Sunday, October 18, 2020

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Canada, Ghana, Idaho, the Republic of the Congo, Texas, and Utah; Districts Discontinued in Poland, Portugal, and Spain

Arizona

The Church organized a new stake in Arizona on September 13th. The Queen Creek Arizona Heritage Stake was organized from a division of the Gilbert Arizona Gateway Stake, the Queen Creek Arizona North Stake, and the Queen Creek Arizona West Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Desert Mountain, Gateway Married Student, Hawes, Quail Creek, Queen Creek Station, Queens Park, and Remington Heights Wards. There are now nine stakes in Queen Creek, Arizona, and there are two additional stakes in San Tan Valley.

There are now 116 stakes in Arizona.

Canada

The Church organized a new stake in Alberta on October 11th. The Edmonton Alberta YSA Stake was organized from the Edmonton Alberta Bonnie Doon Stake, the Edmonton Alberta Gateway Stake, the Edmonton Alberta North Stake, and the Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Gateway YSA, Kingsway YSA, Mill Creek YSA, Mount Pleasant YSA, and Whitemund Creek YSA Wards. The new stake is the Church's third YSA (young single adult) stake in Alberta following the creation of the Lethbridge Elberta YSA Stake in 2017 and the Calgary Alberta YSA Stake in 2019.

There are now 27 stakes in Alberta and 52 stakes in Canada.

Ghana

The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on September 13th, 2020. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be organized outside of the United States since the Church temporarily suspended its Sunday worship services for wards, branches, and member groups in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kumasi Ghana Suame Stake was organized from the Agona Ghana District and portions of the Kumasi Ghana Dichemso Stake. Information on which wards and branches are assigned to the new stake remains unavailable. A significant restructuring of the boundaries of stakes and districts in the region occurred as part of the new stake creation. Also, the Nkawkaw Ghana District was expanded to include congregations in the Konongo area, and the district was renamed the Kumasi Ghana Konongo District. There are now four stakes in Kumasi.

There are now 26 stakes and 10 districts in Ghana.

Idaho

The Church organized a new stake in Idaho on October 11th. The Rigby Idaho Holbrooke Stake was organized from the Rigby Idaho East Stake and possibility one or two additional stakes in Rigby. Currently, the Church reports only four wards in the new stake (Rigby 8th, Rigby 10th, Rigby 16th, Rigby 19th). As new stakes almost always have a minimum of five wards, it appears additional wards have not been assigned to the new stake yet per the Church's meetinghouse website or the creation of one or more new wards is imminent. The new stake is the Church's fourth stake in Rigby.

There are now 134 stakes in Idaho.

The Republic of the Congo

Today, the Church organized a new stake in the Republic of the Congo. The Pointe-Noire Republic of the Congo Stake was organized from the Pointe-Noire Republic of the Congo District which was originally created in 2015. Most of the eight branches in the district likely became wards although information on which branches have become wards is currently unavailable. The Church has maintained a long-term presence in Pointe-Noire with the first branch organized in 1997 albeit slow growth occurred in the city for the first 10-15 years. 

There are now three stakes in the Republic of the Congo. Member reports indicate a fourth stake in the country, the Diata Republic of the Congo Stake, will be organized on October 25th, 2020.

Texas

The Church organized a new stake in Texas on September 13th. The San Antonio Texas Pecan Valley Stake was organized from a division of the San Antonio Texas East Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Buena Vista (Spanish), Mission Creek, Pleasant 1st, San Antonio 1st, San Antonio 10th, and Woodlake Wards, and the Fort Sam Houston Military Branch. There are now eight stakes in San Antonio.

There are now 78 stakes and two districts in Texas.

Utah 

The Church organized a new stake in Utah. The Layton Utah Shoreline Stake was organized from a division of the Layton Utah Legacy Stake and the Layton Utah South Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Evergreen, Harmony Place, Layton 2nd, Pinehurst, Swan Lakes, and Weaver Lane Wards. There are now 14 stakes in Layton.

There are now 609 stakes and one district in Utah.

Poland

The Church discontinued a district in Poland. The Katowice Poland District, organized in 2004, included five branches and two member groups prior to its discontinuation. All branches in the former district were reassigned to the Warsaw Poland District. Moreover, the Warsaw Poland District was enlarged to include the entire country of Poland and the Church's 13 branches. This decision was likely made to consolidate limited leadership to staff both district and branch callings. Prospects for a stake in Poland appear highly unlikely for many more years even though there are over 2,000 members on Church records as none of the 12 non-administrative branches appear close to meeting the minimum criteria to become wards with perhaps only one or two exceptions.

Portugal

The Church discontinued a district in Portugal. The Santarém Portugal District, organized in 1991, was discontinued and the six branches that pertained to the former district were reassigned to the Lisbon Portugal Stake or the Oeiras Portugal Stake. This decision was likely made to conserve leadership and also to permit neighboring stakes to support these branches instead of the mission presidency. Only the Santarém Branch appears likely to become a ward in the near future among branches in the former district.

There are now six stakes and three districts in Portugal.

Spain

The Church discontinued a district in Spain. The La Mancha Spain District, organized in 1991, was discontinued and the three branches in the former district were reassigned to the Madrid Spain Central Stake. Branches in the district have been known to have very few active members for decades. This decision was likely made to conserve limited leadership in these branches and to have Spanish leadership in the Madrid Spain Central Stake to provide mentoring and support to the branches instead of the mission presidency.

There are now 15 stakes and one district in Spain.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Several New Stakes

In the coming days, I will be posting updates on new stakes created. Please check the right side of the site for information on new stakes recently created or soon to be created.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Māori-Speaking Branch Organized in New Zealand

Last Sunday, the Church organized a Māori-speaking branch in the northern portion of the North Island of New Zealand. This is the first time in 70 years that the Church has operated Māori-speaking branch in New Zealand. The Church's article on the new branch organization can be found here.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Six New Temples - Analysis

Today's temple announcements fall into three general categories we have seen in regards to where temples have been typically announced. These categories include:

  • Remote locations
  • Major centers of strength for the Church
  • Cities with a large number of stakes without a temple

Historically, the Church has generally announced new temples in the last category I listed above: cities with a large number of stakes without a temple. The number of stakes in a city has often served as one of the best predictors of where a new temple may be announced. However, more recent temple announcements have favored locations far distant from the nearest temple (sometimes where the Church experiences slow or stagnant growth like Okinawa, Japan) or major Church centers even if we have not seen significant increases in the number of stakes in recent years (like São Paulo, Brazil).

See below for an analysis of today's temple announcements:

Tarawa Kiribati Temple

The Tarawa Kiribati Temple is the Church's first temple to be built in the Micronesian nation of Kiribati (population: 112,000). Prior to today's announcement, Kiribati was the country with the most Latter-day Saints without a temple with 20,946 members. The Church in Kiribati has experienced significant growth since its establishment in the mid-1970s. At year-end 2019, Church-reported membership accounted for 18.9% of the country's population. The establishment of Moroni High School has been a major catalyst for the Church's growth in Kiribati. Despite this progress, the Church in Kiribati has historically experienced some of the lowest member activity rates in Oceania. For example, census data indicate that self-affiliated Latter-day Saints constitute 5.3% of the population compared to Church-reported membership for 2015 which constituted 16.5% of the population. Nevertheless, there has been significant progress with improving member activity rates in many areas of the country, and there have been many outlying islands in southern Kiribati that have opened to the Church within the past decade. Moderate to slow membership growth rates have occurred in recent years. Currently, the Church operates two stakes and three districts in Kiribati. The new temple will likely also serve the Church's two stakes in the nearby Marshall Islands. Given Tarawa's low elevation and concerns with sea-level rise, it is likely the Church may implement special building protocols to prevent flooding of the building.

Port Vila Vanuatu Temple

The Port Vila Vanuatu Temple is the Church's first temple to be built in Vanuatu (population: 298,000). Prior to today's announcement, Vanuatu was the country with the eighth most members without a temple with 10,210 members. One of the more recently reached countries by the Church in Oceania, the Church reported approximately 1,000 members two decades ago. Approximately 3.5% of the population are members on Church records. There is one stake and three districts in Vanuatu. Membership growth rates have been high in Vanuatu for many years. The new temple will also likely include the sole stake of the Church on New Caledonia. 

Lindon Utah Temple

This temple announcement completely surprised me as Lindon, Utah was not listed as a more likely or less likely candidate on my temple prediction map. The Church has operated a temple in American Fork, Utah (Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple) since 1996 and announced the Orem Utah Temple in 2019. Thus, it was a surprise that this area would have another temple announced given that additional temples in Utah County have been announced or built in recent years. The new temple will likely serve 15-20 stakes in Lindon, northern Orem, and Pleasant Grove. Utah is a major powerhouse for the Church's proxy temple ordinance work, and thus the Church has continued to announce temples to meet recent demand for patrons. The new temple is the Church's 25th temple in Utah.

Greater Guatemala City Temple

Guatemala City became the first city in Central America to have a second temple announced with today's announcement of a temple to be built in the greater Guatemala City area. I found this announcement quite surprising given that the Church operates a temple in Quetzaltenango (dedicated in 2011) and has announced a temple for Coban (announced in 2019). The Guatemala City metropolitan area includes 21 stakes. With five stakes in nearby cities, the new temple will likely service approximately 13 stakes. The new temple is the Church's fourth temple in Guatemala.

São Paulo East Brazil Temple

With today's announcement of a temple to be built in eastern São Paulo, São Paulo will become the first city in Brazil to have two temples. The new temple will likely service 12 stakes and one district within the eastern portion of the São Paulo metropolitan area. Altogether, the Church operates 41 stakes in the São Paulo metropolitan area albeit there have been few new stakes organized in the area within the past decade. Previously built or announced temples in Brazil include the São Paulo Brazil Temple (dedicated in 1978), the Recife Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Campinas Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2002), the Curitiba Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2008), the Manaus Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2012), the Fortaleza Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2019), Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple (announced in 2013 and currently waiting to be dedicated), Belém Brazil Temple (announced in 2016 and under construction), the Brasília Brazil Temple (announced in 2017 and under construction), and the Salvador Brazil Temple (announced in 2018). The new temple is the Church's 12th temple in Brazil.

Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple

Santa Cruz, Bolivia was the city outside of the United States with the most stakes without a temple prior to today's announcement. With 10 stakes, the Church in Santa Cruz has experienced steady growth since the first stake was created in 1979, and it has been on my list of likely potential announcements for many years. Unlike other major cities in Bolivia, the Church in Santa Cruz has regularly organized new stakes, and today the Church in Santa Cruz has more stakes than any other city in the country. The Church dedicated its first temple, and only temple prior to today's announcement, in Cochabamba in 2000. Membership growth rates in Bolivia has slowly accelerated in recent years but remain low (2.22% in 2019). There are 33 stakes and 8 districts in Bolivia, and the new temple will likely service 12 stakes and 4 districts.

Six New Temples Announced

Today, President Russell M. Nelson announced six new temples in the following locations:

  • Tarawa, Kiribati
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Lindon, Utah
  • Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • São Paulo East, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia

With today's announcement, there are now 231 temples, including 168 dedicated temples, 22 temples under construction, and 41 temples announced in the planning stages. I will provide an analysis of these new temple announcements in another blog post later today.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

September 2020 Monthly Newsletter

 Click here to download a copy of our September 2020 monthly newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

New Stakes Created in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Wyoming

Florida

The Church organized a new stake in Florida on August 23rd. The Orlando Florida West Stake was organized from a division of the Lakeland Florida Stake, Leesburg Florida Stake, and the Orlando Florida South Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards and one branch: the Avalon, Buena Vists YSA, Citrus Ridge, Davenport, Lake Crescent, Lake Louisa, Lake Reams, and Winter Garden Wards, and the Bear Bay (Mandarin) Branch. The new stake is the Church's sixth stake organized in Florida since 2015. 

There are now 34 stakes in Florida.

Georgia

The Church organized a new stake in Georgia on August 16th. The Newnan Georgia Stake was organized from a division of the Colombus Georgia, Fayetteville Georgia Stake, and Powder Springs Georgia Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Carrollton, Flat Creek, Newnan, Peachtree City, Sharpsburg, and Summer Grove Wards, and the LaGrange, Lanett, and West Georgia YSA Branches. The Newnan Georgia Stake is the Church's third new stake organized in the past two years after the Coal Mountain Georgia Stake (2018) and the Winder Georgia Stake (2020).

There are now 19 stakes in Georgia. 

Massachusetts

The Church organized a new stake in Massachusetts on August 30th. The Worcester Massachusetts Stake was organized from a division of the Blackstone Valley Massachusetts Stake, the Springfield Massachusetts Stake, and the Nashua New Hampshire Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Acton, Gardner, Littleton, Oxford, Worcester 1st, and Worcester 2nd Wards, and the Worcester 3rd (Spanish) Branch. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in Massachusetts since 2016 following new stakes in North Shore (2016) and Blackstone Valley (2017). 

There are now seven stakes in Massachusetts.

Wyoming

The Church organized a new stake in Wyoming on August 30th. The new stake was created from a division of the Gillette Wyoming Stake and the Billings Montana East Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Buffalo, Colstrip, Sheridan 1st, Sheridan 2nd, and Sheridan 3rd Wards, and the Ranchester and Sheridan YSA Branches. 

There are now 18 stakes in Wyoming.

New Temple Predictions - September 2020 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. It is unclear whether or not the Church will announce additional temples this coming conference given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of proxy ordinance work for deceased persons. Nevertheless, the Church may announce new temples this conference given the steady trend in new temple announcements that has continued for several years. As a result, I have updated my list of the top 10 most likely locations to have a temple announced.

Data used to identify probable locations for future temples include the size of the Church in a specific geographical area (i.e. number of stakes and districts, the number of wards and branches), the age of the oldest stake in a specific geographical area, church growth trends, 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. In September 2019, I divided prospective temple sites into more likely and less likely categories. This change appeared warranted given recent trends of temple announcements in remote areas of the world with few relatively Latter-day Saints, such as Tallahassee, Florida; Cobán, Guatemala; Budapest, Hungary; and Okinawa, Japan, that appear less likely to receive temple announcements given historical trends. Altogether, there are 131 potential temples on the map (40 more like temples, 91 less likely temples).

Locations added to the temple prediction map include:

    • Noumea, New Caledonia (less likely)
    • East London, South Africa (less likely)
    The following 10 locations appear most likely to have temples announced this coming General Conference if any new temples are announced. You are welcome to provide your top 10 picks for temple announcements in the comments below.
    1. Santa Cruz, Bolivia 
    2. Monrovia, Liberia 
    3. Angeles or Olongapo, Philippines
    4. Tarawa, Kiribati
    5. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 
    6. Missoula, Montana
    7. Colorado Springs, Colorado 
    8. Santiago or Tuguegarao, Philippines 
    9. Charlotte, North Carolina
    10. Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    See below for the map of likely and less likely new temple sites:

    Tuesday, September 1, 2020

    New Branches Created in Botswana and Namibia

    Last month, the Church organized two new branches in the Botswana/Namibia Mission in cities where no branches have previously operated. 

    The Ongwediva Branch was created in northern Namibia and becomes the first branch to ever operate in this region of the country. The Church has operated a member group for a number of years in the small city of approximately 20,000 people. Remote location has posed a major difficulty for the Church to become established in Ongwediva as the nearest city in Namibia with a branch is Windhoek - more than 350 miles away. Other missionary-focused Christian groups have reported rapid growth in this area of the Church, and the creation of the new branch may present additional opportunities to channel resources into this area of Namibia. There are only three cities in Namibia with a branch: Windhoek (3), Ongwediva, and Swakopmund. Swakopmund was previously the most recently reached city in Namibia by the Church as the branch in the city was organized in 2015. Ongwediva was the ninth most populous city in Namibia without a branch prior to the branch creation.

    The Serowe Branch was created in Botswana last Sunday. Serowe is the first city in Botswana to have had its first Latter-day Saint branch organized since 2014 when the Mogoditshane Ward was created. There are now nine cities in Botswana with a ward or branch. Serowe was previously the second most populous city in Botswana without a ward or branch.

    Monday, August 31, 2020

    August 2020 Monthly Newsletter

    Click here to access the August 2020 monthly newsletter. With the birth of my son and work obligations, I was unable to do much research during the month. Numbers released on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on missionary service are summarized in the newsletter, as well as reports on new stakes created during the month (the first three new stakes created since March 2020).