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.