Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Newsletter

Click here to access our February 2014 newsletter for  Our monthly newsletters provide updates on recent church growth and missionary developments and list recently posted resources on our website.

Monday, February 24, 2014

First Stake in the Federated States of Micronesia to be Created This March

Missionaries serving in the Micronesia Guam Mission report that the first stake in the Federated States of Micronesia will be organized on the weekend of March 15th and 16th.  The Pohnpei Caroline Islands District will become a stake at a special conference and most of the eight branches will become wards.  The Federated States of Micronesia has been the country with the ninth most members without a stake according to year-end 2012 membership figures.

For more information on the Church on Pohnpei, please refer to my case study here.

First Young Elder Missionaries Assigned to Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

Missionaries in the Thailand Bangkok Mission report that the first young elders were assigned to Yangon, Burma to provide support to the Yangon Branch and teach member-referred and self-referred investigators.  The Church has had a presence in Burma for a couple decades and a branch has operated in Yangon but only senior missionary couples have served in the country on humanitarian assignment.  Only two young elders will serve in Yangon and they will not be permitted to openly proselyte due to government restrictions. 

The Church has had several recent encouraging missionary developments reaching Burmese worldwide such as the organization of a Karen-speaking branch in Salt Lake City, several missions in the United States baptizing sizable numbers of Burmese and Karen, and three members from Burma recently beginning full-time missions.  The Church has yet to translate the Book of Mormon into Burmese or Karen however.

Friday, February 21, 2014

District Discontinued in Guatemala

The Church recently discontinued the Poptun Guatemala District.  Located in the recently created Guatemala Coban Mission, the former district included three branches (Dolores, Poptun, and San Luis) and all three branches continue to function under the realigned San Benito Guatemala District.  Missionaries report that the San Benito Guatemala District is close to becoming a stake.  The decision to consolidate the Poptun Guatemala District with the San Benito Guatemala District appears motivated to help the area finally reach the minimal criteria to become a stake.

There are now 42 stakes and 17 districts in Guatemala.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Unprecedented Membership and Congregational Growth in West Africa

An article published in the LDS Church News this past weekend provided what appears to be year-end 2013 membership statistics for the seven countries in the Africa West Area with an LDS presence.  The article indicates that there were nearly 20,000 convert baptisms in the Africa West Area.  See below for an analysis of membership growth numbers of these seven countries provided with annual percentage growth for 2013.
  • Benin - 1,400+ members - more than 29.5% annual increase
  • Cote d'Ivoire - nearly 23,000 members - no more than 23.6% annual increase
  • Ghana - 57,000+ members - more than 8.8% annual increase
  • Liberia - 8,000+ members - more than 19.2% annual increase
  • Nigeria - 118,000+ members - more than 7.3% annual increase
  • Sierra Leone - 13,000+ members - more than 11.5% annual increase
  • Togo - 2,300+ members - more than 23.6% annual increase
To emphasize the significance of recent membership and congregational growth in the Africa West Area, I have created graphs for all seven of these countries that display membership and congregational growth trends since the establishment of the Church in each country.








New Stakes in Arkansas, Ghana, Idaho, Samoa, Texas, and Utah

On January 26th, the Church organized its sixth stake in Arkansas from a division of the North Little Rock Arkansas Stake and the Memphis Tennessee North Stake.  The Searcy Arkansas Stake includes the following five wards and five branches: The Cabot, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Quitman, and Searcy Wards and the Batesville, Lonoke, Mountain View, Paragould, and Pocahontas Branches.  The last new stake organized in Arkansas was the Springdale Arkansas Stake in 2006.

Two Sundays ago the Church organized a new stake in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.  The Winneba Ghana Stake was organized from the Swedru Ghana District and includes the following five wards and three branches: The Ansaful, Kojo Bedu, Swedru 1st, Swedru 2nd, and Winneba Wards and the Asikuma, Odoben 1st, and Odoben 2nd Branches.  There are now 12 stakes and eight districts in Ghana.

On January 19th, the Church organized a new stake in Idaho.  The Iona Idaho South Stake was divided from the Iona Idaho and Idaho Falls Lincoln Stakes and includes the following seven wards: The Iona 2nd, Iona 5th, Iona 11th, Lincoln 4th, Lincoln 5th, Lincoln 6th, and Lincoln 7th Wards.  There are now 127 stakes in Idaho.

On January 26th, the Church organized a new stake in Samoa.  The Upolu Samoa Tafuaupolu Stake was organized from a division of the Upolu Samoa West, Upolu Samoa South, and Upolu Samoa Aleisa Stakes and includes the following five wards and one branch: The Fasitootai, Lepale, Safaatoa, Satapuala, and Vailuutai Wards and the Faleaseela Branch.  There are now 20 stakes in Samoa and 25 stakes in the Samoan Islands.

Yesterday the Church organized a new stake in Texas.  The Alliance Texas Stake was created from a division of the Colleyville Stake and appears to include the following six wards: The Bonds Ranch, Heritage, Roanoke, Trophy Club, Woodland Springs 1st, and Woodland Springs 2nd Wards.  There are now 60 stakes in Texas.

Members report that this coming Sunday a new stake will be created from the Herriman Utah South Stake.  I will provide specifics on what congregations are included in the new stake when this information becomes available.  With the creation of the new stake, there will be 567 stakes in Utah.

Monday, February 10, 2014

First Stake in Albania to be Created in March

Missionaries serving in the Adriatic South Mission report that the Church will organize its first stake in Albania during the weekend of March 8th and 9th.  The sole district in the country, the Tirana Albania District was organized in 1999 and currently consists of nine branches.  Missionaries have diligently worked for many years to prepare the four branches in Tirana to become wards and for the district to become a stake.  The creation of the first stake in Albania marks the third predominantly Muslim country where the Church has created a stake that is primarily comprised of local members; the first and second countries being Indonesia and Sierra Leone.  LDS growth in Albania has been an anomaly for Southeast Europe as no other country has experienced steady growth and has a sufficient number of active members for a stake to be organized.

Albania was previously the country with the 15th most members without a stake according to year-end 2012 membership data.

New Stake in Cape Verde

Missionaries serving the in the Cape Verde Praia Mission report that the Fogo Cape Verde District became a stake yesterday.  No data is available on which branches became wards and I will post this information when it becomes available. 

In 2012, the Church organized its first stake in Cape Verde in Praia and in 2013 a second stake was organized in Mindelo.  Missionaries report plans for a district to be formed on Sal sometime in the near future.  The Church has experienced rapid growth in Cape Verde since the start of this decade notwithstanding stagnant congregational growth occurring during most of the 1990s and 2000s.  Prospects for a temple in Cape Verde appear more likely due to remote location, strong local leadership in Praia, the recent creation of additional stakes, and recent rapid growth.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mathematical Functions and LDS Membership Growth

As part of creating hundreds of statistical profiles for over the past year or two, I have noticed certain mathematical functions occurring for membership growth trends in countries around the world.  I am still trying to understand what this all means and whether certain mathematical functions occur with certain church growth conditions (i.e. high receptivity, national outreach expansion, mission resource allocation, ect).  Although it may be difficult to determine what all these data mean, I do believe that examining past LDS growth trends can shed insight into forecasting and predicting future LDS growth trends.

So far I have categorized the membership growth trends of countries into six categories
  • Linear
  • Negative quadratic
  • Positive quadratic
  • Exponential
  • Piecewise
  • Disorganized
Here are some examples of what I have observed.  I have included the equation for the best-fit line for the first four examples:





(two examples)


I am interested in your thoughts.  What factors do you believe are responsible for these relatively predictable membership growth trends in these and other countries?  Do certain contextual factors correlate with certain mathematical functions?  I am surprised to see how predictable these growth trends are and how closely past membership data has followed best-fit lines for these various mathematical functions.