Sunday, January 15, 2023

Metropolian Areas With the Most Stakes Without a Temple

As we are in a period of significant expansion in regard to the construction of new temples, I wanted to provide a list of the metropolitan areas in the world with the most stakes without a temple announced or dedicated. See below for a list of the 23 metropolitan areas of the world with at least four stakes without a temple. Metropolitan areas are defined as conglomerations of population centers and neighborhoods. These locations are ranked in order from the most stakes to the least stakes. There are dozens of metropolitan areas with three stakes, but they are not included on this list.

  • Spanish Fork/Springville/Mapleton, Utah - 21 stakes
  • Viña del Mar, Chile - 9 stakes (includes Valparaíso and Villa Alemana)
  • Port Harcourt, Nigeria - 7 stakes
  • San Jose, California - 7 stakes (includes outlying suburbs) 
  • Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio - 6 stakes
  • Blackfoot, Idaho - 5 stakes
  • Charlotte, North Carolina - 5 stakes
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado - 5 stakes
  • Honolulu, Hawaii - 5 stakes
  • João Pessoa, Brazil - 5 stakes 
  • Maracaibo, Venezuela - 5 stakes
  • Murrieta, California - 5 stakes (includes outlying suburbs)
  • Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California - 5 stakes
  • Price, Utah - 5 stakes (includes Helper and Wellington) 
  • Hurricane, Utah - 4 stakes (includes La Verkin)
  • Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (4 stakes)
  • Natal, Brazil - 4 stakes
  • Rigby, Idaho - 4 stakes
  • Santa Ana, El Salvador - 4 stakes 
  • Santaquin, Utah - 4 stakes (includes Goshen)
  • Sorocaba, Brazil - 4 stakes
  • Taichung, Taiwan - 4 stakes (includes Chung Hsing)
  • Uyo, Nigeria - 4 stakes (includes Abak)

Sunday, January 8, 2023

New Stakes Created in the DR Congo, Madagascar, Mexico, and Utah

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo)

The Church organized a new stake in the DR Congo on November 12th. The Dibindi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake was organized from a division of the Mbuji-Mayi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake (organized from a district in 2016). The new stake includes the following six wards: the Bipemba 1st, Dibindi 1st, Dibindi 2nd, Kanshi, Misesa, and Tshitenge Wards. The new stake is the Church's second stake in the city of Mbuji-Mayi where a mission was organized to service the central DR Congo in 2016. The Church plans to create a second mission in the central DR Congo in mid-2023 from a division of the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission. The new mission will be located in the city of Kananga where a temple was announced in October 2021. There are now eight stakes and one district in the Kasai region of the DR Congo. The first stake in the Kasai region was created in 2011.

There are now 26 stakes and three districts in the DR Congo.

Madagascar

The Church in Madagascar organized its first stake outside of the capital city of Antananarivo on December 11th. The Toamasina Madagascar Stake was organized from the Toamasina Madagascar District (organized in 2010). The new stake includes the following five wards: the Andranomadio, Ankirihiry, Mangarano, Morarano, and Toamasina Wards. There are now three stakes and two districts in Madagascar. The Church announced a temple in Antananarivo, Madagascar in October 2021. After a period of rapid membership growth between the late 2000s and early 2010s, annual membership growth rates have been moderate to slow during the past decade.

Mexico

A new stake was organized in Mérida, Mexico on December 4th. The Mérida México Caucel was organized from a division of the Mérida México Centro Stake and the Mérida México Chuburná Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Canek, Caucel, Herradura, Pensiones, and Santa Fe Wards, and the Hunucma Branch. The new stake is the Church's seventh stake in Mérida where the Church's first stake in the city was organized in 1977. 

There are now 227 stakes and 47 districts in Mexico.

Utah

The Church organized a new stake in Utah in Vineyard. The Vineyard Utah Springs Park Stake was organized on December 11th from a division of the Orem Utah Geneva Heights Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Geneva Heights 8th, Geneva Heights 10th, Geneva Heights 11th, Geneva Heights 12th, and the Lakefront Wards. 

There are now 629 stakes and two districts in Utah.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

December 2022 Newsletter

 Click here to access the December 2022 newsletter for cumorah.com.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

November 2022 Monthly Newsletter

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Sunday, December 4, 2022

New Stakes Created in California, North Carolina, the Philippines, and Utah; New Districts Created in Tanzania

California

The Church organized a new stake in California on September 11th. The San Marcos California Stake was organized from a division of the Escondido California Stake and the Vista California Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Buena Creek, Double Peak, Palomar YSA, Santa Fe Hills, Shadowridge, and Twin Oaks Valley Wards and the Las Posas Branch (Spanish). The creation of the new stake is essentially a reinstatement of the Escondido California South Stake (created in 1992, discontinued in 2011). This marks the first time the Church has created a new stake in California since the Lake Elsinore California Stake was organized in 2013. The Church has discontinued two stakes in California in 2022: the Concord California Stake and the Hayward California Stake.

There are now 146 stakes in California.

North Carolina

The Church organized a new stake in North Carolina on September 18th. The Lake Norman North Carolina Stake was organized from a division of the Gastonia North Carolina Stake and the Hickory North Carolina Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Statesville, Cornelius, Huntersville, Lake Norman, Mooresville, and Mountain Island Wards. 

There are now five stakes in the Charlotte metropolitan area - two of which have been organized in the past five years. There are now 19 stakes in North Carolina.

Philippines

The Church organized a new stake in the Philippines. The Naga Philippines North Stake was organized from a division of the Naga Philippines Stake (organized in 1985). The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Naga 1st, and Naga 5th Wards, and the Tinambac Branch. The Church announced plans to build a temple in Naga in October 2022.

There are now 125 stakes and 55 districts in the Philippines.

Utah

The Church organized a new stake in southern Utah on November 20th. The St George Utah Boulder Ridge East Stake was organized on November 20th from the St George Utah Boulder Ridge Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Cobblestone, Stonehedge, Stucki Farms, Sugar Plum, and Treasure Valley Wards. There are now 26 stakes in the St. George metropolitan area (excluding Hurricane and La Verkin). 

There are now 628 stakes and two districts in Utah.

Tanzania 

Two new districts were organized in Tanzania.

The Arusha Tanzania District was organized on November 20th. The new district includes three branches in the city of Arusha that were previously mission branches in the Tanzania Dar es Salaam Mission. These branches include the Arusha, Morombo, and Njiro Branches. Of these three branches, two were organized earlier in 2022. This marks the first time the Church has organized a district in Tanzania outside of the most populous city of Dar es Salaam. 

The Dar es Salaam Tanzania Chang'ombe District was organized on November 13th from a division of the burgeoning Dar es Salaam Tanzania District which had 16 branches after the creation of eight new branches in mid-2022. The new district includes four branches in the southern portion of the Dar es Salaam metropolitan area, including the Chanika, Kigamboni, Chang'ombe, and Mbagala Branches. Of these four branches in the new district, two were organized in mid-2022 and one was organized in 2021. It is unclear why the new district includes only four branches rather than evenly dividing the original Dar es Salaam Tanzania District into two districts of eight branches, but additional districts may be organized in Dar es Salaam in preparation of creating new branches and member groups. Recently returned missionaries report that the mission has aggressively organized member groups and small branches in Dar es Salaam to improve accessibility to the Church for Latter-day Saints and populations targeted by mission outreach. It appears that the focus has been to delay the creation of the first stake by providing greater saturation of congregations and meetinghouses in Dar es Salaam rather than trying to build up ward-sized units that cover large swaths of the city that include an average of half a million to one million people who live within the boundaries of each congregation. This type of strategy in Africa has generally be most effective in the long term for achieving greater growth. The population of the Dar es Salaam metropolitan area is 6.75 million. The Church in Tanzania is experiencing a period of rapid growth after decades of slow membership growth and stagnant congregational growth - a change that has appeared instigated by the creation of the Tanzania Dar es Salaam Mission in 2020 and transitioning to Swahili instead of English for church meetings. Church membership increased by nearly 30% between year-end 2019 and year-end 2021. In contrast, the Church had not reported annual membership growth rates year over year of 10% of higher since the early 2000s.

Monday, November 28, 2022

The End of Growth? Fading Prospects for Latter-day Saint Expansion

David Stewart, a colleague of mine who has collaborated on research regarding the growth and missionary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at cumorah.com, recently published an article in the Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association entitled: The End of Growth? Fading Prospects for Latter-day Saint Expansion. The article can be accessed here. This article masterfully chronicles declining growth rates in the Church during the past several decades and identifies institutional and societal factors that appear primarily responsible for lackluster growth rates.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Six New Missions to be Created in July 2023: Analysis

As promised, see below for an analysis of the six new missions to be organized in July 2023. The Church announced plans to organize these new missions on November 23rd, 2022. It is important to note that all but one of the new missions announced are in Africa. This decision likely reflects increasing numbers of African members serving full-time missions as well as good opportunities to expand missionary outreach in nations with populations that have exhibited strong receptivity to the Latter-day Saint gospel message. No missions have been announced to close in 2023.

Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan North Mission

The new Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission will be the Church's third mission headquartered in Abidjan and the fourth mission in Cote d'Ivoire. The new mission will be organized primarily from a division of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission (organized in 1993), although some areas of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission (organized in 2014) will be included in the mission boundary realignment. It is likely that the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission will include the six stakes in the Yopougon area of Abidjan, whereas the nine stakes in the eastern half of Abidjan will probably be fairly evenly divided between the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan North Mission and the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission. There are also six districts located in the current boundaries in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission - most of which will probably be assigned to the new mission. The Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission also currently includes the Bamako Branch in Mali. It is unclear what mission will administer Mali after the new mission is organized. A member group in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso has also been administered by the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission, although Burkina Faso is assigned directly to the Africa West Area per the Church's meetinghouse locator. The boundaries of the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission (organized in 2018) are not reportedly affected by the creation of the new mission. The Church in Cote d'Ivoire has reported some of its most rapid growth in the world during the past decade, with the number of cities/towns with an official ward or branch increasing tenfold, the number of stakes increasing from 5 to 18, the number of districts increasing from 1 to 15, the number of congregations increasing from 42 to 257, and the number of Latter-day Saints increasing from 16,248 to 56,804. In another historical milestone, the creation of the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire North Mission will mark the first time that the Church has ever organized three missions within the same metropolitan area on the African continent. The Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Temple has been under construction for more than four years and appears to be nearing completion. It is suspected that the temple construction has taken so long due to difficulties with local work teams meeting the high standards for temple construction. There are nearly 29 million people who live in Cote d'Ivoire.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) Kananga Mission

The creation of the new DR Congo Kananga Mission will increase the number of missions headquartered in the DR Congo to five. The new mission will be created from a division of the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission (organized in 2016). Senior missionaries have reported that the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission has baptized as many as 1,000 converts in a single month during 2022. Convert retention remains among the highest in the worldwide Church. It is not uncommon for many congregations in the DR Congo to have a larger number of people in attendance than there are members on the records for the particular congregation, although sacrament meeting attendance is generally about 80% nationwide. The new mission in Kananga will likely include just the three stakes in Kananga where the first stake in the city was organized in 2011. Reports from senior missionaries indicate that two new stakes will likely be organized in Kananga in 2023. The new mission will likely play a pivotal role in the expansion of the Church's presence into unreached cities where groups of members reside such as Tshikapa and Lodja. Moreover, the realigned DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission will likely include four stakes and one district. The creation of new stakes in the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission also appears imminent considering the Mbuji-Mayi DR Congo Stake has 13 wards, the Mwene-Ditu DR Congo Stake has nine wards, and the Ngandajika DR Congo District has seven branches. The Church announced a temple for Kananga in 2021. The other missions headquartered in the DR Congo include the DR Congo Kinshasa West Mission (organized in 1987), the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission (organized in 2010), and the DR Congo Kinshasa East Mission (organized in 2019). Also, the recently organized Rwanda Kigali Mission (organized in 2022) includes branches and member groups in the eastern DR Congo near the borders of Burundi and Rwanda. The Church in the DR Congo reported its most rapid membership growth in the world during the past two years as membership increased from 68,871 to 89,136 - a 29.4% increase. During the past 10 years, the Church in the DR Congo has grown from 30,435 members to 89,136 members, 9 stakes to 25 stakes, and 107 congregations to 255 congregations. The DR Congo is now the world's 14th most populous nation with 108 million people.

Nigeria Aba Mission

The Nigeria Aba Mission will be the Church's eighth mission in Nigeria following the creation of the Nigeria Lagos Mission (organized in 1980 as the West Africa Mission and renamed in 1985), the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission (originally organized in 1988 as the Nigeria Aba Mission, relocated to Port Harcourt and renamed in 1995), the Nigeria Enugu Mission (organized in 1992 as the Nigeria Jos Mission and relocated to Enugu and renamed in 1993), the Nigeria Uyo Mission (organized in 2002, relocated and renamed the Nigeria Calabar Mission in 2008, relocated back to Uyo and renamed in 2019), the Nigeria Benin City Mission (organized in 2013), the Nigeria Owerri Mission (organized in 2016), and the Nigeria Ibadan Mission (organized in 2002, relocated to Lagos and renamed the Nigeria Lagos East Mission in 2007, discontinued in 2009, reinstated in 2018). The Church's first and only operating temple in Nigeria is located in Aba where there are now five stakes. The new mission in Aba will be organized primarily by a division of the Nigeria Owerri Mission, albeit the Church announced that other missions (Nigeria Benin City Mission, Nigeria Enugu Mission) will be realigned as part of the creation of the new mission. The Church in Nigeria has discontinued one mission that was never reinstated: the Nigeria Ilorin Mission (1992-1993). 

Nigeria Abuja Mission

The Nigeria Abuja Mission will be the Church's ninth mission in Nigeria. The new mission will be created from a division of the Nigeria Lagos Mission. The Church realigned its missions in Nigeria in 2019 and transferred northern Nigeria from the Nigeria Enugu Mission to the Nigeria Lagos Mission. The new mission will likely include the three stakes in Abuja (all of which have been organized in the past decade) and one district in Jos. The new mission will likely include half of the population of Nigeria - more than 100 million people - although most the population lives in states with Sharia law with predominantly Muslim populations and significant conflict between Muslims and Christians. Kano is the second most populous metropolitan area in Nigeria (4.9 million people) and remains without an official ward or branch of the Church. 

The Church has reported significant growth in Nigeria during the past decade, growing from 103,898 members to 211,219 members, 21 stakes to 68 stakes, and 315 congregations to 758 congregations. However, the number of districts has decreased in the past decade from 20 to 16. Three additional temples are planned for Nigeria in Lagos (announced in 2018), Benin City (announced in 2020), and Eket (announced in 2022). Nigeria is now the sixth most populous country in the world with 225 million people.

South Africa Pretoria Mission

The new South Africa Pretoria Mission will be the Church's fourth mission headquartered in South Africa (assuming that the Botswana/Namibia Mission will be relocated to Gaborone, Botswana from Pretoria, South Africa. It is possible that this mission may continue to be headquartered in South Africa, and thus, Johannesburg, South Africa will together with Abidjan become the first metropolitan areas to have three missions). The new mission will be organized from a division of the Botswana/Namibia Mission (organized in 2013), although the boundaries of the South Africa Johannesburg (organized in 1903) and South Africa Durban Mission (organized in 1991) will also be realigned. There is one more mission headquartered in South Africa: the Cape Town South African Mission (organized in 1984). The new mission will likely assist with greater focus on missionary efforts in Botswana and Namibia. The Church has reported moderate growth rates in South Africa during the past decade. During the past decade, Church membership has increased from 57,546 to 69,438, the number of congregations has increased from 151 to 195, the number of stakes has increased from 12 to 17, and the number of districts has increased from 4 to 10. There are 57.5 million people who live in South Africa.

Romania Bucharest Mission

The Church will reinstate the Romania Bucharest Mission which operated in Romania from 1993 until 2018 when it was consolidated with the neighboring Hungary Budapest Mission. I previously wrote about this decision to close the Romania Bucharest Mission here. Church growth trends have been stagnant in Romania for many years, and receptivity to Latter-day Saint proselytism has been poor for more than a decade. The decision to reinstate the Romania Bucharest Mission may be partially explained by difficulties with a single mission effectively servicing both Hungarian and Romanian speaking populations as well as efforts to provide greater mission leader oversight over members in both Romania and Hungary. As of 2021, there were 3,087 members, 15 branches, and 3 districts in Romania, whereas there were 5,278 members, 21 congregations, one stake, two districts, and one announced temple in Hungary. The current population of Romania is 18.5 million, whereas the current population of Hungary is 9.7 million.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Six New Missions to be Created in 2023

Today, the Church announced plans to organize the following six missions in July 2023:

  • Cote d’Ivoire Abidjan North Mission
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo Kananga Mission
  • Nigeria Aba Mission
  • Nigeria Abuja Mission
  • South Africa Pretoria Mission
  • Romania Bucharest Mission

The creation of the new missions will increase the number of missions in the Church to 416. I will provide additional analysis regarding these new mission creations in the coming days.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Survey Request on Growth Trends in Your Congregation

Please click here to complete a survey regarding the growth of the Church in your ward, branch, or member group. Your responses will be utilized for research purposes for cumorah.com.

Friday, November 11, 2022

October 2022 Newsletter

 Click here to access the October 2022 Newsletter for cumorah.com.