Saturday, March 28, 2009

Benin, Togo, and New Branches In Africa

Some exciting news from Africa regarding Church growth. The Church has had a presence in Benin and Togo for roughly 10 years and up until recently Benin had one branch and Togo had two. The Conotou Branch in Benin was split into three new branches a few months ago: The Gbèdjromédé, Mentonin, and Akpakpa Branches. A third branch in Togo was also organized recently, named the Hedzranawoe Branch. So now each country currently has three congregations each. However, the other two branches in Togo (the Lome and Tokoin Branches) will each be divided to create two new branches. Missionaries serving in Togo report that the soon to be five branches will then be organized into the first district in the country. Currently both countries are part of the Cote D'Ivoire Abidjan Mission.

New branches are also being organized currently in Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Kenya. There was rumor that the city of Mahajanga, Madagascar would be receiving its first branch right before the recent violence and political instability arose, but as of yet I have found no information that this has taken place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Turks and Caicos Islands Open For The Preaching of The Gospel

Missionaries in the Jamaica Kingston Mission report that the Turks and Caicos Islands have opened for missionary work. The islands are a dependency to Great Britain and are southeast of The Bahamas. A senior couple began serving in the islands a few months ago and opened a branch. Since that time membership in the branch grew from just the senior couple to 40-50 members. Typically there are around five baptisms a week. Elders will be assigned to the islands in the coming weeks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Modification to Potential New Temple Scale

Two weeks ago I made a post about likely temple sites for future temples. These sites were determined by a quantitative method I developed which factors in the number of stakes and districts in the area, distance from the closest existing temple, stakes created before 1981, and Saturday endowment schedule.

I feel that a fifth element also contributes to the likelihood of a new temple. Out of the 76 temples outside of the United States, only six exist in cities which do not have a mission based in them. The presence of a mission of the Church in a city increases the likelihood a temple being announced in that city. I am not sure how I am going to factor this fifth variable in yet quantitatively, but I feel that it would improve the accuracy of the model developed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stake Dissolved in New Mexico

The Grants New Mexico Stake was recently dissolved. All but one branch from the former stake is now part of the Gallup New Mexico Stake. The Grants New Mexico Stake had only three wards and three branches since 2004. This move will better strengthen the stake in Gallup and provide better fellowship for members in the area. This becomes the first stake to be dissolved in 2009.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Stake In Brazil

Another new stake was created in Brazil. The new stake is the Camaçari Brazil Central Stake, which was likely created from a division of the Camaçari Brazil Stake. The city of Camaçari got its first stake in 2001 and is located in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Church growth has been very rapid in the state of Bahia. The first stake was organized in 1992 in Salvador and today there are 10 stakes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Third District Created in Romania

The first district in western Romania was created in Arad. The Arad Romania District likely includes branches in Oradea and Timisoara and possibly Cluj-Napoca and Deva. The other two districts in Romania are based in Bucharest and Ploiesti. A district is made up of two or more branches which is presided over by a district presidency. Districts report to the mission president of the mission in which they are located and can mature into stakes.

Like most Eastern European countries, Church growth was rapid a first and has slowed substantially in Romania. There are about 2,700 members of the Church in Romania and 19 branches. Today membership typically increases by around 100 each year, whereas in the 1990s membership increased by around 200 each year. Not very many cities have opened to missionary work in Romania in the past five years. The latest city to have full time elders assigned to it was Craiova.

It is exciting to see the leadership of the Church develop and strengthen enough in Eastern Europe to support the new districts created in Arad this month and Moldova last January. Perhaps we will see future districts created in L'viv Ukraine, Hungary and Athens Greece as leadership continues to mature and grow in this area of the world where the Church is yet in its infancy.

New District In French Guiana

The first district of the Church in French Guiana was recently organized. French Guiana is located just east of Suriname and is part of the West Indies Missions. The Cayenne French Guiana District will serve members which live in the branches located in Cayenne and Kourou. The Church initially grew rapidly once it was first established in French Guiana 20 years ago but slow substantially once membership reached 200. In 2007 membership increased to 287 and like the rest of the West Indies Mission, likely had many converts baptized last year.

On an interesting note, the district of missionaries serving in French Guiana report that they usually attend zone conference in Suriname. In order to get there they have to go by taxi, bus and canoe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recent Growth In India

Over the past couple years the growth of the Church in India has accelerated in areas where there has been little growth in the past. The vast majority of the members continue to reside in the southern portion of the country in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore. However, the most rapid growth in terms of new congregations is occurring in New Delhi and the far eastern portion of the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The New Delhi India District only had two branches as of two years ago and today has five. The India New Delhi Mission continues to open new areas to missionary work around New Delhi and to administer to other countries within its boundaries. Baptisms have occurred in all of the countries covered by the India New Delhi Mission in the past year.

In 2001 there was only one branch of the Church in far eastern Andhra Pradesh located in the city of Rajadmundry. Today there are six branches in this region, the most recent of which was organized last Sunday. Three of the branches are in the city of Vishakhapatnam, two in Rajadmundry, and one in Kakinada. I think that a new district in Vishakhapatnam is highly likely as well as a district in Coimbatore in the south.

There are still no stakes in India but members are preparing for stakehood, especially in Bangalore and Hyderabad. I believe there are now 29 branches in India.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Groundbreaking Set For Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple; Districts Dissolved in Spain

Temple Groundbreaking

The groundbreaking for the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple will we held on March 14th, 2009. The temple was announced late in 2006 and will be the second in Guatemala. The new temple will likely serve 14 stakes and six districts in the Highlands of Guatemala. The first stake organized in Quetzaltenango was in 1975. Church growth was rapid and sustained as manifested by new stakes and districts created up until 1999. Since then one stake has been dissolved in Mazatenango.

Growth in terms of convert baptisms has picked up recently as missionaries in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission report that the month of February 2009 was the second best month for the number of baptisms in the past five years (172). Currently the Mission President in Quetzaltenango is focusing on turning the districts into stakes in the region.

District Dissolved in Spain

The Badajoz Spain District was recently dissolved. The district was near the border with Portugal in southwestern Spain. It was originally created in 1993 and recently only had two branches. The remaining two branches in Barajoz and Cáceres are now mission branches.

The growth of the Church in Spain has been the strongest in Europe in the past 20 years. Membership has risen from 31,700 in 2000 to 42,900 at the end of 2007. The number of congregations has fallen however during that time from 143 to 133. This has in part been due to the creation of a couple stakes from districts in which sometimes a couple branches are used to create one ward, resulting with fewer congregations in the end. The number of wards between 2000 and 2007 has increased from 40 to 61 and the number of branches have fallen from 103 to 72.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Potential New Temples

I recently developed a quantitative method for identifying cities which are likely to have a new temple announced. This method was developed by examining where current temples are located in the Church. There are four factors which contribute to the likelihood of a new temple announcement in a given location: Long distance from an existing temple, a large number of stakes and districts, stakes which have existed before 1981 in given location, and busy Saturday endowment schedule at the closest temple. I have developed a quantitative system for these four factors, which are summed to produce a temple likelihood value. If the score ascertained is greater than 20, a future temple in the given location is likely. If the score is over 40, a future temple is almost certain. It is important to remember that temples are announced by the First Presidency by revelation. The below maps provide possible locations for new temples based on the above criteria.

Below is a map of all the locations I think are most likely to sometime in the near future have a temple announced. Stakes and districts which could be served by a temple at locations provided are also included.

View Larger Map

Below is a map of all the locations I think are most likely to have temples announced in the year 2020. These locations are made based on current and past Church growth and assume that they will hold constant until 2020. Projected membership for some countries is also provided.

View Larger Map

The purpose for why I am so interested in where new temples will be announced in the future and why I make predictions is not so I can say "I told you so" if it happens. The purpose is to see what areas of the world are likely to see temples in the future, where the Church is growing enough and activity high enough to justify a temple and to have members prepare themselves in these locations for the possibility of a temple to be built.