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