2018. If 70% of Church membership attends sacrament meeting, then the average ward or branch may have as many as 250 people in attendance. Membership growth rates have accelerated in recent years from annual membership growth rates of 4-7% a year in the early 2010s to 13-15% for most years in the mid and late 2010s. In 2018, church membership increased by 13.3%. The Church was first established in Mozambique in the late 1990s. There were 200 members and one branch in 1997.

Click here for more statistical data on the Church in Mozambique.

Updated Country Profile - Bangladesh

Click here to access the updated country profile for Bangladesh, the world's eighth most populous nation inhabited by approximately 160 million people. No other sovereign nation in the world has as large of a population and only one Latter-day Saint congregation. Only one other country in the world has a larger population and no mission (Pakistan). The Church in Bangladesh has experienced essentially stagnant growth since the early 1990s when the first and only branch was organized in Dhaka. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The lack of local leadership among the handful of Bangladeshi members in Dhaka continues to delay greater progress with the establishment of the Church. Additionally, no full-time missionaries have been assigned to the country, which appears out of concern of the Church’s legal status in the country and the influence of Islam on local culture. Given security and cultural concerns, only South Asian members appear likely to serve proselytizing missions in Bangladesh. Moreover, missionary activity would likely rely on member referral rather than traditional missionary finding tactics if full-time missionaries are assigned one day. The Church’s growth and progress in nearby Pakistan suggests similar results may be achieved in Bangladesh if the proper vision and consistent outreach is maintained that specifically focuses on the development of local leadership and helping greater numbers of young single adults serve full-time missions so one day there can be a native full-time missionary force capable of meeting local proselytism needs. Bangladeshi members who join the Church in other nations may return to their homeland and help build up the Church. A senior missionary couple from the India New Delhi Mission assisting with leadership development and humanitarian appears likely in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Brunei

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Brunei. With a small population of less than half a million, Brunei has a predominantly Malay population and some of the most significant religious freedom restrictions in Southeast Asia. The Church had two member groups in Brunei approximately 10 years ago, although it is unclear whether these groups both continue to operate. The Church's district based in Miri, East Malaysia administers to Church members in Brunei. See below for the Future Prospects section of this updated article:

With a small population and heavy government restrictions on non-Muslim faiths, Brunei is unlikely to experience significant church growth in the medium-term future. No other Muslim nation in Southeast Asia is as intolerant towards Christians. Government restrictions and Malay cultural customs limit missionary efforts among religious minorities to personal contacts of Church members in Brunei. Prospects exist for groups to mature into independent branches under the Miri East Malaysia District if foreign members with leadership experience remain active and stay in the country for extended periods of time. Greater progress will not occur until local members join the Church in greater numbers. Additional foreign members who relocate to Brunei may help strengthen congregations if they are able to locate them. Information on meetinghouse locations accessible upon request to Church Headquarters or mission headquarters may have a tremendous impact on better organization and accounting of members in the country, and help establish a more permanent Church presence in the long term.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June 2019 Newsletter

Click here to access the June 2019 newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

New Stakes Created in the Philippines (2), Dominican Republic, Florida, Nigeria, and Peru

Dominican Republic
The Church organized a new stake in Santo Domingo on June 9th. The Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Duarte Stake was created from a division of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic San Geronimo Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Las Esperanza, La Yuca, Los Angeles, Los Girasoles, Pantoja 1st, and Pantoja 2nd Wards. The new stake is the Church's 14th stake in the greater Santo Domingo metropolitan area.

There are now 21 stakes and nine districts in the Dominican Republic.

Florida
The Church organized a new stake in central Florida on June 30th. The Ocala Florida Stake was organized from a division of the Gainesville Florida Stake and the Lessburg Florida Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Belleview, Lecanto, Ocala 1st, Ocala 2nd, and Williston Wards, and the Cross City and Ocala 3rd (Spanish) Branches.

There are now 33 stakes in Florida.

Nigeria
The Church organized a new stake in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) on June 23rd. The Abuja Nigeria Wuse Stake was organized from a division of the Abuja Nigeria South Stake (renamed Abuja Nigeria Lugbe Stake). The new stake includes the following seven wards and three branches: the Asokoro, Jikwoyi, Karu, Masaka, Mpape, Nyanya, and Wuse Wards, and the GRA, New Nyanya, and Orozo Branches. Additionally, the Abuja Nigeria North Stake was realigned with the Abuja Nigeria Lugbe Stake and renamed the Abuja Nigeria Kubwa Stake. The Church has achieved rapid growth in Abuja during the past decade. The original Abuja Nigeria Stake was created in 2012 followed by a second stake in 2016. Stakes in Abuja and the Jos Nigeria District, along with most of northern Nigeria, were recently reassigned from the Nigeria Enugu Mission to the Nigeria Lagos Mission.

There are now 58 stakes and 18 districts in Nigeria.

Perú
The Church organized a new stake in Lima, Perú on June 30th. The Lima Perú Naranjal Stake was organized from a division of the Lima Perú Los Olivos Stake and Lima Perú El Olivar Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Canta Callao, Huandoy, Los Próceres, Márquez, Naranjal, and Oquendo Wards. The Church has organized several new wards in this area of the Lima metropolitan area within the past 1-2 years. The new stake is also nearby the site for the new Lima Perú Los Olivos Temple. There are now 48 stakes in the Lima metropolitan area.

There are now 109 stakes and 18 districts in Peru.

Philippines
The Church organized at least three new stakes in the Philippines.

The Orion Philippines Stake was organized on June 23rd from the Orion Philippines District (organized in 1988). All five branches in the former district were advanced into wards, including the Cabcaben, Limay, Mariveles Bataan, Orion, and Pilar Branches. Local members report that the district worked for at least two years updating membership records and as a result of removing deceased members or the records for members who had moved away, the district has recently qualified to become a stake. More specifically, there must be certain ratios of active, full-tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders to total membership in each unit (one per less than 25 members). Additionally, two additional congregations will likely be organized soon as a result of recent increases in church attendance and leadership maturation.

The Iriga Philippines Stake was organized on June 23rd from the Iriga Philippines District (organized in 1992). The new stake includes the following five wards, two branches, and two member groups: the Bato, Buhi, Iriga 1st, Iriga 2nd, and Iriga 3rd Wards, the Baao and Cotnogan Branches, and the Ibayugan and Nabua Groups. Also, member reports indicate one additional stake was organized in the Philippines in June albeit it is unclear where this new stake was organized.

With the Orion Philippines Stake and Iriga Philippines Stake, there are now 113 stakes and 64 districts in the Philippines

Friday, June 28, 2019

Creation of the Africa Central Area Announced

Today the Church announced the creation of the Africa Central Area, effective August 2020. The new area will be organized from a division of the Africa Southeast Area, which includes countries from Sudan in the north to South Africa in the south, and countries from Mauritius in the east to Cameroon and the Central African Republic to the west. Information on what countries will be assigned to the new area has yet to be released, albeit it appears most likely that the area will include countries from Sudan in the north to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Tanzania in the south, to Somalia in the east and Cameroon to the west. Kinshasa, DR Congo appears the logical headquarters for the Africa Central Area as it is the city with the most stakes (11) in Central Africa and East Africa where the only operating temple is located in these region (one temple is also announced for Nairobi, Kenya). The DR Congo is also the country in the region with the largest population with 85 million people, suggesting that placement of area headquarters in this nation would provide for more resources allocated to this area where rapid Church growth has consistently occurred since the Church's initial establishment in the mid-1980s. The establishment of the new area will provide for significant increases in resources to this region of Africa in regards to manpower, financial resources, and attention by international Church leaders regarding missionary work and outreach expansion.

The Africa Central Area will be the Church's third Africa-based area of the Church. The Church organized the Africa Area in 1990 (later renamed Africa Southeast) followed by the Africa West Area in 1998. North Africa was assigned to the Middle East/Africa North Area upon its creation in 2008. Additionally, it appears highly likely that the Church will organize a Nigeria Area in the foreseeable. The Church has reported its most rapid growth in Africa in West Africa during the past decade. Currently, the Church in Nigeria is approaching 200,000 members, 700 congregations (wards and branches), 58 stakes, 18 districts, seven missions, and two temples (one announced, one in operation).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

New Stakes Created in Peru (2), Liberia, and Brazil; New Districts Created in Canada, Kiribati, Nigeria, and Uganda; Stake Discontinued in California; District Discontinued in Uruguay

Peru
Two new stakes were organized in Peru.

The Tarapoto Peru Stake was organized from the Tarapoto Peru District on June 16th. All five branches in the former district appear to have become wards in the new stake. These branches include the Aeropuerto, Partido Alto, Shilcayo, Tarapoto, and Yurimaguas Branches. The original Tarapoto Peru District was organized in 1990. The new stake is the Church's first stake in San Martín Region which is inhabited by over 800,000 people.

The Lima Peru Miramar Stake was organized from the Lima Peru Puente Piedra Stake and the Ventanilla Peru Stake on June 16th. Information on which congregations assigned to the new stake remains unavailable. There are now 47 stakes in the Lima metropolitan area.

There are now 108 stakes and 18 districts in Peru.

Liberia
The Church organized a new stake in Monrovia, Liberia on June 16th. The Gardnesville Liberia Stake was organized from a division of the Caldwell Liberia Stake and the Monrovia Liberia Stake. Information on which wards pertain to the new stake remains unavailable. There are now five stakes in Liberia - all of which are located in Monrovia. The Monrovia Liberia Bushrod Island Stake currently has 11 wards and one branch and appears likely to divide in the near future. The Church has experienced unprecedented growth in Liberia during the past five years as the Church has grown from three districts to five stakes and one district, the number of congregations has increased from 24 to 52, and the number of members has increased from 8,929 to more than 13,275 at present.

Brazil
The Church organized a new stake in western São Paulo Brazil. The Ribeirão Preto Brazil South Stake was organized on June 9th. The new stake was organized from a division of the Ribeirão Preto Brazil West Stake, which had 11 wards prior to the creation of the new stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Bebedouro, Jaboticabal, Jardim Iraga, Parque Ribeirão Preto, and Vila Virginia Wards. There are now three stakes in Ribeirão Preto. The Church used to operate four stakes in the city between 1993 and 2001. There has been good progress in the past five years with the creation of new wards and steady increases in the number of active members in the city to the point that a third stake was able to be organized. Unlike the 19990s, wards in the city appear to have an average number of active members for Brazil (i.e. 50-150 per ward), whereas wards in the city appeared to have few active members during the 1990s (likely between 25 and 75).

There are now 274 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil.

Canada
he Church reinstated a district for Newfoundland and Labrador. The Newfoundland and Labrador District was created from three mission branches in the Canada Halifax Mission: the Bay Roberts, Corner Brook, and St. John's Branches. A member group also appears to operate in Gander. The district operated many years ago and appeared to be discontinued in the early 2000s.
There are now 51 stakes and four districts in Canada.

Kenya
The Church organized a new district in western Kenya. The Kisumu Kenya District was created from the Kisumu Branch. Three new branches were also organized the same day that the district was created, including the Kisumu 2nd, Luanda, and Nyabondo Branches. Member groups appeared to operate in Luanda and Nyabondo prior to the creation of these branches. In fact, the member group operated in Nyabondo for perhaps as long as eight or nine years before it became a branch. A member group may also continue to operate in Sondu. This is the second district organized in Kenya in 2019, with the first district created this year being the Kitale Kenya District.

There are now two stakes and six districts in Kenya.

Kiribati
The Church organized a new district in Kiribati on June 11th. The Southern Kiribati District was organized from eight mission branches in the southern islands of Kiribati. These branches include the Buariki, Buraitan, Kabuna, Matang, Muribenua, Nuka, Tekaman, and Utiora Branches. Of these eight branches, five have been organized since the beginning of 2019. The islands of Tabiteuea, Beru, Nikunau, Nonouti and Onotoa are included in the new district. The Church once used to operate a district for outer islands in Kiribati outside of Tarawa Atoll that was organized in the mid-1990s and included islands north of Tarawa, but the Church closed the district in 2006. The Church has reported rapid growth in these southern outer islands as indicated by Church-reported statistics and government census records from the most recent census in 2015. Some islands in this region of Kiribati have had the number of census-reported members increase from less than five to as many as 40-50 within a five-year time period. Also, most recent figures reported in Church Newsroom articles indicate that membership in Kiribati has surpassed 22,000. If this is accurate, membership has increased by approximately 10% within the first six months of 2019. The recent success of the Church in Kiribati points to the importance of consistently expanding missionary outreach into previously unreached areas to achieve greater growth.

There are now two stakes and three districts in Kiribati.


Nigeria
A new district was organized in Delta State on June 16th. The Sapele Nigeria District was organized from three mission branches within the Sapele metropolitan area. A fourth branch was also organized the same day the district was organized. The first branch in Sapele was organized in 2014 followed by additional branches created in 2015 and 2018. The new district includes the following four branches: the Jesse, Oghara 1st, Oghara 2nd, and the Sapele Branches.

There are now 57 stakes and 18 districts in Nigeria.

Uganda
The Church organized a new district in Uganda on June 16th. The Gulu Uganda District is the Church's first district to ever operate in northern Uganda. The new district is within the homeland of the Acholi people. The new district was created from two missions branches and a third branch organized on the same day as the new district. The new district includes the following three branches: the Bardege, Gulu, and Pece Branches. Significant progress has occurred in the past three years with increases in active membership and strengthening local leadership that has permitted the organization of a third branch and a district in Gulu.

There are now three stakes and three districts in Uganda. All three districts in Uganda have been organized since the beginning of 2019.

California
The Church discontinued a stake in southern California. The Torrance California Stake was discontinued and two of the six wards assigned to the former stake were closed. Retained wards were reassigned to the Palos Verdes California Stake. Active membership has steadily moved away for this area of California over the past two decades, necessitating the closure of the stake and multiple congregations.

There are now 153 stakes in California

Uruguay
The Church discontinued a district in southeastern Uruguay. The Rocha Uruguay District was discontinued and two of the three branches in the former district were closed (Castillos and La Paloma). The Church has reported essentially stagnant growth in this area of Uruguay for many years. The decision to discontinue the district and close these branches appears due to few active members in the district and plans to have the sole remaining branch, the Rocha Branch, become a ward as the congregation was reassigned to the nearby Maldonado Uruguay Stake. At most recent report, the Rocha Branch had approximately 100 active members.

There are now 18 stakes and two districts in Uruguay.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Federated States of Micronesia

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for the Federated States of Micronesia. The Church has reported moderate growth in the country since its initial establishment in the mid-1970s. Today, Church-reported membership constitutes six percent of the national population. Since 2000, the greatest growth and progress has occurred in Pohnpei where the first stake in the country was organized in 2014 despite only four branches on the island in 2000 (today there are five wards and four branches). The Church in Chuuk has reported inconsistent progress and no new branches organized since the mid-1990s. However, the Church has tried for many years to strengthen the Church in Chuuk to organize a stake in the foreseeable future. See below for the future prospects section of the article:

The Church has achieved moderate growth in the Federal States of Micronesia despite high church activity and discipleship in other Christian denominations. Much of this growth has come with the Church concentrating large amounts of missionary resources on a nation with a small population that has been historically receptive to Christianity, and the greatest recent successes have been overwhelmingly concentrated on Pohnpei. Receptivity of the Church has varied by island group in recent years, with Pohnpei exhibiting the strongest receptivity and church growth as evidenced by the number of congregations increasing from four to nine since 2000, and other island groups showing little or no growth. Self-sustaining church growth in the coming decades will require less reliance on foreign full-time missionaries in an era of limited missionary manpower to staff island nations of just a hundred thousand like Micronesia. Consistent increase in the number of priesthood holders and the development of fully functioning branches entirely staffed by local members will be required for the district in Chuuk to become a stake over the medium term. Congregation planting approaches in Chuuk and on Pohnpei may lead to greater increases in active membership and national outreach. The few congregations on Yap and Kosrae make branches vulnerable to dissolution unless active members do not emigrate and active membership remains stable or increases. Outreach in the outer islands such as Mortlock Islands, Namonuito Atoll, Nomwin Atoll, Pulusuk, Ulithi Atoll, and Woleai Atoll may occur in the foreseeable future if primarily headed by local church leaders and mission leadership. However, many of these remote, sparsely populated islands will likely remain unreached for years or decades to come if any Church presence is established at all one day.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

New Stakes Created in the Philippines (2), Utah (2), Argentina, and Mexico; Stakes Discontinued in Chile (3) and Taiwan

Philippines
The Church has organized two new stakes in the Philippines.

The Baliwag Philippines Stake was organized from the Baliwag Philippines District. Organized in 2004, the former district had five branches at the time it became a stake on May 26th. All five branches appear to have become wards in the new stake.

Today (June 9th), the Church organized a new stake from a division of the Lipa Philippines Stake (organized in 2001). The Batangas Philippines Stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Batangas 1st, Batangas 2nd, Bauan, Rosario, and San Jose Batangas Wards, and the Ibaan Branch.

Additionally, the Church is scheduled to organize at least three more new stakes in the Philippines before the end of the month. Two of these stakes will be located in Iriga and Orion. I have not yet been able to confirm the location of the other new stake to be organized.

Currently, there are 111 stakes and 66 districts in the Philippines.

Utah
The Church organized its fifth Tongan-speaking stake in Utah on May 19th. The Orem Utah 2nd (Tongan) Stake was organized from a division of the Provo Utah Wasatch (Tongan) Stake (renamed Provo Utah 1st (Tongan) Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards and one branch: the American Fork 2nd Ward (Tongan), Eagle Mountain 13th Ward (Tongan), Eagle Mountain 14th Ward (Samoan), Lehi 41st Ward (Tongan), Lehi 42nd Wad (Samoan), Orem 8th Ward (Tongan), Orem 13th Ward (Samoan), and Pleasant Grove 10th Ward (Samoan), and the Saratoga Springs 12th Branch (Tongan). It is unclear why the Church did not organize a Samoan-speaking stake instead of a second Tongan-speaking stake, albeit Tongan and Samoan-speaking units are often included in the same stakes in the United States.

The Nibley Utah West Stake was organized from a division of the Nibley Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Nibley 6th, Nibley 7th, Nibley 8th, Nibley 9th, Nibley 10th, and Nibley 12th Wards.

There are now 602 stakes and one district in Utah.

Argentina
The Church organized a new stake in southern Argentina on June 2nd. The Tierra del Fuego Argentina Stake was organized from the Tierra del Fuego Argentina District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Andino, Austral, Chacra, Monte Olivia, and Ushuaia Wards, and the Puerto Williams and Rio Grande Branches. Church leaders have prepared the district for many years to become a stake. For example, in 2014 the Church discontinued the Ushuaia Argentina District and combined it with the Rio Grande Argentina District to prepare the southernmost region of Argentina for a stake. With two stakes in the Tierra del Fuego region of South America (the other located in Punta Arenas, Chile), prospects appear favorable for a small temple in this isolated region of the world.

There are now 78 stakes and 28 districts in Argentina.

Mexico
The Church organized a new stake in Puebla, Mexico on June 2nd. The Puebla México Ometoxtla Stake was organized from a division of the Puebla Mexico Cholula Stake and Tlaxcala Mexico Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Almecatla 1st, Almecatla 2nd, Coronango, La Joya, and Ometoxtla Wards, and the Xoxtla Branch. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in the greater Puebla city area during the past decade. Unlike other major cities in Mexico, the Church in Puebla has reported steady congregational growth and no discontinued stakes. The Church announced a temple for Puebla in 2018.

There are now 221 stakes and 47 districts in Mexico.

Chile
Local members in Santiago report that three stakes were discontinued on June 2nd. These stakes include the Santiago Chile Gran Avenida Stake (organized in 1993), Santiago Chile Las Araucarias Stake (organized in 1995), and Santiago Chile O'Higgins Stake (organized in 1992). Unlike other areas of Santiago, the Church in southern Santiago has struggled with very low member activity rates for many years without noticeable success with improving church attendance. It is unclear how many wards were discontinued as part of the changes, but perhaps as many as 10-20 wards were closed in the process of the stake consolidations. Other areas of Santiago reported average-sized church attendance for South America (generally 75-150 active members) with some improvements in increasing church attendance in recent years. The decision to close these three stakes in southern Santiago does not appear related to any recent church growth developments, but rather a long overdue administration change in an area where mission and stake efforts to revitalize missionary work have been unproductive. Additionally, local members noted concerns with socialization problems at church in some units affected by the changes due to few active members. Several church meetinghouses will be sold due to these changes. This marks the first time since 2005 that a stake has been discontinued in Chile.

There are now 74 stakes and 16 districts in Chile.

Taiwan
For the first time in Church history, the Church has discontinued a stake in Taiwan. The Pingtung Taiwan Stake, organized in 2010, was discontinued and retained units were combined with the two Kaohsiung stakes. Southernmost Taiwan has struggled for many years with lower activity rates and a greater lack of church growth compared to other cities in Taiwan. These changes appeared associated with a lack of growth since the Kaohsiung Taiwan North Stake was organized in 2015, and problems associated with stakes and wards running with fewer than the minimum number of active members needed to properly operate. The Asia Area appeared to make an emphasis about five years ago to organize wards with fewer active members, likely in an effort to reduce travel times and assist in reactivation efforts (such as in Hong Kong). Additional ward and stake consolidations may occur in other areas of Taiwan, albeit reports from return missionaries indicate wards with more active members and with better growth trends in other major cities such as Taichung and Taipei compared to Kaohsiung. Thus, it appears more likely that some additional ward consolidations may occur if the Asia Area is placing an emphasis on the establishment of wards with larger numbers of active members. However, the greatest impact on recent church growth trends in Taiwan is a significant reduction in membership growth rates during the past five years to only 1-2% a year versus 3-10% a year in the 2000s. The Church in Taiwan has also historically struggled with very low member activity rates, which delayed the establishment of stakes in several areas of the country.

There are now 16 stakes in Taiwan.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Updated Country Profile - American Samoa

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for American Samoa. Unlike other nontraditional Christian denominations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in American Samoa has achieved steady, significant growth in recent years. The Church reports more than 16,000 members, five stakes, 43 congregations, and one announced temple despite a tiny population of only 50,000. There are only sixteen villages where the Church does not operate a ward or branch specific for these villages. As much as 95% of the population appears reached by the Church.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

May 2019 Newsetter

Click here to access our May 2019 newsletter for www.cumorah.com detailing recent Church growth developments and updated resources on our website.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Percent Members by Country - 2018

Below is a list of all of the countries and dependencies/territories of the world with the percentage of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in each location as of 2018. Countries with an asterisk indicate that membership figures are estimated due to no official membership data released to the public. I have made these estimates on my own without unauthorized data. Previous data are available for 2008, 2016, and 2017. Population figures were obtained from the CIA World Factbook for all locations except of overseas departments of France. Population data for French overseas collectivities/departments was accessed via http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/OA or the most recent government source.

Please click on the table to be able to read the data. Unfortunately I have to upload these tables as pictures with blogger.

ASIA




CARIBBEAN/ATLANTIC ISLANDS

EUROPE




MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA


NORTH AMERICA





OCEANIA




SOUTH AMERICA




SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Tuvalu

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Tuvalu. With a mere 11,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu has had a Church presence since 1985 and is assigned to the Fiji Suva Mission. Moderate membership growth has occurred since the late 2000s as Church membership increased from 131 in 2008 to 268 in 2018. Also, there were eleven young adults who served full-time missions at the same time from the only branch in the country as of the mid-2010s. See below for the Future Prospects section of the article:

Moderate membership growth since the late 2000s and a significant increase in the number of young adults who serve full-time missions are positive developments that may indicate a breakthrough reaching the Tuvaluan population. Time will tell whether new converts and returned missionaries will remain active, increased membership growth will be sustained, and additional congregations will be organized as greater numbers of local priesthood leaders are trained. Restricting the number of full-time missionaries to a single companionship may be in the best interests of maintaining local member involvement in missionary work and leadership until additional congregations are organized.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New Stakes Created in Canada, Guatemala, Nigeria, and the Philippines; New District Created in Cote d'Ivoire

Canada
The Church organized its second YSA in Canada in Calgary, Alberta on May 5th. The Calgary Alberta YSA Stake was organized from stakes in the Calgary area and includes the following six wards: the Brentwood YSA, Carburn Park YSA, Edworthy Park YSA, Highland Park YSA, Pine Creek YSA, and Priddis Valley YSA Wards. The new stake is the Church's eighth stake in Calgary.

There are now 26 stakes in Alberta, and 51 stakes and 3 districts in Canada.

Guatemala
The Church organized its second Q'eqchi'-speaking stake in Guatemala on May 5th. The Chulac Guatemala Stake was organized from the Chulac Guatemala District (organized in 1992). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Buena Vista, Chulac, Corralpec, Sajonte, and Semuy Wards, and the Searanx and Sepamac Branches. The Church's first Q'eqchi'-speaking stake was organized in Senahu in 2017.

There are now 50 stakes and 13 districts in Guatemala.

Nigeria
The Church recently organized a new stake in Abia State. The Umuahia Nigeria South Stake was organized from a division of the Umuahia Nigeria Stake. Information on which wards and branches are assigned to the new stake is currently unavailable; however, the stake had seven wards and eight branches prior to division. Thus, it is likely several branches became wards or new wards were organized in order for the new stake creation to occur, or some units from the Okpuala Ngwa Nigeria Stake were included in the new stake. The Umuahia Nigeria Stake was originally organized in 1996, but the stake was discontinued and divided into two districts in 2005 (Umuahia and Okpuala Ngwa). The Umuahia Nigeria Stake was reinstated in 2014, whereas the Okpuala Ngwa Stake was organized in 2015. Significant congregational growth has occurred particularly in the Umuahia Nigeria Stake since its creation.

There are now 57 stakes and 17 districts in Nigeria.

Philippines
The Church organized a new stake in Nigeria on May 5th. The Camarin Philippines Stake was organized from a division of the Novaliches Philippines Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Bagong Silang 1st, Bagong Silang 2nd, Camarin 1st, Camarin 2nd, and the Sampaguita Wards. There are now 29 stakes in the Metro Manila area.

There are now 109 stakes and 67 districts in the Philippines

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new district on April 28th. The Danané Cote d'Ivoire District was created from missions branches in the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission. The new district includes the following three branches: the Danané 1st, Danané 2nd, and Mahapleu Branches. The new district is the Church's third new district organized in Cote d'Ivoire in 2019, and all three of these new districts are located in the Montagnes District, where the Church operated no districts before 2019. Missionaries report plans to organize additional branches and districts in the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission. Likely locations for future districts include Issia, Meagui, Saioua, Sinfra, and villages in rural communities nearby Daloa and Yamoussoukro. For example, there are currently plans to organize a second branch in Issia, and possibly a second branch in Saioua. A second branch was recently organized in Sinfra, and two new branches were recently organized in Meagui. Also, several new wards/branches appear likely to be organized in Daloa given recent reports from missionaries.

There are now 14 stakes and 15 districts in Cote d'Ivoire. In contrast, the Church in Cote d'Ivoire reported only three stakes and one district in 2009. Thus, the Church in Cote d'Ivoire has by far experienced the most rapid growth within the international Church during the past decade. Given recent growth trends, it appears likely that the Church may announce a second temple in Abidjan considering half of the Church's 12 stakes in the city are ready to divide, the relatively small size of the temple for the rapidly growth Church in the country, historically high levels of temple attendance, and distance from the temple site in Cocody to many of the members in Abidjan. This would be an extraordinary development if another temple were announced as the Church only recent started construction on the Church's first temple in the country, the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Temple. Yopougon appears the most likely candidate for Abidjan's second temple given this area of the city has five stakes and is on the west city of the metropolitan area, whereas Cocody is located on the east side of the metropolitan area.

Updated Country Profile - New Caledonia

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for New Caledonia. The Church has maintained an official presence in New Caledonia since 1961 yet reports fewer than 2,500 members and only one stake. New Caledonia has the fourth lowest percentage of Church members of any country or territory in the Pacific at 0.86%. Nevertheless, New Caledonian members are known for their faithfulness with regular temple attendance. The Church in New Caledonia has persistently experienced problems with its expansion outside of Nouméa primarily due to tribalism, leadership development problems, and small target populations. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Slow membership and congregational growth in New Caledonia since the 2000s and difficulties with sustainable expansion of the Church into additional areas generate a mediocre outlook for church growth in the coming years. Additional cities may have branches or wards organized, particularly in the Nouméa area where the Church is the strongest and where most New Caledonians reside. However, the outlook for expansion into other areas of the islands appears unfavorable given persistent struggles with leadership development and tribalism in rural communities. The opening of additional cities to proselytism through efforts initiated by stake leadership, greater numbers of local members serving full-time missions, and stronger member-missionary approaches are needed to reverse slow church growth trends.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 Monthly Newsletter - Cumorah.com

Click here to access the April 2019 monthly newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

UPDATED - Country-by-Country Membership Statistics Released for 2018

I previously posted on the countries with the highest membership growth rates during 2018. These data came from the Church's Newsroom site at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics. However, I have obtained additional year-end 2018 membership totals that I want to include in an updated post as there are eight additional nations that experienced an annual membership growth rate of 10% or higher during 2018.

Countries with the highest annual membership growth rates in 2018 (10% or greater) are listed below. Lists for nations with the most rapid membership growth rates are also available for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The percentage next to the country name is the annual growth rate percentage, which is followed by the country's membership at year-end 2018. Countries in bold experienced an annual membership increase greater than 200 during 2018. Countries in red are ones added to this list with additional official membership data I have recently obtained.

  1. Guinea - 103.3% - 61 
  2. Senegal - 63.6% - 108
  3. Cuba - 47.5% - 357
  4. Oman - 30.5% - 107
  5. Rwanda - 25.7% - 749
  6. Montenegro - 21.1% - 23 
  7. North Macedonia - 20.6% - 41
  8. Angola - 19.3% - 2,933
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina - 15.9% - 80
  10. Israel - 15.3% - 332
  11. Gabon* - 15.3% - 151
  12. Togo - 14.6% - 4,736
  13. Mozambique - 13.3% - 12,274
  14. Solomon Islands - 12.8% - 1,240
  15. Benin - 11.5% - 3,463
  16. Turks and Caicos Islands - 11.4% - 147
  17. Cote d'Ivoire - 11.1% - 48,776
  18. Morocco - 10.5% - 95
  19. Sint Maarten - 10.4% - 277
*Membership total only reflects one of the two branches as one of the Gabonese branches is incorrectly reported under the Republic of the Congo.

Also, see below for membership totals for additional countries not reported on the Church Newsroom site.
  • Bahrain - 223
  • Belarus - 511
  • Bermuda - 197
  • British Virgin Islands - 138
  • Mali* - 9
  • Qatar - 537
  • Vietnam - 2,466
*Membership appears to comprise those who live outside of the Bamako Branch under the Africa West Area Branch. The Bamako Branch is incorrectly reported under Cote d'Ivoire. However, membership in Mali appeared to increase by more than 100% during 2018. Local members report that membership nationwide appeared to be around 80-100 at year-end 2018. There were 42 members in Mali as of April 2018. 

New Districts Created in Ghana and Kenya

Ghana
The Church organized a new district in Ghana on April 28th.

The Axim Ghana District was organized from a division of the Tarkwa Ghana District (organized in 2016). The new district includes the following three branches: Axim, Esiama, and Nkroful. The Tarkwa Ghana District now has only two branches (Brenu-Akyirim and Tarkwa) and one member group (Bogoso) although the member group appears to have become a branch or may become a branch in the near future.

There are now 24 stakes and 12 districts in Ghana.

Kenya
The Church organized a new district in western Kenya.

The Kitale Kenya District was organized from a division of the Eldoret Kenya District (organized in 2011). The new district includes the following five branches: Kitale, Mautuma, Misikhu, Naitiri, and Sikhendu. The realigned Eldoret Kenya district now has four branches (all located in the city of Eldoret): Eldoret, Huruma, Langas, and Sosiani.

There are now two stakes and five districts in Kenya.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Significant Realignment of Missions in Nigeria Announced

On April 23rd, the Africa West Area Presidency announced a significant realignment of the seven missions in Nigeria. No missions will be closed or opened as part of the changes. However, the Nigeria Calabar Mission will be renamed the Nigeria Uyo Mission, which was the original name of the mission from 2002-2008, and mission headquarters will be relocated to Uyo. Here are additional changes that have been announced:
  • Reassignment of four mission branches from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Enugu Mission (Ikom, Ogoja, Ugep 1st, and Ugep 2nd Branches)
  • Transfer of two stakes from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Owerri Mission (Abak Nigeria Stake and Ikot Ekpene Nigeria Stake)
  • Transfer of two stakes from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission (Ikot Akpaden Nigeria Stake and Ikot Akpatek Nigeria Stake)
  • Transfer of two stakes and one district from the Nigeria Enugu Mission to the Nigeria Lagos Mission (Abuja Nigeria North Stake, Abuja Nigeria South Stake, and Jos Nigeria District)
  • Transfer of one stake and one district from the Nigeria Owerri Mission to the Nigeria Enugu Mission (Umuahia Nigeria Stake and Asaga Ohafia Nigeria District)
The area presidency announced that these changes "are being made to better position the missions in Nigeria for the future growth and establishment of the Church," and added, "We anticipate significant future growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nigeria and recognize the Lord’s hand in bringing this about."

The Church in Nigeria has indeed experienced some of the most impressive worldwide growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in recent decades. Church membership increased from 12,000 in 1989 to 42,746 in 1999, 88,374 in 2008, and 177,280 in 2018. Annual membership growth rates have exceeded 7% since 2013. The number of congregations (i.e. wards and branches) has grown from 72 in 1989 to 185 in 1999, 260 in 2008, and 649 in 2018. There has been a net increase of approximately 30 wards and branches in 2019 thus far. Stake growth in the past decade has been particularly significant with the number of stakes increasing from 16 to 56.

Despite recent progress, the Church in Nigeria remains comparatively small. Church membership accounts for only 0.087% of the population, or one Latter-day Saint per 1,148. There remain 12 states in Nigeria without a single ward or branch although most are in the predominantly Muslim north. Several cities with more than 500,000 people have no Church presence. Nigeria will also soon surpass Pakistan and Brazil in population as the world's fifth most populous country as there are now more than 200 million people. If the Church in Nigeria were to maintain the same ratio of population to missions (one mission per seven million people), there would need to be 29 missions in Nigeria.

The mission realignments announced by the area presidency have good potential to better distribute mission resources and Church units across the seven missions. Many of the changes have good potential to help the Church expand into previously unreached areas, particularly those with high population densities nearby cities with a well-established Church presence such as between Port Harcourt and Efik, and between Enugu and Umuahia. Greater expansion in Central and Northern Nigeria may occur. The Nigeria Calabar Mission previously had 14 stakes and two districts - the largest number of stakes assigned to a single mission in all of Africa. Now, the realigned Nigeria Uyo Mission will have a more manageable number of stakes with 10 stakes and two districts.

The changes also appear inspired with long-term plans to organize additional missions. For example, the Nigeria Lagos Mission will now have two separate geographical areas, one in the Lagos metropolitan area and the other including most of central and northern Nigeria. It appears that the Church may organize a mission headquartered in Abuja in the foreseeable future given this change. Also, the Church may organize a mission headquartered in Delta State to service the rapidly growing Nigeria Benin City Mission which now has 11 stakes and three districts within its boundaries.

Many new stakes will likely be organized in the near future due to steady growth in active membership and the organization of new wards and branches. See below for a list of stakes likely to divide in the near future to create additional stakes:
  • Aba Nigeria North (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Abak Nigeria (9 wards, 1 branch) 
  • Abuja Nigeria North (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Abuja Nigeria South (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Benin City Nigeria Oregbeni  (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Benin City Nigeria Ugbowo (10 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Ikot Ekpene Nigeria (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lagos Nigeria Ojodu (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lagos Nigeria Yaba (9 wards)
  • Onitsha Nigeria (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Ukat Aran Nigeria  (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Warri Nigeria (14 wards, 2 branches)
Many districts also appear close to becoming stakes. There are currently a total of 17 districts. See below for a list of stakes likely to be created from districts in the near future.
  • Akamkpa Nigeria (9 branches)
  • Asaga Ohafia Nigeria (7 branches)
  • Ijebu-Ode Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Jos Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Mbaise Nigeria (12 branches)
  • Ogwashi Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Okrika Nigeria (10 branches) - or division into several districts
  • Ondo Nigeria (6 branches)
  • Oron Nigeria (7 branches)
Altogether, the Church in Nigeria may add as many as 21 new stakes in the next two years.

Additionally, a couple new districts appear likely to be organized from mission branches in the near future. Probable locations with the likely number of branches include:
  • Sapele (3 branches)
  • Ugep (4 branches)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Membership by US State in 2018, Percent Membership Growth by US State in 2018

See below for a list of states in the United States ranked in order by the most members as of year-end 2018. Locations in bold do not have a temple dedicated or announced.
  1. Utah - 2,109,578
  2. California - 761,054
  3. Idaho - 456,496
  4. Arizona - 432,161
  5. Texas - 357,625
  6. Washington - 289,068
  7. Nevada - 184,565
  8. Florida - 158,617
  9. Oregon - 153,338
  10. Colorado - 150,958
  11. Virginia - 95,873
  12. North Carolina - 87,768
  13. Georgia - 85,927
  14. New York - 82,732
  15. Hawaii - 74,699
  16. Missouri - 71,774
  17. New Mexico - 69,333
  18. Wyoming - 67,421
  19. Ohio - 62,326
  20. Illinois - 57,001
  21. Pennsylvania - 51,954
  22. Tennessee - 51,863
  23. Montana - 50,333
  24. Oklahoma - 48,268
  25. Indiana - 45,395
  26. Michigan - 45,039
  27. Maryland - 44,094
  28. South Carolina - 40,887
  29. Kansas - 38,077
  30. Alabama - 37,913
  31. Kentucky - 35,779
  32. New Jersey - 33,926
  33. Minnesota - 33,331
  34. Alaska - 32,298
  35. Arkansas - 31,765
  36. Louisiana - 29,750
  37. Iowa - 28,408
  38. Massachusetts - 27,805
  39. Wisconsin - 27,003
  40. Nebraska - 25,046
  41. Mississippi - 21,561
  42. West Virginia - 17,045
  43. Connecticut - 15,834
  44. North Dakota - 11,406
  45. Maine - 10,994
  46. South Dakota - 10,654
  47. New Hampshire - 8,875
  48. Delaware - 5,620
  49. Vermont - 4,622
  50. Rhode Island - 4,165
  51. District of Columbia - 2,805
See below for a list of states and the District of Columbia ranked in order by membership growth rate for the year 2017. The 10 states with the most members in this list are indicated in italics:
  1. North Carolina +1.90%
  2. Kentucky +1.86%
  3. Delaware +1.68%
  4. Arkansas +1.63%
  5. Tennessee +1.59%
  6. North Dakota +1.44%
  7. Idaho +1.37%
  8. Texas +1.22%
  9. Florida +1.21%
  10. New Hampshire +1.19% 
  11. Indiana +1.16%
  12. Alabama +1.14%
  13. Minnesota +0.97%
  14. Arizona +0.96%
  15. Wisconsin +0.93%
  16. Utah +0.92%
  17. Iowa +0.88%
  18. Oklahoma +0.87%
  19. Maryland +0.85%
  20. Massachusetts +0.83%
  21. Missouri +0.79%
  22. Kansas +0.79%
  23. South Carolina +0.69%
  24. West Virginia +0.66%
  25. Georgia +0.66%
  26. New Jersey +0.59%
  27. Ohio +0.58%
  28. Hawaii +0.57%
  29. Virginia +0.52%
  30. Nevada +0.50%
  31. New York +0.45%
  32. Maine +0.43%
  33. Michigan +0.42%
  34. Nebraska +0.40%
  35. Pennsylvania +0.37%
  36. South Dakota +0.26%
  37. Wyoming +0.22%
  38. Washington +0.19%
  39. Vermont -0.06%
  40. Louisiana -0.12% 
  41. Montana -0.17%
  42. Illinois -0.19%
  43. Connecticut -0.23%
  44. Rhode Island -0.29%
  45. Colorado -0.31%
  46. Oregon -0.40%
  47. New Mexico -0.42%
  48. Alaska -0.58%
  49. Mississippi -0.75%
  50. California -0.81%
  51. District of Columbia -1.51%
Membership growth rates by state in 2018 were very similar compared to membership growth rates by state in 2017. The most significant development in 2018 was ongoing slowing of membership growth rates in the United States. I believe this is the first time in many decades that the annual membership growth rate did not exceed 2.0% for any state.