Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Newsletter- The Cumorah Foundation

Here is a link to our December newsletter for the Cumorah Foundation.  This newsletter provides lists of recently organized stakes and districts and cities recently reached by the Church and recent church growth news.  Recently posted case studies on are also listed and summarized.

Click here to access our newsletter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Most Populous Urban Agglomerations without an LDS Presence

Two years ago, I provided a list of the most populous urban agglomerations without an LDS presence.  I wanted to update this list and make a few adjustments.  City data retrieved for this post was retrieved from

Below is a list of the 20 most populous urban agglomerations without a reportable LDS branch or ward provided with the most recent population estimate and world ranking.  Cities located in countries without a known LDS presence are indicated in bold.
  1. Tehran, Iran - 13.6 million - 22nd
  2. Wuhan, China - 9.2 million - 36th
  3. Shenyang, China - 7.2 million - 45th
  4. Ahmadabad, India - 6.85 million - 49th
  5. Chongqing, China - 6.3 million - 54th
  6. Khartoum, Sudan - 5.15 million - 70th
  7. Surat, India - 5.05 million - 72nd
  8. Alexandria, Egypt - 4.8 million - 76th
  9. Shantou, China - 4.675 million - 79th
  10. Harbin, China - 4.625 million - 81st
  11. Chittagong, Bangladesh - 4.25 million - 90th
  12. Casablanca, Morocco - 4.125 million - 95th
  13. Kano, Nigeria - 3.8 million - 108th
  14. Dalian, China - 3.65 million - 112th
  15. Changchun, China - 3.575 million - 115th
  16. Jinan, China - 3.55 million - 116th
  17. Zhengzhou, China - 3.55 million - 116th
  18. Damascus, Syria - 3.45 million - 122nd
  19. Kanpur, India - 3.45 million - 122nd
  20. Algiers, Algeria - 3.375 million - 127th
Below is a list of the 20 most populous urban agglomerations that excludes cities in China.  Member reports indicate that, with possibly just a few exceptions, all agglomerations in China with over three million people have an LDS branch or group functioning.  Due to the sensitive nature of the Church in China, the Church does not publish information on these congregations as they exclusively service Chinese nationals.
  1.  Tehran, Iran - 13.6 million - 22nd
  2. Ahmadabad, India - 6.85 million - 49th
  3. Khartoum, Sudan - 5.15 million - 70th
  4. Surat, India - 5.05 million - 72nd
  5. Alexandria, Egypt - 4.8 million - 76th
  6. Chittagong, Bangladesh - 4.25 million - 90th
  7. Casablanca, Morocco - 4.125 million - 95th
  8. Kano, Nigeria - 3.8 million - 108th
  9. Damascus, Syria - 3.45 million - 122nd
  10. Kanpur, India - 3.45 million - 122nd
  11. Algiers, Algeria - 3.375 million - 127th
  12. Jaipur, India - 3.325 million - 128th
  13. Lucknow, India - 3.275 million - 131st
  14. Meshed, Iran - 2.875 million - 147th
  15. Dakar, Senegal - 2.85 million - 148th
  16. Aleppo, Syria - 2.85 million - 148th
  17. Nagpur, India - 2.8 million - 154th
  18. Pyongyang, North Korea - 2.75 million - 156th
  19. Bamako, Mali - 2.55 million - 171st
  20. Tashkent, Uzbekistan - 2.55 million - 171st
These 20 urban agglomerations number among the highest priority locations to open for missionary activity (when permitted) and establish congregations due to high population densities in small geographic areas that maximize outreach potential.  However, few of these locations appear likely to have LDS units established within the foreseeable future.  Current government restrictions on religious freedom prohibit any realistic efforts to open congregations in Tehran, Khartoum, Alexandria, Casablanca, Algiers, Meshed, Pyongyang, and Tashkent whereas political instability and/or violence against Christians prevent outreach in Kano, Damascus, Aleppo, and Bamako.  Prospects appear most favorable for opening congregations and conducting missionary activity through member referral in Ahmadabad, Surat, Kanpur, Jaipur, Lucknow, Dakar, and Nagpur as other proselytizing Christian groups operate in these locations with few, if any, restrictions on their activities. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Two New Stakes Created in the Philippines

Two new stakes were created in the Philippines on December 9th.

The Cariaga Philippines Stake was organized from the Carigara Philippines District.  The new stake consists of five wards (Calubi-An, Capoocan, Carigara 1st, Carigara 2nd, and San Miguel) and one branch (San Isidro).  The Carigara Philippines Stake becomes the fourth stake to be organized in the Philippines Tacloban Mission.  The Church created its first stake in the mission in Ormoc (1999) followed by stakes in Tacloban (2007) and Catarman (2008).  No other mission in the Philippines has had as many districts mature into stakes within the past decade.

The Bacoor Philippines Stake was organized from the Cavite Philippines Stake and includes five wards (Bacoor, Imus 1st, Imus 2nd, Molino 1st, and Molino 2nd).  The remaining Cavite Philippines Stake includes seven wards.  The Church has begun to more readily organize new wards within the Philippines Manila Mission - the mission that currently administers the area.

There are now 85 stakes and 84 districts in the Philippines.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two New Stakes Created in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Within the past month, two new stakes were created in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Binza Stake was organized from the Kinshasa DR Congo Mont Ngafula and Kinshasa DR Congo Ngaliema Stakes and includes the following seven wards and one branch: The Binza, Binza Pigeon, Binza UPN, Lubudi, Musey, Nsanga Maba, and Manenga Wards and the Camp Luka Branch.  The Kinshasa DR Congo Mont Ngafula Stake now includes five wards and two branches whereas the Kinshasa DR Congo Ngaliema Stake includes seven wards.  The boundaries of the Kinshasa DR Congo Stake were also redrawn as a result of the creation of the new stake in Binza.

The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Mokali Stake was organized from the Kinshasa DR Congo Masina and Kinshasa DR Congo Kimbanseke Stakes and includes the following seven wards: The Du Rail, Fer Bois, Kingasani 1st, Mapela, Masina 2nd, Masina 3rd, and Siforco Wards.  The Kinshasa DR Congo Masina Stake now includes six wards whereas the Kinshasa DR Congo Kimbanseke stake includes seven wards.  The geographic size of the new stake numbers among the smallest in Africa due to the high population density of this area of Kinshasa.  Church leaders report that church attendance at the conference to create the new stake constituted 93% of church membership of the two original stakes.  The Church reports some of its highest member activity and convert retention rates in the world in the DR Congo.

For a case study examining LDS growth in Kinshasa, please click here.

A map displaying all of the units and stakes in Kinshasa is provided below.

View Wards and Branches in Kinshasa (DR Congo) in a larger map
For a case study examining LDS growth in Kinshasa, please click here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First LDS Branch Created in Gabon

Two Sundays ago, the Church created its first branch in the African country of Gabon.  The Libreville Branch was organized from the Libreville Group and had 15 local members in attendance.  The Church obtained government registration within the past couple months, paving the way for the organization of an official church congregation in the country.  Missionaries serving in the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission report plans are underway to assign a senior missionary couple and young proselytizing missionaries to Gabon as soon as possible.  Prior to assignment to the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission earlier this year, an administrative branch operated by the Africa Southeast Area serviced Gabon as a means of tracking any members residing in the country.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Debunking Mormon Myths: Mainland China Opening for Missionary Work

Over the years, members and missionaries have circulated rumors of the LDS Church preparing to assign full-time, proselytizing missionaries to mainland China.  Totally unsubstantiated, these false reports have increased in their complexity and prominence within the past two months as a result of the Church lowering the minimum age for missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women.  Some members have erroneously suggested that this change in church policy has had a direct correlation with the opening of new missions in China due to the recent surge in missionary applications and the expectant rise of the full-time missionary force by the tens of thousands within the next couple years.

To illustrate the ridiculous nature of these false reports, I have indicated several points that currently prevent the assignment of foreign, full-time missionaries to mainland China.

1. Full-time missionaries that are Chinese nationals are not permitted to serve missions in mainland China.

The first Chinese national sister missionary completed her mission in 2001 whereas the first Chinese national elder missionary completed his mission in 2006.  By 2010, there were approximately 100 Chinese nationals that had served a mission or that were serving missions.  All mainland Chinese members who serve missions cannot serve within their home country due to religious freedom restrictions.  Most of these mainland Chinese missionaries serve in the United States, Oceania, Western Europe, and elsewhere in East Asia.  Rumors that North American members are receiving mission calls or special assignments to serve in mainland China are totally unsupported considering religious freedom restrictions barring formal missionary activity for both locals and foreigners.  The Church cannot assign foreign missionaries to serve missions in China if indigenous members cannot serve missions within their homelands.  Currently mainland China is not assigned to a proselytizing mission and is under the direct supervision of the Asia Area Presidency.  Although substantial numbers of Chinese nationals have joined the LDS Church within China and abroad over the past decade, members who have joined the Church in mainland China did so within the scope of the law.  These converts were referred, taught, and baptized by relatives - a practice permitted by the government.

2. Chinese law mandates the segregation of Chinese nationals and foreigners in religious services.

The Church cannot assign foreign missionaries to China if government regulations prohibit foreigner-to-national proselytism and impose the segregation of Chinese nationals and foreigners in religious services.  The Church has created two separate administrative systems in mainland China, one for foreigners and one for native members.  Foreigner units and administrative structure is public; meetinghouse locations for branches and the times for worship services are published on the Church's online meetinghouse locator.  However, there is no published presence of the names, locations, and meeting times for Chinese branches in mainland China.    

3. The Church does not widely publicize its presence among Chinese nationals and maintains a sensitive presence among indigenous members in mainland China.

The Church has experienced rapid growth in mainland China over the past decade.  Since 2002, estimated membership has increased from approximately 3,000 to nearly 10,000 and the number of Chinese congregations has increased from only a couple branches to scores of branches and perhaps hundreds of groups today.  The Church does not publish statistical data on mainland China, including membership figures and congregational totals for non-foreigner units.  The reason for the lack of information about the Church in China appears rooted in the Church's compliance with government regulations barring the intermingling of foreigners and nationals.  The Church has established an excellent relationship with government officials and will continue to respect all levels of the law.

The assignment of full-time missionaries to mainland China will only occur once the government permits the Church to assign Chinese nationals on missions within their own country and eases restrictions on religious freedom.  Foreign missionaries will only be able to serve in mainland China if the government reverses its policy on the religious assembly of foreigners and nationals.  For more information on the LDS Church in China, please click here to access our country profile on for mainland China.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two New Stakes in Spain

Two Sundays ago, the Church created two new stakes in Spain.  Like other stakes organized in Europe in 2012, the creation of these two new stakes resulted from years and decades of slow, steady growth.  No additional stakes appear likely to divide within the foreseeable future.

The Madrid Spain Center Stake was organized from the Madrid Spain East and Madrid Spain West Stakes.  The new stake consists of six wards (Madrid 1st, Madrid 2nd, Madrid 5th, Madrid 6th, Madrid 8th, and Toledo) and one branch (Aranjuez).  The Church created its first stake in Madrid in 1982 and its second second stake in Madrid in 1999.  The Madrid Spain East Stake now includes five wards and two  branches whereas the Madrid Spain West Stake now includes five wards and four branches.

The Cartagena Spain Stake was organized from the Elche Spain and Granada Spain Stakes and includes six wards (Cartagena 1st, Cartagena 2nd, Cartagena 3rd, Molina de Segura, Murcia 1st, and Murcia 2nd) and three branches (Huercal-Overa, Lorca, and Torrevieja).  The creation of the new stake in Cartagena coincided with changes in the stake boundaries of the Valencia Spain Stake.  The Elche Spain Stake now consists of five wards and three branches whereas the Granada Spain Stake consists of six wards and four branches and the Valencia Spain Stake consists of five wards.

There are now 13 stakes and five districts in Spain. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

November 2012 Cumorah Newsletter

See the link below to access the November issue of our monthly newsletter for the Cumorah Foundation.  The newsletter includes recent church growth developments and summarizes recently completed resources posted on the website.

November 2012 Monthly Newsletter

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stakes Likely to Split Outside the United States and Canada

Below is an updated list of likely stakes to split within the near future.  The most recent list of likely stakes to split is from November 2011 and can be found here.

  • Aba Nigeria (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Brazzaville Republic of Congo (9 wards, 4 branches)
  • Bulawayo Zimbabwe (9 wards, 6 branches, 2 groups)
  • Katuba DR Congo (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Kumasi Ghana (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Lubumbashi DR Congo (11 wards)
  • Takoradi Ghana (10 wards)
  • Butuan Philippines (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Cavite Philippines (12 wards) 
  • Cebu Philippines Liloan (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Singapore (10 wards)
  • Chimaltenango Guatemala (10 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Choluteca Honduras (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Fesitranh Honduras (9 wards, 4 branches)
  • La Ceiba Honduras (10 wards)
  • Managua Nicaragua (10 wards)
  • San Salvador El Salvador La Libertad (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Ozama (10 wards)
  • Amecameca Mexico (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Celaya Mexico (11 wards)
  • Chalco Mexico (10 wards)
  • Chilpancingo Mexico (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Ciudad Victoria Mexico (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Coatzacoalcos Mexico Puerto (13 wards)
  • Colonia Juarez Mexico East (11 wards)
  • Culiacan Mexico (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Jalapa Mexico (10 wards)
  • Juchitan Mexico (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Mexico City Anahuac (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Chapultepec (10 wards)
  • Mexico City Cuautitlan (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Culturas (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Iztapalapa (10 wards)
  • Mexico City Tecamac (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Tepalcapa (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Valle Dorado (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Oaxaca Mexico Monte Alban (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Veracruz Mexico Villa Rica (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Villahermosa Mexico Gaviotas (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Ha'apai Tonga (9 wards, 5 branches) 
  • Liverpool Australia (11 wards)
  • Newcastle Australia (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Pesega Samoa (10 wards)
  • Brasilia Brazil Alvorada (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Buenos Aires Argentina Castelar (10 wards)
  • Cochabamba Bolivia Jaihuayco (10 wards)
  • Godoy Cruz Argentina (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales (11 wards)
  • Joao Pessoa Brazil Rangel (10 wards)
  • Juiz de Fora Brazil (11 wards)
  • Jujuy Argentina (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • La Paz Bolivia Miraflores (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lima Peru Canto Grande (10 wards)
  • Lima Peru Villa Salvador (11 wards)
  • Luque Paraguay (10 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Maipu de Cuyo Argentina (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Quito Ecuador Chillogallo (11 wards)
  • Santa Cruz Bolivia Canoto (11 wards)
  • Santa Maria Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3,000th Stake Milestone Reached

Last Sunday, the Church created its 3,000th stake.  The Church designated the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake as its 3,000th stake as several new stakes were organized last Sunday.  On, I recently wrote an analysis on reaching the 3,000th stake milestone and factors that influence stake growth.  Please click here to access the case study on Google docs.  We are currently revamping the website and will post the case study on the website in the near future.

The Church reached its 1,000 stake milestone in 1979 and its 2,000 stake milestone in 1994. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Two New Stakes in Australia

Two Sundays ago, the Church created two new stakes in Queensland, Australia. 

The Brisbane Australia Cleveland Stake was organized from the Brisbane Australia Stake and includes the following five wards: The Camp Hill, Capalaba, Cleveland, Holland Park, and Manly Wards.  The Brisbane Australia Stake was realigned with the Brisbane Australia North and Brisbane Australia Centenary Stakes and now includes six wards. 

The Coomera Australia Stake was organized from the Eight Mile Plains Australia and the Gold Coast Australia Stakes and includes the following six wards: The Beenleigh, Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang, Pacific Pines, and Windaroo Wards.  Both the Eight Mile Plains Australia and the Gold Coast Australia Stakes now have six wards each.

Since 2000, the Church has created four new stakes in Australia - all of which were in the Brisbane area.  Local members report that new move-ins from New Zealand and growth among Polynesians has driven growth in the area.  There are now 34 stakes and nine districts in Australia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Potential New Missions in 2013

I have received several reports from mission presidents and area authorities that the Church may create as many as 50 new missions in 2013 as a result of the recent surge in the full-time missionary force.  Below is a map I created that identifies locations that appear most likely to have new missions organized in 2013.  Criteria for identifying potential locations for new missions include the administrative size of currently operating missions, the number of convert baptisms, informal missionary reports of plans to create new missions in these locations, opportunities for growth, and recent trends in mission growth over the past few years. Blue markers indicate high probability for the mission to be organized whereas yellow markers indicate moderate probability for the mission to be organized.

View Potential New Missions in 2013 in a larger map

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Stake Created in Spain

Earlier this month, the Church created a new stake in Spain.  The Lleida Spain Stake was created from the Hospitalet Spain Stake and Spain Barcelona Mission and includes four wards (Lleida, Sabadell 1st, Sabadell 2nd, and Terrassa) and three branches (Andorra, Zaragoza 1st, and Zaragoza 2nd).  Missionaries serving in the Spain Barcelona Mission report that the two branches in Zaragoza may become wards within the near future.  Currently the Hospitalet Spain Stake has only four wards and two branches.  With few wards in either stake, it appears that the decision to create the new stake in Lleida was under the expectation that some branches in both of these stakes will mature into wards and that some wards may divide to create additional units.

This Sunday, the Church will create two additional stakes in Spain in Madrid and Cartagena.  I will provide more details on these new stakes once they become available.  With the creation of three new stakes in 2012, there will be 13 stakes in Spain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Survey Request

Below are links to our surveys on  Your contributions are valuable in assisting our research of LDS growth worldwide.  Please fill out our surveys if you have not already.  Thanks!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Stake in Guatemala

On November 4th, the Church created a new stake in Guatemala City, Guatemala.  The Villa Nueva Guatemala El Frutal Stake was created from the Guatemala City Villa Hermosa and Villa Nueva Guatemala Stakes and includes the following six wards and one branch: The El Frutal 1st, El Frutal 2nd, Margaritas, Petapa, Ribera del Rio, and Villa Canales Wards and the Santa Elena de Barillas Branch.  The new stake becomes the first new stake created in the Guatemala City area since 1999.  The Church discontinued one stake in Guatemala City within the past decade: The Guatemala City Monte Maria Stake in 2008.

Congregational growth in Guatemala City has been stagnant for many years and will likely result in the Church discontinuing a couple more stakes and creating a couple more stakes within the next decade due to LDS population shifts and low convert retention rates.  With only four wards, the Guatemala City Utatlán Stake may be consolidated with neighboring stakes and the Guatemala City Mariscal (nine wards) and Guatemala City (nine wards) Stakes may divide to create new stakes.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mumbai, India to Open for Missionary Work; Sister Missionaries to Begin Serving in India

Members in India report that the India New Delhi Mission will assign proselytizing missionaries to Mumbai for the first time.  With 21 million inhabitants, Mumbai is the world's 12th most populous urban agglomeration and was the third most populous urban agglomeration without proselytizing missionaries assigned after Guangzhou and Shanghai.  Delays opening Mumbai to proselytism appear due to safety concerns.  Currently the Church does not have missionaries assigned to any cities outside of New Delhi in the India New Delhi Mission.  There is one branch that functions in Mumbai.  Prospects appear favorable for growth in Mumbai, especially if missionaries open additional semi-official congregations called groups that operate under the administration of the Mumbai Branch in areas distant from the Mumbai Branch meetinghouse.

Members in India also report that sister missionaries will begin serving in both the India New Delhi and India Bangalore Missions.  Most, if not all, sister missionaries will likely be Indian members due to recent difficulties securing foreign missionary visas. 

For a recent case study on examining methods for expanding LDS missionary activity in India, click here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Districts Discontinued in Brazil

Two districts were recently discontinued in Brazil.

Originally created in 1997 and consisting of only two branches, the Vilhena Brazil District was discontinued and both of its branches now pertain to the Brazil Cuiaba Mission.  Mission leaders report that the decision to consolidate the district was due to only two branches in the district.  Few priesthood holders in the area appears another contributor to the closure of the district.  The stronger branch currently has approximately 70 active members.

Originally created in 2006 and consisting of three branches, the Ponte Nova Brazil District was discontinued.  Two branches (Viçosa and Ubá) now pertain to the Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission whereas the Ponte Nova Branch became a ward in the newly created Lafaiete Brazil Stake.  The reason for the closure of the district appears due to the strongest unit in the stake qualifying to become a ward in the new stake whereas the two remaining branches are more distant from Lafaiete and have fewer active members.  Mediocre prospects for future growth in Viçosa and Ubá and administrative problems may have also prompted the closure of the district and reassignment to the Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission.

There are now 246 stakes and 42 districts in Brazil.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

First LDS Stake to be Created in Sierra Leone

Missionaries serving in Sierra Leone report that the Church will create its first stake in the country in about three weeks.  The Freetown Sierra Leone District will become a stake and most, if not all, of its eight branches will become wards.  The Church has experienced a resurgence in growth over the past five years as a result of creating the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission back in 2007.  Historically moderate to low member activity and convert retention rates have been rectified in many areas of the mission as a result of improved emphasis on convert retention and prebaptismal preparation.  As a result of higher convert retention and more resources dedicated to local leadership development, the number of branches increased from 18 in 2007 to 28 in 2012.  Last year, a second district was created in Freetown called the Freetown Sierra Leone East District due to congregational growth in the area.  The advancement of the Freetown Sierra Leone District into a stake within slightly more than year following its division to create a another district stands as another testament to active membership growth in the country. 

In 2012, the Church has made significant progress organizing new stakes in countries that previously had no stakes.  Earlier this year, the first stakes were organized in Botswana, Cape Verde, India, and New Caledonia.  1977 is the only year when the Church organized the first stake in more countries than in 2012 as seven countries had their first stakes organized (Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, Honduras, Norway, and Venezuela).  Additional countries appear likely to have their first stakes organized within the next year or two and are provided below:
  • Armenia
  • Cambodia
  • Liberia
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Mozambique
  • Romania
  • Vanuatu

Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Stake in Washington

Last Sunday, a new stake was created in Washington State.  The West Richland Washington Stake was created from the Kennewick Washington and the Richland Washington Stakes and includes the Benton City, Candy Mountain, Desert Hills, Highlands, Lakes, Prosser, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Richland YSA Wards.  Since 2010, the Church has reversed its trend of stagnant stake growth experienced in the 2000s.  The West Richland Washington Stake becomes the third stake to be organized since 2010.  In recent years, congregational growth rates have also accelerated in Washington and will likely result in the creation of additional stakes within the foreseeable future.

There are now six stakes in the Richland/Kennewick area and 57 stakes in Washington.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lowering the Minimum Mission Age: Analysis and Predictions for Growth for the LDS Church

We have posted the case study Lowering the Minimum Mission Age: Analysis and Predictions for Growth of the LDS Church on  The updated case study includes several graphs and some additional material not included in the previous draft I posted on the blog.  Click here to access the case study.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cumorah Monthly Newsletter

At, we have begun producing a monthly newsletter summarizing recent LDS Church growth developments and highlighting recently developed resources posted on the site.  Our October 2012 newsletter can be found here

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LDS Missionary Force in West Africa to Increase by 30%

Church leaders in West Africa report that the number of missionaries assigned to the Africa West Area will increase by 30% within the coming months.  The lowered minimum age for missionary service has dramatically increased the number of missionary applications received by Church Headquarters within the past few weeks.  The anticipated surge in the number of missionaries worldwide will enable the expansion of LDS missionary activity in West Africa.  It is unclear how the Church will distribute additional missionary manpower within West Africa but three new missions may be organized as a result if there is a commensurate percentage increase in the number of missions in the area.  Additional locations appear likely to open to proselytism in most West African countries with an LDS presence.  It is unclear whether the Church will take any steps to open additional countries to proselytism in the region such as Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

District Discontinued in Peru

Organized in 2008, the Huancavelica Peru District was discontinued.  The former district consisted of three branches located in Huancavelica, Lircay, and Pampas.  The Church originally operated a single branch in Huancavelica and organized a district following the organization of branches in Lircay and Pampas in the mid-2000s.  None of the branches were discontinued.  The Huancavelica and Lircay Branches now pertain to the Peru Lima East Mission whereas the Pampas Branch now pertains to the Huancayo Peru Stake.  Inadequate numbers of active priesthood holders to fill both district and branch callings and long distances between the three branches in the former district appear the primary reasons for the closure of the district.  Member and missionary reports indicate that local leadership remains strong and dedicated. 

There are now 98 stakes and 23 districts in Peru.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Stakes to be Created

I am keeping track of new stakes that will be created before the end of the year according to missionary and member reports I have received.  These new stakes are listed below.
  • Brisbane, Australia area
  • Cartagena Spain
  • Gaborone Botswana
  • Kinshasa, DR Congo (two new stakes)
  • Lafaiete Brazil
  • Lambare Paraguay
  • Lleida Spain
  • Manaus Brazil Guarany
  • Murfreesboro Tennessee
If you are aware of any other new stakes to be created or notice errors in this list, please comment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Stake in Bolivia

Two Sundays ago a new stake was created in Bolivia.  The Cochabamba Bolivia Sacaba Stake was created from a division of the Cochabamba Bolivia Universidad Stake and includes the following seven wards: The Amancayas, Arocagua, El Frutillar, Esmeralda, Huayllani, Sacaba, and Villa Graciela Wards.  The new stake becomes the Church's fifth stake in Cochabama and 25th stake nationwide.  Prospects appear favorable for the creation of additional stakes in Santa Cruz and La Paz within the near future as several stakes have reached the minimum number of wards to divide.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First LDS Stake in Botswana to be Created November 4th, 2012

Members in Botswana report that the Church will create its first stake in Botswana on November 4th.  The Church has worked for many years to create the first stake in Botswana.  The Church created its first official branch in 1991 and the following year organized a district headquartered in Gaborone.  In 1995, the district was closed and branches were reassigned to the newly created Roodepoort South Africa Stake.  The Church currently has three wards and four branches in Botswana that remain assigned to the Roodepoort South Africa Stake and one other branch (Francistown) and several groups (Gerald, Kasane, and Monarch) that report directly to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.  With few exceptions, stakes must have at least five wards to operate and we will likely see a couple new wards formed in Gaborone or a couple branches mature into wards as part of the creation of the new stake.  Members report that the new stake will also include one congregation in neighboring South Africa (Mafeking).

In the late 2000s, mission leaders opened several new cities to proselytism and have reported excellent success as branches have been organized in Kanye, Molepolole, and Mochudi.  Prospects appear favorable for the creation of a separate mission for Botswana due to visa complications with missionaries transferring between Botswana and South Africa and expanding opportunities to open additional cities to proselytism.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Draft of Case Study on the Effect of Lowering the Minimum Mission Age on LDS Growth

I am currently writing a case study for  on the Church's recent decision to lower the minimum mission age in regards to how this will affect LDS Church growth.   I wanted to temporarily post the draft of the case study on my blog to receive your input and feedback prior to posting it on the Cumorah website.  

Please include your feedback under the comments section.

*I have posted the case study on  Click here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Stake in French Polynesia (Tahiti)

Last Sunday, the Church created a new stake in French Polynesia.  The Mahina Tahiti Stake was organized from the Arue Tahiti and Papeari Tahiti Stakes and includes the following seven wards: The Faaripo, Hitiaa, Mahina, Matavai, Papenoo, Tiarei, and Tuauru Wards.  The Papeari Tahiti Stake now has seven wards and the Arue Tahiti Stake now has six wards and a branch.  The Church's two wards and one branch on the neighboring island of Moorea previously pertained to the Papeete Tahiti Stake but were transferred to the Arue Tahiti Stake as there were only four wards remaining in the Arue Tahiti Stake following its division.

There are now eight stakes and three districts in French Polynesia.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First LDS District Created in Benin

Last Sunday the Church created its first district in Benin.  The Cotonou Benin District consists of all six branches currently functioning in Benin including the Akpakpa, Fidjrosse, Finagnon, Gbedjromede, Gbegame, and the Menontin Branches.  Half of these branches were created earlier this year and missionaries report efforts to open additional groups in Cotonou within the near future. 

The Church created its first mission in Benin in July 2011 that also services neighboring Togo.  The Church has not opened any locations outside of Cotonou to missionary activity and has instead focused on opening new congregations in lesser-reached areas of the city. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Will Reducing the Minimum Age for Full-time Missionary Service Affect International LDS Church Growth?

With Saturday's historic announcement reducing the minimum age for missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women, there is a high likelihood of the Church experiencing a significant increase in the number of members serving missions within just a matter of months.  This increase appears likely due to a higher percentage of women considering full-time missionary service prior to marriage and educational pursuits, perhaps an increased percentage of men serving missions as fewer become inactive or disqualify themselves from full-time missionary service following high school graduation and before reaching the previously appointed mission age of 19, and a renewed excitement and enthusiasm among many in the Church to serve full-time missions.  Over the past two years, the Church has already reversed its decade-long trend of declining or stagnant numbers of full-time missionaries serving as the full-time missionary force has increased by approximately 6,000.  The big question for church growth researchers is how will this recent increase and anticipated swell in the missionary force affect the number of converts baptized worldwide, convert retention rates, the ratio of convert baptisms to missionaries serving, the opening of additional cities to missionary work, the organization of new missions, and the opening of additional countries to proselytism?

I am currently in the process of writing a case study for examining the potential for church growth within the next five years as a result of this change in church policy.  Please provide your thoughts, predictions, concerns, and analysis under the comments section below.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Tucson Arizona Temple

Announced earlier today by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, the Tucson Arizona Temple will become the Church's sixth temple in Arizona.  The Church previously dedicated temples in Mesa (1927), Snowflake (2002), and Gila Valley (2010) and began construction on two new temples in Gilbert (2010) and Phoenix (2011).  Currently the Church operates five stakes within Tucson and three additional stakes in southeastern Arizona - all which appear likely to be assigned to the new temple.  With today's announcement, Arizona becomes the state with the third most temples after Utah (16) and California (7).

The Church has experienced steady growth in Arizona over the past century and baptizes more new converts in Arizona than most other states.  There were only three stakes a century ago whereas today there are now 94.  Within the past decade, the Church has created 20 new stakes in Arizona - four of which were YSA stakes organized earlier this year.

A map of stakes and missions in southern Arizona can be found here.

The Arequipa Peru Temple

Announced earlier today by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, the Arequipa Peru Temple is the Church's third temple in Peru.  In 1986, the Church dedicated its first temple in Lima and broke ground for a second temple in Trujillo 2011.  The Church has achieved steady growth in Peru over the past century, growing from less than 5,000 members to over half a million today.  The number of stakes has increased from one in 1970 to nearly 100 today. 

In Arequipa, the Church currently operates seven stakes within the city.  The first stake was created in 1980 followed by a second stake in 1985, a third in 1991, a fourth in 1994, a fifth in 1997, a sixth in 1997, and a seventh in 2011.  Although no announcement has been made concerning what stakes will be assigned to the new temple, it is possible that a total of 15 stakes and seven districts may be serviced by the new temple throughout southern Peru.  A map of stakes and districts in southern Peru can be found here.

LDS Church Lowers Minimum Age for Missionary Service to 18 for Men and 19 for Women

In an official announcement this morning, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson reported that the Church has lowered the minimum age for missionary service worldwide from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women.  As indicated in his announcement, President Monson reported that the Church has lowered the minimum age for missionary service for several specific countries - often to accommodate mandatory military service and education constraints - such as in Venezuela and the United Kingdom.  An analysis of the history of LDS missionary work and trends in the growth of the number of members serving missions can be found here.

New Temples Announced

This morning, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of two new temples in the following locations:
  • Arequipa Peru
  • Tucson Arizona
With this morning's announcement, the total number of temples announced, under construction, or in operation totals 168.

Later today I will provide an analysis of the Church's growth in both of these locations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recent Church Growth Developments in Africa

Members and missionaries continue to report encouraging LDS Church growth developments in Africa.  Some notable developments include:
  • Preparations underway to open the Central African Republic and Gabon to missionary work
  • The creation of two new stakes in Kinshasa, DR Congo in the coming months
  • Plans to create additional branches in Angola and Togo
  • Plans to create the first stake in Mozambique next year in Maputo
  • The creation of a second branch in Rwanda
  • The opening of two locations to missionary work in Sierra Leone (Waterloo and Rokel)
  • The opening of a couple dozen new proselytism areas in Ghana, including the placement of full-time missionaries in several locations for the first time such as Abesem, Bibiani, Eshiem, and Mampong
Prospects for organizing additional missions in Africa next year are highly favorable.  Here are some locations for new missions that I think are most likely:
  • Luanda, Angola
  • Burundi/Rwanda
  • Yaounde, Cameroon
  • Central DR Congo (based in Mbuji-Mayi or Kananga)
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Johannesburg, South Africa (second mission)
  • Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Stake in Idaho

A new stake was created in Idaho two Sundays ago.  The Rexburg Idaho Married Student 4th Stake was organized from the three preexisting married student stakes in Rexburg and includes the following eight wards: The Rexburg Married Student 2nd, Rexburg Married Student 12th, Rexburg Married Student 15th, Rexburg Married Student 18th, Rexburg Married Student 24th, Rexburg Married Student 26th, Rexburg Married Student 28th, and Rexburg Married Student 30th Wards.  There are now 13 stakes that service young single adults and married students in the Rexburg area and 126 stakes in Idaho.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Stake Created in Côte d'Ivoire

The Church created a new stake in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) last Sunday.  The Port-Bouët Côte d'Ivoire Stake was created from the Cocody Côte d'Ivoire Stake and Côte d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission and includes the Adjouffou, Jean-Folly, Koumassi, Marcory, Port-Bouët, and Vridi Wards and the Grand-Bassam 1st and Grand-Bassam 2nd Branches.  The Church created its first stake in Abidjan in 1997.  Today there are now five stakes.  The three other stakes were created in 2000 (Abobo), 2006 (Cocody), and 2010 (Abidjan Niangon).  Maps of wards and branches and stakes and districts in Côte d'Ivoire are available on the LDS International Atlas on  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Updated Potential New Temples Map

In preparation for the 182nd Semiannual General Conference, I have updated my potential new temples map.  Potential locations for future temples were selected based on many factors including distance to the nearest temple, the number of stakes and districts within a potential temple district, measures of temple attendance (frequency of endowment session scheduling, member reports), duration of an LDS presence, the presence of an LDS mission headquartered in the city, and recent congregational growth trends. New potential temple sites added to the map with this most recent update include Hyderabad, India; Moscow, Russia; Neiafu Vava'u, Tonga; Oslo, Norway; Pago Pago American Samoa; and Praia, Cape Verde. 

View Potential New Temples in a larger map

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stake Discontinued in California

A stake was recently discontinued in California.  The Huntington Park California West (Spanish) Stake was consolidated into the Los Angeles California, Downey California (renamed Huntington Park California), and the Inglewood California Stakes.  The stake previously contained seven Spanish-speaking units and had no units recently closed.  Missionaries report that one of the primary reasons for the consolidation was to provide more socialization opportunities for Spanish-speaking youth with their English-speaking counterparts.  Within the past decade, there have been very few congregations closed in stakes affected by the recent stake consolidation.

There are now 156 stakes in California.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Stake in Italy

As reported in an earlier post, the Church created a new stake in Italy.  The Milan Italy East Stake was formed last Sunday from a division of the Milan Italy Stake and includes the Cimiano, Lecco, Merate, Muggiò, and Pavia Wards and the Lodi Branch.  Missionaries and members report steady growth in the Milan area over the past five years, with the number of active Melchizedek Priesthood holders increasing by over 100 within the boundaries of the original stake.  Although some Italians have joined the Church in recent years, nonnative converts and members appear to have driven most of the recent growth.  The Church recently reversed the decade-long trend of declining congregational totals within the past year as new units have been recently organized in Rome and Bergamo.

There are now eight stakes and five districts in Italy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stake Discontinued in South Korea

The Church recently discontinued a stake for the first time in South Korea.  The Seoul Korea North Stake was closed and units within the stake appear to be reassigned to the Seoul Korea Stake.  The Seoul Korea North Stake was originally organized in 1979 and had six wards.

The consolidation of a stake in Seoul has been long overdue due to many stakes containing only four to six wards for several years.  Due to few wards in the Seoul area, I would not be surprised to see another stake consolidation within the near future.  Past mission presidents report that there has been no noticeable increase in sacrament meeting attendance over the past 20 years.  Returned missionary reports indicate that many of the wards appear to have more active members than a decade ago, but there have been mediocre convert retention rates, fewer convert baptisms, and ongoing emigration of active membership.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fourth LDS Stake Created in Haiti

A week after the creation of the Church's third stake in Haiti, the Churh created its fourth stake yesterday from the Port-au-Prince Haiti North Stake.  The Croix-des-Missions Haiti Stake includes five wards in the northern portion of the city and becomes the 40th stake to be created in 2012.  With four stakes clustered in the capital, Haiti appears more likely to have a temple announced in the future although poverty and low living standards may deter a temple announcement for many more years.  The simultaneous creation of two new stakes and only five or six wards assigned to each of the four stakes suggests that the Church experiences self-sufficient local leadership and has sufficient numbers of active Melchizedek Priesthood holders to staff both stake and ward callings.  The Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission is entirely staffed by local members who numbered approximately 80 a year ago.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Proselytizing LDS Missionaries Arrive in Rwanda

Today the LDS Church assigned its first proselytizing missionaries to Rwanda after several years of waiting.  Members in Kigali report that two missionaries will serve in the Kigali Branch and begin formal missionary activity.  Although the Church officially organized its one and only branch in Rwanda back in 2008, proselytizing missionaries have not been assigned due to pending church registration with the government.  A recent change in the law now permits religious groups to operate as long as they are in the registration process.  Mission leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda conducted their first exploratory visit to assess prospects for missionary activity back in 2006 and the first humanitarian senior missionary couple arrived in 2010.  Rwanda is currently assigned to the Uganda Kampala Mission.  Local members report other recent church growth developments including increasing church attendance and the first native member to begin a full-time mission.  Prior to the assignment of missionaries to Rwanda, the most recent country in the region to have the LDS missionaries assigned was Burundi in 2010.

Expanding missionary activity in the Uganda Kampala Mission may warrant the creation of additional missions in the region although no official announcement has been made by church leaders.  Currently the Uganda Kampala Mission services Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Djibouti - a combined population of approximately 150 million.  Prospects appear favorable for the Church to create new missions in Ethiopia and Burundi; the latter of which could potentially administer Burundi, Rwanda, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Third LDS Stake Created in Haiti

A new stake was created in Haiti last Sunday.  The Church created the Carrefour Haiti Stake from the Port-au-Prince Haiti Stake and includes five or six wards from Carrefour on the east to Petit Goave on the west.  The organization of several new wards over the past year within the Port-au-Prince area merited the organization of the country's third stake.  The other stake in the Port-au-Prince area - the Port-au-Prince Haiti North Stake - also appears close to splitting as there are 10 wards in the stake at present.  The Church created its first stake in Haiti in 1997 and its second stake in 2003. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Stakes to be Created in Italy, Mexico, and Spain

Three new stakes will be created within the next few months in Italy, Mexico, and Spain.  I will provide more details on these new stakes once they are officially organized and information becomes available.

Members and missionaries report that a new stake will be created in northern Italy next weekend in the Milan area.  The new stake will be the Church's eighth stake in Italy. 

Members report that another stake will be created in Puebla, Mexico but it is unclear when this will occur.  The new stake will be organized from a realignment of two or more stakes based in Puebla and Tlaxcala and likely centered in the Almecatla area.  A new stake in the Puebla area was created earlier this year.  With the creation of this pending stake there will be 13 stakes in Puebla State and 226 in Mexico. 

Missionaries report that a realignment of stakes will occur in southern Spain in order to create a new stake based in Cartagena this December. The new stake will be the Church's 11th in Spain.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Government of Gabon Recognizes the LDS Church

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission report that the government of Gabon granted official recognition to the Church and that the Church may send full-time proselytizing missionaries and participate in any of its religious practices in the country.  The Church has attempted to establish an official presence for several years but was unable to receive the necessary government permissions to do so.  Mission leaders report that a small group of members in Libreville were just authorized to hold sacrament meeting services and invite others to join church services.  It is unclear when the Church will assign its first proselytizing missionaries, but based on the recent establishment of the Church in Burundi two years ago it appears feasible for the Church to assign missionaries for the first time sometime within the next six months. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Stake Created in American Samoa

Last Sunday a new stake was created in American Samoa.  The Pago Pago Samoa Malaeimi Stake was created from a realignment of the four preexisting stakes in American Samoa and includes six wards.  Church leaders indicate that the creation of the new stake was possible due to consistent numbers of Samoans joining the Church and successful reactivation efforts.  The last new stake to be created in American Samoa was in 1997.  For more information, visit a news article on the creation of the new stake here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stake Discontinued in Arizona

A stake was discontinued in Mesa, Arizona last Sunday.  The Mesa Arizona West stake included only four wards due to recent ward consolidations and the stake was combined with the neighboring Chandler Arizona Alma Stake.  Members in the area report that virtually the entire population of the former stake resides in low-income housing and that the area has become increasingly more industrialized within resent years resulting in many active members moving elsewhere. 

There are now 94 stakes in Arizona.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Church Growth Survey for Members

We recently launched another survey for Latter-day Saints to aid our research of church growth and missionary work.  Please complete our survey here.  Both our member survey and returned missionary survey can also be accessed on the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Second Stake to be Created in Russia in September

Missionaries serving in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission report that the Church's second stake in Russia will be organized in St. Petersburg this September.  The Church reconfigured the boundaries of the St. Petersburg Russia District at the end of 2011 to include outlying branches nearby St. Petersburg thereby helping the district qualify to become a stake.  The district was organized in 1993 and there are currently nine branches.  Missionaries report that Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will organize the stake; the same apostle who dedicated Russia for missionary work in 1990.  The first stake in Russia was created last year in Moscow.

The organization of the St. Petersburg Russia Stake is a significant development for the growth of the Church in Russia as the Church has struggled for over two decades to retain converts, keep former branch presidents and other church leaders active upon their release from their callings, and form ward-sized congregations.  For example, the Church once operated 15 branches within the city of St. Petersburg alone in the summer of 1994 used to operate two districts.  Over the years the Church consolidated the two districts and combined branches until just four remain today.  Many anticipated the creation of the first stake in Russia to occur in St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, but reduced receptivity resulting in fewer convert baptisms and member activity frustrations have prevented the formation of a stake until this year.  Although the Church has faced many challenges with missionary work and church growth over the years, there appears to be some improvement in ameliorating these issues to qualify for a stake to operate.

For a detailed analysis of LDS growth in Russia, please refer to the Russia country profile on

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Map of LDS Missions Created and Discontinued Since 2000

I am currently working on a case study for examining how changing numbers of full-time missions influence church growth trends around the world.  As part of the case study, I made this map that identifies each mission created or closed by the Church since 2000.  Click here to access the map.

Some general trends to note over the past 12 years is that the Church has experienced a net increase in the number of missions in Africa, Central and South America, the western United States, and the Philippines; no change in the number of missions in the Caribbean and Oceania; and significant decreases in Europe, the eastern United States, and East Asia. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Is the LDS (Mormon) Church Growing?

One of the most frequent questions I receive from interested readers and journalists is whether or not the LDS Church is currently growing.  I believe that the Church is slowly growing on a worldwide scale and there are several statistical figures to back this claim, but that there is no straightforward to-the-point answer to this complex question.  Some areas of the world experience strong growth such as Africa and some areas of East Asia whereas other areas experience stagnation or even slight decline.  Furthermore there are some statistical measures that suggest the Church is currently in a period of stagnation where there is neither growth nor decline.

Below are some statistics that indicate that the Church is growing.
  • Increase in Membership: The Church counts baptized members and children on record (children under age eight within LDS families) on official church membership totals.  In 2011, worldwide membership increased by 309,879 and grew at a rate of 2.19%.  Within the past decade the Church has added 304,682 members a year on average.  Year-end 2011 membership totals were 14,441,346.  Membership statistics provide no insight into activity rates and whether nominal members affiliate as Latter-day Saints.
  • Increase in Congregations: Congregations require certain numbers of active members to operate and divide to create new congregations once a single ward or branch can longer effectively administer an area.  New congregations can also signify expansion of the Church into new areas where no congregation previously functioned.  In 2011, the number of wards and branches increased by 124 or 0.43%.  Within the past decade the number of congregations increased by 261 a year on average.
  • Increase in Stakes: Like congregations, stakes require certain numbers of active members to operate and an increase in the number of stakes suggests an increase in active membership.  In 2011, the number of stakes increased by 50, or 1.73%.  The number of stakes increased by 33 a year on average within the past decade.
  • Increase in Temples: General Authorities have indicated that the construction of new temples is warranted when church membership in a given area is determined adequate to staff and utilize a temple.  Temples also require more mature and seasoned church membership to provide needed personnel to properly operate.  In 2011, the Church announced nine new temples bringing the total number of temples operating, under construction, or announced to 166.
Below are some statistics that suggest the Church is experiencing stagnation.
  • Number of Full-Time Missionaries Serving: There remain fewer members serving full-time missions at present than 10 years ago.  In 2011, there were 55,410 members serving full-time missions worldwide; approximately 6,000 fewer than in 2002.  A growing church would suggest a steady annual increase in the number of members serving as full-time missionaries but a variety of factors have contributed to a decline in the number of full-time missionaries such as increased standards for full-time missionary service, convert retention problems for youth converts outside the United States, and the increasing influence of secularism on LDS populations in the United States.  A slight reduction in the number of missionary training centers (MTCs) worldwide over the past decade also suggests stagnation as a growing church would need to increase the number of MTCs worldwide to accommodate a growing number of members serving full-time missions.
  • Number of Cities Opening to Proselytism: Notwithstanding nearly 29,000 wards and branches worldwide, the Church in recent years only opens a few dozen new cities to proselytism a year.  I have not completed an extensive analysis of the number of cities closed versus opened to proselytism year-to-year, but I would estimate that these numbers would nearly equal one another.  A growing church would suggest a steady increase in new cities opened to proselytism notwithstanding some locations closing to missionary activity and wards or branches consolidating with neighboring units.
  • Membership Growth Outpacing Congregational Growth: The worldwide Church has experienced an increase in the average number of members per unit over the past decade from 437 members per ward or branch to 502 members per ward or branch.  The influence of branches (smaller congregations) maturing into wards (larger congregations) on this statistic appears minimal.  Rather, low convert retention rates appear the primary reason for noncommensurate congregational and membership growth.  
  • Decreasing Percentage Growth Rates for Membership and Congregational Growth: The annual percentage growth rate for membership has declined over the past decade from approximately 2.9% to 2.2%.  Annual congregational growth rates have fluctuated from a high of 1.62% to a low of 0.23%.  Although growth is still occurring in both these statistics at present, slowing growth rates can be interpreted as an impeding sign of stagnation.
  • Stagnant Numbers of Districts: Districts are an administrative unit similar to a stake generally formed in areas with a more recently established church presence.  Districts do not require a certain number of active members to function but do possess some aspects of self-sufficiency like stakes.  The number of districts worldwide has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade at slightly more than 600.  Although it may seem strange to consider district growth as a sign of overall healthy church growth as the maturation of districts into stakes points to increase in active membership, no worldwide increase in this statistic indicates a lack of progress introducing the Church into new areas.  
In conclusion, my intention with this post was to provide a brief synopsis of how we can measure growth and determine whether the LDS Chuch is growing.  The worldwide Church continues to experience growth, but this growth remains relatively small and has slowed within the past decade.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Stake in Utah

A new stake was created in Utah last Sunday.  The Provo Utah YSA 19th Stake was created from the Springville Utah YSA Stake and includes the East Bay YSA 1st, East Bay YSA 2nd, Hobble Creek YSA, Kolob YSA, Mapleton YSA 1st, Mapleton YSA 2nd, Slate Canyon YSA, Spring Creek YSA, and Springville YSA Wards.  There are now 560 stakes in Utah.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Stake in Mexico

A new stake was created in Mexico last Sunday.  The Church created the Puebla México Nealticán North Stake from five wards in the Puebla México Nealticán Stake (Atexcac, Citlalli, Citlaltépetl, Ixtazihuatl, and Yetlaneci) and one ward in the Puebla México Cholula Stake (Huejotzingo Ward).  Half of the wards in the new stake are located in Nealticán whereas the other half operate in nearby small cities and towns.  Nealticán is a small town west of the city of Puebla that has one of the highest percentage of Latter-day Saints in Mexico.  With only 11,500 inhabitants, Nealticán has nine wards or one ward per approximately 1,300 people.

There are now 225 stakes and 36 districts in Mexico. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Returned Missionary Survey

At, we are asking returned missionaries to fill out our survey regarding church growth.  The survey can be accessed here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Stake in Samoa

A new stake was created in Samoa last Sunday.  The Upolu Samoa Malie Stake was organized from the Apia Samoa West and Upolu Samoa Faleasi'u Stakes and includes the Faleula Uta, Faleula, Malie 1st, Malie 2nd, and Uiliata Wards and the Levi Branch.  The new stake becomes the second new stake created in Samoa this year.  There are now 18 stakes in Samoa.

Friday, August 3, 2012

LDS Growth Accelerates in Cape Verde

The Church has recently experienced an acceleration of growth in Cape Verde that has been unprecedented since the early 1990s.  Within the past year, the Church organized the first stake in the capital city (Praia) and has organized five new branches and one new group (the Ponta do Sol, Praia 5th, Relva, Ribeirão Manuel, and São Filipe 2nd Branches and the Calheta Group).  Furthermore, local leaders report that the number of members serving missions from Cape Verde has doubled within the past year.  This recent surge of congregational growth comes after years of stagnant congregational growth and significant member activity and convert retention issues.  Although Cape Verde continues to experience mediocre member activity rates, the Church appears to have made noticeable progress in improving convert retention and restarting mission outreach expansion efforts.  Today about two percent of the population is nominally LDS.

Cape Verde is an island archipelago nation off the coast of West Africa inhabited by slightly more than half a million people.  The Church was first established in the late 1980s and experienced rapid growth during the first five years of proselytism.  The country profile can be found here and the LDS International Atlas map can be found here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Statistical Profiles on

We will be posting country-by-country LDS statistical data on in the weeks and months ahead.  Here is a sample graph displaying the growth in the number of temples announced, under construction, or operating in the United States from 1847 to 2011.  These statistical profiles will be integrated with other church growth-related resources such as the LDS International Atlas on Google Maps (see homepage) and church growth country profiles and case studies.

Potential New Districts

I realized the other day that it's been nearly two years since I provided a list of potential new districts.  I have provided previous lists in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.  The creation of new districts is significant to studying LDS Church growth as they usually signify the expansion of the Church into lesser-reached locations and indicate that local leadership is maturing to the point of holding greater administrative responsibilities.  Over time, districts can become stakes if they meet the minimal criteria required for a stake to operate.  Districts can be formed from portions of stakes or districts or from mission branches that were not previously assigned to a stake or district. 

I have categorized potential new districts by geographic area and have included the number of branches in parentheses next to each prospective district name.

New districts must be ultimately approved by the First Presidency.  Information used to compile this list does not contain any unauthorized information and I take full responsibility for this work.

  • Atta Nigeria (4) [Atta, Amaimo, Amakohia, and Umundugba Branches - all currently administered by the Owerri Nigeria Stake]
  • Awasa Ethiopia (2) [Awasa and Wendo Genet Branches; Shashemene and Chiko Groups - all currently administered by the Addis Ababa Ethiopia District]
  • Axim Ghana (3) [Agona Nkwanta, Axim, and Nkroful Branches - all currently administered by the Ghana Cape Coast Mission]
  • Bujumbura Burundi (3) [Bujumbura 1st, Bujumbura 2nd, and Uvira Branches - all currently administered by the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission]
  • Cotonou Benin (6) [Akpakpa, Finagnon, Fidjrosse, Gbedjromede, Gbegame, and Menontin Branches - all currently administered by the Benin Cotonou Mission]
  • Kenema Sierra Leone (3) [IDA, Kenema, and Simbeck Branches - all currently administered by the Bo Sierra Leone District]
  • Kilungu Hills Kenya (4) [Ilima, Kilili, Kyambeke, and Matini Branches - all currently administered by the Kenya Nairobi Mission]
  • Kitale Kenya (5) [Kitale, Mautuma, Misikhu, Naitiri, and Sikhendu Branches - all currently administered by the Eldoret Kenya District]
  • Mombasa Kenya (3) [Bamburi, Changamwe, and Mombasa Branches - all currently administered by the Kenya Nairobi Mission]
  • Pointe-Noire Republic of Congo (3) [Aeroporto, Mpaka, and Pointe-Noire Branches - all currently administered by the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission] 
  • Queenstown South Africa (4) [Queenstown and Sada Wards; Ilinge and Umata Branches - all currently administered by the East London South Africa Stake]
  • Guimaras Philippines (3) [Buenavista, Jordan, and Valencia Branches; also at least two groups in Comian and Sibunag - all units currently assigned to the Ililio Philippines Stake]
  • Tagudin Philippines (4) [Balaoan, Bangar, Luna, and Tagudin Branches - branches currently assigned to either the Candon Phillipines or San Fernando Philippines Stakes]
  • Thurso Scotland (4) [Kirkwall, Lerwick, Stornoway, and Thurso Branches - all currently assigned to the Scotland/Ireland Mission]
  • Cap-Haitien Haiti (4) [Cap-Haitien, Fort Liberte, Port-de-Paix, and Vertieres Branches - all currently assigned to the Gonaives Haiti District]
  • Chignahuapan Mexico (3) [Chignahuapan, Tetela, and Zacatlan Branches - all currently assigned to the Mexico Puebla North Mission]
  • Jacmel Haiti (3) [Jacmel, Meyer, and Tenier Branches - all currently assigned to the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission]
  • New Amsterdam Guyana (6) [Bushlot, Corriverton, East Canje, New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, and Rosignol Branches]
  • Aoba Vanuatu (5) [Apopo, Lobori, Lolotinge, Lovutialao, and Navuti Branches - all currently assigned to the Luganville Vanuatu District]
  • Tanna Vanuatu (5) [Greenhill, Greenpoint, Saetsiwi, White Sands, and Whitegrass Branches - all currently assigned to the Port Vila Vanuatu District]
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) [Bonaberri and Douala Branches - both administered by the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission] 
  • Fianarantsoa Madagascar (2) [Fianarantsoa and Tsianolondroa Branches - both administered by the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission]
  • Francistown Botswana (1) [Francistown Branch administered by the South Africa Johannesburg Mission - two groups also operate in Gerald and Monarch]
  • Grand-Bassam Cote d'Ivoire (2) [Grand-Bassam 1st and 2nd Branches - both administered by the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission] 
  • Gulu Uganda (1) [Gulu Branch administered by Uganda Kampala Mission; member reports indicate the branch will divide in August]
  • Lilongwe Malawi (2) [Kauma and Lilongwe Branches - both administered by the Zambia Lusaka Mission]
  • Lira Uganda (2) [Adyel and Lira Branches - both administered by the Uganda Kampala Mission]
  • Marondera Zimbabwe (2) [Dombotombo and Marondera Branches - both administered by the Zimbabwe Harare Mission]
  • Mwene-Ditu Democratic Republic of the Congo (2) [Bondoyi and Mwene-Ditu Branches - both administered by the Luputa DR Congo Stake]
  • San Pedro Cote d'Ivoire (2) [San Pedro and Seweke Branches - both administered by the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission]
  • Windhoek Namibia (2) [Katutura and Windhoek Branches - both administered by the South Africa Cape Town Mission]
  • Chulucanas Peru (2) [Chulucanas and Morropon Branches - both administered by the Piura Peru Miraflores Stake]
  • Riohacha Colombia (2) [Maicao and Riohacha Branches - both administered by the Santa Marta Colombia District]
There are many more locations that may have districts organized in the coming months and years but were not included in these lists.  If you have any information on the organization of a new district, please comment.