Sunday, January 17, 2021

Mission Discontinued in Wyoming, Districts Discontinued in Malaysia and the Philippines

Wyoming

The Church discontinued its only mission in Wyoming at the beginning of 2021. The Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission was discontinued and consolidated with Colorado Fort Collins Mission. The mission was organized in January 2015, but its purpose appeared primarily related to managing Church history sites in central Wyoming rather than proselytism. The mission boundaries included an extremely small geographical area in and nearby Martin's Cove. The decision to discontinue the mission was likely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacting public use of these Church history sites. With the closure of the mission, there are now 107 missions in the United States.

Malaysia

The Church discontinued one of its districts in Malaysia in late 2020. The Ipoh Malaysia District was consolidated with the Kuala Lumpur Malaysia District - the only remaining district in West Malaysia. The former district had only two branches: one in Ipoh and one in Penang. In contrast, the Church used to operate four branches in the district, but closed branches in Butterworth and Sitiawan in the mid-2010s. The Church has struggled for many years with very slow membership growth and continued branch consolidations. In contrast, the Church in Malaysia reports some of the most rapid growth in the worldwide Church in the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, convert retention rates were low during these period of rapid growth. Leadership development has been a major challenge, especially considering most converts come from ethnic minority groups or migrant workers from other countries. Malaysia is the country with the most members without a stake which is primarily attributed to low member activity rates nationwide combined with membership scattered in several of the most populous cities such as Bintulu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Miri, and Sibu. The decision to consolidate the two districts in West Malaysia may be in preparation to form a stake, albeit there do not appear to be any imminent plans or prospects for the district to become a stake. Most recent reports from returned missionaries suggest that Kuching is most likely to be where the first stake in Malaysia will be organized.

There are now five districts in Malaysia.

The Philippines

The Church discontinued the Burgos Philippines District in early January 2021. The Burgos Philippines District included five Ilokano-speaking branches, namely the Burgos, Calinguian, Catabban, Gamu, and Mabini Branches, prior to its closure. Four of the five branches were reassigned to the neighboring Roxas Philippines Isabela District, whereas the Gamu Branch was reassigned to the Ilagan Philippines Stake. The Burgos Philippines District and the Roxas Philippines Isabela District were originally organized in 2005 after the Burgos Philippines Stake was discontinued. Any wards in the stake were downgraded to branches and divided between the two new districts. The original Burgos Philippines Stake was organized in 2001 from the Roxas Isabela Philippines District and included eight wards and three branches. The Burgos Philippines Stake numbered among the six stakes discontinued in the early and mid-2000s following a major restructuring of the Church's congregations, stakes, and district to rectify problems with local leadership development and low numbers of active members in individual congregations. The closure of the Burgos Philippines District has been an anomaly as only two other districts in the Philippines have closed since 2007, namely the Camiling Philippines West District (2017) and the Mapandan Philippines District (2014) - both of which were discontinued and combined with a neighboring district to create a stake shortly thereafter. Thus, the consolidation of the Burgos Philippines District with the Roxas Philippines Isabela District was likely motivated to create a stake in the foreseeable future. Many, if not most, of the branches in the Roxas Philippines Isabela District appear to have enough active members to become wards. 

There are now 116 stakes and 61 districts in the Philippines.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Top Ten Most Encouraging and Top Ten Most Discouraging Growth and Missionary Developments for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2020

Click here to access the Top Ten Most Encouraging and Top Ten Most Discouraging Growth and Missionary Developments for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2020.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Stakes Created in Brazil, Idaho, Nigeria, and Wyoming; District Created in Utah; Stake Discontinued in California; District Discontinued in Nigeria

Still trying to catch up with everything. I apologize the following analysis is so delayed.

Four new stakes were recently created in late 2020

Brazil

The Church organized a new stake in Tocantins State, Brazil. The Palmas Brazil North Stake was organized from a division of the Palmas Brazil Stake on December 6th. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Luzimangues, Miracema, Palmas 1st, Palmas 2nd, and Paraíso Wards. The stake is the Church's second stake in Tocantins State where 1.6 million people reside. The Church organized its first stake in Tocantins State (the Palmas Brazil Stake) in 2007. The Church created its first branch in Tocantins State in 1990.

There are now 279 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil

Idaho

The Church organized a new stake in Nampa, Idaho on November 22nd. 26. Nampa Idaho Ridgevue Stake was organized on November 22nd, 2020 from a division of the Nampa Idaho North Stake and the Nampa Idaho West Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Nampa 1st, Nampa 3rd, Nampa 4th, Nampa 12th, Nampa 13th, Nampa 36th, and Nampa 41st Wards. There are now six stakes in Nampa.

There are now 135 stakes in Idaho.

Nigeria

The Church organized a new stake in Delta State, Nigeria on November 29th. The Ekete Nigeria Stake was organized from a division of the Warri Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards and three branches: the Ekete, Orhuwhorun, Ovwian 1st, Ovwian 2nd, Ughelli 1st, Ughelli 2nd, and Ughelli 3rd Wards, and the Aladja, Otujeremi, and Ozoro Branches. The new stake is the Church's second stake to be organized in the Warri metropolitan area. The Church also discontinued the Sapele Nigeria District (organized in 2019) and reassigned the four branches that previously pertained to this district to the Warri Nigeria Stake. This decision was likely made to enable larger branches in the city to become wards in the foreseeable future, and to reduce the administrative burden on the Nigeria Benin City Mission - one of the missions in Africa with the most stakes and districts assigned. 

There are now 60 stakes and 18 districts in Nigeria.

Wyoming 

The Church organized a new stake in Wyoming on December 6th. The Casper Wyoming East Stake was organized from a division of the Casper Wyoming Stake. The new stake include the following six wards and one branch: the Casper 2nd, Casper 3rd, Casper 6th, Casper 10th, Douglas, and Glenrock Wards, and the Lusk Branch. The new stake was the second new stake organized in Wyoming in 2020 following the creation of the Sheridan Wyoming Stake.

There are now 19 stakes in Wyoming.

Utah

A new district was organized in Utah. The Great Salt Lake Utah District (Correctional Facility) was organized on January 3rd. The new district includes the following nine branches: the Lone Peak  (Correctional Facility - Male), Olympus (Correctional Facility - Male), Oquirrh (Correctional Facility - Male), Promontory (Correctional Facility - Male), Timpanogos 1st (Correctional Facility - Female), Timpanogos 2nd (Correctional Facility - Female), Uinta (Correctional Facility - Male), Wasatch 1st (Correctional Facility - Male), and Wasatch 2nd (Correctional Facility - Male) Branches. The district is the Church's first district that is specialized for members who are in correctional facilities. Branches that in the new district previously pertained to ordinary stakes in the area.

There are now 612 stakes and two districts in Utah. The other district in Utah is headquartered in Wendover and has three branches.

California

A stake was discontinued in southern California. The Placentia California Stake (organized in 1954) was discontinued and retained wards were reassigned to neighboring stakes. There were five stakes in the stake prior to its discontinuation. This marked the second time in 2020 when a stake in California was discontinued as the Granada Hills California Stake closed earlier in the year. The closure of the stake in southern California is unsurprising and has been long overdue due to the steady decline in the number of active members in the area (northern Orange County). Tens of thousands of active Latter-day Saints have moved away from southern California in the past several decades. Few new converts have joined the Church and remained active to replace departing members. Moreover, non-White converts appear to comprise the majority of new members in the area, particularly among Spanish-speakers, which has further hampered efforts to strengthen existent English-speaking congregations. The Church in southern California has discontinued approximately one stake per year within the past decade. Additional stakes that have been discontinued in California in recent years include the Torrance California Stake (discontinued in 2019), the Garden Grove California Stake (discontinued in 2017), the San Diego California Sweetwater Stake (discontinued in 2016), Covina California (Spanish) Stake (discontinued in 2015), Huntington Park California West (Spanish) Stake (discontinued in 2012), and the Escondido California South Stake (discontinued in 2011).

There are now 151 stakes in California. The Church in California reached its all-time high for the number of stakes in 1995 when there were 162 stakes. The last time a new stake was organized in California was the Lake Elsinore California Stake back in 2013. The Church in California reached its all-time high for the number of congregations (i.e., wards and branches) in 2005 and 2006 when there were 1,386 congregations. There were 1,229 congregations in California as of year-end 2019. There were at least three new congregations organized in California in 2020 (all Spanish-speaking branches), whereas there were 13 wards and three branches discontinued in California in 2020 (most of which were English-speaking wards).

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Most Encouraging and Discouraging Church Growth Developments for 2020

 I am still finishing up this article, and I will post a link to it in the next couple days.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Updated Country Profile - Ethiopia

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Ethiopia. The Church in Ethiopia experienced slow growth in the 1990s and for most of the 2000s, and again since the mid-2010s. There was a five-year period from the late 2000s to mid-2010s when the Church experienced rapid membership growth and the organization of new congregations. However, these efforts have since dramatically reversed due to problems with local leadership development and disruptions to the continuity of full-time missionary outreach. Ethiopia ranks among the least reached countries of the world by Latter-day Saints among countries with populations of at least 100 million people. In contrast, most missionary-minded Christian groups report steady growth rates that range from moderate to rapid.

See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

President Hinckley visited members of the Church from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda in Nairobi, Kenya in February 1998 and predicted that the Church would grow in Kenya and surrounding countries. He stated, “Here there are now hundreds, there will be thousands, there will be tens of thousands. This gospel is true; it will spread over the earth."

In 2020, this prediction had yet to be fully realized. The small size of the Church in Ethiopia today comes as the result of the large, rapidly growing population of Ethiopia that has been highly underserved as a result of few missionaries assigned to the country, the relatively short time in which the Church has operated in the country, modest membership growth, and stagnant congregational growth that has persisted for more than a decade. The newly organized Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission was desperately needed given Ethiopia’s large population, high potential for self-sustaining church growth if consistent outreach is extended, long distance from prior mission headquarters, and few mission resources devoted to the country. However, the outlook for growth appears mediocre in the near-term, as the mission will likely utilize its resources to primary strengthen existing membership and leadership and develop more effective teaching approaches, including more formalized Amharic language study for foreign missionaries. More significant growth in the medium term appears likely once there are sustained increases in the number of active members in the three Church centers in the country.

December 2020 Newsletter

 Click here to access the December 2020 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Monday, December 28, 2020

First Karen Language Latter-day Saint Materials Translated

The Church recently translated the sacramental prayers and the 13 Articles of Faith into the Karen language. Karen is the primary language spoken in east central Myanmar near the border with Thailand. The Church organized its first Karen-speaking branch in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2009. There are several million Karen speakers worldwide. Click here to access the 13 Articles of Faith in Karen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

First Branch in Kogi State, Nigeria Organized

The Church recently organized its first branch in the Nigerian State of Kogi. The Idah Branch was organized in the city of Idah and pertains to the Nigeria Enugu Mission. Kogi State has approximately 4.5 million inhabitants and numbered among the few predominantly Christian states in Nigeria without an official Latter-day Saint presence prior to the creation of the Idah Branch. The last time the Church organized its first branch in a state in Nigeria without a previous Church presence was when the Ado-Ekiti Branch was created in Ekiti State in 2016. Now, all states in southern Nigeria have at least one official ward or branch.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

November 2020 Newsletter

 Click here to access the November 2020 newsletter for www.cumorah.com.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

New Stakes Created in Utah (3), Cote d'Ivoire, the Philippines, and the Republic of the Congo

Utah

The Church has organized three new stakes in Utah.

A new stake was created in Farmington. The Farmington Utah Farmington Bay Stake was organized on October 25th from a division of the Farmington Utah Stake and the Farmington Utah West Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Farmington 6th, Farmington 7th, Farmington 16th, Farmington Ranches 1st, Farmington Ranches 3rd, Farmington Ranches 4th, Farmington Ranches 5th, and Meadows Wards. There are now six stakes in Farmington.

A new stake was created in Lehi. The Lehi Utah Jordan River YSA Stake was organized from a division of the Lehi Utah YSA Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Crossroads YSA, Eagle Mountain YSA, Holbrook Farms YSA, Jordan River YSA, Lehi YSA 1st, Lehi YSA 2nd, Saratoga Springs YSA, and The Ranches YSA Wards. There are now 17 stakes in Lehi and 55 YSA stakes in Utah.

A new stake was created in St George. The St George Utah Crimson Ridge West Stake was organized on November 15th from a division of the St George Utah Crimson Ridge Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: Cottonwood, Hawthorn, Mulberry, Silkwood, and Sycamore Wards. There are now 19 stakes in St George. 

There are now 612 stakes and one district in Utah.

Cote d'Ivoire

The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on November 15th. The Koumassi Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from a division of the Port-Bouët Cote d'Ivoire Stake (organized in 2012 and most recently divided in 2016 to create the Grand-Bassam Cote d'Ivoire Stake). The new stake includes the following eight wards and one branch: the Anoumabo, Koumassi, Marcory, Prodomo, Remblais, Sicogi, Vridi 1st, and Vridi 2nd Wards, and the Vridi Canal Branch. 

There are now 14 stakes in Abidjan - more stakes than any other city on the Afro-Eurasian landmass. There are now 16 stakes and 17 districts in Cote d'Ivoire. The creation of several additional stakes appears imminent in Cote d'Ivoire. The following stakes are likely to divide to create new stakes in the immediate future: the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon North Stake (10 wards), the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon South Stake (10 wards), the Cocody Cote d'Ivoire Stake (13 wards), the Dokui Cote d'Ivoire Stake (11 wards), and the Yamoussoukro Cote d'Ivoire Stake (10 wards, 1 branch).

The Philippines

The Church organized a new stake in the Philippines on November 8th. The Camiling Philippines Stake was created from the Camiling Philippines District. Information on which of the 11 branches became wards in the new stake remains unavailable. The Church originally organized the Camiling Philippines Stake in 1991, but the stake was discontinued in 2003 and reconstituted into two districts (Camiling East and Camiling West). The districts combined into a single district in 2017. 

There are now 116 stakes and 62 districts in the Philippines.

The Republic of the Congo 

The Church organized a new stake in the Republic of the Congo on November 8th. The Diata Republic of the Congo Stake was organized from a division of the Brazzaville Republic of the Congo Stake and the Makelekele Republic of the Congo Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Diata, Mfilou 1st, Moungali, Ouenze, and Tsieme Wards, and the Mfilou 2nd Branch. The Church organized its first stake in Brazzaville in 2003 followed by the creation of a second stake in 2014.

There are now three stakes in Brazzaville. There are now four stakes in the Republic of the Congo.