Sunday, December 26, 2010

Church Growth News

Brazil's most populous unreached city by the LDS Church now has an LDS congregation.

Located in the remote interior of Para State, the first known LDS congregation was recently organized in Maraba. The Maraba Branch services the city of 186,000 inhabitants that was formerly Brazil's most populous city without an official LDS congregation nearby. The only other Brazilian city with more inhabitants without an LDS congregation nearby is Mage, located nearby Rio de Janeiro. The nearby Piabeta Branch administers Mage. Mage appears likely to have its own congregation in the coming years as it the city supports a population of 216,000. There remain several additional cities with over 100,000 in northern Brazil without LDS congregations, such as Caxias, Araguaina, and Parauapebas.

New Stake to be created in Guatemala in January

Full-time missionaries serving in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission report that a new stake will be organized next month in the Quetzaltenango area and that several new congregations will be created. Guatemala experienced rapid church growth in the 1980s and 1990s, but only one new stake was created in the 2000s as membership growth rates declined, low convert retention and member activity prevented the creation of new congregations and stakes, and several wards and branches were consolidated. I will provide more information once the new stake is created.

Growth accelerates in El Salvador

Full-time missionaries serving in El Salvador report many positive developments for 2010 as one of the two missions has baptized over 2,000 new converts this year and sacrament attendance has consistently increased to over 11,000 in one of the missions. Several stakes are close to splitting as branches have consistently become wards in recent years, but there has been no noticeable increase in total congregations in 2010 however. No significant increases in the number of congregations in the next year will likely indicate member activity and leadership development problems, but increases in sacrament attendance point to some improvement in activity rates in this nation that has historically seen some of the lowest member activity and convert retention rates worldwide.

District discontinued in Pennsylvania

The Brookville Pennsylvania District was discontinued and two of its seven original branches were discontinued. Most of the branches were absorbed into the Altoona Pennsylvania Stake. One of the branches - the Brookville Branch - has become a ward. There are now ten districts left in the United States, many of which are in remote areas or in the intercity. With the ongoing trend of district consolidations with stakes in the United States, it is possible that most remaining districts may be consolidated within the next decade as in 2000, there were 16 districts in 2000.

Three New Stakes Created in Brazil

Belem, Para State

Two of the three preexisting stakes in this northern Brazilian city located near the mouth of the Amazon River were reorganized into five stakes two Sundays ago. The Belem Brazil Cabanagem Stake had 11 wards and one branch and the Belem Brazil Cidade Nova Stake had nine wards and one branch prior to the creation of the two new stakes. The new Belém Brazil Entroncamento Stake has five wards (Aguas Lindas, Ananindeua, Entrocamento, Julia Seffer, Marituba) and one branch (Mosqueiro) and the Belém Brazil Icoaraci Stake has four wards (Agulha, Icoaraci, Maracacuera, Satelite) and one branch (Outeiro). Para state has experienced an unprecedented surge in the creation of new stakes as two additional stakes were created from districts earlier this year (Castanhal and Santarem), increasing the total number of stakes from three to seven in 2010. Full-time missionaries report that local Church and mission leaders are preparing the region for the announcement of a temple sometime in the near future.

Fortaleza, Ceare State

The 15th stake in the Fortaleza metropolitan area was created two weeks ago near the downtown area from a division of the Fortaleza Brazil Montese and Fortaleza Brazil West Stakes. The Fortaleza Brazil Benfica Stake includes the Benfica, Democrito Rocha, Expedicionarios, Jardim America, and Rodolfo Teofilo Wards. No other stakes appear likely to divide until additional congregations are created in the Fortaleza area. There are now 239 stakes and 49 districts in Brazil.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Four New Stakes Created


Elder L. Tom Perry organized the first stake on Guam last Sunday, named the Barrigada Guam Stake. The new stake was created from the Guam District and each of the five branches became wards. One of the five wards in the new stake functions on neighboring Saipan. In 2010, two countries/territories had their first LDS stakes established, which were Uganda and Guam. The creation of the new stake increases the likelihood of a future LDS temple to be build in Micronesia to service members in the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.


The Church created the Pacajus Brazil Stake last Sunday from a division of the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake, which had nine wards and two branches. Consisting of five wards and one branch, the Pacajus Brazil Stake includes the Pacajus 1st, Pacajus 2nd, Pedras, Russas, and Tabajaras Wards, and the Aracati Branch. The Tabajaras Ward was formerly a branch prior to the creation of the new stake. LDS Church growth has been among the strongest worldwide in eastern Fortaleza as the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake was created in 2005 and has since divided in 2008 and 2010. The Aracati Brazil District operated from 2003 to 2008 until it was absorbed into the Fortaleza Brazil East Stake and two of its original three branches have since become wards. Growth has occurred in other areas of Fortaleza and a new stake has been created every year in the city since 2005. Located in the northeast of Fortaleza, the Fortaleza Brazil Stake has experienced rapid congregational growth in 2010 as the number of wards has increased from five to eight. The Church announced a temple for Fortaleza in October 2009. There are now 236 stakes in Brazil.


The Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake had 12 wards and two branches and was divided last Sunday to create the new San Francisco Venezuela Stake. Comprising seven wards in the southern areas of Maracaibo, the new stake consists of the Bolivar, El Caujaro, El Sol, La Canada, San Francisco, Union, and Veintecuatro de Julio Wards. The Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake now has five wards and two branches. Prior to the creation of the new stake, the last stake created by the Church in Maracaibo was in 2006. At present, only the Ciudad Ojeda Stake appears close to splitting among stakes in the Maracaibo area. Former LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Maracaibo a decade ago and predicted that a temple would one day be build in the city. Temple attendance at the Caracas Venezuela Temple appears too low currently to merit the construction of a temple in Maracaibo in the immediate future, but prospects appear high for a temple in Maracaibo in the coming decade. There are now 28 stakes in Venezuela and six stakes in the Maracaibo area. For more information about prospects, challenges, and opportunities for LDS Church growth in Venezuela, please read an article recently written by me and David Stewart at found here.

The Philippines

Becoming the first new stake of 2010, the Church created the Paniqui Philippines Stake from the Paniqui Philippines District last Sunday. The new stake consists of five wards (Anao, Gerona, Moncada 1st, Paniqui 1st, and Paniqui 2nd) and four branches (Cuyapo, Moncada 2nd, Panique 3rd, and Ramos). The stake is located not too far from Urdaneta where the third LDS temple in the Philippines will be constructed in the coming years. The creation of the new stake is a major accomplishment for the Church in that there have been no new stakes created in northern Luzon since 2001 and that several stakes were discontinued in the early 2000s in this area. Dozens of districts appear close to becoming stakes in the near future throughout the Philippines, but low member activity and poor convert retention have delayed the creation of additional stakes and congregations. For more information about the Church in the Philippines, I refer you to another article written by me and David Stewart on found here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Stake in Brazil and New District in the Democratic Republic of Congo


A new stake was created in Brazil last Sunday from a district in the Rio de Janeiro area. The Macaé Brazil Stake consists of five wards and one branch. Prospects appear high for the Church to announce a temple in Rio de Janeiro as at present members travel to the Campinas Brazil Temple to participate in temple ordinances. There are now 235 stakes in Brazil.

DR Congo

The Church created its fifth district in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the third largest city of Mbuji-Mayi. The Church had one branch in Mbuji-Mayi for several years which divided into two congregations in the late 2000s. At present, there are now four branches in the city that are part of the newly created district that pertains to the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission, created last July. Church growth remains strong in the interior of the DR Congo in the cities of Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Luputa, Mwene-Ditu, and Ngandajika. The creation of a third mission for the DR Congo based in one of these cities appears highly likely in the coming years and with the exception of some mission leaders and senior missionary couples, would be staffed entirely by African missionaries. The population of the DR Congo stands at 70.9 million and Latter-day Saints numbered 23,600 at the end of 2009. In addition to the five districts now operating, there are seven stakes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LDS Non-African Missionaries Evacuated from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission May Divide to Create New Mission in 2011

Full-time missionaries serving in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission report that plans are being finalized to remove all non-African missionaries serving in Cote d'Ivoire to Benin and Togo as a result of increasing political instability from a recent presidential election. Cote d'Ivoire has demonstrated high levels of self-sufficiency and sustainability as the Church was first established in the early 1990s at at present there are four stakes and a district. Political instability has continued to delay expansion of the Church into presently-unreached areas in the country over the past decade, especially outside the capital of Abidjan. Non-African missionaries have been withdrawn in the past and did not serve in Cote d'Ivoire from the mid-2000s to 2009. New congregations are regularly organized and local members serve missions in large numbers.

The administrative decision to relocate all non-African missionaries in the mission to Benin and Togo will facilitate the creation of a new mission for these two nations. Full-time missionaries report that the Church has been planning on creating a new mission to administer these two nations in the coming months. A mission based in Lome, Togo would greatly increase potential for the LDS Church to expand nationwide as the Church at present only operates in Lome, Togo and Cotonou, Benin. Distance and a lack of missionary resources has prevented a greater church establishment in these nations, which have no legal restrictions and highly receptive populations to the Church. The Church has not formally announced any plans to create a new mission as of yet.

The Church in Togo continues to grow rapidly. The first branch was created in the early 2000s and divided to create the Tokoin Branch in 2006. Additional branches were created in 2008 (Hédzranawoé), 2009 (Be-Kpota), and 2010 (Ablogame). The five branches in Togo belong to the Lome Togo District, created in late 2009. LDS membership has grown from 117 in 2000 to 1,034 in 2009.

The Church has grown less rapidly in Benin. There were 11 Latter-day Saints in 2004 and in 2009 there were several hundred. The first branch was created in 2004 (Cotonou). In 2008, the branch was divided in to three branches: Akpakpa, Gbedjromede, and Menontin. Currently the three branches are not part of a stake or district and full-time missionaries report that member activity rates are high and local leadership has been developed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Stake in Brazil and New District in Papua New Guinea

New stake in Brazil

The Church created a new stake in Brazil last weekend in Para State. The Castanhal Brazil Stake was created for the Castanhal Brazil District and includes five wards, all of which were created from the five branches in the former district. Full-time missionaries have reported that the district would soon become a stake for several months. The new stake become Brazil's 234th stake. There are now 49 districts in the country. Four stakes now operate Para state, one of which was created from a district (Santarém ) earlier this year.

A new stake will likely be created in Belem region of Para in the near future as the Belem Brazil Cabanagem Stake now has 11 wards and one branch as two new wards were recently created. Despite recent growth in Para, it remains one of the least reached states by the Church in Brazil as there are dozens of large cities without an LDS presence.

New District in Papua New Guinea

A new district was recently created in Sogere, Papua New Guinea from one branch in the Daru Papua New Guinea District. Four new branches were organized in the new district, bringing the total of branches to five. New branches in the district include the Bimaramio, Miruwo, Oropai, and Sisiami Branches. These branches likely functioned as groups or dependent branches prior to the creation of the district.

The Daru Papua New Guinea District now has six branches.

The creation of this new district is exciting and illustrates the potential for rapid church growth in remote, rural areas through coordination of member-missionary activity. Sogere and other villages with congregations in the new district are small villages not on most maps of Papua New Guinea and are located in the remote Western Province (or Fly Province) on the Indonesian border. Strong local Priesthood leadership appears to have been developed as other regions of Papua New Guinea have clusters of LDS congregations and yet remain outside the boundaries of stakes or districts.

The red shaded area on the map below is where the Sogere District was created.

View Sogere Papua New Guinea District in a larger map

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Stakes in Brazil and North Carolina


A new stake was created in Brazil last week in the Sao Paulo area. The Alvarenga Brazil Stake was created from the Diadema Brazil and São Paulo Brazil Piratininga Stakes and includes five wards (Jardim Apura, Jardim Selma, Parque Doroteia, Parque Primavera, and Sao Jorge Wards). The new stake becomes the 38th stake in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area; the 37th stake was created last month in Alphaville. There are now 233 stakes and 50 districts in Brazil. Several stakes appear close to splitting in Brazil in the near future (such as in Belem, Fortaleza, Hortolandia, and Santa Maria), but none in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area.

Members report that next weekend, the Macae Brazil District will become a stake. More details will be provided when available.

North Carolina

The Church created its first new stake in North Carolina since 2006 last Sunday. The High Point North Carolina Stake was created from the Greensboro North Carolina Stake and includes seven wards and one branch. There are now 16 stakes in North Carolina.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

LDS Church Planting in Ghana

The growth of the LDS Church often lags behind other missionary-minded Christian denominations in most countries for several reasons, including greater pre-baptismal preparation and more effective member-missionary programs exhibited by other churches. Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses each have been much more effective than Latter-day Saints in beginning new congregations, expanding national outreach, and developing self-sustaining local leadership. Latter-day Saints have traditionally relied on full-time missionaries from countries with a strong LDS presence like the United States and Peru to perform these tasks, resulting in limited LDS resources in fledgling countries with a small or inadequate native full-time missionary force. The failure of many countries to develop self-sustaining LDS leadership, a full-time missionary force, and effective member-missionary programs has greatly contributed to the slowdown in LDS growth experienced over the past decade.

In the past year, there have been several positive developments which indicate that the LDS Church is beginning to be more flexible and dynamic with the allocation of full-time missionaries and opening of new areas to the Church. To illustrate this recent finding, full-time missionaries report that the Africa West Area Presidency, the two Ghana mission presidencies, and local Priesthood leaders have approved and are carrying out an aggressive church planting paradigm in Ghana. In 2009 alone, 21 new wards and branches were created; a 21% increase. In 2010 however, the LDS Church has only organized one new independent congregation, but has increased and will greatly increase the number of dependent branches and groups.

The Church placed full-time missionaries Sunyani in the early fall of 2010 - the most northern city in Ghana to ever have a Church presence - but there remains no independent ward or branch in the area. Six full-time missionaries and one senior couple serve in Sunyani, where three LDS congregations meet as groups, worshiping in large missionary apartments where church meetings are held. The church-planting approach has been so successful in Sunyani that it will be applied in Kumasi - the second largest metropolitan area in Ghana. At present Kumasi has 10 LDS congregations meeting in eight meetinghouses. Over the six months, the Church will open an additional 14 meetinghouses in large missionary apartments in the Kumasi area that will meet as dependent branches or groups, bringing the total of mission outreach centers in Kumasi to 22. With so many meetinghouse locations, most the population will be able to walk to church without traveling inordinate distances.

As a researcher of the growth of the LDS Church for several years, I applaud the decision by area and mission leaders to use these church planting paradigms as they often increase member activity rates, expand national outreach, and oftentimes lead to self-sustainable growth. Similar approaches have been recently implemented in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Burundi. However, full-time missionaries remain central to LDS Church planting approaches, which restricts the vision and application of church planting due to the plateauing numbers of full-time missionaries serving worldwide over the past decade. Nonetheless, careful planning in the assignment of limited full-time missionaries combined with strong local member involvement may reduce the stagnant growth of full-time missionary numbers and boaster indigenous full-time missionary forces internationally.

New Districts in Guatemala and Madagscar; District Discontinued in the Dominican Republic

New District in Guatemala

The Church created its first new district in Guatemala in 15 years a few weeks ago in the Guatemalan Highlands. The Paxajtup Guatemala District was created from the Momostenango Guatemala Stake and includes three branches in small villages: The Choqui, Paxajtup, and Pueblo Viejo Branches. The Momostenango Guatemala Stake now has five wards and six branches. There are now 39 stakes and 19 districts in Guatemala.

District discontinued in the Dominican Republic

Created in 2007, the Monte Plata Dominican Republic District was discontinued and four of the original five branches in the former district now pertain to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Hainamosa Stake, which at present as six wards and four branches. One of the branches - the Gonzalo Branch - was discontinued. Full-time missionaries serving in the branches affected by this consolidation report that limited local Priesthood members and low member activity rates were major problems. These factors likely significantly contributed to the district's discontinuation. However, now that the branches are part of a stake, local Dominican church leaders can help mentor these branches which over time may become wards once activity rates improve. There are now 18 stakes and 10 districts in the country.

New district to be created in Madagascar

What will be the second LDS district ever organized outside of Antananarivo in Madagascar, full-time missionaries report that the Church will create a district in Antsirabe at the end of November, which will likely include the Ambohimena, Antsirabe, Mahazoarivo, and Manandona Branches, and the Sarodroa Group. Church growth has been rapid and strong local leadership has been developed. The first district to be created outside the capital was organized just a month ago in Toamasina (Tamatave) with five branches.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Church Growth News

New Stake in Honduras

Missionaries serving in Tegucigalpa, Honduras report that one of the stakes in the city will divide to create a new stake in early November. I will provide more specifics once they become a available. The creation of new stake in Honduras is a major development as there have been no new stakes created in Honduras since 1997. Unlike many Latin American nations, Honduras has never had a stake discontinued however. Once the new stake is organized, there will be 21 stakes. No additional stakes appear close to dividing, but several stakes have gained additional congregations in the past couple years and may divide in the foreseeable future, such as the Fesitranh Honduras and San Pedro Honduras El Progreso Stakes.

Cities Open for Missionary Work In Paraguay

Full-time missionaries serving in both Paraguay missions report that several cities have opened to missionary work and new LDS groups have been organized. Some of the cities recently opened for missionary work include Katuete, Curuguaty, and Tobati. Strong nominal membership growth continues, but little to no increase in the number of congregations year to year likely indicate major convert retention issues.

The Church in Gabon

In a recent Mormon Channel interview with the past mission president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Mission, specifics on the Church in Gabon were discussed. The Church is not officially recognized in the country, resulting in no reported LDS presence. There do not appear to be any legal restrictions preventing a Church establishment however. There are 10-12 members living in the country who meet in humble circumstances for LDS services in Libreville.

New District in Brazil

A Brazilian member reported that a new district was created in Porto Seguro Brazil. I will provide additional information on the new district once it becomes available.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Mission in Zambia in 2011

Missionaries serving in the Zimbabwe Harare Mission report that LDS apostle Elder Christofferson announced that next summer the mission will divide to create the Zambia Lusaka Mission. The new mission will likely be organized on July 1st and will include Zambia and Malawi. Zimbabwe is the least populated of the three countries current part of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission and has one of the highest percentages of Latter-day Saints in the population among continental African nations at around 0.15%, or one member per 661, whereas Zambia and Malawi have some of the lower percentages of Latter-day Saints in continental Africa (one member per 5,620 in Zambia and one member per 19,358 in Malawi). Zimbabwe currently experiences some of the most penetrating outreach by Latter-day Saints in Africa as most large cities have a church presence. There are 11.7 million people and 17,632 Latter-day Saints in Zimbabwe.

The Church in Zambia experienced rapid growth during the first half of the 2000s as membership grew from 725 in 2000 to 1,648 in 2005 and the number of congregations increased from four to 10. Missionary work began outside Lusaka for the first time in decades in the Copperbelt region along the DR Congo border. Branches were established in three cities (Kitwe, Luanshya, and Ndola). During the latter-half of the 2000s, membership grew to 2,395 in 2009 but there was no increase in the number of congregations during this period likely due to poor convert retention and a lack of trained leadership. The creation of the new mission will allow for greater mentoring from the mission president for local Priesthood leadership and increase the likelihood of additional areas opening for missionary work. The Lusaka Zambia District has been preparing to become a stake for several years now. At present the Church is only established in Lusaka and three cities of the Copperbelt region. Zambia has 13.5 million people.

The Church has experienced some of the poorest convert retention and member activity rates in Africa in Malawi, which has 15.5 million people. Missionaries report little progress over the past few years despite missionaries recently opening Lilongwe to missionary work and consistently working in Blantyre for several years. In 2009, there were almost 800 members in Malawi organized in three branches.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New District in Nicaragua

Two Sundays ago, the Church created its seventh district in Nicaragua in Puerto Cabezas. The Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua District consists of four branches (Bilwi, El Caminante, Loma Verde, and Puerto Cabezas), three of which have been created over the past two years. Convert retention appears modest to high in most of the branches as active church membership has grown to around four or five hundred. Many of the recent convert baptisms has resulted from significant breakthroughs with the Miskito Amerindian population, a group which has had very few Latter-day Saints in the past. Full-time missionaries are beginning to learn Miskito and some of the congregations are designated Miskito-speaking, albeit there are no LDS materials translated in this language. Earlier this year, full-time missionaries reported that as many as 40 local members in the Puerto Cabezas area were preparing to serve full-time missions in the immediate future; a significant achievement for ensuring long-term growth and self-sustainability considering only a couple native members in the region had served a full-time missions in the past.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New District in Nigeria

The Church created a new district in southeastern Nigeria. The Ibesikpo Nigeria District was organized from the Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake and consists of five branches: The Ikot Akpan Abia, Ikot Ebre, Ikot Oku Iyan, Ikot Udofia, and Ndikpo Atang Branches. The Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake was one of the largest stakes in Nigeria prior to the creation of the new district, having eight wards and eight branches. There are now seven wards and four branches in the stake. The new district in Ibesikpo becomes the 21st district in Nigeria and the fourth new district organized in 2010.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New District in Norway

The Church has created a new district in Norway, headquartered in the city of Stavanger. The Stavanger Norway District consists of eight branches along the western coast of the country. Three districts once operated in Norway in addition to the Olso Norway Stake until the early to mid-2000s. The former three districts were headquartered in Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromso and were likely discontinued due to a lack of active members and Priesthood holders outside of the Oslo area. The creation of the new district may indicate greater progress in member activity and convert retention rates in western Norway as all of the eight branches in the new district were formerly mission branches not part of a stake or district. The five branches in northern Norway are not part of a stake or district currently, and are directedly administered by the mission in Oslo. For more information about the Church in Norway, refer to an article written by me and David Stewart on

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Stake in Brazil

The Church created the 232nd stake in Brazil in the Sao Paulo area two Sundays ago. The Alphaville Brazil Stake was organized from the Barueri Brazil Stake and consists the following five wards: Alphaville, Ariston, Carapicuiba, Engenho Novo, and Santana do Parnaíba. The Barueri Brazil Stake had eight wards and one branch until recently when the Rosemary Ward was created and the Jandira Branch became a ward. The Barueri Brazil Stake also has five wards.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

Burundi dedicated for missionary work

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated Burundi for missionary work on October 19th, 2010. Besides a few local members in attendance, only the eight young full-time missionaries and two senior couples who are assigned to Burundi were in attendance. The building in use for church meetings in Bujumbura was remodeled in the past couple weeks as the room used for sacrament meetings was expanded.

Angola dedicated for missionary work

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated Angola for missionary work on October 20th, 2010. The dedication service occurred outside the capital Luanda. Missionaries have served in the country for a couple years now, and the Church has faced challenges obtaining visas for foreign missionaries.

Remote city in interior Peru opens for missionary work

A senior missionary couple serving in the Peru Lima North Mission was been assigned to Nauta, located south of the large city Iquitos. Nauta becomes the first small city outside of Iquitos to open for missionary work in the Amazon Basin of northeastern Peru. Currently there is not organized branch and church services are likely held as a group or dependent branch.

District discontinued in Russia

The Church recently discontinued the Ufa Russia District and the two former branches of the district were consolidated into one branch. The number of congregations in Ufa has steadily declined over the past decade as in 2001 there were four branches. Congregation consolidations have occurred in many areas of Russia over the past 18 months, primarily in areas where there are no local branch presidents or where there are few active members meeting in more than one congregation. Other Russian cities which have experienced congregation consolidations include Vladivostok and Krasnodar, both of which today only have one branch. In the past 12 months, over 10 branches have been discontinued in Russia.

First branch established in western DR Congo outside of Kinshasa

The Church created its first independent branch in western Democratic Republic of Congo outside the capital city of Kinshasa in the large city of Matadi. Matadi is located near the Angolan border and supports a population over a quarter of a million. This is a major development in expanding national outreach in the DR Congo as there has previously been no official church presence anywhere in the region outside of Kinshasa. Most areas in the DR Congo remain far from any operating LDS wards or branches. Most of the Latter-day Saint population resides in the largest cities, mainly Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, but also Kananga, Kolwezi,
Likasi, Luputa, Mbuji-Mayi, and Mwene-Ditu.

New Stake in Utah

Last Sunday, the West Haven Utah Stake was created from a division of the Kanesville Utah Stake, which had 12 wards and one branch. There are now 546 stakes in Utah.

New Stake in Texas

Last Sunday, the Waco Texas Stake was created from the Killeen Texas Stake, which had 10 wards and five branches. There are now 56 stakes in Texas.

New Branch in East Malaysia

Missionaries report that a new branch was created in Sarawak, East Malaysia in the small town of Mukah. The Mukah Branch is part of the Sibu East Malaysia District, which now has five branches.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Potential New Districts

Since 2007, it has been a tradition of mine to post a list of districts which may be created by the LDS Church in the near of immediate future. Potential districts I have listed are categorized by geographic area and include the number of branches in parenthesis next to the prospective district name. Many of these areas are at the forefront of church growth for Latter-day Saints, as they are in areas which have seen rapid membership growth, modest to high retention, and are located in areas where there has been little or no previous LDS Church presence. Many of these areas have seen consistent congregational growth. Districts are often only created when native church leadership is strong enough in devotion and numbers to fill additional administrative callings. Previous versions of this list may be found for 2007, 2008, and 2009. I also added the names of branches which may be included in potential districts in these cities.

The First Presidency, Area Presidency, and Mission Presidency for a given area are stakeholders in the decision process to create districts. Information used to compile this list does not contain any unauthorized information and I take full responsibility for this work.

  • Antsirabe Madagascar (4) [Ambohimena, Antsirabe, Mahazoarivo, Manandona]
  • Conotou Benin (3) [Akpakpa, Gbedjromede, Mentontin]
  • Eldoret Kenya (4) [Eldoret, Huruma, Langas, Sosiani]
  • Kilunga Hills Kenya (4) [Ilima, Kilili, Kyambeke, Matini]
  • Luanda Angola (3) [Luanda 1st, Luanda 2nd, Cassequel]
  • Mbuji-Mayi DR Congo (4) [Dibindi, Diulu, Muyu 1st, Muyu 2nd]
  • Mombasa Kenya (3) [Bamburi, Changamwe, Mombasa]
  • Yaounde Cameroon (4) [Bastos 1st, Bastos 2nd, Ekounou 1st, Ekounou 2nd]
  • Chignahuapan Mexico (3) [Chignahuapan, Tetela, Zacatlan]
  • Jacmel Haiti (3) [Jacmel, Meyer, Tenier]
  • Porto Seguro Brazil (3) [Coroa Vermelha, Eunapolis, Porto Seguro]
  • Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua (4) [Bilwi, El Caminante, Loma Verde, Puerto Cabezas]
  • Angoram Papua New Guinea (3) [Angoram, Moim, Pinang]
  • Aoba Vanuatu (5) [Apopo, Lobori, Lolotinge, Lovutialao, Navuti]
  • Honiara Solomon Islands (3) [Burns Creek, Honiara, White River]
  • Kukipi Papua New Guinea (5) [Heatoari, Keauta, Kukipi, Malalaua, Savaiviri]
  • Malakula Vanuatu (6) [Litslits, Lowni, Pinalum, Tulewei, Uripiv, Wala]
  • Tanna Vanuatu (4) [Greenhill, Saetsiwi, White Sands, Whitegrass]

In the coming months and years, many districts may be organized in additional locations not listed above. These locations have a high potential for congregational growth and leadership development due to receptivity of the LDS Church and high rates of convert baptisms (generally), but have an inadequate number of congregations, few local leaders capable of staffing district callings, or have branches scattered over a large geographical area. Below is a list of less likely potential new districts. The creation of districts in these areas will depend on the creation of additional congregations and the development of self-sustaining local leadership.

  • Douala Cameroon (2) [Douala Branch, Bonaberi Group - soon to become a branch]
  • Francistown Botswana (1) [congregation has experienced rapid growth, may divide into smaller units in the coming year]
  • Ho Ghana (1) [missionaries report branch is preparing to divide, active membership continues to grow]
  • Kisumu Kenya (1) [congregation has grown large, may divide, small groups of members in several nearby locations such as Sondu]
  • Kitale Kenya (1) [LDS Church-built chapel just dedicated, congregation may divide but no announced plans]
  • Marromeu Mozambique (2) [Marromeu 1st and 2nd Branches - missionaries currently working to improve member activity rates, church-built chapel in town]
  • Maseru Lesotho (3) [Maseru and Masianokeng Branches, Leribe Group - missionaries report plans to create a third branch in the Maseru area]
  • Pointe-Noire Republic of Congo (2) [Pointe-Noire and Aeropuerto Branches - third branch to be created soon, followed by a fourth hopefully in spring 2011]
  • Sikhendu Kenya (4) [Misikhu, Naitiri, and Sikhendu Branches and Matuma Group]
  • Windhoek Namibia (2) [Katutura and Windhoek Branches - over 120 active members, potential for additional groups to be created in the north]
  • Bluefields Nicaragua (2) [Bluefields and Bluefields Centro Branches - additional branches may be organized, no official reports however]
  • Chalatenango El Salvador (3) [Chalatenango, Nueva Concepcion, and Reubicacion Branches - missionaries report challenges with developing local leadership in these mission branches]
  • Gurupi Brazil (2) [Gurupi 1st and 2nd Branches - the creation of a third branch in the city may lead to the organization of a district]
  • Motupe Peru (2) [Motupe and Olmos Branches - missionaries report may positive developments in these branches, additional congregations needed to create a district]
  • San Borja Bolivia (3) [Rurrenabaque, San Borja, and Yucumo Branches - distance between the three mission branches has likely delayed the creation of a district]
  • Quibdo Colombia (2) [Istmina and Quibdo Branches - mission branches created in the past decade, may experience greater growth in the coming years]
  • Todos Santos Guatemala (5) [San Antonio Huista, Santa Ana Huista, Santa Cruz Barillas, and Todos Santos Branches, and Yalijux Group - unclear why this remote region has not become a district yet; possibly due to distance between branches and few local leaders]
  • Viacha Bolivia (3) [Ingavi, Patacamaya, and Viacha Branches - likely has not become a district yet due to distance between the three mission branches]
  • Yopal Colombia (2) [Aguazul and Yopal - the Aguazul Branch was created last year, a district may be organized once additional branches are organized and headed by local members]
  • Madang Papua New Guinea [Madang and Sisiak Branches - additional congregations needed to create a district]

There are yet more areas which may have districts created in the near future around the world, but have not experienced noticeable church growth in terms of congregational increases such as areas of the South Pacific, portions of Nigeria, and Russia. If you have information regarding the possible creation of a district or the establishment of new congregations in one of the areas listed above or elsewhere, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First Stake to be Created in Guam

The First Presidency has approved the creation of the first stake in Guam, which will be known as the Barrigada Guam Stake. Apostle Elder L. Tom Perry will create the stake on the weekend of December 11th and 12th. The Guam District had only four branches until just a year or two ago, when a fifth branch was created. Missionaries report that branches in the district have high church attendance and that the creation of a stake has come after many years of preparation. The Guam District currently consists of four branches on the island of Guam, and one branch in Saipan (which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands).

Guam is the country/territory with the twentieth most Latter-day Saints (1,971) without a stake according to membership totals reported by the LDS Church at the end of 2009. There were 735 members in the Northern Mariana Islands at the end of 2009. Once the stake is created, only one nation will have a stake and fewer Latter-day Saints than Guam, which is Bahrain. The Church bases the stake for wards and branches on the Arabian Peninsula in Bahrain due to greater religious freedom than neighboring countries and its central geographic location. Bahrain had 281 members and one branch at the end of 2009.

New District in Madagascar

A new district was created in Toamasina (Tamatave) Madagascar. The district comprises all five branches in the city, two of which were created earlier this year. Active membership appears strong in faith and numbers as over 500 attended the conference to the create the two new branches earlier this year. Missionaries serving in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission report that they hope to baptize over 1,000 converts this year. There is still no indication on when a district will be organized in Antsirabe for the four branches in the area or when the stake in Antananarivo will divide. Several groups which have recently been created may become branches in the near future which currently operate in Ambositra, Ankazobe, Enjoma, and Sarodroa.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cities Open For Missionary Work in Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Ghana


Unprecedented opening of additional cities to the LDS Church continues in Mozambique. LDS Missionaries serving in the Mozambique Maputo Mission report that another city opened for full-time missionary work in the past month outside of Beira, Mozambique in a medium-sized town named Dondo. Full-time missionaries have experienced high receptivity and success in the few weeks of proselytism in Dondo, bringing around 40 investigators and members to church meetings in nearby Beira by bus. Full-time missionaries anticipate the opening of two additional cities by the end of the year: Quelimane and Xai-Xai. All new cities opened to missionary work in Mozambique over the past several months have no branches organized as groups operate in these areas, usually under the Mozambique Maputo Mission.


The Nicaragua Managua North Mission assigned full-time missionaries for the first time to three additional cities, all of which were among the 10 most populated without an LDS Church presence. Latter-day Saint mission outreach centers are now established in Ocotal and Somoto by the Honduran border and in the small town of Rio Blanco located east of Matagalpa.


Missionaries in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission report that missionaries have opened the large city of Sunyani, located northeast of Kumasi. Sunyani was the third most populous city in Ghana without an LDS presence and becomes the most northern city to have an LDS mission outreach center established. Sunyani is one of the few cities in West Africa to ever have full-time missionaries assigned prior to the creation of a branch. Four missionaries work in the city, and additional missionaries will likely be assigned in the coming months. Tamale, the largest city in Ghana without an LDS congregation, is located in north central Ghana and remains without mission outreach.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Angola to be Dedicated for Missionary Work

Angolan members report that later this month, an apostle will visit and dedicate Angola for missionary work. Furthermore, a third branch was just created in Luanda, and the city may become a district in the near future. Groups also operate in different areas of the country. The Mozambique Maputo Mission administers Angola and has reported frequent challenges obtaining visas for missionaries. Angola offers tremendous opportunity for church growth, but these prospects will likely not be fully realized unless greater numbers of local members serve full-time missions and are regularly involved in member-missionary work.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Five New Temples Announced

This morning, President Monson announced the construction of five new temples in the following locations:
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Hartfort, Connecticut
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Tijuana, Mexico
  • Urdaneta, Philippines
Prior to the temple announcement this morning, Portugal was the country with the second most members without a temple and in the past year has experienced increased convert baptisms and member activity in the Portugal Lisbon Mission. The Madrid Spain Temple appears among the most used in Europe as indicated by endowment sessions scheduled hourly morning though evening from Tuesday through Saturday. Temples in Hartfort, Connecticut and Indianapolis, Indiana will likely have small temple districts of fewer than 10 stakes. The Philippines will receive its third temple in Urdaneta, located in central Luzon island north of Manila and Mexico will receive its 13th temple. New temples in Mexico, Philippines, and Portugal may indicate increased temple attendance and member activity, which is a welcome sign as these nations have historically demonstrated some of the lowest member activity and convert retention rates.

Some of the temples announced today may be found in the below map of potential temple sites, which also includes potential temple districts. Stakes or districts to be included in future temple districts will be officially announced at a later date.

View Potential New Temples in a larger map

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

Continued growth in Nicaragua

Missionaries continue to report positive church growth developments in Nicaragua. The Nicaragua Managua North Mission, created this past July, is now at productivity levels equal to that of the original Nicaragua Managua Mission prior to the mission split. The small, remote city of Siuna in north central Nicaragua had its first visit by full-time missionaries in the past month and missionaries have periodically worked in the city since. Last Sunday, over 60 interested individuals attended church, which was the second formal church meeting ever held, and several of these attendees will be baptized in the coming weeks. Missionaries serving in Nicaragua report challenges increasing the number of men at church in many areas, which is an obstacle towards developing greater self-sufficiency and long-term growth.

Missionaries arrive in Burundi

As reported a month ago, the Church set plans to open Burundi to missionary work in September for the first time since the brief period full-time missionaries were assigned to Burundi in the early 1990s. Six young male full-time missionaries and two senior couples arrived safely in the country this past week. Two additional young elders will arrive in the coming week. Self-proclaimed Latter-day Saints number nearly 1,000 in Bujumbura and in remote areas in the northeast. There appears to be fewer than 50 known Latter-day Saints in Burundi. In the coming weeks and months, missionaries will most likely begin working with known members, establish and train local leadership for future branches, and begin teaching and baptizing new converts. Missionary activity will most likely be limited to Bujumbura for the first few months or year until expanding into other areas.

Congregational growth in Brazil

Steady congregational growth has occurred in Ceare and Sao Paulo States in Brazil so far in 2010. Few new stakes appear likely to be created in the near future however in these areas due to recent division of most of the larger stakes. There have been 17 new stakes created in these two states since 2005, few of which have been from districts maturing into stakes. Stakes which may be close to splitting in Ceare and Sao Paulo are listed below.
  • Fortaleza Brazil East (9 wards, 2 branches)
  • Hortolandia Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Sao Jose do Rio Preto (9 wards, 3 branches)

Rapid Growth in Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo

Isolated in the interior of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kananga is the country's fourth largest city. The Church created its first district in Kananga in 2003. Up until a couple years ago, four branches operated in the city. Currently there are eight branches, with two or three new branches to be created by the end of the year. No full-time missionaries have been assigned to Kananga in the past and local member missionaries have been responsible for teaching and baptizing new members. So far in 2010, over 450 new converts have been baptized in the district, with typically 60 converts baptized a month. In a recent district conference, over 2,200 attended the general session. Many local members are currently serving full-time missions and for the first time, full-time missionaries will be assigned in the coming month. The Church has faced challenges acquiring additional facilities which are large enough to use as meetinghouses. Many branches in the district report up to 200 attending church a week. The district is currently preparing to become a stake in the near future.

Like in many unreached areas of Africa where self-identified Latter-day Saints meet unofficially waiting for the church's arrival, a new group of 200 is meeting in the name of the church in a location some 300 kilometers from Kananga. Mission leaders provided teaching and training to the prospective members, but as of now there appears to be no plans to open a congregation in this remote area.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Stake in Utah

Another new stake was created in Utah earlier this month. The Springville Utah Dry Creek Stake was created from the Springville Utah West Stake, which had 13 wards and one branch. The new stake has six wards and one branch. There are now 77 stakes in the Provo Utah Temple district and 545 stakes in Utah.

In 2010, there have been 17 new stakes organized thus far, nine of which have been in Utah. Only one stake has been created in the United States outside of Utah this year, which was in Kentucky last March.

Elder Nelson Dedicates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia for Missionary Work

An LDS Church News article announced the dedication of six Balkan nations by Elder Nelson in early September, four of which have no official Church presence. Yugoslavia was formerly dedicated as a whole in 1985 and recently Church leadership determined that the individual nations which comprise of the former Yugoslavia were to be rededicated individually. Small groups of members attended the dedications of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. In May 2010, the Church created administrative branches in each of these countries to assist in the preparation of opening these nations to missionary work and formal Church activity. None of the the Balkan nations without a Church presence have any legal obstacles barring the Church's establishment, enjoy religious freedom, and many missionary-oriented Christian groups openly perform missionary activity like Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. Some nations in the region do have obstacles for the Church to overcome in order to receive official recognition however, like Bosnia which requires at least 300 adult citizen members to apply as a religious community. One of the major obstacles for the Church in these four nations is that there are few native members. There have been several interested individuals attending church meetings in Kosovo and Bosnia in recent years.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Stake in Utah

A new stake has been created in Utah. The Spanish Fork Utah Maple Mountain Stake was created by a division of the Spanish Fork Utah Palmyra Stake, which had 12 wards and one branch. The new stake has six wards and one branch. There are now 544 stakes in Utah.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

108th Book of Mormon Translation in Slovak; Church Growth Developments in the Pacific

The Book of Mormon translated into Slovak

Missionaries report that the Slovak translation of the Book of Mormon has been completed. It is unclear when the translation will be available for distribution, but this marks the first LDS scripture ever translated into the Slovak language and a major development in missionary outreach in this lesser reached European nation. At the end of 2009, there were fewer than 200 members meeting in four branches at least one group. Legal status for the Church was recently obtained. For additional information about the Church in Slovakia and its prospects there, please refer to the Slovakia country profile on

Full-time missionaries assigned to Tuvalu

For the first time in several years, full-time missionaries have been assigned to work on the small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. With less than 13,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu has one LDS branch and 134 Latter-day Saints. Initial missionary reports indicate that there are around 65 attending meetings, many of which are not baptized members. The sole companionship assigned to the islands is learning the Tuvaluan language. Compared to other Pacific islands, few have joined the Church. There were 57 Tuvaluans who self-identified as Latter-day Saints on the New Zealand census in 2006. There are no LDS scriptures and only a handful of church materials in Tuavluan.

Second branch created on Christmas Island (Kirimati)

A second branch has been created on remote Christmas Island in eastern Kiribati. The Banana Branch has functioned as a group for at least a couple years under the Christmas Island Branch. A third branch operates just north of the island on Fanning Island. There are around 5,000 inhabitants on Christmas Island. For more information about the Church in Kiribati, please refer to the country profile.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

City opens for missionary work in Mozambique

Missionaries serving in Mozambique report that for the first time ever, four full-time missionaries will be assigned to work in the city of Inhambane, located on the Indian Ocean coast halfway between Maputo and Beira. Missionaries will reside in the neighboring city of Maxixe and work in both cities, which have a combined population of 170,000. There is no branch in the area, but a group will be established for Sunday meetings, if one is not already functioning, under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch.

There has been a substantial increase in national outreach with full-time missionaries over the past two years in Mozambique. Earlier this year, missionaries were first assigned to Chimoio (the fifth most populous Mozambican city) where a group meets for Sunday meetings. In the past two years, full-time missionaries were assigned for the first time to the cities of Nampula (the third most populous ) and Tete (eighth most populous). Four of the 10 most populated cities remain without an official church presence, however (Nacala, Quelimane, Lichinga, and Pemba).

New Stake Created in Brazil

A new stake has been created in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. Santarém Brazil Pará Stake was created from the Santarém Brazil Pará District, with most if not all the six branches becoming wards. News of the creation of the new stake was reported by missionaries at the end of March. Additional stakes may be organized in the Belem area from existing stakes or districts. There are now four stakes and two districts in Pará State and 231 stakes and 50 districts in Brazil.

New branches in Africa

Missionaries report that new branches will soon be organized in Monrovia, Liberia; Nairobi, Kenya; and the Kilunga Hills, Kenya. More details will be provided when these units are officially organized.

Growth in Portugal

Missionary work
has recently taken off in the Portugal Lisbon Mission, and missionaries report that the mission is currently the highest baptizing mission in Europe, ranking number three for convert retention. Missionaries have been baptizing 50 new converts a month consistently over the past nine months. A large portion of the new converts are youth and immigrants, which often require special attention from local members to keep active. Youth offer significant strength for long-term growth if kept active, such as serving full-time missions and establishing full-member families. Whether or not this growth is sustained and meaningful will hinge on whether the number of congregations in Portugal increases - instead of decreases like in most years over the past decade - in the coming months and years. Portugal is the country with the second most members without a temple and has suffered from high member inactivity in many areas.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Most Populous Metropolitan Areas Without a Reported LDS Church Presence

Cities almost always offer greater proselytism opportunity for the LDS Church than rural areas. Large populations concentrated in small geographic areas allow for high mission efficiency with even a small missionary force and few church resources. Cities are generally easily accessible. Rural areas, which tend to be sparsely populated, often require a large number of mission outreach centers to administer a small population and in many areas are difficult to access. Large cities often attract people throughout the region, country, or world to visit, temporarily work, obtain education, or become permanent residents. Latter-day Saint converts from these temporary visitors or residents have many times in the past facilitated the spread of the Church to other unreached areas or even rural communities when they return to their hometowns. The Church has taken advantage of the benefits of city-focused church growth outreach as manifest by the Church generally establishing congregations in the largest cities prior to expanding into smaller cities or rural areas.

There remain many large cities which do not have LDS congregations established. Below is a list of the 14 cities which rank among the world's 100 most populous cities which do not have a reported LDS congregation. Some of these cities likely have groups of foreign or native members, especially in nations with a restricted Latter-day Saint presence like China. Population data was taken from
  1. Tehran, Iran (12.8 million)
  2. Wuhan, China (8.95 million)
  3. Shenyang, China (6.8 million)
  4. Chongqing, China (6.4 million)
  5. Ahmadabad, India (5.95 million)
  6. Chengdu, China (5.7 million)
  7. Khartoum, Sudan (4.975 million)
  8. Pune, India (4.85 million)
  9. Chittagong, Bangladesh (4.625 million)
  10. Shantou, China (4.6 million)
  11. Alexandria, Egypt (4.575 million)
  12. Harbin, China (4.4 million)
  13. Surat, India (4.225 million)
  14. Kanpur, India (3.675 million)
With the exception of English-speaking branches or small congregations for native members in China, none of the above listed cities appear likely to have LDS congregations created in the near future. Iran, Sudan, and Egypt have heavy restrictions and widespread abuse or religious freedom whereas cities listed above in India are located in areas with few Christians and generally strong anti-Christian sentiments. Bangladesh offers considerable religious freedom for Christians, but the small Bangladeshi Latter-day Saint community concentrated in Dhaka may delay any gains in national outreach for many more years.

New Stakes In Utah

Two new stakes were created at the end of August in Utah, both of which were Young Single Adult (YSA) Stakes, which administer single Latter-day Saints generally between the ages of 18 and 30. The Providence Utah YSA Stake and the Smithfield Utah YSA Stake were created from YSA congregations which formerly belonged to other stakes in the Logan area.

Up until last month, there were no stakes which were specifically designated for Young Single Adults without a connection to a university or college. Stakes which meet the exclusive needs of young adult singles are listed as Student Single Stakes and are associated with a university or college, such as BYU. Many stakes which were formerly Young Single Adult Stakes have been renamed YSA stakes in the past month. Cities which boast large populations of LDS young adults and maintain at least half a dozen YSA congregations in many different stakes may become future locations for the creation of additional YSA stakes. However, the recent creation of the YSA stakes or renaming of some of the Student Single Stakes has been limited to Utah.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Potential New Missions in Nations without a Latter-day Saint Mission

In an era of increasing opportunity for the Church to expand its presence worldwide but with no growth in the number of full-time missionaries over the past decade, there are many areas which appear suitable to have LDS missions established but have likely not had a mission organized due to inadequate missionary manpower. In the 1990s, many nations had their first LDS missions established but had fewer than 500 members and some with just one or two branches. Today there are many nations which enjoy religious freedom and experienced moderate to rapid membership and congregational growth. Below is a list of likely future LDS missions in nations without current LDS missions. Nations without LDS missions which appear most likely to have a mission headquartered in their country are all concentrated in Africa. These missions may be organized once the number of missionaries serving internationally increases, additional missionary resource redistribution occurs, or the complement (quota) of missionaries in established missions declines to allow the creation of additional missions.

  • Togo Lome Mission (to administer Togo and Benin - combined population of 15 million, currently 1,200 members in seven branches)
  • Cameroon Yaounde Mission (to administer Cameroon and the Central African Republic - combined population of 24 million, currently 1,250 members in six branches)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission (to administer Ethiopia and Djibouti - combined population of 86 million, currently 1,000 members in five branches)
  • Burundi/Rwanda Mission (to administer Burundi and Rwanda - combined population of 20 million, currently less than 100 members in one branch)
  • Zambia Lusaka Mission (to administer Zambia and Malawi - combined population of 27 million, currently 3,100 members in 13 branches)
  • Angola Luanda Mission (to administer Angola - population of 12.8 million, currently 831 members in two branches and two groups)
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam Mission (to administer Tanzania - population of 41 million, currently 950 members in five branches)
If the above missions were organized, missionary outreach would not only expand in the nations covered by these prospective missions but also would allow for expansion national outreach in the nations in which current missions operate. For example, the Kenya Nairobi Mission administers Tanzania currently and Kenya alone has a population of 39 million, a rapidly growing Latter-day Saint population of 9,400, and 36 wards and branches. There are tens of millions of Kenyans which reside in areas without nearby Latter-day Saint congregations. Reducing the demands on the mission president while simultaneously developing indigenous missionary resources and increasing the number of missionaries serving in the country allows for greater outreach to occur.

Relying on full-time missionaries is not a successful paradigm to ensure long-term growth. Rather, local members throughout the world need to participate in member-missionary efforts. These in turn result in better convert retention, increases in full-time missionaries serving, and leadership for the future.

Monday, August 30, 2010

LDS Church Meets With People's Republic of China Officials Regarding the Regularization of Church Activities in China

In a significant development regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the People's Republic of China, apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy met with Chinese officials in February and May in Beijing and August 24th in Salt Lake City regarding the regularization of LDS Church activities in mainland China. Although the possibility of open proselytism in mainland China remains "not even under consideration" according to the article posted on the Church's website, this recent discourse with the Chinese government is preparing the way for Chinese and foreigner Latter-day Saints in China to comply with the law and live church teachings and assemble in a more organized fashion. Although details have not been discussed relating to what changes will take place, possibilities may include greater information provided to the general Church membership regarding the native LDS Chinese membership in China which continues to be not released to the public out of respect for Chinese law and policy. This recent progress has come as a result of 30 years of work and respect between the Church and People's Republic of China.

Currently 14 English-speaking branches organized in two districts meet in China with many more groups in isolated areas. Elder M. Russell Ballard reported in 2008 that around 20 small branches had been established for native Chinese members, none of which appeared to have been operating just eight years earlier. Chinese law requires citizens and foreigners to be segregated for worship services. Foreigners tend to consist of North Americans, Europeans, and Koreans. Chinese Latter-day Saints living in China either joined the Church abroad or through family members in China as permitted by the government. Chinese members and congregations continue to meet privately.

The first full-time male LDS missionary to serve from China completed his mission in 2006. In early 2010, there were 42 missionaries from mainland China serving around the world (but not in their home country).

For additional information regarding the Church in China, please read an article written by me and David Stewart on The original article about the meetings between LDS Church and Chinese officials can be found here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recent Church Growth News

Four new branches in the DR Congo

Four new branches have been created in the central Democratic Republic of Congo, three of which were organized in the Luputa DR Congo District: The Bondoyi Branch, the Luputa 2nd Branch, and the Contoniere Branch. The Luputa 2nd and Contoniere Branches were both created in the city of Luputa, which now has seven branches. The Bondoyi Branch becomes the second branch in the city of Mwene-Ditu, which received its first branch in early 2008. There are now 10 branches in the Luputa DR Congo District, which will become a stake in the near future. The fourth new branch created in the region was in the large city of Mbuji-Mayi and called the Dibindi Branch. Mbuji-Mayi now has four mission branches which will become a district in the coming months.

New branch in Cameroon

The fifth LDS branch in Cameroon was just organized a couple weeks ago. The Ekounou 2nd Branch was created from a division of the Ekounou Branch and becomes the fourth branch in the Yaounde area. The Ekounou Branch was created just 18 months ago, yet at the meeting to create the new congregation only standing room was available due to rapid membership growth in the area. This instance illustrates that new congregations most often grow the fastest in membership. Cameroon appears highly likely to receive its first district shortly. A sixth congregation meets as an appendage of the Douala Branch, called the Bonaberi Group.

Three new branches in Papua New Guinea

Three new branches were recently created in the vicinity of Kukipi, located in the Gulf Province. There are now five mission branches in the region, which appear likely to be made into a district. Self sufficiency is high as missionary work is performed by local members and South Pacific missionaries.

No increase in congregations in Mexico so far in 2010

Despite having the second highest number of Latter-day Saints, there has been no increase in the number of congregations in Mexico since the beginning of the year. This may be due to poor convert retention or increased standards for the size of active membership per congregation prior to the division of existing congregations to create new wards and branches.

Meeting Language Needs

According to the LDS Church's statistics, ecclesiastical materials are available in 166 languages. The Book of Mormon is translated into 107 languages. Below is a list of the most widely spoken languages without translations of any LDS materials. There are 15 languages with over 15 million speakers without translations of LDS materials. Chinese languages which use Chinese characters have been omitted from this list. Data for the number of native speakers per languages comes from and information regarding languages with LDS materials can be found at here.
  1. Javanese (84.6 million) - Indonesia
  2. Gujarati (46.5 million) - India
  3. Bhojpuri (38.5 million) - India
  4. Awahdi (38.3 million) - India
  5. Maithili (34.7 million) - India
  6. Sunda (34 million) - Indonesia
  7. Oriya (31.7 million) - India
  8. Sindhi (21.4 million) - Pakistan
  9. Uzbek (20.3 million) - Uzbekistan, minority language in surrounding countries
  10. Azerbaijani [North and South] (19.1 million) - primarily Azerbaijan and Iran
  11. Chhattisgarhi (17.5 million) - India
  12. Oromo (17.3 million) - Ethiopia
  13. Assamese (16.8 million) - India
  14. Kurdish (16 million) - Turkey, Iraq, and Iran
  15. Rangpuri (15 million) - Bangladesh
These 15 languages are spoken by 6.6% of the world's population. Seven of the 15 languages are spoken in India, two are spoken in Indonesia, and two are spoken in Iran. I am not aware of any plans for prospective translations of Church materials in any of these languages. Church materials are not currently in these languages as the Church does not have a presence in most areas in which these languages are spoken. Only Javanese is spoken in an area with multiple LDS congregations whereas other languages are spoken in areas without LDS congregations.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New District in Nigeria

Last Sunday, the Mbaise Nigeria District was created from four congregations in the Owerri Nigeria Stake. Each of the congregations in the new district have functioned since as early as 1998 when the Owerri Nigeria Stake was created. The Owerri Nigeria Stake now has five wards and three branches. There are now 16 stakes and 20 districts in Nigeria. Below is a list of all the new districts in Nigeria created in the past two years.
  • Ibiono Nigeria District
  • Oron Nigeria District
  • Ikot Ekpene Nigeria District
  • Okrika Nigeria District
  • Abak Nigeria District
  • Ekpoma Nigeria District
  • Mbaise Nigeria District

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Burundi Opening to Missionary Work In September

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission report that the country of Burundi will open for formal missionary work in September. Several exploratory trips have occurred in the past 18 months to assess conditions and locate members and prospective converts. On some of these trips, mission leaders reported hundreds meeting in the name of the LDS Church both in the capital Bujumbura and in remote areas of the country. These prospective Latter-day Saint converts have learned about the Church from members living in the country and from pastors who have obtained copies of the Book of Mormon and have begun teaching from LDS scripture. In late 2009, there were as many as a dozen unofficial congregations. The most recent exploratory trip occurred in the past few weeks in which mission leaders met with some members who have been waiting for years for the Church's official reestablishment.

In the early 1990s, Burundi opened to missionary work and had a branch established in Bujumbura in 1993. Due to ethnic conflict and political instability, the Church withdrew missionaries (who were assigned from the Ivory Coast Abijdan Mission) shortly thereafter and stopped reporting membership totals in 2001.

In September, eight young, full-time proselytizing missionaries and two senior missionary couples from the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission will be assigned to Burundi and reside in Bujumbura. Few if any countries have opened to formal missionary activity in the past decade, let alone with so many missionaries. Neighboring Rwanda has had an official Church presence for about two years, yet only one senior missionary couple was assigned just in the past year. Other African nations which have received their first proselytizing missionaries in the past decade include Angola, Benin, Cameroon, and Togo. Formal missionary activity may begin soon in the Central African Republic.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New District in Nigeria

A new district was created in Nigeria. The Abak Nigeria District was created from the Uyo Nigeria Stake and Nigeria Calabar Mission with seven branches in the Abak area. Two branches in the new district were formerly wards and one new branch was created. With seven wards and two branches, the Uyo Nigeria Stake has experienced strong congregational growth this year as three new wards were created; one of which was from a branch. Several stakes in the area have a large number of congregations and may divide to create either new stakes or districts. Below is the current count for wards and branches for stakes in southeastern Nigeria. Districts created since 2008 are indicated in italics.
  • Aba Nigeria Stake: 9 wards, 1 branch
  • Aba Nigeria Ogbor Hill Stake: 7 wards, 2 branches
  • Abak Nigeria District: 7 branches
  • Akamkpa Nigeria District: 7 branches
  • Calabar Nigeria Stake: 8 wards, 1 branch
  • Eket Nigeria Stake: 9 wards, 2 branches
  • Etinan Nigeria Stake: 8 wards, 2 branches
  • Ibiono Nigeria District: 5 branches
  • Ikot Akpaden Nigeria Stake: 9 wards, 1 branch
  • Ikot Ekpene Nigeria Stake: 7 branches
  • Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake: 8 wards, 8 branches
  • Okpuala Ngwa Nigeria District: 8 branches
  • Okrika Nigeria District: 3 branches
  • Oron Nigeria District: 3 branches
  • Owerri Nigeria Stake: 7 wards, 5 branches
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake: 7 wards, 1 branch
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria West Stake: 9 wards
  • Umuahia Nigeria District: 8 branches
  • Uyo Nigeria Stake: 7 wards, 2 branches
Growth has been significant in Nigeria over the past decade. Below are congregational counts for stakes and districts in the same region in 2002. Stakes or districts which did not exist at this time are indicated by zeros for congregational counts.
  • Aba Nigeria Stake: 10 wards, 3 branches
  • Aba Nigeria Ogbor Hill Stake: 0
  • Abak Nigeria District: 0
  • Akamkpa Nigeria District: 3 branches
  • Calabar Nigeria Stake: 5 wards, 1 branch
  • Eket Nigeria Stake: 7 wards, 4 branches
  • Etinan Nigeria Stake: 5 wards, 4 branches
  • Ibiono Nigeria District: 0
  • Ikot Akpaden Nigeria Stake: 6 wards, 4 branch
  • Ikot Ekpene Nigeria Stake: 0
  • Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake: 6 wards, 2 branches
  • Okpuala Ngwa Nigeria District: 0
  • Okrika Nigeria District: 0
  • Oron Nigeria District: 0
  • Owerri Nigeria Stake: 5 wards, 5 branches
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake: 10 wards, 1 branch
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria West Stake: 0
  • Umuahia Nigeria District: 5 wards, 9 branches
  • Uyo Nigeria Stake: 6 wards, 6 branches
With 19 districts, Nigeria becomes the country with the seventh most districts worldwide. There are 16 stakes in Nigeria and the temple in Aba has been reopened for ordinance work.

District Discontinued in Puerto Rico

The sole functioning district on Puerto Rico based in Arecibo was discontinued and its branches were assimilated into the Toa Baja Puerto Rico and Mayagüez Puerto Rico Stakes. This latest development appears part of a nationwide initiative to consolidate the remaining districts as less than a month earlier, the Fajardo Puerto Rico District was discontinued. Each of the former districts had an inadequate number of congregations to become a stake. With the recent realignments, stronger branches may become wards as they will now be part of stakes.

In addition to significant numbers of members relocating to the United States mainland, Puerto Rico has experienced little membership growth and few convert baptisms over the past two decades. Emigration was partially responsible for the discontinuance of all four stakes operating on the island in 1993 and the subsequent formation of eight districts. Four stakes were reestablished by 2000 and a fifth stake was created from two districts in 2006. None of the five stakes on Puerto Rico appear close to dividing in the foreseeable future. A second mission was created in 2007 and discontinued in 2010. However the purpose of the second mission appears to have been focused on other small Caribbean nations rather than expanding missionary outreach in Puerto Rico. In recent years, membership has begun increasing after many years of membership decline.

There has been some discussion on the likelihood of a future temple in Puerto Rico. Currently, members in Puerto Rico can access the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple with few challenges and in a timely manner. With only five stakes, Puerto Rico may not receive a temple for many more years. Returned missionaries report that Caribbean island nations would travel to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple with greater ease than to a potential temple in Puerto Rico due to visa restrictions and expenses.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New District in Brazil; Districts Discontinued in Saint Kitts-Nevis and Mexico

A new district was created at the end of July in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. The Sorriso Brazil District likely consists of three branches in the remote northern portion of Mato Grosso several hundred miles away from Cuiabá. In the early 2000s only one LDS branch functioned in this region north of Cuiabá in Sinop. Two additional branches were organized in the late 2000s in Sorriso and Lucas do Rio Verde. One mission branch now functions in Mato Grosso in Caceres. There are now 51 districts in Brazil.

The sole district in Saint Kitts-Nevis was discontinued earlier this summer. The district was created in 2004 and originally had four branches, one or two of which were on other nearby Caribbean islands. The decision to discontinue the district is likely due to the islands covered by the former district now belonging to two different missions due to the realignment of missions in the Caribbean this past July. The district also had very few members and with the absence of a district, greater focus can now be dedicated to each mission branch.

In Mexico, the Matehuala Mexico District was discontinued. The district was organized in 1989 and had two branches. The two branches now report as mission branches to the Mexico Leon Mission. A lack of growth, few Priesthood leaders, and only two branches in the district likely contributed to its discontinuance. There are now 34 districts in Mexico.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I will be away from the Internet for much of the rest of the week as my wife and I will be moving back to the United States. A district was discontinued in Saint Kitts-Nevis that I have not reported on yet which I provide background and analysis on once we return.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Breakdown of the World's Population by Current LDS Mission Outreach Efforts

As a Church we tend to believe that the scope of LDS mission outreach exceeds beyond its current bounds. One common misconception is that nations which have no congregations and no LDS Church presence account for the bulk of the unreached world's population to the Church. Only five percent of the world's population resides in such countries - the most populous being Iran. 29% of the world's population resides in nations in which there are no full-time missionaries assigned but one or more LDS congregations (such as China, Bangladesh, and Egypt). These nations tend to have major legal challenges preventing a formal Church establishment or proselytism. An additional 29% of the world's population resides in nations which have a minimal Church presence and tiny missionary force concentrated in just a handful of large cities (such as India, Indonesia, and Ethiopia).

Sadly, just 37% of all people live in nations with a limited to strong LDS Church presence. Nations with a limited Church presence have a developed Church presence in many areas, but large areas remain without any LDS presence. Such nations include Nigeria, Russia, and Japan. The United States, Brazil, and Mexico are examples of nations with a strong LDS Church presence as most areas have congregations and missionaries.

Efforts to expand the breadth and efficacy of the missionary program worldwide will most likely come to greater fruition by focusing on nations with a limited to minimal Latter-day Saint presence. These nations generally permit open missionary activity and have legally recognized the LDS Church. Although we should remember all areas of the world in our prayers and individual member-missionary efforts, these nations offer some of the greatest progress in spreading the Gospel among the unreached.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New District Created in Cambodia

A fifth district was organized in Cambodia in late June. The Battambang Cambodia District was created and includes two branches in Battambang. The creation of the district may indicate that additional branches will be organized in the Battambang area. The first branch in this area of the country was organized in Battambang in December 2003. Branches were first organized in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom in 2007 - which are nearby Battambang but do not appear to be in the new district - and the Battambang Branch divided into two branches in 2009. Growth continues in western Cambodia. The Church purchased land for a meetinghouse in Siem Reap which will be built soon.

Cambodia has experienced some of the strongest membership growth in Asia over the past decade but with modest retention rates. Membership increased from over 2,000 in 2000 to nearly 9,000 today. Half of the full-time missionary force is Cambodian.

New Stake to be Created in Utah

According to, a third stake will be created August 14-15th in Tremonton that will be named the Tremonton Utah West Stake. Many boundary changes have been occurred over the past couple weeks in preparation for the new stake. Church leadership in the area put in a request to Church Headquarters to form a new stake back in April. The two stakes currently have a combined 21 wards and three branches.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Church Growth News

Update on Growth in Nicaragua

Missionaries report that the Church is calling unprecedented numbers of additional missionaries to staff the two missions in Nicaragua - one of which just opened earlier this month. Total missionaries serving in this Central American country will likely reach 400 in the coming months, with 200 missionaries in each mission. Additional groups or dependent branches have also been recently organized. In Puerto Cabezas, a fourth branch was just created, the El Caminante Branch. The three additional branches in the area are the Puerto Cabezas, Bilwi, and Loma Verde Branches. A future district based in Puerto Cabezas appears highly likely in the coming months although there are no official reports that this will occur.

New Branches in East Malaysia

The three originally branches in Kuching were realigned to create two new branches. The Kuching East Malaysia District now has five branches. With five congregations, the district can work towards becoming a stake in the future although the number of active members and Priesthood holders remains insufficient. In the Sibu East Malaysia District, a fourth branch was created in Sibu Jaya. Missionary activity occurs exclusively among non-Muslims in Malaysia.

City Opens for Missionary Work in Mozambique

Missionaries report that Chimoio, Mozambique has opened for missionary work. What was previously the city with the most inhabitants without a Church presence, no branch has been organized and the Church meets as a group under the Mozambique Maputo Mission Branch. The opening of Chimoio is a significant development as low convert retention and struggles to develop local leadership have prevented additional areas of the country from receiving missionaries. In the past couple years, several cities which had branches previously established have had full-time missionaries assigned, including Nampula and Tete.

Breakthrough in the Solomon Islands: Members Meeting in Three Congregations

The Solomon Islands have remained the least reached by LDS mission efforts among all the islands of the Pacific despite boasting one of the largest populations in the region of over half a million. The first branch was organized in the mid-1990s in the capital of Honiara and slow membership growth occurred between 2000 and 2007. It appears that the Honiara Branch has recently been divided and two new congregations have been established in Honiara. Although LDS missionary work remains severely limited in the country, the creation of additional units allows for expanded outreach and greater opportunities to spur local leadership.

Branch Discontinued in Paramaribo, Suriname

One of the seven branches in Suriname was recently discontinued in the Blauwgrond region of the city. It is unclear whether the branch continues to meet as a group or dependent branch of a neighboring branch or whether members in the area now travel to a different location for Church meetings. Suriname has experienced strong membership growth in the past five years, but modest convert retention rates and poor local leadership development resulting in dependence on foreign missionaries for administrative tasks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

District Discontinued in Puerto Rico

The Fajardo Puerto Rico District was discontinued and its four branches were combined with the San Juan Puerto Rico Stake. Larger branches in the former Fajardo district may now become wards in the stake based in San Juan. In the early 2000s, there were four stakes and four districts in Puerto Rico. In 2006, two districts combined to create a fifth stake. There are now five stakes and one district on the island.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Likely Areas For Future Mission Outreach Expansion

I have always been fascinated with what areas do and do not have a Church presence. Expanding the Church's national outreach is a major responsibility that falls on local and regional Church leadership, but is something that initially begins with local members moving to unreached cities and sharing the Gospel with those around them. Unfortunately not only does the majority of the world's population live in locations without a Church presence, but the majority of the population in countries with an official Church presence also do not live in locations with congregations or missionaries nearby. We tend to concentrate on the opening of many small, sparsely population nations but many larger nations with have had an official Church presence for decades have tens of millions who remain without any LDS mission outreach, such as Indonesia, India, and Brazil.

The Church has had an exciting past couple years as many new cities have opened for missionary work and an acceleration of congregation and membership growth have occur in many nations which have large populations but a very limited Church presence. Based on recent growth trends and current reports from missionaries and Church leaders around the world, I have provided a list and map of likely areas in which we will see expanding mission outreach.

View Growth Hotspots in a larger map

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

District Created in Honduras

A new district was created earlier this month in Honduras. The Monjarás Honduras District was created from a mission branch and at least three branches from the San Lorenzo Honduras District. The district based in San Lorenzo was one of the largest in the Church with 14 branches in 2009. The Monjarás Honduras District becomes the first new district or stake to be organized in Honduras in about 12 years. Last year, several districts were consolidated or had their branches become mission branches. The creation of the new district may indicate greater self-sustainability with local leadership in southern Honduras. There are now 20 stakes and six districts in the country.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Church Growth News

New branch in Mongolia

A new branch was created in southern Mongolia. The Oyu-Tolgoi Branch reports directly to the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission and serves members who work at the Oyu-Tolgoi Mine which extracts precious gold and copper deposits. Members have met as a group for at least a year or so and are now officially organized as their own branch.

Growth in Likasi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Two new branches were created in Likasi, bringing the total number of branches in the city to six. Missionaries were introduced for the first time just a year and a half ago to this city in the southern DR Congo. In just a couple weeks, Likasi and the eastern half of the DR Congo will become part of the new Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission. Only African missionaries serve in this region, with the exception of some senior missionary couples.

Three new branches for India

Missionaries report that three new branches will be organized in Southern India in the coming month. Additional branches will be organized in Coimbatore, Hyderabad, and Rajahmundry. Two of these branches have already been organized. This brings the total number of congregations to 33 in India. Missionaries also report that the Hyderabad India District is the closest to becoming a stake, which may occur in the next year or two.

Districts consolidate in Moscow, Russia in preparation for future stake

In 2006, the Moscow Russia District reached the standards to qualify to become a stake. However, mission and local leaders decided to divide the district to work towards two stakes being established in the city. It appears that these ambitious have been abandoned for the time being as the districts were combined about a month ago. Missionaries report that the district is functioning just like a stake currently and should officially become a stake very soon.

Rapid growth in Nicaragua

Missionaries in Nicaragua report that the mission has experienced rapid membership growth over the past six months. During the month of May, over 600 converts were baptized, including many family members and potential Priesthood holders. Several areas are setting new records for church attendance, a welcome sign in a nation which has experienced poor convert retention over the past two decades. The mission is preparing to divide in a couple weeks and has also received more missionaries. Growth appears not to be limited to one specific area of the country.

One exciting development has occurred along the Atlantic coast in the city of Puerto Cabezas where last year the branch divided into three new congregations. For the first time, it appears the Church has experienced a breakthrough in working with the Miskito Amerindians. Missionaries report around 40 members are about to submit their mission papers; a significant achievement as only one member has served a mission from this region.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New District in Nigeria

Something that I forgot to mention in my previous post about Benin City and Edo State, Nigeria is that a few years ago a couple mission branches sprouted 35 miles to the northeast of Benin City in a series of small cities. Two branches functioned in this region, called the Iruekpen and Ozalla Branches, and where the only congregations outside of Benin City in Edo State. In the past six months, both of these branches have been divided to create the Iruekpen 2nd and Ozalla 2nd Branches and a fifth branch was also created called the Ekpoma Branch. Last Sunday, the Ekpoma Nigeria District was created from these five branches. Recent growth in the Ekpoma Nigeria District indicates that high receptivity and strong growth also occur elsewhere in Edo State.

Nigeria now has 16 stakes and 18 districts, five of which districts were organized since late 2007. The creation of additional districts remains likely in Nigeria. Potential new districts may be organized in Ogwashi-Uku, Ohafia, and Afikpo as additional congregations continue to be organized.