Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rapid Church Growth in Guyana

Membership and activity have recently been growing rapidly in Guyana; part of the Trinidad and Tobago Mission. Out of the over 200 baptisms in the mission last March, 150 occurred in Guyana. The city of New Amsterdam has been one of the areas of growth. The New Amsterdam Guyana District now has six branches. A new branch was created sometime in the past six months or so in the city as well (New Amsterdam 2nd Branch). Furthermore, a new branch was created in Crabwood Creek in the past month (a town of 10,000 on the Guyana-Suriname border). Many of the converts in Guyana are of Indian or Ameri-Indian descent. The Church has not released membership figures for 2007 for individual countries yet, but there were 2,072 members in 11 branches at the end 0f 2006. Now there are at least 14 branches in the country. In 2003, membership was 1,340. The branches are shown with the pink squares.

Districts Maturing Into Stakes

One of the most exciting events many members in nations where the Church has been establish enjoy is when the district they reside in matures into a stake. This is particularly true for those countries in which a stake has never been organized before. The last country for which this was the case was Hungary back in 2006. This year, it is almost certain that Mongolia and Trinidad and Tobago will have their first stakes organized. Cambodia is also quite likely to have its first stake organized this year in Phnom Penh. Mongolia and Cambodia both have around 8,000 members in around 20 branches and have been preparing for stakehood. Growth has slowed in both of these nations, but a missionary in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission reported that in the first four months of this year, there have been more baptisms than during all of 2007. The number of native, Mongolian missionaries has risen from 19 back in August to 50 now in April. Furthermore, many families are joining the Church together.

I know I stress the importance of stakes a lot in this blog, but the formation of a stake is a very important event. It brings many blessings unavailable to members living outside of stakes, such as patriarchs. It takes an active, balanced membership to accomplish this feat, and therefore symbolizes Church growth in every aspect.

Here is a map of Trinidad and Tobago. The green squares are were branches are located. I also wanted to add that Church services were held for the first time in Point Fortin and the city has been opened to missionary work.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Potential Temples in the United States

Predicting where the First Presidency announces temples in the United States can quite difficult. This is evident with yesterday's announcement of the two temples in Arizona. Although most saw two or more new temples likely to be announced in the coming years in Arizona, few anticipated one would be so close to the Mesa Arizona Temple and the other not being in Tucson.

Keeping that in mind, here is a list I have compiled with likely cities to receive temples in the coming 10 years. These predictions are made as a combination of the size of existing temple districts (the number of stakes and districts assigned to a particular temple) as well as number of stakes in a particular geographic region. The first number in the parentheses represents the number of stakes the temple would serve and the second number represents the number of districts the temple would serve. The bold number shows the number of stakes located within the metropolitan area of the named city.

  • Indianapolis Indiana (8,0) 3
  • Kansas City Missouri (9, 0) 5
  • Layton Utah (30, 0) 18
  • Miami Florida (7,8) 5
  • Milwaukee Wisconsin (6,0) 2
  • Pensacola Florida (6,0) 1
  • Pocatello Idaho (20, 0) 10
  • Price Utah (8,0) 5
  • Rogers Arkansas (6,0) 2
  • Spanish Fork Utah (26,0) 23

These cities represent regions where a temple is either far away or where there are many members that attend a temple with a large number of stakes in its temple district (75 stakes are assigned to the Ogden Utah Temple for instance).

The United States currently has 67 temples operating, under construction or announced. No other country in the world comes close to accommodating Church membership in such a way (because the lack of members or inactivity). Because of this, it is unlikely that many new temples will be announced in the United States until further growth is experienced in conversions and reactivation. However, the small, 10,700 square foot temples can be built to accommodate just two or three stakes (The Colonia Juarez Temple serves only two stakes and two districts and Bismarck North Dakota Temple serves three stakes and one district). As I mentioned in an earlier post, these temples tend to be located in isolated areas.

Perhaps rising gasoline prices may help to initiate temple construction in the United States in other cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or Augusta, Maine.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two New Temples Announced in Arizona

The First Presidency recently announced that two new temples will be built in Arizona, The Gila Valley and Gilbert Temples. Church member density and activity is rather high in the Gilbert area and is rapidly developing (this is in the same vicinity as Queen Creek, where five stakes have been organized in the past six years). The number of stakes assigned to this temple will probably be around 30-40, depending on whether the stakes in Tucson will be assigned to this temple or the Gila Valley Temple. The Gila Valley Temple will likely serve less than five or six stakes if the stakes in Tucson are not in the temple district. However, the Gila Valley is home to Mormon colonies established in the 1870s and have been far away from a temple for some time (The Colonia Juarez Temple is another example of how Church members living in an isolated region for over a hundred years get a temple). The size of the temples has not been specified yet, but I imagine that the Gila Valley Temple will be one of the small, 10,700 square foot temples the the Gilbert Temple being a large, 60,000 square foot temple.

I have not created any posts on potential temple sites in the United States, and will do so in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

2,800 Stakes in the Church

In the past couple weeks, the Church has reached over 2,800 stakes. Below is a table of the number of stakes at the end of the year shown along with the increase of stakes of that year

  • 2007 - 2,790 +45
  • 2006 - 2,745 +44
  • 2005 - 2,701 +36
  • 2004 - 2,665 +41
  • 2003 - 2,624 +22
  • 2002 - 2,602 -5
  • 2001 - 2,607 +26
  • 2000 - 2,581 +39
  • 1999 - 2,542 +37
  • 1998 - 2,505 +81
  • 1997 - 2,424 +128
  • 1996 - 2,296 +146
  • 1995 - 2,150 +142
  • 1994 - 2,008 +40
  • 1993 - 1,968 +49
  • 1992 - 1,919 +82
  • 1991 - 1,837 +53
  • 1990 - 1,784 +45
  • 1989 - 1,739 +32
  • 1988 - 1,707 +41
  • 1987 - 1,666 +44
  • 1986 - 1,622 +40
  • 1985 - 1,582 +75
  • 1984 - 1,507 +49
  • 1983 - 1,458 +66
  • 1982 - 1,392 +71
  • 1981 - 1,321 +103
  • 1980 - 1,288 +126
  • 1979 - 1,092 +102
  • 1978 - 990 +105
  • 1977 - 885 +87
  • 1976 - 798 +61
  • 1975 - 737

As for this year thus far, there have not been many stakes created. On the Church's official website lds.org, the temple district lists have been updated slower than usual for the international temples (which may be a reason why for the lack of new stakes this year). However this month we have seen a larger number of new stakes created from what I know. The overall trend over the past five years has been a positive one, with 45 new stakes added last year (actually 50 were created, but five were dissolved).

From the above information, it is clear that around 40 new stakes a created a year and then every so often 100 stakes a created a year for a few years. The average number of new stakes created a year since 1975 is 66 and the average number of congregations created a year is 635. Something that I have noticed is that a good rule of thumb to know if healthy growth is occurring is when there are 10 congregations created for every stake created. This 10 to 1 ratio has held fairly true over the past five years and is a good predictor of how many new congregations are created in a year (if you know the number of stakes organized).

Lastly, I wanted to comment on the noticeable drop in 2002 of five stakes. Around 20 or so stakes were created this year, but the number of dissolved stakes exceeded this number. Please refer to my post I made back on March 2nd for more information.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Church in the People's Republic of China

China is seen as one of the last frontiers of the Church for missionary work. Due to government restrictions, proselyting missionaries are absent amist the 1.3 billion people. In recent years the Church has created several branches throughout the country for foreigners that live there (represented by the green squares above). I estimate there are several thousand Chinese members at least who live in mainland China that are not allowed to attend these branches and can only practice in their own homes. These members are batpized in other countries and then return to China later on.

President Spencer W. Kimball said the following about China in an article entitled "The Uttermost Parts of the Earth" in 1979:

And what of China, the third largest country in the world? Nearly one billion of
our Father’s children live in China, one-fourth of the entire world’s
population. Six hundred and sixty million of them speak Mandarin Chinese.
How many of us speak Mandarin Chinese? We must prepare while there is time
to prepare to teach these people. Of course, we face great barriers,
including political barriers, in many of these parts of the world.
Major changes are emerging within China today. The single most
important drive in contemporary China is to become strong, independent, and
modern. Of course, the Peoples Republic of China has no
outward sign of religious belief. The consensus of most Chinese people is
that “religion is not forbidden but it is not encouraged.” One of my
relatives went on a recent trip to China and reported that “the people are intelligent,
hopeful, and courteous. They love children, are courteous to parents and women,
and honor their ancestors. Very like our gospel faithful,
they are family-oriented and even in their communities live in individual
family units although they are humble ones.” One of our brethren recently
spent some time in China and brought back a detailed
report. He noted that the people were friendly and open. There seemed to be
no animosity or tension at any time from the people, and very little of
restriction or suspicion from government officials. By comparison with the widespread
breakdown of morality and discipline in the western world, the Chinese are a
disciplined, industrious, frugal, closely knit people. Their moral standards are
very high by modern western standards. Honesty is assumed in China as a matter
of course. Crime is rare. Drug abuse and prostitution have been virtually
eliminated. Premarital sex is heavily censured and is rare. Homosexuality and
lesbianism are virtually unknown. Family life is strong, with old family members
still given great respect and care. In contrast with many other emerging
nations, neatness and order characterize the Chinese cities and
countryside. One sees no trash or garbage, no wretched hovels, no beggars.
People seem to take pride in their personal appearance and the appearance of
their homes and surroundings. Flies have been virtually eliminated. Disease is
controlled by a nationwide system of preventive medicine.
Unfortunately, there is in China little of the freedom that is
so essential to the growth of the gospel. But things are
changing. China is planning to send more than ten thousand college-age
students overseas during the next two years. The doors are opening
gradually. The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over these nations under a new
regime that is certainly more open and more receptive to western ideas than
ever before. Such cultural and educational interchanges will offer
opportunities for exposure to the gospel. We must be prepared. The Lord is
doing his part and is waiting for us to open the doors.

Interestingly, there is a temple now in China. The Hong Kong China Temple was dedicated in the mid-90s and serves Hong Kong, China, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. This will be an important temple once missionaries begin to teach the Chinese people in China. There are very few, if any, examples in the history of the Church of a temple being so close to a population in which there are virtually no Church members.

Many skeptics argue that when missionaries start to proselyte in China, we will see the same result as we saw in Russia (initial rapid growth which slows dramatically after 10 years and results in high inactivity). There are many differences between China and Russia with the Church. First, the Chuch has several thousands of members already in the country. Second, branches have been established for foreigners. Lastly, the scriptures as well as a large amount of other Church materials have already been translated into Mandarin Chinese. It will be very exciting once missionaries enter China to see what happens. One of the areas we need to work on as a Church before we enter China is to have more missionaries and to have that number steadily increase. If we were to place the entire missionary force of 53,000 of the Church into China, most Chinese would not even know they were there!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Update on Church growth

New Congregations Created in Taiwan

A ward and a couple branches were created in Taiwan recently. The Nantou Ward and the Mingchien Branch were created in the vicinity of the city of Nantou. Growth in the region south of Taichung has been rapid, evidenced by a district maturing into a stake in the region (Chung Hsing) in 2004 and a new stake in Taichung organized last year. The Taitung 2nd Branch was created in the Hua Lien District, bringing the number of branches in the district to six. There are only two districts in Taiwan and 10 stakes. The other district, the Ping Tung District, has five branches outside of the southern city of Kaohsiung . The temple in Taipei serves only the members in Taiwan. The Kaohsiung Stake has gotten quite large and I imagine it will split within the next couple years. The yellow squares represent wards, the green squares represent branches.

New Branch in Lviv, Ukraine

Located in western Ukraine, the city of Lviv has around 1,000,000 people who live in the metropolitan area. Up to this point, only one branch existed in the city and recently it was divided. Again, this along with the new branch created in St. Petersburg suggests that the Church in working to gain new converts instead of gathering the active members (see earlier post about Church members per unit). The name of the new branch's name, the Sykhivs'ka Branch, comes from a southern suburb of the city.

Branch Created in St. Petersburg, Russia

Several years ago, the two districts in St. Petersburg were combined in preparation of a stake. The stake has not been organized as of yet, nor are there any stakes in Russia. I found it interesting that a new branch was organized in this city instead of allowing the existing branches to get larger to make wards in the future.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Likely stakes soon to split and districts likely to become stakes update

I wanted to update my list of large stakes that were likely to split soon because many of them already have.

United States

  • Huntsville Alabama Stake (13 wards)
  • Flagstaff Arizona (12 wards, 3 branches)
  • Prescott Arizona (13 wards, 2 branches)
  • Tuscon Arizona North and Rincon Stakes (12 wards each)
  • Rocklin California Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Arapahoe and Parker Colorado Stakes (12 wards each)
  • Denver North Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Greeley Colorado Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Fort Myers Florida Stake (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Chubbuck Idaho Stake (12 wards)
  • Eagle Idaho Stake (12 wards)
  • Kuna Idaho Stake (13 wards)
  • Meridian Idaho Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Preston Idaho North Stake (12 wards, 3 branches)
  • Rexburg Idaho North Stake (12 wards , 1 branch)
  • Sugar City Idaho Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Twin Falls Idaho Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Louisville Kentucky Stake (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Cambridge Massachusetts (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Traverse City Michigan District* (11 branches)
  • Kearney Nebraska Stake (8 wards, 8 branches)
  • Omaha Nebraska Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • New York New York Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Keizer Oregon Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Stake (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Carrollton Texas Stake (13 wards, 2 branches)
  • Colleyville Texas Stake (12 wards)
  • Dallas Texas East Stake (12 wards)
  • Richardson Texas Stake (13 wards)
  • Eagle Mountain Utah (33 wards in 3 stakes)
  • Farr West Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Fort Herriman Utah Stake (14 wards)
  • Kanesville Utah Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • La Verkin Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Lehi Utah North Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Orem Utah Sunset Heights Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Payson Utah South Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Pleasant View Utah Stake (13 wards)
  • Providence Utah (24 wards and 1 branch in 2 stakes)
  • Provo Utah Stake (14 wards)
  • Santa Clara Utah Stake (15 wards)
  • Saratoga Springs Utah (22 wards and 1 branch in 2 stakes)
  • Smithfield Utah (22 wards and 1 branch in 2 stakes)
  • South Jordan Utah Daybreak Stake (12 wards)
  • Spanish Fork South Stake (13 wards)
  • Willard Utah Stake** (17 wards)
  • Buena Vista Virginia Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Pasco Washington Stake (12 wards, 4 branches)
  • Tacoma Washington Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Madison Wisconsin Stake (8 wards, 7 branches)
  • Laramie Wyoming stake (13 wards)

* District likely to become stake soon

** Stake that might have already been split

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New stakes to be created in the Dominican Republic

I found a news article today that says there will be a division of one of the stakes (probably in Santo Domingo) into three new stakes. This would bring the total of stakes in the country to 18. Here's the url for the news story. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2008/4/16/27667/Mormons-set-to-celebrate30-years-in-Dominican-Republic .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Latter-Day Saints per congregations worldwide

One of the reasons I wanted to create a post about this topic is because I have seen this to be one of the attacks critics will take on the Church in terms of its growth. Critics will cite that the number of members in the Church per unit has increased over the past decades, evidence of rising inactivity. While I do not want to ignore the fact that the Church has a major inactivity problem (which is improving), I do want to make some facts straight. Here's a list of the year and number of members per congregation for every five years since 1975 to present.

Year Members per congregation
  • 1975 - 438
  • 1980 - 368
  • 1985 - 394
  • 1990 - 429
  • 1995 - 412
  • 2000 - 427
  • 2005 - 464
  • 2007 - 474

Looking at these numbers, members per congregation fluctuated between 368 and 474 since 1975. Every year since 1999 has seen an increase in this ratio. So if this increase is not simply due to inactivity, then what is it?

Between 2000 and 2004, most countries in Latin America experienced decreases in the number of congregations. Chile, the example that illustrated this most clearly, had over 300 congregations closed during this time. Peru lost 200 congregations and so did Brazil. What happened?

It is important to remember that these are countries where rapid growth took place. One of the measures to accommodate this growth, retain converts, teach members, and build up the Church is to create small wards and branches. This can also help invest in future growth in the area. This tends to be an "offensive" tactic for missionary work. When conditions for missionary work deteriorate, or members are in need of more support and fellowship, the opposite can occur, or a "defensive" tactic. So this could be one of the reasons for why we see such a fluctuation in the number of members per unit worldwide.

Another reason for the fluctuation of over 100 members per unit we've seen in the past 30 years is similar to the last reason. Sometimes many new units are created at once. For example, in 1979 there were 1,632 new units created and 1,105 in 1980. However, the years before 1979 saw around 500-600 units being created a year and after 1980, most years saw around 300-500 new units created. A similar "burst" can be seen in the 90s where up to 1,271 new units were created in a single year. Although we have not seen a large burst in new congregations worldwide recently, we have seen this phenomenon recently in countries such as Suriname, Guyana, Madagascar, Cambodia, and the United States.

I don't want to say much more about this, other than that these are my own ideas and not something that the Church has come out and said.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Statistical Report 2007

Here's the Statistical Report for 2007

  • Stakes - 2,790
  • Church units (congregations) - 27,827
  • Districts - 618
  • Membership - 13,193,999
  • Missions - 348
  • Increase of children on record - 93,698
  • Converts baptized - 279,218
  • Missionaries - 52,686

There are a few things which really surprised me. For example, the number of missionaries fell from 53,164 to 52,686. The number of missionaries has been slowly increasing in recent years, after a major fall from 61,000 around six years ago. I predicted more units, increase of children on record and converts baptized than there were. However, the overall trend has been positive. 7,000 more converts were baptized in 2007 than in 2006, and membership increased by almost 20,000 more than it did in 2006. The percent growth rate for the Church in 2007 was 2.53% for membership and 1.26% for units.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New stake to be created in Africa this Sunday, April 13th

According to Annette and Bill Moon's blog about their senior mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new stake will be organized this Sunday in the capital city of Kinshasa. Membership in the DR of Congo is close to 20,000 and there is also very high activity (the Mission President reported attendence at district conferences in the interior of the country to be around 80%). This will bring the number of stakes in Kinshasa to four, which makes this city tied with Accra, Ghana for second for the most stakes in one metropolitan city in Africa (the most being Johannesburg, South Africa).

There are around 100 missionaries serving in the DR of Congo Kinshasa Mission. Native languages of the peoples in the DR of Congo where missionaries currently serve are Lingala (Kinshasa area), Swahili (Southern part of the country) and Tshiluba (central region of the country). After this stake will be organized, there will be five stakes in the DR of Congo. The largest stake, the Lubumbashi Stake with 15 wards, has not been split yet from what I know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Serbian Book of Mormon Published

The Church recently announced the translation of the Book of Mormon in Serbian is completed and published. This brings the total number of translations of the Book of Mormon to 107. Unfortunately, Serbia was closed to missionary work a couple months ago. There are fewer than 300 members in the country organized in four branches.

I know I haven't elaborated on the Statistical Report for 2007, and I will make some posts in the coming days.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another Blog?

I have decided to start another blog dedicated to the Church in the United States and Canada, entited ldschurchgrowth-us-canada.blogspot.com. This blog will primarily focus on congregation growth and decline, state and province membership demography and missionary work. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Potential Temples in South America

The majority of the stakes in South America were created between 1990 and 2000. In the past eight years, the majority of the stakes created were primarily in four countries: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Although membership and congregation growth rates have slowed since then, membership is becoming more mature and "seasoned." Once this occurs, the number of temples in South America should increase dramatically.

Above I posted a map of South America with the yellow dots representing existing temples, green dots representing temples which are very likely to be announced, and purple dots representing temples which are not as likely to be announced as soon as the green dot temples.