Monday, June 30, 2014

Stake Discontinued in Japan

The Church recently discontinued a stake in Okinawa, Japan. Originally organized in 1999, the Ginowan Japan Stake was consolidated with the Naha Japan Stake. The stake had only four wards and one branch prior to the consolidation. Three wards and one branch were closed as part of the consolidation, resulting in the Naha Japan Stake currently nine retained congregations (six wards and three branches). Although Okinawa has the highest percentage of Latter-day Saints of any administrative prefecture in Japan, the Church has experienced some of the lowest activity rates in Japan in this prefecture. The Church once operated a mission in Okinawa from 1990 to 1996, and appeared to close the mission due to low productivity.

There is now one stake and one district in Okinawa, and 28 stakes and 13 districts in Japan.

I wanted to add that the Church has only discontinued one stake thus far in 2014 and has created 36 new stakes so far for the year.


Ryan Searcy said...

Wow, the activity rate must be very low for almost the entire stake to be discontinued. Is this the largest loss with a stake consolidation?

Mike Johnson said...

The Angeles 2nd Ward, Angeles Philippines Stake, was created on 8 June. There are now 9 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Angeles 1st Ward
Angeles 2nd Ward
Balibago Ward
Dau Ward
Mabalacat Ward
Pandan Ward
San Fernando 1st Ward
San Fernando 2nd Ward
Santo Tomas Ward
Arayat Branch
Bulaon Branch
Santa Lucia Branch

The Kiritimati Island Kiribati District, Marshall Islands Majuro Mission, was created on 20 June. There are 2 branches in the district:

Banana Branch
Fanning Island Branch

MLewis said...

This seems more dramatic because it all happened on the same day, but Osaka saw some similar consolidations back around 2000-2001. According to the Church News for Saturday, Aug. 29, 1992, the Osaka East stake was created on May 31, 1992 with six wards: Ibaraki 1st, Ibaraki 2nd, Settsu, Suita, Takatsuki 1st, and Takatsuki 2nd. I don't know all the details as far as timing goes, but the Takatsuki 1st and 2nd wards were consolidated into the current Takatsuki Ward, the Settsu, Suita, Ibaraki 1st, and Ibaraki 2nd wards were combined into the current Ibaraki Ward, and in the Osaka North Stake the Kawanishi 1st and 2nd wards were combined into the Hanayashiki Ward, the Toyonaka Ward was dissolved (probably combined with the Okamachi Ward), and there may have been one additional consolidation because the Minoo Ward changed it's name to the Senri Ward, (but that may have just been a name change that coincided with the other changes).

Anyhow, by the time I showed up in late 2001, all the above mentioned wards were gone and the Osaka East stake had been combined with the Osaka North Stake. That's at least six wards (not branches) and one stake, but the consolidations probably didn't happen all in one day. (I'm also told there had previously been a Kyoto South stake next door, but I don't know any details about that could corraborate that information).

As far as activity rates go, what I saw in the Kansai region included 3 active members in a branch of 31, 42 active members in a ward of 450, and 75 active members in a ward of over 800.
Nowadays estimated activity rates in Japan are usually higher than that (the two wards I attended in Yokohama definitely had a higher activity rate and I'm told Tokyo and Sapporro are pretty decent), but in Osaka we really were hoovering around 10% for the two years I was in the area. I have no idea what the Church looks like in Okinawa, but I imagine it's similar to the Osaka of a decade ago.

Michael Worley said...

This marks the second stake consolidated for reasons other than the closing of a church school since the mission age was dropped... 2 stakes in nearly 2 years.

Anyone know of a time period post-1990 when stake consolidations were this rare?

Eduardo said...

Not addressing that well-posed question, Chile had major consolidations of stakes, "fusions" as they call them, in the early part of the century largely directed by Elder Holland in person. I guess there has been little of this in Chile or Latin America recently. Good sign.
As for other parts of the globe, hopefully not either.
I witnessed the consolidation of the Highland CA Stake around two aught five.

Mike Johnson said...

The Imperial Falls Ward, Spring Texas Stake, was created on 29 June. There are now 12 wards in the stake:

College Park Ward
Conroe 1st Ward
Conroe 2nd Ward
Glen Loch Ward
Imperial Falls Ward
Imperial Oaks Ward
Legends Ward
Montgomery Ward
Oak Ridge Ward
Spring Trails Ward
Woodlands 1st Ward
Woodlands 2nd Ward

John Pack Lambert said...

I was wondering if people had any idea what percentage of members in Okinawa are US military, and if changes in US military presence on the island have any effect on the number of Church units there.

MLewis said...

I don't know the percentages as to raw membership, but there is a separate English-speaking district in Okinawa with several branches that serve all U.S. military personnel in Okinawa, so fluctuations in the numbers of LDS servicemen stationed there would not affect the units that were consolidated. They were all Japanese-speaking units serving local members.