Sunday, December 27, 2009

Potential New Districts

It's been over a year since I provided a list of potential new districts. I wanted to update the list as several potential districts listed have become districts and a few more potential districts need to be added. The number in parenthesis indicates how many branches would likely belong to the district. The 2008 and 2007 versions can be found if you click on the year.

  • -Daboasi Ghana (3)
  • -Axim Ghana (3)
  • -Lome Togo (3)
  • -Conotou Benin (3)
  • -Ogwashi-Uku Nigeria (5)
  • -Ozalla Nigeria (2)
  • -Yaounde Cameroon (4)
  • -Eldoret Kenya (3)
  • -Kilunga Hills Kenya (4)
  • -Kitale Kenya (4)
  • -Kisumu Kenya (2)
  • -Mombasa Kenya (3)
  • -Mbuji-Mayi Democratic Republic of the Congo (2)
  • -Pointe-Noire Republic of Congo (3)
  • -Marromeau Mozambique (2)
  • -Windhoek Namibia (2)
  • -Luanda Angola (2)
  • -Blantyre Malawi (2)
  • -Tamatave Madagascar (3)
  • -Antsirabe Madagascar (3)
  • -George South Africa (2)
  • -Queenstown South Africa (4)
  • -Battambang Cambodia (2)
  • -Angoram Papua New Guinea (4)
  • -Malampa Vanuatu (3)
  • -Tafea Vanuatu (3)
  • -Athens Greece (3)
  • -Krasnodar Russia (3)
  • -Nizhniy Novgorod Russia (2)
  • -Vladivostok Russia (2)
  • -Voronezh Russia (2)
  • -Bratislava Slovakia (4)
  • -Lviv Ukraine (4)
  • -Simferopol Ukraine (4)
  • -Bluefields Nicaragua (2-3)
  • -Armenia El Salvador (2)
  • -Chalatenango El Salvador (4)
  • -Jacmel Haiti (3)
  • -Abasolo Mexico (2)
  • -Escarcega Mexico (2)
  • -Las Varas Mexico (3)
  • -Zacatlan Mexico (3)
  • -San Borja Bolivia (2)
  • -Gurupi Brazil (2)
  • -Porto Seguro Brazil (4)
  • -Sorriso Brazil (3)
  • -Vitoria de Santo Antao Brazil (2)
  • -Motupe Peru (2)
These potential districts indicate areas where the Church has either been recently established or where enough members may be present for the creation of a district. Many of these areas may be more prone to the creation of additional branches before the organization of a district, particularly if only two congregations are in the potential district.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

District Discontinued in Honduras

Another district has been discontinued in Honduras. The Tocoa Honduras District was discontinued, with both branches now belonging to the Olanchito Honduras District. The Olanchito Honduras District now has six branches. Three other Honduran districts were discontinued earlier this year in La Entrada, Santa Barbara, and Tela. Unlike other countries with districts, Honduras has had a large number of districts which only have two or three branches. The decision to discontinue these districts allows for limited local leadership to focus on individual branches and not a district or prepares districts which combined that now have enough congregations to become stakes. Districts which may mature into stakes in the coming months and years include districts in Olanchito and Santa Rosa de Copan. A new stake has not been created in Honduras since 1997.

Membership growth continues to increase. Last year membership grew at nearly 4.5%, significantly higher than most of the past decade. Unfortunately congregations have not grown this year, which may indicate poor retention.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The End of an Era: The Church in the 2000s and Beyond

With the end of the year and the decade rapidly approaching, I want to take some time to reflect on the progress the Church has made in the past 10 years compared to the previous decade. I also want to explore Church growth issues we may expect to see in the following decade.

Between 2000 and 2009 stakes increased by 323, half of which were created in the United States. Districts fell by around 20, congregations increased by around 2,650, missions climbed slightly from 333 to 344, and temples in operation jumped from 68 to 130. The number of full-time missionaries serving has likely dropped by 5,000.

Stake growth in the 2000s was significantly lower than in the 1990s when 803 new stakes were created. Congregational growth was also much higher in the 1990s, when 8,488 new congregations were created, more than three times as many as the 2000s. Missions also increased much more rapidly, growing by over 100. Instead of missionaries decreasing like in the 2000s, they increased by almost 19,000!

The Church experienced large differences between the 1990s and 2000s. In the 1990s the Church was established in most African countries it currently operates in and entered Eastern Europe. Greater establishment and outreach of the Church occurred in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile dramatic congregational and membership growth occurred in Latin America with greater outreach to smaller towns and rural communities. Congregations were often created with the bear minimum of active members to provide more opportunities for leadership and Church responsibilities for new converts in an effort to improve retention.

In the 2000s the Church spread to few new areas. Only a handful of countries were opened to missionary work, most of which have small populations and have seen limited Church growth (like Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Togo, and Benin). Few cities were opened for missionary work worldwide. Massive congregation consolidation occurred throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, and areas of Central Europe. Greater emphasis began to be placed on member-missionary work. New congregations were often not organized until local members were self-sustaining. Missionary numbers dropped, likely due to a drop in the number of young men mission age combined with raising the standards for missionary service. Although the quality of missionaries and their teaching improved, this resulted in a drop of 10,000 in the missionary force.

I believe that the 2000s was a time for the Church to focus on developing greater local leadership, reform the missionary program, and strengthen the large number of new converts gained in the 1980s and 1990s. This occurred in the early 2000s when we saw a decline in the number of stakes in 2002 and increases of total congregations worldwide of less than 100 for two years in a row. During the 2000s the Perpetual Education Fund began in disadvantaged nations, providing education loans to members to improve their economic stability and provide greater wealth and skilled labor for their native countries. The decrease in missionaries serving is discouraging and requires greater focus from the Church in the United States and internationally in order to see greater increases in missionaries serving to allow the opening of new missions while continuing to maintain already operating ones.

The 2010s will be very exciting for the growth of the Church. In the past two years we have seen a major change in the outreach of the Church in Africa, Asia and Latin America with new cities opening for missionary work at an increased rate. Significant increases in missionaries serving from outside the United States have occurred, particularly in Africa and Asia. In Mongolia, the number of missionaries serving from that country increased from 30 two and a half years ago to around 226 currently. Problems with member involvement in missionary work will likely continue but hopefully improve, especially in the United States. One of the great keys I believe for greater health and growth in the Church will be in renewed, continued dedication of its members to have greater faith and involvement in the Church's missionary efforts.

In the 2010s I predict that we will see the following based on recent trends and my impressions:
  1. Temples announced, under construction or in operation will reach 200
  2. The number of missions will stay stagnant or slightly increase as missionary resources continue to shift from less productive to more productive areas.
  3. Convert baptisms will exceed half a million.
  4. The opening of nations in sub-Sahara Africa to the Church, mainly Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
  5. Greater growth of membership and congregations in countries for which the Church does not publish its presence.
  6. Many of the 430 unreached Brazilian cities of over 20,000 inhabitants opening for missionary work.
  7. Countries with over 100 stakes also including Peru, the Philippines, and maybe Argentina.
  8. An increase in the number of full-time missionaries serving exceeding 2000 levels.
  9. Greater outreach among unreached cities in India, Africa and Colombia.
  10. Steady congregational and membership growth in the United States continuing.
  11. Another period of rapid growth in Central America and South America in terms of membership and congregational growth. Rapid growth has begun again in Peru, Brazil and Mexico in the past few years.
  12. Greater mission outreach in the United States among minority groups, especially Iranians, Asians, and Africans.
  13. Congregational growth exceeding 500 most years.
  14. The ratio of membership to congregations continuing to increase, perhaps reaching 500.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Stake Created in Peru

On December 13th a new stake was created in Peru. The Chincha Perú Stake was reinstated with all six branches in the former Chincha Perú District turning into wards. The Chincha Perú District was first created in 1985 and became a stake in 1992. Part of the stake was made into the Cañete Perú District in 1997. The stake was discontinued in 1999 and returned to district status. In addition to Pisco and Ica, city of Chincha received heavy damage from a large earthquake in 2007. A significant amount of humanitarian aid and assistance was provided by the Church for several months.

The new stake becomes the seventh organized in 2009 in Peru. Several additional districts appear close to turning into stakes. There are now 94 stakes and 23 districts in Peru.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Districts Discontinued

Two districts were discontinued in the Caribbean. The Oranjestad Aruba and Curacao Netherlands Antilles Districts were both discontinued, with their branches now reporting directly to the Puerto Rico San Juan West Mission. There were 458 members in three branches in Aruba and 889 members in five branches in the Netherlands Antilles at the end of 2008. Both of these districts were organized in 2004. The decision to discontinue these districts is likely due to inactivity and retention problems since these districts are distant from mission headquarters in Puerto Rico. These islands have seen some of the most rapid growth in membership in the past decade among countries/territories in the Caribbean with fewer than 1,000 members. Some of the most active, strong leaders may have been less able to assist in strengthening Church members in their local branches, contributing to these districts being discontinued.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Stake in Idaho

A new stake was created in Rigby, Idaho. I will provide the name and the number of congregations in the new stake once this information becomes available. The new stake is the 121st stake in Idaho and the third in the town of Rigby.

So far there have been 49 new stakes created in 2009.


There have been some reports on the Internet referring to this blog is an official Church site. The LDS Church Growth blog and other blogs affiliated with this site are not official Church sites.

Church Growth News from Botswana and Estonia


Missionaries serving in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission report that two cities are opening for missionary work in Botswana. Francistown, located on the border with Zimbabwe in the north, had its sole branch created in the early 2000s and has opened for missionary work. Sacrament attendance for the branch has climbed from the 40s into the 70s in just the past few months. Missionaries began more regularly visiting the branch and baptizing converts this year. A pair of senior couple missionaries are also serving in the city.

Mochudi has also opened for missionary work and a pair of elders are assigned to the city. No branch has been formed in Mochudi and members and investigators likely meet as a group or dependent branch.

The first young single adult (YSA) ward was also created in Africa in Gaborone, Botswana. The recently created Molepolole Branch now has over 70 attending Sunday meetings. There are now three wards and three branches in the country.


On the outskirts of Tallinn, the city of Keila has opened for missionary work. There are five branches in Estonia and six cities opened for missionary work.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New District in Nigeria

A new district was created last Sunday in Nigeria. The Okrika Nigeria District was created from one of the Port Harcourt stakes. Okrika was originally its own ward, which has become a branch. Additional branches are likely included in rural areas to the south or east of Port Harcourt. The Bonny Branch to the south on Bonny Island is likely also included in the new district. Indicated by three districts created this year, the Church in Nigeria has continued to strengthen and reach rural areas better than any other Africa nation.

There are now 16 stakes and 17 districts in Nigeria. Still no word on the status of the Aba Nigeria Temple after its closure in August.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New District in Malaysia

A new district has been created in East Malaysia. The Sibu East Malaysia District was created from the Kuching East Malaysia District on November 29th and includes the three branches in the city of Sibu. With the creation of the new district, there are now six districts in the country.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

District and Branch Growth

One of the interesting phenomenons in the Church that has arisen in the past 60 years are long periods of time in which there is a steady increase in wards but no increase or a decrease in the number of branches. Such a trend has occurred from the early 1950s to 1986 and since 2000. At the end of 2000 there were 17,994 wards and 7,927 branches worldwide. Currently there are about 20,506 wards and 7,821 branches in countries in which the Church publishes its presence. The number of branches worldwide is likely around 7,930. Between 2000 and the beginning of December 2009, the number of wards increased by 2,512 while the number of branches remained nearly unchanged.

The number of districts in the Church has changed with the number of branches. By the end of 2000 there were 621 districts. At the end of 2008 there were 622 districts. Reasons for periods of no increase in the number of districts and branches is due to the district/branch creation rate equaling the rate at which districts turn into stakes, branches turn into wards, or districts and branches being discontinued.

An increase in districts and branches is of great interest in studying the growth of the Church because these typically indicate the Church moving into unreached areas of the world and establishing a local leadership presence. However a steady increase in districts and branches can also indicate that the Church in unable to mature enough in areas of the world for these to turn into stakes and wards.

In 2009 we have seen the most new districts organized in the Church since 2004. So far in 2009 we have had more districts created from mission branches than any year since the 1990s. There have been at least 20 new districts organized this year, 17 of which were from mission branches in areas in which the Church is just beginning to develop local leadership and greater membership strength. Below is a list of the known new districts created this year and previous years back to 2001. Districts which were created from a portion of an operating stake are in italics and new districts created from the portion of a discontinued stake are in bold. Districts which have since been discontinued are in red.


  1. Chişinau Moldova
  2. Arad Romania
  3. Cayenne French Guiana
  4. Oron Nigeria
  5. Ikot Ekpene Nigeria
  6. Yamoussoukro Côte d'Ivoire
  7. Miskolc Hungary
  8. Szombathely Hungary
  9. Bloemfontein South Africa
  10. Konongo Ghana
  11. Chennai India
  12. Coimbatore India
  13. Visakhapatnam India
  14. Sousa Brazil
  15. Baler Philippines
  16. Bonao Dominican Republic
  17. Cotuí Dominican Republic
  18. La Vega Dominican Republic
  19. Baghdad Iraq Military
  20. Addis Ababa Ethiopia
  21. Tzaneen South Africa
  22. Sibu East Malaysia
  23. Okrika Nigeria
  1. Pinotepa México
  2. Planaltina Brazil
  3. Caruaru Brazil
  4. Mamanguape Brazil
  5. Mbabane Swaziland
  6. Newcastle South Africa
  7. Miri East Malaysia
  8. Shanghai China International (English)
  9. Kabul Afghanistan Military
  10. Rigo Papua New Guinea
  11. Andahuayles Peru
  12. Huancavelica Peru
  13. Yerevan Armenia South
  14. Ibiono Nigeria

  1. Abomosu Ghana
  2. Richards Bay South Africa
  3. Sogod Philippines
  4. Ulsan South Korea
  5. Monte Plata Dominican Republic
  6. Oldenburg Germany
  7. Nicosia Cyprus
  1. Ponte Nova Brazil
  2. Teofilo Otoni Brazil
  3. Asaba Nigeria
  4. Luputa Democratic Republic of Congo
  5. Esteli Nicaragua
  6. Juigalpa Nicaragua
  7. Moscow Russia West
  8. Rafaela Argentina
  1. Juaziero Brazil
  2. Gramado Brazil
  3. Okpuala Ngwa Nigeria
  4. Dar es Salaam Tanzania
  5. Kitwe Zambia
  6. Gonzaga Philippines
  7. Burgos Philippines
  8. Roxas Philippines Isabela
  9. Kampong Cham Cambodia
  10. Calabozo Venezuela
  11. Canje Guyana
  12. Mariano Roque Alonso Paraguay
  13. Alto Hospicio Chile
  14. Esquel Argentina
  15. Erfurt Germany
  1. Izucar de Matamoros Mexico
  2. Chahuites Mexico
  3. Ariquemes Brazil
  4. Pouso Alegre Brazil
  5. Goiana Brazil
  6. Jequie Brazil
  7. Lagarto Brazil
  8. Palmares Brazil
  9. Parnaiba Brazil
  10. Agoo Philippines
  11. Baliwag Philippines
  12. Bongabon Philippines
  13. La Caroleta Philippines
  14. Curacao Netherlands Antilles
  15. Oranjestad Aruba
  16. Paramaribo Suriname
  17. Caleta Olivia Argentina
  18. Santa Teresita Argentina
  19. Tres Arroyos Argentina
  20. Managua Nicaragua Tipitapa
  21. Togliatti Russia
  22. Katowice Poland
  23. Basse Terre Saint Kitts and Nevis
  1. Guanajuato Mexico
  2. Akure Nigeria
  3. Beira Mozambique
  4. Gweru Zimbabwe
  5. Kananga Democratic Republic of Congo
  6. Lusaka Zambia
  7. Maputo Mozambique
  8. Ballestros Philippines
  9. Bauang Philippines
  10. Camiling Philippines East
  11. Camiling Philippines West
  12. Mangaldan Philippines
  13. Mapandan Philippines
  14. Ipoh Malaysia
  15. Kuching East Malaysia
  16. Georgetown Guyana
  17. Coyhaique Chile
  18. La Union Chile
  19. Gualeguaychu Argentina
  20. Fort Stockton Texas
  21. Aracati Brazil
  1. Bangui Philippines
  2. Bambang Philippines
  3. Vigan Philippines
  4. Phnom Penh Cambodia South
  5. Gerehu Papua New Guinea
  6. Goroka Papua New Guinea
  7. Kuriva Papua New Guinea
  8. Oro Papua New Guinea
  9. El Triunfo Ecuador
  10. Riberalta Bolivia
  11. Puerto Suarez Bolivia
  12. Coquimbo Chile
  13. Coronel Chile
  14. Lebu Chile
  15. Linares Chile
  16. Melipilla Chile
  17. Ovalle Chile
  18. Parral Chile
  19. San Fernando Chile
  20. Talagante Chile
  21. Vaiparaiso Chile West
  22. Canada de Gomez Argentina
  23. Volgograd Russia
  24. Basse-Terre Guadeloupe
  25. Christ Church Barbados
  26. Linstead Jamaica
  27. Montego Bay Jamaica
  28. New Providence Bahamas
  29. Likasi Democratic Republic of Congo
  30. Itapeva Brazil District
  1. Pirassununga Brazil
  2. Sao Borja Brazil
  3. Sao Gabriel Brazil
  4. Aguilar Philippines
  5. Bangued Philippines
  6. Biliran Philippines
  7. Calasiao Philippines
  8. Phnom Penh Cambodia Central (Vietnamese)
  9. Jeju Korea
  10. Carupano Venezuela
  11. La Paz Argentina
  12. Ushuaia Argentina
  13. Krasnoyarsk Russia
  14. Omsk Russia
  15. Nueva Tolten Chile

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Stakes In Utah and Venezuela; District Discontinued in Honduras

New stake in Utah

A new stake was created in the Salt Lake area. The North Salt Lake Utah Legacy Stake was created November 15th with seven wards. The new stake was likely created from the North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake, which had 13 wards and two branches. A second stake also existed in North Salt Lake before the creation of the new stake (the North Salt Lake Utah Stake) which had nine wards.

New stake in Venezuela

The Punto Fijo Venezuela Stake was created from the Falcon Venezuela District on November 8th. The district had around nine branches before becoming a stake. A district was created in Coro, Venezuela from the Falcon Venezuela District in the mid 2000s and was recombined with the district in Falcon in 2008 likely in a move to prepare the area for a stake. The new stake becomes the first new stake in Venezuela since 2007. The Church experienced rapid growth in membership and congregations in the early to mid 2000s, which came to a rapid halt after the evacuation of LDS missionaries in late 2005/early 2006. Membership growth rates were over four percent before this time and Church membership in Venezuela reached 134,597 at the end of 2005. Membership grew by 1.78% in 2008. Slowing membership growth over the past few years resulted in congregations slowly increasing in Venezuela, increasing by only two between the end of 2006 and 2008.

There are now 27 stakes and 8 districts in Venezuela.

District discontinued in Honduras

The La Entrada Honduras District was dissolved and combined with the Santa Rosa de Copan Honduras District, which now has seven branches. The district in La Entrada was organized in 1983 and had four branches before combining with the district in Santa Rosa de Copan. It appears that this was done in preparation for creating the first stake in the mountainous, far western region on Honduras. Two other districts were discontinued only a few months ago, both of which only had two branches each and were located in Santa Barbara and Tela.

There are now 20 stakes and 8 districts in Honduras.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Church Growth Updates


Members of the Church in Angola report that a counselor to the Mission President in the Mozambique Maputo Mission was called to administer to the Church's needs in Angola. This will make it more likely for groups to be established in larger cities throughout the Church where enough members of the Church can meet to have Sunday Church meetings. Currently there are two branches in Luanda. Missionaries appear to have returned to the country after problems with visas were resolved. Unofficial reports for membership in Angola indicate that there are over 800 members in the country.


Two new branches were recently created in Kenya in Busia and Kisumu. Missionaries report that four months after the creation of the Kisumu Branch, over 120 are now attending Church meetings. The Busia Branch is located on the border with Uganda.


Two new branches were created in Zimbabwe. The new branches were created in the Bulawayo area and in Bindura. Few new congregations have been created in Zimbabwe over the past few years, which may be a result of difficult political and social conditions in the country.

Convert Baptisms Up 18% in the United States

A senior couple serving in the Dominican Republic reported that convert baptisms are on the rise in the United States. If increase of children on record remains constant from last year for the United States, we will likely see membership increase by over 100,000 in the United States for 2009 to a total of nearly 6.1 million. Elder Hinckley reported to a group of missionaries in Santo Domingo that one of the likely reasons for the increase is bishops and branch presidents taking a stronger role in coordinating missionary efforts in their congregations. The down economy also seems like a factor which may have made some Americans more receptive to the Gospel.

According to my count, the increase in congregations in the United States in 2009 has now reached over 100, which is lower than the typically increase for congregations in the United States. This lower increase in congregations in 2009 is typical of what the Church has seen in some recessions in the United States.

Swine Flu in Mongolia Results in Government Banning Public Meetings

Missionaries serving in Mongolia report that for the past several weeks Church meetings have not been held in Mongolia due to the Mongolian government's concern about the spread of swine flu. Meetings will likely continue not to be held for an additional two weeks. The Church has followed rules and regulations put forth by the government due to the flu. Missionaries report that the sacrament is administered to many Mongolian members in their homes for the time being. Convert baptisms have also been on hold, with as many as 40-50 waiting to receive baptism. The Church in Mongolia has also encountered difficulties with missionaries obtaining visas and is still awaiting news on whether pending visas have been approved.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Military District Created in Iraq

The Church News published an article about the formation of the Baghdad Iraq Military District in early November. The creation of the district will allow for the formation of branches in the country. It was noted in the article that no proselyting occurs in Iraq and the new branches are for those of the military. There were a reported 1,300 members of the Church in Iraq, nearly all of whom likely in the military or working with government. A district was created in Afghanistan in July 2008 for members of the military in that country.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Stake in Utah

A new stake was created in Providence, Utah last Sunday. The River Heights Utah Stake consists of nine wards and one branch and was created from the original two stakes in Providence. The stake becomes the first new stake under the Logan Utah Temple District to be created in five years. There are now 535 stakes in Utah.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New District in Ethiopia

Missionaries serving in the Uganda Kampala Mission report that the first district in the country of Ethiopia was created last Sunday. The Addis Ababa Ethiopia District likely includes at least three branches: Two in Addis Ababa and one in Debre Zeit. The Awasa Branch may also be included as part of the district. Altogether there are four branches in Ethiopia. A group of a few members and many investigators meets in the western city of Gambela, comprising of Sudanese refugees. Another group of investigators travels every Sunday to Debre Zeit for Church meetings from a small village in the countryside nearby.

Membership in Ethiopia stood at 848 at the end of 2008, with likely about half actively participating in Church meetings. When Elder Holland visited Ethiopia a few months ago, there were 350-400 in attendance. A new chapel is currently under construction for the Debre Zeit Branch.

Also missionaries report that the new stake in Uganda will be organized January 17th.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

District Discontinued in Costa Rica

The Cañas Costa Rica District was discontinued and combined with the neighboring Liberia Costa Rica District. The Cañas Costa Rica District only had two branches while the Liberia Costa Rica District had four branches before the two districts were combined. It appears that this was done to prepare the area for a future stake. There are now five stakes and five districts in Costa Rica with 36,666 members and 76 congregations at the end of 2008.

Missionaries serving in the San Jose metropolitan area report that a future stake may also be created in the Heredia area. Three of the stakes in the San Jose area have 12 or more congregations. Membership growth has been slow over the past decade, with the most rapid growth occurring in 2008. There has been little growth in the number of congregations in Costa Rica in the past decade, yet around six branches have turned into wards during this time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Stake in Texas

A new stake was created last Sunday in Texas. The Spring Texas Stake was created from the Houston Texas North Stake and the College Station Texas Stake. The new stake consists of seven wards, two of which were taken from the College Station Texas Stake. Growth in the number of stakes in Texas has been impressive in recent years. Since the beginning of 2005 there have been 11 new stakes created in the Lone Star State, now totaling 55. Only Utah, California, Idaho, and Arizona have more stakes. Membership growth has also been consistent, with the number of Church members increasing from 217,725 in 2000 to 278,492 in 2008. Strong growth in the Church in Texas is due to large numbers of Church members moving to the state combined with the missions in Texas regularly baptizing converts into the Church. Some of the more successful missions in terms of the number of converts in Texas are the Texas San Antonio and Texas McAllen Missions.

Below is a list of the stakes organized in Texas since the beginning of 2005:

Tyler Texas Stake: January 22, 2005
Houston Texas West (Spanish) Stake: January 8, 2006
Weatherford Texas Stake: April 30, 2006
Richmond Texas Stake: May 7, 2006
Allen Texas Stake: August 26, 2007
San Antonio Texas Hill Country Stake: January 27, 2008
Frisco Texas Stake: May 4, 2008
Kyle Texas Stake: May 4, 2008
McAllen Texas West Stake: September 7, 2008
League City Texas Stake: October 25, 2009
Spring Texas Stake: November 8, 2009

Several stakes in Texas appear close to dividing. Below are a list of stakes likely to divide in the near future. These stakes have seen consistent growth in new congregations and currently have enough congregations to be divided. Oftentimes new stakes are not created until a stake has at least 13 wards in Texas.

Colleyville Texas Stake: 13 wards
Dallas Texas East Stake: 12 wards
Richardson Texas Stake: 14 wards
Round Rock Texas Stake: 12 wards, 2 branches

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stake Discontinued in the Dominican Republic

The La Vega Dominican Republic Stake was discontinued a week ago and split into three districts. I reported on two of these districts last week. The third districts is the La Vega Dominican Republic District, which consists of four branches. I don't believe there has been a time in Church history when a stake was discontinued and broken down into so many districts. The stake was likely discontinued due to membership scattered over a large geographic area and concentrated in the three cities where the new districts were created (Bonao, Cotui, and La Vega). Perhaps mission and area leadership hope to increase membership and member activity to eventually turn each of the districts into stakes. It is likely that the stake was discontinued due to a lack in active Priesthood holders considering the former stake consisted of five wards and six branches. By turning the stake into three districts, local leadership can focus on a more local level in each district. There are now 18 stakes and 11 districts in the Dominican Republic.

There have now been three stakes discontinued this year, the other two being in the Grants New Mexico and Albany Georgia Stakes. So far 2009 is shaping out to be the year with the fewest stakes discontinued since 1999 when only two stakes were discontinued. The last year in which no stakes were discontinued was 1997.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Districts in the Dominican Republic

Two new districts were created last Sunday in the Dominican Republic. The Bonao Dominican Republic District was created from the La Vega Dominican Republic Districts and consists of four branches. The Cotuí Dominican Republic District was created from the San Francisco de Macoris Dominican Republic Stake with three branches. A district used to exist in Cotuí until the early part of this decade. The two new districts were likely organized due to these cities and nearby towns having multiple congregations. Membership growth has been consistent in Bonao and Cotuí, but unfortunately we have not seen any new congregations organized in this area.

There are now 19 stakes and 10 districts in the Dominican Republic. Senior missionaries serving in the Dominican Republic recently reported that about 500 Dominicans are serving missions currently. In the near future we may see additional stakes organized in Santo Domingo or from districts in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission. The city of San Pedro has had a large number of branches, but as of yet has not been made into a stake.

Monday, November 2, 2009

First Stake to be Created in Uganda

According to a returned missionary from the Kenya Nairobi Mission, the First Presidency has authorized the creation of the first stake in Uganda in the capital of Kampala. The new stake will be created from the Kampala Uganda District likely in January although no firm date has been announced. Currently Uganda is the country with the fifth most members without a stake. A total of 16 branches, two districts and at least two groups function in the country. It is unclear whether all the 10 branches will be included in the new stake or how many will become wards.

The Church established the first branch in Uganda in 1990 and at the time there were 32 members of the Church in the country. Membership increased to about 1,500 in 1997, 2,598 in 2000 and 4,701 in 2007. In 2008 unprecedented membership growth occurred, with membership increasing by about 2,200 to 6,919 or a rate of 47%. Despite the rapid growth in recent years in Uganda, membership activity has only slightly improved according to missionaries serving in the Uganda Kampala Mission, which was organized in 2005 from the Kenya Nairobi Mission. This is evident by a missionary in the Uganda Kampala Mission reporting that for the first time sacrament attendance for the countries in the mission (Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Southern Sudan) was over 1,500 in the middle of 2009. Activity rates for Uganda may be as low as 20%.

Despite challenges in membership activity and establishing the Church, significant progress has been made with the approval of the first stake in Uganda considering a stake requires a certain number of active members. Oftentimes districts must function as a stake would function for a year before the district can be made into a stake. As for the rest of the country, the Church has a presence in Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, and Lira.

I will post more information about the new stake in Uganda under comments once more information becomes available.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New District in the Philippines

A new district was created in the Philippines on October 18th. The Baler Philippines District was organized from four branches (Baler, Dipaculao, Maria, and San Luis Branches). Baler is a small city located on the eastern side of the island of Luzon, home to half of the Philippines 92 million inhabitants. The number of branches in the Baler area has grown from just one in 2001 to four today. Before the new district was organized the branches were not a part of a stake or district. The Baler Philippines District becomes the first new district organized in the Philippines since the Sogod Philippines District in early 2007. There are now 79 stakes and 86 districts in the Philippines.

One new stake was also organized earlier this year in the Philippines in Sagay. The Philippines is the country with the most districts, with one out of every seven districts in the Church located in the Philippines. The reason for the large number of districts in the Philippines is due to high inactivity and the inability for members of the Church to travel far for Church meetings and conferences. We will likely see many districts mature into stakes in the near future as the Church focuses on strengthening the many districts in the country.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lebanon Dedicated for the Preaching of the Gospel

Members of the Church in the Middle East report that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles dedicated Lebanon for the preaching of the Gospel Thursday, October 22nd. Lebanon becomes the first country in the Middle East to be dedicated for missionary work in recent years. The Church stopped publishing information about the Church's presence in Lebanon in the early 2000s. The Deseret News 2003 Church Almanac reported 139 members in one branch back at the end of 2001. Since this time senior missionary couples have served off and on in the capital city of Beirut, where the country's sole branch is established. Lebanon became part of the newly created Middle East Africa North Area in 2008.

There have not been any immediate plans announced for full-time missionaries to begin proselyting in the country according to member reports from the area. There have been a number of Lebanese who have joined the Church in other nations around the world. Missionary work likely occurs through member referrals in Beirut. Lebanon is the country in the Middle East with the highest percentage of Christians (39%). A little over half the population is Muslim. Members report that the government recognizes the Church and likely has official status. Currently the Church is not recognized by most governments in the Middle East.

The Church dedicating Lebanon for the preaching of the Gospel indicates an increased effort to conduct missionary work in Lebanon, likely the result of the many prayers of members in behalf of those areas of the world which were not yet opened to preaching of the Gospel.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recent Church Growth News

New stakes to be created in the United States

Members living in Houston, Texas report that a new stake will be organized this Sunday likely from the Houston Texas East and Friendswood Texas Stakes. Another new stake may also be organized before the end of the year in the Houston area. A new stake will also be created in Providence, Utah next month. I will provide more information on these new stakes once they are actually created.

So far this year there have been 43 new stakes organized. If we see more than 50 new stakes organized in 2009 it will be the largest number of new stakes organized in one year since 1998.

Growth in Madagascar

Missionaries report in a recent stake conference for the Antananarivo Madagascar stake that plans were nearly complete for the country's sole stake to be divided. Estimates on when the new stake would be organized were in October or November. As of yet no date has been set for the creation of the new stake. The stake has rapidly grown from six wards and four branches at the end of 2007 to 11 wards and three branches currently. At least one group/dependent branch is also meeting in the city preparing to become an independent Church unit.

Four missionaries were sent to open Mahajanga for the preaching of the Gospel; two six weeks ago and two more just in the past week or two. Approval for the first branch was just authorized for Mahajanga and members will be meeting in a larger rented space for Church meetings. Missionaries serving in the city report there are around 15-20 active Church members and about as many investigators attending Church meetings. Fianarantsoa also received its first four missionaries last month, were only a handful of members reside but dozens of investigators attend meetings weekly. Another group has also begun meeting in the city of Ambositra, which is between Fianarantsoa and Antsirabe.

Missionaries attending the recently held stake conference in Antananarivo also reported that two districts for Antsirabe and Tamatave would also be organized before the end of the year. No date has been set or reported for the new districts' creation however.

City opens for missionary work in Moldova

A senior couple serving in the Romania Bucharest Mission report that the city of Balti was opened for missionary work in Moldova. Balti is the second largest city in Moldova and has a few Church members already living in the city. The city had a temporarily Church presence in the early 2000s. A group will likely be formed if one has not already for Church meetings. Currently there are only two branches in Moldova: One in Chisinau and one in Orhei. The first district for Moldova was just organized this past January and also includes one branch in neighboring Romania.

9,000 members of the Church in Mongolia and a new branch

In a recent speech about religious freedom becoming more threatened in the United States, Elder Oaks recounted the history of the Church in Mongolia. He reported that membership now stands at 9,000, which is an increase of nearly 600 since the beginning of the year. Membership growth in Mongolia was very rapid in the late 1990s to the early 2000s and then slowed until the beginning of 2008. Considering there are two more months left in the year, we may see membership climb to 9,200 for the end of 2009. Membership grew in Mongolia by 9.36% last year and if membership totals 9,200 for 2009 the growth rate will drop a fraction to 8.95%. Also, a new branch was organized in Mongolia in Erdenet. The Erdenet Branch was divided and the Erdenet 2nd Branch was created. Erdenet is part of the Darkhan Mongolia District.

Group meeting in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo

A senior missionary couple serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa Mission reported that a group has been meeting in the city of Kasumbalesa, DR Congo. Kasumbalesa rests on the border with Zambia and has around 40 members and investigators attending Church meetings. The group is preparing to becoming a branch. A new branch was also recently organized in Kipushi, another nearby border town with Zambia.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Stake in Brazil

A new stake was created last Sunday in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil metropolitan area. The Arsenal Brazil Stake was created from the Niterói Brazil Stake and includes four wards and three branches. Considering the Niterói Brazil Stake had 10 wards and four branches before the Arsenal Brazil Stake was created leaves six wards and one branch in the Niterói Brazil Stake. Both stakes are to the east of Rio de Janeiro on the east side of Guanabara Bay. The new Arsenal Stake likely includes Rio Bonito, a city recently opened to missionary work and received its first branch in the past year or two. With the creation of the new stake there are now 13 stakes and one district in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Other stakes in the state do not appear close to splitting until more wards and branches are created.

Rio de Janeiro appears the most likely city in Brazil to have a new temple announced in the coming months and years. The state of Ceará, where the Fortaleza Brazil Temple was announced earlier this month, only has one more stake than the state of Rio de Janeiro. The temple district which the members of the Church in the state of Rio de Janeiro belong to is the Campinas Brazil Temple District, which includes 70 stakes and 22 districts. The Campinas Brazil Temple District ranks the third largest in the number of stakes in a temple district that does not have another temple announced or under construction in the current temple district after the temple districts for the Mexico City Mexico and Provo Utah Temples. The Campinas Temple ranks first for the temple which serves the most stakes and districts and does not have an additional temple in the temple district area announced or under construction. A temple in Rio de Janeiro could serve members in 23 stakes and 10 districts in the states of Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro.

There are now 230 stakes and 51 districts in Brazil.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Countries With The Most Members With Only One Temple

Shortly after I began this blog I made a post about the five countries with the largest memberships with only one temple. I wanted to update this list since temples were recently announced in three nations which used to only have one temple: Argentina, Chile and Peru. Below is an updated list with membership totals provided by the Church as of the end of 2008. Stake and district totals are current.
  1. Ecuador - 185,663 (34 stakes, 9 districts)
  2. Colombia - 163,764 (28 stakes, 12 districts)
  3. Bolivia - 163,119 (24 stakes, 10 districts)
  4. Venezuela - 144,089 (26 stakes, 9 districts)
  5. Honduras - 131,098 (20 stakes, 9 districts)
Each of these countries have at least one other city which may have a temple announced. It should be noted that most other Latin American nations did not receive an announcement of a second temple until their memberships were more than double Ecuador's current membership (the nation which currently has the largest membership with one temple). Furthermore the temples in each of these countries are centrally located for members, as have the first temples for many Latin American countries. The temple in Honduras is not even built yet and just began construction. Unless the Church initiates a more aggressive temple building program similar to the late 1990s, these nations will likely not receive a second temple until membership increases dramatically in number and activity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New District in Brazil

A new district was organized in northeastern Brazil last Sunday. The Sousa Brazil District was created in the state of Paraiba from three branches in Sousa and Cajazeiras. The Church has had a presence in far western Paraiba for only a year or two. The new district is characteristic of the rapid growth seen in smaller, interior towns in northern Brazil over the past decade. For example, in the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte the city of Caico did not belong to a stake or district back in November of 2001. Only one branch was in the city and one branch was also functioning in nearby Currais Novos. Both branches were soon made into a district, which became a stake in 2007. Mossoro also went from three branches in 2001 to a stake in 2006.

There are now 229 stakes and 51 districts in Brazil.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Three New Districts Created In India

I just wanted to confirm that the three new districts in India were indeed created on Sunday, October 11th. The new districts were created in Chennai, Coimbatore and Vishakhapatnam. The historic event was broadcast to 12 locations in southern India with nearly 2,000 members attending. For more information about the new districts, please refer to my earlier post.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why Church Growth?

When examining the subject of the growth of the Church we need to ask ourselves why it is important. We need to put this topic in its appropriate place. Otherwise we can be negatively affecting the growth of the Church, misunderstanding its origin and failing to meet the responsibilities and requirements the Lord set forth for proclaiming the Gospel.

President Boyd K. Packer stated the following about the growth of the Church at the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar held at the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center:

"It is a new thought to us across the Church that we are not to be duplicating the Wasatch Front out there with the number of buildings and the congregations and the large audiences and activities that go on and on…we are to establish the gospel."

I wanted to articulate that Elder Packer stated that it is a “new thought to us across the Church” that we are not to be focused on replicating the size of the Church and the number of members in Utah across the world. It is not the purpose of the Church to establish itself around the globe just for the purpose of adding to our numbers. Rather it is the purpose of the Church to teach its members and everyone to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and keep the commandments, thereby sharing the joy that comes from living a Christ-centered life. When members and missionaries of the Church live the Gospel and share it with those around them, growth is the automatic result. We can use statistics to gather information on how the Gospel has spread among the nations of the world and chart progress made. Our goal is not the statistics however. It’s changing the lives of the people for better. We may also see various prophesies about the growth of the Church in the scriptures and by leaders in the Church fulfilled.

We need to be careful we do not look beyond the mark when studying the demographics and growth of the Church. The programs and meetinghouses the Church adopts and utilizes are only instruments assisting in missionary work and Gospel teaching. Key habits required by lifelong members and converts alike that strengthen testimonies include regular prayer, studying the scriptures and weekly Church attendance and activity. Elder Packer expanded on this principle through the following quote, also taken from the same Mission Presidents Seminar:

"If you have congregations of people in branches, and the gospel is being taught, and they are understanding it, then you have done what you are called to do. Building the Church seems to center around buildings and budgets and programs and procedures, but somewhere in the midst of it the gospel is struggling for breath. Get that fixed in the minds of your elders."

As noted in earlier posts, all members of the Church have a responsibility to share the Gospel. We sometimes see the result of this responsibility fulfilled by the establishment of new congregations, stakes and districts. The creation of new missions and the opening of cities for the preaching of the Gospel indicate an increase by the members of the Church to follow Christ's commandment to take the Gospel forth to all the world. As we see new temples announced, constructed, dedicated, and utilized we see the Church fulfilling its three-fold purpose.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bringing the Temple to the Saints

During President Monson's opening remarks of the 179th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he noted that 83% of Church membership lived within 200 miles of a temple. Using membership totals for the end of 2008 would indicate that about 11.2 million people live within 200 miles of a temple whereas the remaining 2.3 million do not live this close to an operating temple.

Where do the majority of these 2.3 million members reside? As of the end of 2008 there were 492,424 members residing in countries in which there was no temple operating, under construction or announced. Members of the Church living in nations where a temple was announced or under construction totaled 266,584 for the same year. This brings the total to 759,008 for members of the Church who live in nations where there is not an operating temple for countries for which the Church publishes membership totals. These members account for a third of those who live further than 200 miles from a temple.

The majority of members of the Church who live more than 200 miles away from a temple live in nations which already have operating temples. Most of these members live in the countries which have the largest Church memberships. This would mainly include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, Chile, Peru, and Argentina. As the Church continues to build and announce temples in these nations we will likely see a greater percentage of Church members closer to temple.

Lastly I wanted to include a graph which illustrates the average number of stakes per temple. Notice how that currently temples have never been as accessible to the overall membership of the Church since the 1940s as indicated by the lower number of stakes per temple. Currently there is an average of 22 stakes per temple district. The lower ratio of stakes per temple in the 1940s can be attributed to the vast majority of members of the Church living near temples operating at the time, particularly in Utah, Idaho, Canada, and Arizona.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New District in Ghana

A new district was created in Ghana on September 20th. The Konongo Ghana District was created from the Nkawkaw Ghana District and includes three branches, two of which are in Konongo. When the Kumasi Ghana Stake was organized in 1998 there was a ward in Konongo. The ward was divided into two branches and included later in the Nkawkaw Ghana District. The Nkawkaw Ghana District was quite large, with around 10 branches. This is a likely reason for the new district's creation. The new district brings the total of districts in Ghana to six. There are also seven stakes in Ghana.

We will likely see new stakes created in Ghana in the near future in Accra and Takoradi. The number of mission branches in Ghana has also recently increased. We may see additional districts in Ghana created in Axim, Daboasi and Mankessim.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Five New Temples Announced

At the opening remarks of the 179th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, President Monson announced the construction of five new temples in the following locations:
  1. Brigham City, Utah
  2. Concepcion, Chile
  3. Fortaleza, Brazil
  4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  5. Sapporo, Japan
With the announcement of the five new temples, this brings the total of temples announced, under construction, or in operation to 151.

The Brigham City Utah Temple will likely serve members living in about 10 stakes in the area around Brigham City. The Concepcion Chile Temple, which becomes the second temple in Chile, will likely serve members living in 18 stakes and 10 districts in southern Chile. The new temple announcement likely indicates a strengthening of the membership of the Church in Chile.

The Fortaleza Brazil Temple will likely serve members in 18 stakes and two districts in northeastern Brazil. Fortaleza was the city in the world with the most stakes without a temple prior to the new temple announcement. This brings the total of temples in Brazil to seven.

The Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple will likely serve members of the Church in southern Florida in around seven stakes. The new temple will be the second in the state and 72nd in the United States. Members of the Church in areas of southern Florida reported several months ago of a special fast for a temple in southern Florida.

Lastly the Sapporo Japan Temple will likely serve members of the Church on the northernmost island of Hokkaido in three stakes and at least one district.

Temple districts are usually announced prior to the temple's dedication. The above predictions are not authoritative.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New District to be Created in South Africa

Missionaries serving in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission report that approval was given for the first district to be created in northeastern South Africa. The new district will likely include seven independent mission branches. Some of the branches in the new district are in the cities of Lenyenye, Mokopane, Polokwane, and Tzaneen. There has been no date provided for when the new district will be organized or what its name will be. I will post this information once it becomes available. Some of the branches in this region of the country have had inactivity and retention problems over the years. Missionaries hope that with the organization of a district for the branches, members and leadership will receive more training and assistance to help strengthen the Church in the area.

Once the district is organized there will be a total of four districts in South Africa and an additional 11 stakes. The last district to be created in South Africa was in Bloemfontein last June. The only areas in South Africa which I believe may receive new districts in the coming year or two would be around Johannesburg for outlying branches or in the South Africa Capetown Mission.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two New Stakes In Lima, Peru

Last Sunday there was a regional stake conference broadcast for members of the Church in Peru. Speakers in the conference, such as Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf, commented on how someday there will be more temples in Peru. Missionaries stated that one of the obstacles mentioned in the conference that was preventing more temples built in the country was a lack in member activity in areas such as tithing and Church attendance.

According to missionaries serving in the Peru Lima North Mission two new stakes were created last Sunday from two already existing stakes in part of the city. As of yet I do have specifics on the names of the new stakes or which stakes were involved in the split and will provide them under comments once they become available. So far in 2009 there have been a total of six new stakes created in Peru: five in Lima and one in Chimbote. There are now a total of 93 stakes and 24 districts in the country.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stakes Outside the United States Likely to Split Soon

Up to now I have not created any posts providing a list of likely stakes to be divided outside the U.S. Information I have gathered for previous posts on stakes likely to split in the U.S. is based on the number and increase of congregations as provided through stake and ward websites. The Church currently only has websites for most stakes and districts in the United States and Canada. Recently websites were extended to stakes and districts in Australia and New Zealand, may of which currently have functioning websites. A few stakes in some Latin America countries or English speaking congregations around the world have official Church websites as well.

Data used to compile this list was provided through Church websites, such as, and missionary and member observations or reports. This list is not definitive and does not guarantee that these stakes will be divided and new ones created. Some of these stakes listed are based on my opinions. The time frame for when these stakes will likely be divided is within the next two or three years.

Your suggestions and input is valuable. Please offer constructive comments on where potential stakes may be created from already existing stakes outside the United States or if any of the following stakes appear to be unlikely to split.


Yopougon Cote D'Ivoire Stake
Takoradi Ghana Stake
Tema Ghana Stake
Antananarivo Madagascar Stake
Benin City Nigeria Ihobge Stake
Benin City Nigeria New Benin Stake
Lagos Nigeria Stake


Butuan Philippines Stake
Savaii Samoa Stake
Kaohsiung Taiwan Stake
Papeeti Tahiti Stake
Raromatai Tahiti Stake


Belem Brazil Stake
Brasilia Brazil Alvorada Stake
Fortaleza Brazil Montese
Hortolandia Brazil Stake
Joinville Brazil Stake
Juiz de Fora Brazil Stake
Niteroi Brazil Stake
Rio Branco Brazil Stake
São José do Rio Preto Brazil Stake


Calgary Alberta Foothills Stake
Calgary Alberta North Stake
Calgary Alberta West Stake
Edmonton Alberta Millwoods Stake
Edmonton Alberta North Stake

Central America

Alajuela Costa Rica Stake
San Jose Costa Rica La Paz Stake
Tegucigalpa Honduras Toncontin Stake
Managua Nicaragua Stake


Elche Spain Stake


Amecameca México Stake
Celaya México Stake
Chilpancingo México Stake
Ciudad Juárez México East Stake
Ciudad Juárez México La Cuesta Stake
Coatzacoalcos México Puerto Stake
Culiacán México Stake
Jalapa México Stake
Juchitán México Stake
México City Anáhuac Stake
México City Chapultepec Stake
México City Culturas Stake
México City Iztapalapa Stake
México City La Perla Stake
México City Tecamac Stake
México City Tepalcapa Stake
México City Valle Dorado Stake
México City Villa de las Flores Stake
Oaxaca México Monte Albán Stake
Pachuca México Centro Stake
Puebla México Nealticán Stake
Saltillo México República Stake
Veracruz México Stake

South America (Spanish)

Jujuy Argentina Stake
Santa Cruz Bolivia Cañoto Stake
Luque Paraguay Stake
Arequipa Perú Manuel Prado Stake
Lima Perú Canto Grande Stake
Lima Perú Puente Piedra Stake
Lima Perú Villa Salvador Stake
Montevideo Uruguay East Stake
Ciudad Ojeda Venezuela Stake
Guayana Venezuela Stake
Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake
Maracay Venezuela Stake
Puerto La Cruz Venezuela

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Stakes In Brazil and Guatemala


A new stake was created last Sunday in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The stake in Campo Grande was divided and a second stake for the city organized (which becomes the third stake in the state as well). The Campo Grande Brazil Monte Líbano Stake includes four wards and one branch. This brings the total number of stakes to 229 in Brazil.

The original Campo Grande Brazil Stake was organized in June of 1991. It appeared like the stake would be divided in 2001 when there were nine wards and one branch. The new Campo Grande Brazil Monte Líbano Stake is one of the smallest stakes created in recent years in terms of the number of congregations. The recently created stake in Kinshasa last month also had four wards and a branch. It is likely that the two stakes in Campo Grande will have more congregations added in the coming months and years.


The first new stake created in Guatemala in 10 years was created last Sunday. The Totonicapán Guatemala Stake was created from the Nahualá Guatelmala District and a portion of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala El Bosque Stake. The three branches in the Nahualá Guatemala District became wards and three wards and two branches were taken from the Quetzaltenango Guatemala El Bosque Stake. The new stake will be nearby the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple, which is currently under construction. The new stake brings the total number of stakes in Guatemala to 39 and districts to 18.

We will likely see more new stakes in Guatemala, created mainly from districts. The Church has recently had a drop in the number of wards and branches in Guatemala primarily due to many branches being discontinued since 2000 as well as several wards discontinued last year. The number of congregations in the country fell from 451 in 2000 to 418 at the end of 2008. This drop in congregations was likely attributed to smaller branches combining to created stronger branches in districts so that they could become stakes (the number of wards increased in Guatemala from 239 to 241 - indicating that very few branches in stakes had become wards during this time). Unfortunately we have not seen any districts become stakes happened as of yet with the exception of the Totonicapán Guatemala Stake.

Membership usually increases by about 5,000 members a year in Guatemala and currently stands at 215,000.

Three New Districts In India In October

Missionaries serving in the India Bangalore Mission report that the First Presidency of the Church has approved the creation of three new districts in the country. These districts will be created October 11th. The new districts will be created in Chennai, Coimbatore and Vishakhapatnam. The district in Chennai will include at least two branches in the city, with a third branch likely to be created soon considering new districts usually have at least three branches and the two branches currently in Chennai are rather large. The district in Coimbatore will likely include the branch in Coimbatore as well as three other branches nearby. The district in Vishakhapatnam will likely include the three branches in the city as well as two branches in Rajahmundry and one branch in Kakinada. With the creation of these three new districts in India the number of districts will double to six.

These new districts in India have been the result of decades of missionary work and training leadership. The new districts will also likely facilitate the establishment of stakes in India considering the districts in Bangalore and Hyderabad will be able to focus on preparing the branches to become wards. There has been no timetable set forth for when districts may become stakes, but there have been longterm goals set for districts in the country to become stakes.

Currently there are 30 branches, three districts and two missions of the Church in India.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stakes in the United States Likely to Split Soon

Below I have an updated list of stakes in the United States which could possibly split soon due to the large number of wards (large congregations) within them. An old version of this list from last December can be found here. Some of these stakes will likely be divided and have the new stake include a few congregations taken from other stakes nearby not listed below.

In order for new stakes to be created, there has to be enough active members, which makes the increase in new stakes a good indicator for Church growth. Unfortunately we have not seen very many new congregations created in the United States this year compared to years past. We might end up having the fewest number of new congregations created in the U.S. this year in over a decade unless the pace at which new wards and branches picks up. However we will likely have at least a hundred new units created in 2009 in the U.S. Currently we have had somewhere around seventy created this year by my count.
  • Huntsville Alabama Stake (13 wards)
  • Wasilla Alaska Stake (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Gilbert Arizona Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Flagstaff Arizona Stake (12 wards, 3 branches)
  • Phoenix Arizona Deer Valley Stake (13 wards)
  • Prescott Arizona Stake (13 wards, 2 branches)
  • Taylor Arizona Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Bakersfield California Stake (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Camarillo California Stake (12 wards)
  • Poway California Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Rocklin California Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Roseville California Stake (12 wards)
  • Arapahoe Colorado Stake (13 wards)
  • Denver Colorado North Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Meeker Colorado Stake (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Parker Colorado Stake (12 wards)
  • Wilmington Delaware Stake (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Kahului Hawaii Stake(11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Eagle Idaho Stake (13 wards)
  • Chubbuck Idaho Stake (12 wards)
  • Rigby Idaho Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Louisville Kentucky Stake (11 wards, 5 branches)
  • Cambridge Massachusetts Stake (12 wards, 3 branches)
  • Omaha Nebraska Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Las Vegas Nevada South Stake (11 wards)
  • North Las Vegas Nevada Stake (12 wards)
  • Sparks Nevada Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Keizer Oregon Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Colleyville Texas Stake (13 wards)
  • Dallas Texas East Stake (12 wards)
  • Houston Texas West (Spanish) Stake (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Round Rock Texas Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • American Fork Utah West Stake (12 wards)
  • Eagle Mountain Utah Stake (11 wards)
  • Eagle Mountain Utah East Stake (13 wards)
  • Eagle Mountain Utah West Stake (13 wards)
  • Enoch Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Fort Herriman Utah Stake (14 wards)
  • Highland Utah Stake (13 wards)
  • Hooper Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Huntsville Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Kanesville Utah Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • La Verkin Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Layton Utah South Stake (13 wards)
  • Lehi Utah North Stake (14 wards, 1 branch)
  • North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake (13 wards, 2 branches)
  • Orem Utah Sunset Heights Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Pleasant Grove Manila Stake (12 wards)
  • Providence Utah Stake (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Providence Utah South Stake (15 wards)
  • Provo Utah South Stake (12 wards)
  • Richmond Utah Stake (12 wards)
  • Salt Lake Utah (Tongan) Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Santa Clara Utah Stake (15 wards)
  • Smithfield Utah Stake (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • South Weber Stake (12 wards)
  • Spanish Fork Utah South Stake (14 wards, 1 branch)
  • Tooele Utah North Stake (12 wards)
  • Tremonton Utah South Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • West Point Utah Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • West Point Utah Lakeside Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Buena Vista Virginia Stake (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Fredericksburg Virginia Stake (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Pasco Washington Stake (12 wards, 4 branches)
  • Cheyenne Wyoming Stake (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Gillette Wyoming Stake (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Laramie Wyoming Stake (12 wards)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Districts Discontinued In Honduras

Two districts were recently discontinued in Honduras. The Santa Barbara Honduras District and Tela Honduras District each only had two branches. The Santa Barbara Honduras District was located southwest of San Pedro Sula and the Tela Honduras District was located to the west of the port city of La Ceiba. It was likely these districts became mission branches, not a part of a stake or district. There are now 20 stakes and nine districts in Honduras. Despite the dissolution of two districts in Honduras, we continue to see increased growth from years past in Honduras. Membership increased by the second highest percentage last year since 2000. We also saw six new congregations created in the country in 2008.

We continue see a trend this year of districts with only two branches being discontinued. So far this year there have been 14 districts discontinued, half of which had only two branches. These districts are discontinued through revelation to priesthood leaders. Oftentimes such small districts carry with them greater demands than independent mission branches when local leadership is taken away from the branch level.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Stake In Brazil

A new stake was created last Sunday in São Paulo Brazil. The São Paulo Brazil Raposo Tavares stake was divided to create the São Paulo Brazil Cotia Stake. The new stake consists of seven wards and one branch stretching from Cotia on the east to Ibiúna on the west. Out of recently created stakes in Latin America, the São Paulo Brazil Cotia Stake is one of the new stakes with the most congregations. The Located on the western side of the city of São Paulo, the new stake includes many suburban communities or smaller towns outside of São Paulo and becomes the 29th stake to have São Paulo part of its name and the 37th stake in the São Paulo metropolitan area. There are now 228 stakes in Brazil.

We have seen strong, consistant growth in São Paulo with new wards and stakes created. There have been seven new stakes created in São Paulo since the beginning of 2007. However we are unlikely to see many new stakes created in São Paulo until more wards and branches are created in the area.

Below are a list of the seven recently created stakes in the city.

São Paulo Brazil Embu Stake: March 4, 2007
São Paulo Brazil Cumbica Stake: March 11, 2007
São Paulo Brazil Itaquá Stake: June 10, 2007
São Paulo Brazil Jardim da Saúde Stake: September 16, 2007
São Paulo Brazil Jaraguá Stake: November 23, 2008
São Paulo Brazil Casa Grande Stake: December 7, 2008
São Paulo Brazil Cotia Stake: September 6, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Stake In Spain

The Vitoria Spain Stake was created today in the Spain Bilbao Mission. The new stake becomes Spain's 10th stake and the first in northern Spain. The new stake includes five wards (the Santander, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Logrono and Pamplona Wards) and three branches (Las Arenas, Vitoria and Burgos). There were an estimated 700-850 in attendance for the stake's creation. Growth has been slow but steady in northern Spain. The new stake is the result of decades of missionary work. The Bilbao Spain District (which was used to make the new stake) was originally organized in 1980.

Metropolitan Areas With The Most Stakes

One of the greatest strengths to the Church is when many Church members live in the same city. When concentrated in a particular geographic place, members of the Church are usually more easily able to fellowship one another and help build up the Church through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Close proximity and large populations allows for the Church to preach the Gospel message to a greater number of people in a shorter amount of time than in rural areas, where more time is spent traveling from place to place to teach fewer individuals and families. Members of the Church concentrated in cities also facilitates the building and operation of temples and the creation of stakes.

There are 36 cities in the world with at least 10 stakes in their metropolitan areas. Out of these 36 cities only two do not have a temple: Fortaleza, Brazil (which has 13 stakes) and Pocatello, Idaho (which has 11 stakes). There are some interesting comparisons we can make with the data below. For instance, if the ratio of stakes to population in Mexico City were the same as Salt Lake City, there would be a total of 2,804 stakes in Mexico City which is about how many stakes there are in the entire Church. Another interesting hypothetical situation is if the ratio of stakes to population in Salt Lake City were the same as the ratio of stakes to population in Mexico City there would be only three stakes in Salt Lake City!

Some of the metropolitan area populations are estimated (particularly for Utah) due to the large number of small towns in their peripheries. Most of the population data comes from or Census Bureau estimates. Most suburbs or neighboring cities less than 30 or so miles away from the named metropolitan city are included in metropolitan population and stake numbers. What constitutes a metropolitan area is up to debate, but is best to be thought of as a conglomeration of urban neighborhoods and population centers.

Click on the table below to view.


I wanted to correct some incorrect information on the blog (which has since been removed) concerning a district created in Malaysia. There was no district created in Sibu and there are no formal plans to open up the additional cities mentioned in the deleted post. I apologize for the misinformation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rwanda Dedicated For The Preaching Of The Gospel

The LDS Church News reported that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland dedicated the country of Rwanda for missionary work August 27th. Rwanda has a population of about 10 million people that speaks English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili. Currently Rwanda is part of the Uganda Kampala Mission and will likely receive proselyting missionaries soon. As of now there is only one branch in the country and only 17 members. There have been many baptisms so far this year and attendance at the Kigali Branch has climbed to around 40 or 50 as of last Spring.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Stake In The Democratic Republic of Congo

A new stake was created August 23rd in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the capital city of Kinshasa. The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo Kimbanseke Stake was created from a division of the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo Masina Stake. The new stake consists of four wards and one branch located on the south and east sides of Kinshasa. Although the new stake was created with very few congregations the Church grows rapidly in Kinshasa and several more will likely be created soon. In 2007 the Accra Ghana McCarthy Hill Stake was only created with four wards and a couple branches but since has had many new congregations created. There are now five stakes in Kinshasa and one on the other side of the river in Brazzaville. All together there are seven stakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The creation of the new stake will likely increase the possibility of a future temple in Kinshasa. The nearest temple to the country is in South Africa, over 1,000 miles away. Currently the Kinshasa-Brazzaville metropolitan area is tied with Johannesburg South Africa for the most stakes in one metropolitan area in Africa. Below is a map of the Kinshasa area with different stakes indicated by yellow markers.

View Stakes and Districts in Africa in a larger map

New Stake In Peru

According to a missionary serving in Peru Lima East Mission a new stake was created last Sunday, August 30th, in Lima. The Lima Peru Magnolias Stake was created from a division of the Lima Peru Bayovar Stake and possibly another stake or two. The new stake brings the total of stakes in the Lima metropolitan area to 37 and to 91 for the country. So far this year there have been three other new stakes created in Peru, two of which were in Lima. Membership is currently approaching 500,000.

We are likely to continue to see more new stakes organized in Lima and throughout the country in the coming months and years. Peru will likely be the next country to have at least 100 stakes. Currently only the United States, Mexico and Brazil have over 100 stakes. Chile had over 100 stakes from 1997 until 2002 when about one third of the stakes in the country were discontinued in order to strengthen already existing stakes and congregations.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Visas Problems and Missionaries Around The World


Missionaries in the Mozambique Maputo Mission reported that missionaries were withdrawn from the country of Angola. Angola was first opened for the preaching of the Gospel a year ago and currently has two branches with about 650 members of the Church. The reason for the missionaries being withdrawn from the country was due to visa problems. The Church has struggled to gain visas for missionaries serving in Angola, particularly for North American missionaries. It is unclear as to why visas for missionaries are so difficult to obtain, but likely the result of a lack of missionaries from other religions serving in the country or misunderstandings about the Church's purpose in sending missionaries to the country.


The Deseret News reported concerning the possible removal of missionaries serving in the country of Guyana, which can be found here. According to missionaries serving in the country, the immigration officer for the country is seeking to remove some 38 missionaries, many of whom are from the United States, from the country, claiming that their visas expired and were never renewed. The Church is currently working with the government in Guyana to resolve the issue. News reports of the situation have stated that there are around 100 missionaries serving in the country. It is unclear whether mission leadership was unaware of updating missionary visas for the country for whether a couple government officials are try to harass the Church. The Church has maintained a positive relationship with the government in Guyana, both on local and national levels.

According to my parents, the Salt Lake Tribute attempted to contact me by phone at my parents' home (how they got the phone number I'm not sure) about the situation. I was unable to talk with the Tribune about the situation because I currently reside in South Korea. However I will provide some analysis of the situation here for those interested.

First of all, I have not been to the country before and all the information I have comes from missionaries who have served or are serving in the country or Church publications. The former Mission President's wife reported that there were 50 Elders serving in Guyana as of June 2009. There are five zones in Guyana, which typically have 10-20 missionaries. Two of these zones are located in the capital of Georgetown (Diamond and LaGrange), two are in New Amsterdam (Berbice and Canje), and one is in Linden. There are 15 branches in the country with at least two more groups meeting as well. Membership has typically grown by around 100-300 members of the Church a year between 2000 and 2007. In 2007 membership grew by 500 members to about 2,600. Last year Guyana saw the largest number of baptisms ever, with membership increasing by about 1,400 to almost 4,000. Currently Church members and missionaries are working on reactivation and retention of recent converts as well as preparing for the first stake to be established in Georgetown, likely before the end of the year.

The current visa situation with American missionaries appears serious primarily because the Church always wants to maintain good relations with governments in different countries around the world. There are large numbers of missionaries serving in the West Indies Mission (which Guyana is a part of) from other nations in the world and if those missionaries alleged of violating visa regulations were withdrawn from the country, the mission would likely be able to take missionaries serving in other countries in the mission and transfer them to Guyana quickly, making sure they comply with all visa regulations. Other countries and territories within the West Indies Mission with larger amounts of missionaries include Guadeloupe, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

It is important to remember that problems with visas and missionaries often are the result of misunderstandings and miscommunications. These are usually quickly resolved and missionary work continues on as before.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Stake In Utah

A new stake was created on August 30th in Vernal Utah. The Vernal Utah Stake was created in the heart of this northeastern Utah city with a temple. Up to this time there has not been a Vernal Utah Stake, but four stakes in the city that each stretch into the rural areas outside of Vernal. The new stake becomes the 1,445th stake in the United States and the 534th stake in the state of Utah.

Church leadership in a stake conference that was broadcast to each of the stake centers in Vernal encouraged members living in Vernal to attend the temple more frequently and do missionary work among those members of the Church who do not currently have temple recommends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Temple Closure For The Aba Nigeria Temple

Various online news sites have reported that the Aba Nigeria Temple has been closed indefinitely due to violence in the region. Senior missionaries who served as temple workers in the temple reported that threats have been made and bullet holes left in doors in the temple complex.

I want to be quick to point out that all temples temporarily close frequently, often for several weeks, for maintenance and cleaning. When a temple is remodeled it is typically closed for 12 to 24 months. The instance in Aba Nigeria is unusual but not ridiculous. My personal belief is that the temple will likely stay closed anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. The reason for why the temple closed was likely more due to the fact that the temple relies heavily upon senior missionaries serving in the temple to function and the Church felt that the senior missionaries were at higher risk for violence than local members. Otherwise the Church would have pulled missionaries serving in the country or have cancelled worship services on Sundays. The Church has suspended worship services for several weeks before in various Latin America countries recently due to government regulations on large groups of people assembling for fears on Swine Flu spreading more rapidly.

Violence involving religion is not uncommon in Nigeria. This violence most often occurs in northern Nigeria where the predominantly Christian southern provinces border the predominantly Muslim northern provinces. The Church has attempted multiple times to establish missions in this region where the population transitions from predominantly Christian to predominantly Muslim, but has discontinued missions due to threats of violence. The area in which the temple is located in Nigeria is one of the safest areas of Nigeria. The Church did not err in the location for the temple due to its stability as well as its central location for most of the stakes in the southeastern portion of the country. Young North American missionaries do not serve in Nigeria and most missionaries are from Nigeria or neighboring African nations.

Remember that a temple has only existed in Nigeria for four years, and in many nations where a temple has not existed long there are multiple senior couples serving in the temple teaching and assisting local members perform their temple ordinances. Furthermore many of the Nigerian members do not live close to the temple (such as in Benin City or Lagos), or live within a hundred miles of the temple but cannot travel easily to get to the temple frequently. During the period of closure the Church will probably look toward reopening the temple with only native Nigerians serving as temple workers or wait until conditions in the area improve to have senior couple missionaries return.

We still do not know much about the situation. So far it seems to have escalated beyond what what it really is. I strongly disagree with the idea that this event would dampen the prospects of future temples in the DR of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire or other somewhat unstable nations in which we see a rapidly growing Church. In order for the Church to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people we will likely see an increase in these sort of events.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Elder Holland Dedicates Cameroon For The Preaching Of The Gospel

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa Mission report that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles dedicated the nation of Cameroon last week for the preaching of the Gospel. Cameroon currently has four branches and one group. Three of the branches are in the capital of Yaounde (Bastos 1st, 2nd and Ekounou), one branch is in Douala, and the single group is also in Douala in the Bonaberi section of the city. Cameroon was transferred to the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa Mission a couple years ago, likely around when Benin and Togo were transferred to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. The DR of Congo Mission includes not only Cameroon and DR of Congo, but also the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Unlike the rest of the DR of Congo Kinshasa Mission, Cameroon (as well as the city of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo) has full-time missionaries serving from North America. Cameroon is a French speaking country which is predominately Christian, but also has large numbers of Muslims, who particularly live in the northern provinces of the country. Tribal religions are also widespread. The Church initially established a mission in Cameroon in 1992 in hopes of it providing a base for French language-based missionary work in West Africa. The mission was moved to Cote d'Ivoire the following year. Membership growth was slow in Cameroon and has not increased dramatically until the end of 2004. From the end of 2003 to the end of 2008 membership has increased from 208 to 727 members and branches have increased from one to four. There is still no district in the country.

Lastly I wanted to include that Elder Holland prophesied to those at attendance for the dedication of Cameroon for missionary work that temples will dot Africa as they now dot the rest of the world. Currently there are only three temples in Africa in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. Countries which seem most likely to have future temples in the near future announced include the DR of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Zimbabwe.

Stake Discontinued In Georgia

The Albany Georgia Stake was discontinued last Sunday. The stake had five wards and three branches. The majority of the stake was combined with the neighboring Douglas Georgia Stake, which was renamed the Tifton Georgia Stake. The Tifton Georgia Stake currently has 10 wards and one branch. The Albany Georgia Stake was the second stake to be discontinued this year, the first being the Grants New Mexico Stake. The stake was combined likely as a result of a massive stake realignment that included northern Florida as well back in June.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Stake In Arizona

A new stake was created in Arizona last Sunday. The Surprise Arizona Stake was divided and a new stake was created. The Surprise Arizona Stake was created from the Peoria Arizona North Stake with seven wards and one branch at the beginning of 2005. Since then the stake has grown to 12 wards and two branches. I have not been able to get the name for the new stake and as of yet do not know how many congregations are in the new stake. Feel free to leave a comment if you know the name of the new stake created. I will provide it as a comment once it becomes available.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Providence Bahamas District Dissolved

The New Providence Bahamas District was recently discontinued. There were four branches belonging to the former district, three of which were in the Bahamas. The fourth branch was just created a few months ago in the Turks and Caicos Islands in Providenciales. The district was created in 2002.

The Bahamas are currently part of the Jamaica Kingston Mission. I imagine that the decision to discontinue the district was related to decisions made to discontinue two of the districts on Jamaica recently. Leadership belonging to the former district in The Bahamas will better be able to serve in the branches they reside in and help build up the Church on a more local level. The branches were also dispersed over a large geographical area, with other branches on Grand Bahama and in Nassau.

I also wanted to add that young, full-time missionaries from the Jamaica Kingston Mission are now serving in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I am going to be away from the Internet for a few days because my wife and I are moving to South Korea to teach English for a year.

Recent Church Growth News

New Congregations In Madagascar

Within the past couple months, several new branches were created in Madagascar. Missionaries report that both Tamatave (Toamasina) and Antsirabe each have three branches. In Antsirabe, one of the new branches is actually located in the small village of Manandona were branch members and investigators meet outside on dirt floors under a large tent. Rapid growth in congregations and membership is also occurring in the capital, Antananarivo, where Madagascar's sole stake will likely split into two stakes in the coming months. Districts will likely be organized soon in both Tamatave and Antsirabe. Still no word on if a branch or group has been created in Mahajanga. It will be interesting to see whether Church growth in Madagascar will have more in common with Africa or the South Pacific once members mature in the Gospel, considering Madagascar has influences from both regions of the world.

Rapid Growth In Linden, Guyana

The Church is growing rapidly in Linden, the largest city in the interior of Guyana. Missionaries were first assigned to the city back at the beginning of this year and today there are two groups functioning in the city, both of which are soon to be made branches. Today there is an entire zone (usually 8-20 missionaries) of missionaries serving in Linden.

New Group In Uganda

A small group of Church members in the city of Lira, Uganda have recently been authorized to hold Sunday meetings as a group. Lira is located in northern Uganda near Gulu, which had its first Church congregations created last year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Responding To Critcisms About The Growth Of The Church

Negative information about the growth of the Church exists on the Internet, much of which is exaggerated or misinformed. Most of this information comes from Anti-Mormons who use it as a means to try to disprove the validity of the Church, attempting to shake the testimonies of faithful members of the Church while propagating negative attitudes towards the Church from those outside of the Church.

On the other hand there are claims made by some members of the Church concerning its growth which are exaggerated and undocumented while at the same time ignoring problems which may be occurring. The purpose of this post is to provide an accurate summary and analysis of the overall growth of the Church, particularly concerning what the leaders of the Church state concerning it, and dispelling false or biased claims concerning this subject. If you wish to provide any comments or suggestions about this topic, feel free to comment. I do not provide many references in the post, but I can provide desired references to readers upon request as a comment.

Criticisms of Growth

Zero Growth Theory: This attack on the Church is directed towards the growth of Church membership. Critics state that the number of those who join the Church is equal to the number which leave the Church. This theory rationalizes new congregations and stakes organized to membership redistribution and assumes that this results in no increase in congregations due to areas Church members are vacating (unless the number of members per congregation declines). Oftentimes critics site other fast growing Christian groups (such as Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witnesses) to challenge claims made by some members of the Church that it is the fastest growing Church. Many of the other criticisms towards Church growth are derivatives of this one.

Lack of Devotion Theory: Critics claim that in areas where the Church is growing at a rapid pace both in terms of membership and activity that the devotion of the members is not strong. They believe that the Church is poorly understood and if it were properly understood growth would not occur. This theory also supposes that growth will ultimately stop and result in few active members of the Church and the weakening of the Church in the given area. Examples from Latin America are usually used to illustrate this theory.

The Internet Slows Church Growth Theory: Many critics of the Church believe that a rise in Internet usage is correlated to a decline in the growth of the Church. These beliefs stem from the wide body of Anti-Mormon literature available on the Internet, which is available in many of the world's languages. This theory assumes that people become uninterested in the Church as a result of negative information read online, thus becoming unreceptive to the message of the Gospel. This theory also ignores favorable information about the Church on the Internet, particularly in the form of Church owned websites, many online newspapers and personal blogs.

False Assertions By Members of The Church About Growth

All Is Well In Zion Claim: Some members of the Church believe that the growth of the Church has nothing to do with them and just happens. As members of the Church we know that missionary work and the Church itself are in the hands of the Lord, but that does not mean that we do not have a responsibility to share the Gospel. This kind of mentality also results in dismissing important and serious challenges for growth the Church faces in certain areas of the World. When some Church members encounter large wards in the United States, many of which grow rapidly in membership from new move-ins, they justify this thinking.

Exponential Growth Claim: Some members of the Church believe that the Church is growing exponentially and at such a fantastic rate that we as a Church cannot meet all of the needs that such growth merits. While it is true that there are many issues which challenge us with the growth the Church has seen, this claim in inflated and generalized to include the Church throughout the World with the exception of Western Europe.

All of these claims and theories have some truth to them but each one has serious problems with what in reality is occurring in the Church around the world.

Responding To Criticisms and False Assumptions

Church membership has increased every year since 1858. Church membership currently increases by about 300,000 every year and last year increased by 314,510 people. The number of converts that join the Church every year is usually between 250,000 and 300,000. Children on record increase has been around 100,000 a year. If you put all these factors together membership has been increasing at a linear rate for about the past 20 years.

One of the greatest ways to look for growth in terms of activity and devotion of Church members is through the creation of new congregations. In order for congregations to function, particularly wards and stakes, there needs to be a certain number of active members of the Church willing to serve in different callings. For example, most new stakes created today require at least 120 active Melchizedek Priesthood holders that are full-tithe payers. Congregation size can vary from fewer than 10 active Church members to 400 active Church members. The average branch has 30 to 70 active members while the average ward has 80 to 250 active members. While not a perfect indicator, the average number of Church members per congregation can give insight into activity rates. However an increase in congregations indicates that either the needs of the Church membership cannot be met by the existing congregations in an area or that the Church is expanding into areas in which it has not functioned previously.

There were a few periods between the 1970s and the 1990s where we saw many new stakes created. Some years had over 100 stakes organized, such as the years between 1978-1981 and 1995-1997. It is important to note that during these periods of impressive increases in the number of stakes and congregations, the size of the stakes and congregations tended to be smaller than today in order to give members more opportunities for leadership and callings. The number of congregations per stakes continues to increase. For instance in 2000 there were an average of 6.97 wards per stake. In 2008 this average increased to 7.17 wards per stake. If the average number of wards per stake was the same in 2008 as it was in 2000, there would have been an additional 80 stakes created in 2008. During this eight year time period the average number of branches per stake dropped from 1.58 to 1.46 branches per stake. Small stake and congregation size was one of the reasons for why so many stakes were discontinued and consolidated in the early part of this decade in Chile, where 42 stakes were discontinued and either were consolidated with neighboring stakes or turned into districts. Currently we usually have between 25 and 50 new stakes created each year.

As for congregations, the Church currently grows by 250 to 450 congregations a year. During the years we saw impressive gains in new stakes, we also saw impressive gains in congregations. Some years had over 1,000 congregations created such as 1979, 1980, 1992, and 1997. Many of these congregations that were created in the 1990s were consolidated in Latin America between 2001 and 2003 in order to strengthen the stakes, wards and branches, many of which stressed active members and leadership. Large increases in congregations in 1979, 1980 and 1997 were partly due to the Church moving into many areas it had not existed before.

Today there are much stricter standards set forth for new congregations. Instead of branches being organized in areas where the Church has not functioned before, groups or dependent branches are first organized and then allowed to become branches or wards once they become more self sustaining. This was not the case during periods of rapid growth in congregations in the 1970s and 1990s, when many branches organized only had a handful of local members. Groups and dependent branches are not reported in statistics given at General Conference. If these groups and dependent branches were made into independent branches or wards, we would see many more congregations being created a year. The past couple years in particular we have seen many groups and dependent branches organized in Africa and Eastern Europe. If we continue to see these groups and dependent branches organized systematically we can expect to see the number of new wards and branches created increase as older units turn into independent branches and wards.

Some of the strongest growth the Church currently experiences is actually in the United States. There have been at least 150 new congregations created each year in the United States for the past couple decades. The percentage increase for membership and congregations has nearly been the same for the past several years. Membership in the United States has increased by 43.1% from 1989 but congregations has increased by 54.5% since 1989. This indicates that, unless the number of active members per congregation has decreased, retention and activity are remaining constant or are perhaps improving.

In the United States one of the greatest issues I believe that needs greater attention from the general membership of the Church is the issue of youth in the Church transitioning into young adulthood. If people stop attending Church meetings and become less active or leave the Church altogether it often occurs in young adulthood once they are away from parents and Church leaders with whom they have grown up. The greatest way to curtail this problem is by teaching youth how to have their own spiritual experiences as well as habits which will strengthen their growing testimonies of the Gospel. I also believe many parents have neglected their roles in encouraging their children to partake of the blessings of active membership in the Church once they become independent.

As for membership redistribution, this occurs in the United States primarily in Utah and California. Both of these states have seen members of the Church moving away from the larger cities into the suburbs and nearby towns. In Utah only three stakes have been discontinued due to a shift in membership distribution while California has seen a dozen or so stakes discontinued in the past two decades. Currently both California and Utah have more congregations than in 2000, indicating that both Church growth and redistribution of membership are occurring. Most areas of the United States see steady increases in membership and in the number of congregations, evidenced by the steady number of new congregations and members added to the Church every year. The United States typically increases by about 100,000 members and 150-350 congregations a year.

Much of the current inactivity problems, which are most acute in areas of Latin America and Eastern Asia, are the result of converts joining the Church with little teaching and little time to develop regular Church attendance. Furthermore a large portion of the converts of the Church are under the age of 18, which creates great opportunities to have young converts grow up in the Church while at the same time challenging local leadership to take care of so many spiritual needs. These local leaders themselves often have had very little training and experience with leadership, which can result in less effective or non-existent retention programs. It should also be acknowledged that many of these new leaders in the Church are trying their very best and the Church has developed training broadcasts and other means to help educate and train local leaders to reach their full potential as a leader of the Church in an area where the Church is young. Oftentimes some of these areas of the Church rely too heavily on missionaries for the Church's functioning.

It is true that some Christian churches grow more rapidly than the LDS Church in terms of percentages or numbers. Nearly all these churches have a million or fewer adherents or have three-quarters of more of their membership outside the United States. Just because as members of the Church we believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's one true Church does not mean that we have to be the fastest growing. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles stated “The Lord has never given us a mandate to be the biggest Church — in fact, He has said our numbers will be comparatively few — but He has asked that we commit ourselves to living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

It is difficult to say whether the Internet has had a positive or negative effect on the Church. Missionaries around the world often report of recent converts who learned about the Church through the Internet. On the other hand there are many who become disinterested in the Church once they encounter sites that portray the Church in a negative light. To say that the Church's growth overall has been stunted because of the rise of the Internet is unsupported.


President Hinckley said the following concerning the growth of the Church in the October 2005 General Conference. "The growth of the Church from its infancy to its present stature is phenomenal, and we have only scratched the surface." We can expect the Church to continue to grow. There have been years past which we have seen more stakes and congregations created, more converts baptized and more missionaries serve than present. Church growth in terms of membership and the number of congregations has increased at a linear rate for the past couple decades. Serious challenges remain for the Church in terms of the reactivation of inactive members and convert retention in many places of the world. There also remain many areas of the world in which the Church is not established.