Thursday, April 26, 2012

New District in Zimbabwe

The Church created a new district in Zimbabwe for the first time since 2000.  The Bindura Zimbabwe District was organized last Sunday and includes four branches in the Bindura area.  There are now four stakes and two districts in Zimbabwe.

The Church experienced a significant increase in membership growth in Zimbabwe in 2011.  Since 2005, annual membership increases ranged from only 1.6% to 6.9% whereas in 2011 membership grew by 12.7%.  Congregational growth has also accelerated with several new branches recently organized in several locations throughout the country.  Prospects appear highly favorable for the creation of a second stake in Bulawayo in the near future as the Bulawayo Zimbabwe Stake currently has nine wards, six branches, and at least two groups.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Countries with the Most Latter-day Saints without a Stake

Below is an updated list of the countries with the most Latter-day Saints without a stake.  Membership totals are as of 2011 and congregational and district totals are current.  This list has omitted countries and territories which will have their first stakes created within the next couple months.  Membership totals for mainland China and Pakistan are estimates as no official statistics are available.  The number of branches and districts in mainland China is not provided as I cannot make a reliable estimate due to the sensitive nature of the Church in that country.

  1. Cambodia - 10,999 members - 27 branches - 6 districts
  2. Sierra Leone - 10,084 members - 27 branches - 3 districts
  3. Mainland China - 10,000 members 
  4. Malaysia - 7,926 members - 32 branches - 8 districts
  5. Liberia - 5,863 members - 18 branches - 2 districts
  6. Mozambique - 5,617  members - 19 branches - 2 districts
  7. Jamaica - 5,449  members - 20 branches - 2 districts
  8. Guyana - 5,198  members - 13 branches - 1 district
  9. Vanuatu - 4,864  members - 28 branches - 3 districts
  10. Micronesia - 4,302  members - 21 branches - 4 districts
  11. Belize - 4,018  members - 11 branches - 2 districts
  12. Pakistan - 3,200  members - ~12 branches (estimate) - 3 districts
  13. Romania - 2,972  members - 18 branches - 2 districts
  14. Armenia - 2,965  members - 11 branches - 1 district
  15. Zambia - 2,903  members - 12 branches - 2 districts
  16. Czech Republic - 2,312  members - 13 branches - 2 districts
  17. Bulgaria - 2,251  members - 10 branches - 0 districts
  18. Albania - 2,093  members - 11 branches - 1 district
  19. Cook Islands - 1,867  members - 5 branches - 1 district
  20. Poland - 1,716  members - 14 branches - 2 districts
  21. Botswana - 1,693  members - 3 wards, 5 branches - 0 districts (part of Roodepoort South Africa Stake)
Members and missionaries report active efforts to create the first stakes within the next two years in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Jamaica, Micronesia, Belize, Romania, Armenia, the Czech Republic, Albania, and Botswana.  Countries which appear the closest to having their first stakes created include Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Belize, and Botswana.  I have not encountered recent member or missionary reports indicating concentrated efforts to create the first stakes in Malaysia, Guyana, Vanuatu, Zambia, or the Cook Islands, but based on recent growth trends and activity levels it may be possible that these locations may have stakes within the next several years.  

Rapid membership growth and moderate to moderately-high levels of convert retention and member activity have occurred over the past few years in some nations not on this list but currently have over 1,000 nominal members.  It is possible that stakes may be organized in the following countries within the next five years if growth rates remain sustained and the needed threshold of active Melchizedek Priesthood holders and active members is reached:
  • Togo - 1,555 members - 6 branches - 1 district
  • Ethiopia - 1,450 members - 5 branches - 1 district
  • Swaziland - 1,423 members - 4 branches - 1 district

In general, stakes outside the United States must have approximately 2,000 or more nominal members to function and at least five wards.

Membership by Country Statistics Released for 2011

Membership and congregation totals for nations with a reported LDS presence are now available on the Church's official website and can be found at Data is available under the country profiles on the right side of the site.

The 20 countries with the highest annual membership growth rates in 2011 are listed below. Lists for nations with the most rapid membership growth rates are also available for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. The percentage next to the country name is the annual growth rate percentage which is followed by the country's LDS membership at year-end 2011. Countries in bold experienced a membership increase greater than 200.  Countries in red appeared to experience a large percentage increase in membership in 2011 due to the correction of past errors in official LDS membership reporting, such as including some congregations and their respective memberships in other countries.
  1. Benin - 195.2% - 676
  2. Macau - 94.4% - 1,308
  3. Solomon Islands - 65.4% - 387
  4. Sint Maarten - 34.0% - 213
  5. Rwanda - 32.4% - 90
  6. Ethiopia - 28.9% - 1,450
  7. Tuvalu - 28.9% - 174
  8. Botswana - 27.2% - 1,693
  9. Malawi - 25.0% - 1,156
  10. Togo - 24.8% - 1,555
  11. Grenada - 20.0% - 276
  12. Northern Mariana Islands - 19.1% - 753
  13. Kazakhstan - 19.1% - 193
  14. Madagascar - 19.0% - 8,017
  15. Turkey - 19.0% - 293
  16. Uganda - 14.9% - 10,368
  17. Marshall Islands - 14.9% - 5,850
  18. Saint Lucia - 14.7% - 249
  19. Cameroon - 13.3% - 1,136
  20. Sierra Leone - 13.2% - 10,084
If countries in red were excluded from the list, additional countries rounding off the top 20 countries with the most rapid annual membership growth rates for 2011 would also include:
  • Zimbabwe - 12.7% - 20,908
  • Barbados - 12.7% - 826
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo - 12.5% - 30,435
  • Angola - 12.2% - 1,046
  • Zambia - 12.2% - 2,903
Below is a list of the top ten countries by numerical increase in membership for the year 2011. Each country is provided with the national increase in membership and the percentage of this increase out of total Church membership increase. Lists are also available for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. 72% of 2010 LDS membership increase can be attributed to the following 10 nations.  
  1. United States - 84,651 - 27.3%
  2. Mexico - 38,654 - 12.5%
  3. Brazil - 34,793 - 11.2%
  4. Philippines - 15,822 - 5.1%
  5. Peru - 15,249 - 4.9%
  6. Argentina - 10,047 - 3.2%
  7. Chile - 7,144 - 2.3%
  8. Ecuador - 6,994 - 2.3%
  9. Guatemala - 5,749 - 1.9%
  10. Honduras - 5,700 - 1.8%
I will provide further analysis on these statistics and others in the next few days.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Stake in Cape Verde

I just wanted to confirm that the first stake in Cape Verde will be created on April 29th in Praia.  In 2010, Cape Verde was the country with the fifth most members without a stake after Cambodia, mainland China, India, and Sierra Leone. 

Next month, the first stakes will be created in India and New Caledonia during the last weekend of May.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two New Stakes to be Created in Accra, Ghana; Two New Districts to be Created in Ghana

Missionaries report that two new stakes will be created within the next couple weeks in Accra, Ghana. Currently the Church operates four stakes in the Accra area. Provided with the year of creation, these stakes include the Accra Ghana Adenta (1991), Accra Ghana Christiansborg (1997), Tema Ghana (2006), and Accra Ghana McCarthy Hill (2007). Once the two new stakes are created, Accra will be the city in West Africa with the most stakes.

Within the next month or so, two new districts will also be created. The Kpong Ghana District will be organized from the Accra Ghana Adenta Stake and include branches in the Kpong area and in Ho. The Church organized a district once in Kpong in 2006 but consolidated the district with the Accra Ghana Adenta Stake following the creation of the Accra Ghana McCarthy Hill Stake.

The other new district will be created in Sunyani, where the first LDS missionaries were assigned about 18 months ago when at the time there were no known Latter-day Saints in the city. Sunyani stands as one of the greatest successes to LDS Church planting within the past two decades. A case study on church planting in Sunyani can be found here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Stake to be Created in Indonesia

Missionaries serving in Indonesia report that the Church's second stake in the country will be organized at the end of April.  The Surakarta Indonesia District will become a stake and most of the seven branches in the district will become wards.  The Church's first stake in Indonesia, the Jakarta Indonesia Stake, was organized just a year ago.  With the operation of two stakes in Indonesia, prospects appear more likely for a future temple announcement for Southeast Asia.

It is interesting to note that the first stake in Russia was also organized a year ago, but none of the districts appear likely to become stakes within the next year notwithstanding the Church in Russia having more than three times as many members on church records than Indonesia.  Visa restrictions on foreign missionaries and the rapid growth of the Church in Indonesia in the 1970s have generated a somewhat self-sufficient Latter-day Saint community in Indonesia.  Notwithstanding recent progress in two of the three original districts in Indonesia becoming stakes, there has been virtually no progress expanding outreach in Indonesia with the exception of the creation of the Bali Branch about a year or two ago.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Stake in Delaware; District Discontinued in New York


The Church will create its second stake in the state of Delaware tomorrow from a division of the Wilmington Delaware Stake which currently has 12 wards and four branches.  The new stake will be called the Dover Delaware Stake.

New York

The Brooklyn New York North District was recently discontinued and consolidated with the Brooklyn New York Stake.  The former district had three of its five branches closed as part of the consolidation.  It is unclear exactly why so many branches were closed as part of the closure of the district, but low member activity rates appear the most likely culprit.

First Stake to be Created in India in May 2012

Members in India report that the First Presidency has approved the organization of the first LDS stake in India.  During the weekend of May 26-27th, the Hyderabad India District will become a stake in a special conference in Hyderabad.  The creation of the first stake in India marks a significant milestone in LDS growth in India as stakes require large numbers of active members and priesthood holders to operate.  It is likely that all six branches in the district will become wards in the new stake.  With the creation of a stake in India, the likelihood of a temple announcement for India becomes much more likely considering there are approximately 13,000 members in India and Pakistan who must travel to the Hong Kong China Temple to participate in temple ordinances.

India currently ranks as the country with the second most members without a stake based on official year-end 2010 membership statistics.  At present, no other districts appear close to becoming stakes within the next couple years.  The New Delhi India District appears the closest to becoming the second stake in India as there are seven branches in the district, but some of these branches have few active members.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Stake to be Created in Norway

Missionaries report that the Church will create a new stake in Norway later this month, marking a significant achievement in Scandinavia in an era of widespread secularism and few convert baptisms in the region.  The new stake will become the Church's second stake in Norway and will likely be created from the Stavanger Norway District.  Membership and congregational statistics have been virtually stagnant for two decades in the Church in Norway.  The organization of the new stake appears possible due to improvements in local leadership, member activity, and internet technologies that allow for video conferencing to facilitate communication and meetings over large geographic distances.

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Stake in Amapá State, Brazil to be Organized Next Weekend

The Church reported that a week from this Sunday the first LDS stake in Amapá State, Brazil will be organized from the Macapá Brazil District.  Missionaries report that the Church has attempted to have the district become a stake for the past year or so.  It appears that all five branches in the district will become wards once the stake is organized.

With the creation of the first stake in Amapá, there will be only one Brazilian state without a stake: Roraima.  In Roraima, the sole district in Boa Vista also appears close to becoming a stake within the next couple years and, like the Macapá Brazil District, includes five branches all within one city.

New District in Haiti

Three Sundays ago a new district was created in Haiti for the first time since 1999.  The Saint Marc Haiti District was organized from the Gonaïves Haiti District and includes four branches: The Deschapelles, Haut St Marc, Pivert, and St Marc Branches.  There are now two stakes and three districts in Haiti.

Several new wards have also been recently organized in Port-au-Prince and the two stakes have a combined total of 19 wards at present.  It is likely that a third stake may be created within the next couple years due recent congregational growth.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First Stake to be Created in Cape Verde

Missionaries serving in the Cape Verde Praia Mission report that sometime this month the first stake will be organized in Cape Verde.  The new stake will be headquartered in Praia and include the entire island of Santiago.  At year-end 2010, Cape Verde was the country with the fifth most members without a stake.

Two Districts Discontinued in Russia

Missionaries serving in the Russia Novosibirsk Mission report that the three districts previously operating in the mission headquartered in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, and Omsk were consolidated into a single district based in Novosibirsk.  As part of the consolidation, 11 branches were reduced to eight branches and a group. The motivation for consolidating all three member districts into a single district was in preparation for the organization of the first stake in Siberia.  Approximately 500 members attended the conference when the changes were announced to members in the affected branches.  Missionaries report that the district is organized  in preparation to become a stake with native members serving in all leadership positions.  It is anticipated that the district will become a stake sometime in 2013.