Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Four Branches in Techiman, Ghana

As part of a continued emphasis by missions in the Africa West Area to implement a church-planting approach colloquially called "The Sunyani Model," the Ghana Kumasi Mission has recently organized its third and fourth branches in the medium-sized city of Techiman, Brong Ahafo Region. The Church orchestrated the opening of Techiman to missionary activity in mid-2013 and simultaneously established multiple member groups to hasten outreach expansion and maximize the saturation of LDS proselytism efforts. These efforts have yielded good results just a year later, asare now four branches that are each led by a local branch president. If the Church were to have followed a more traditional approach to opening Techiman to proselytism that advocates for splitting branches once they become too large to effectively administer, it would have likely taken many years or even a decade or more for four branches to operate in the city.

See below for a map of the four Techiman branches.

View Wards and Branches in the Ghana Kumasi Mission in a larger map

Monday, July 14, 2014 Back Online! is back and functioning well thanks to our website designer Zeeshan Ahmad. For those of you who may be less familiar with our website, here's a brief synopsis of what resources you can access:
  • Reaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almanac - We have posted the country and regional profiles on our book for several years now. These profiles examine geography, demographics, history, culture, economy, religious freedom, the status of LDS outreach in the most populous cities, LDS history, membership growth, congregational growth, activity and retention, language materials, meetinghouses, health and safety, and humanitarian and development work. An analytical section also examines how contextual factors have influenced LDS growth trends. Over 200 countries, dependencies, and territories worldwide are examined in this work. Although most of the profiles have not been updated in two or three years, I will be posting the most recently updated profiles on the site within the coming months, which are current as of mid-2013.
  • Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work - David Stewart has provided his entire book for free on .html and .pdf formats. I just noticed the.pdf format for download is not working and we will get the issue resolved as soon as possible.
  • LDS International Atlas - This web-based atlas uses Google Maps to display the Church's missions, stakes, districts, wards, branches, and known member groups. There are also country-by-country maps displaying the most populous cities without an LDS presence, the status of LDS outreach by each ethnolinguistic group with 100 or more people, and the estimated number and percentage of members by administrative division (i.e. province or state). The atlas is updated on a daily basis.
  • Case Studies - We have posted approximately 180 case studies that examine a wide array of topics pertaining to LDS growth and missionary work. Older case studies are listed alphabetically and can be found here, whereas more recently written case study are categorized by topic and can be accessed on the homepage.We will be adding 20 additional case studies on the coming weeks that were recently written.
  • Missiology Encyclopedia - This online encyclopedia identifies, defines, and analyzes nearly 80 terms of interest to the study of LDS growth and missionary work. Most of the encyclopedia entries are posted on the site, with the remainder to be posted in the coming months.
  • Monthly Newsletters - Since October 2012, we have posted a monthly newsletter that provides updates on recent LDS growth and missionary developments. Recently added or updated articles and resources on are also identified. 
  • Quotes to Live By Quotation Database - Over 2,000 quotes compiled by David Stewart that supplement practical and effective missionary programs.
  • Multilingual Scriptures - Compare books in two different language versions of your choice.
  • LDS Gospel Library E-texts and LDS and World E-texts - 225 e-texts available in 30 categories.
  • Non-English LDS Resources - Translations of various missionary materials in many languages.
  • LDS Missionary and International Links - English and  non-English.
  • Photos - We will be posting thousands of international photos in the coming months.
  • Additional Articles - Some of these articles or works in progress include David Stewart's LDS Church Growth, Member Activity, and Convert Retention: Review and Analysis and Discussions with My Friend: An Introduction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Future Resources - We have been working on an introductory guide to the study of missiology (Missiology Guide) and a Review and an Analysis of the Hastening the Work of Salvation Initiative, including its influence on LDS growth trends and missionary work.
If you have any suggestions on the development of additional resources, please comment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Aggressive LDS National Outreach Expansion Begins in Kiribati

Missionaries serving in the isolated Micronesian country of Kiribati report that the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission has begun an aggressive national outreach expansion initiative that has thus far resulted in the opening of three islands to missionary activity, including Maiana, Nonouti, and Onotoa. Multiple member groups have opened on Maiana and Nonouti to improve accessibility to the Church and capitalize on local populations exhibiting high receptivity to LDS outreach. Missionaries report plans to open additional islands to proselytism in the coming months once larger numbers of missionaries are assigned to the mission. Additionally, senior missionaries report that preliminary plans are underway to reconfigure the two Tarawa stakes to accelerate growth as receptivity remains high, but local leadership development problems have prevented the creation of additional congregations.

Historically, the Church in Kiribati has experienced some of the lowest member activity rates among countries in Oceania with 1,000 or more members as only 25% of members self-reported being LDS on the 2005 census. Missionaries report that some wards on Tarawa have over 1,000 members on their records. Although inactivity and convert attrition remain serious problems, there have been some recent improvements as 32% of nominal LDS membership self-identified as LDS on the 2010 census. Official LDS membership for Kiribati currently constitutes 16.3% of the national population, although 2010 self-reported membership constituted only 4.66% of the national population. Although the Church's Moroni High School on Tarawa has served as an effective proselytism and public affairs tool, the Church has continued to strongly rely on Church Education System (CES) employees to staff lay leadership positions. At one time, CES employees comprised the entire stake presidency of one of the stakes on Tarawa!

I am currently writing a case study that provides a geospatial analysis of LDS growth in Kiribati, examines 2010 census data for religious affiliation, and analyzes recent church growth developments. I anticipate that this case study will probably be posted on in August sometime, and hopefully in the next couple weeks will be back up and running.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Stakes Created in Nigeria and Utah; New District in Kiribati

On June 29th, the Church organized a new stake in Nigeria. The Enugu Nigeria Stake was organized from the Enugu Nigeria District and seven of the branches in the former district now pertain to the new stake. Information regarding which branches became wards remains unavailable. One branch was closed as part of the district becoming a stake (Enugu Nigeria District Branch) and two branches were reassigned directly to the Nigeria Enugu Mission (Nsukka and Obollo-Afor). The Enugu Nigeria District was previously one of the two oldest districts in the country (the other being the Onitsha Nigeria District), and was organized back in 1988.

There are now 25 stakes and 20 districts in Nigeria.

On June 29th, the Church created a new stake in Riverton. The Riverton Utah Western Springs Stake was organized from a division of the Herriman Utah, Riverton Utah Harvest Park, and Riverton Utah South Stakes and includes the following seven wards: the Castlewood, Herriman Rose, Riverton 19th, Western Springs 1st, Western Springs 2nd, Western Springs 3rd, and Western Springs 4th Wards.

There are now 572 stakes and one district in Utah.

On June 20th, the Church created its first district on Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, Kiribati. The Kiritimati Island Kiribati District includes the following five branches: the Banana, Fanning Island, London, Tabwakea 1st, and Tabwakea 2nd Branches. The Church organized two new branches as part of the creation of the new district, namely the London and Tabwakea 2nd Branches. The Church has experienced rapid growth on Kiritimati since the first branch was organized in 1999 with slightly more than 100 members. Today the Church reports approximately 1,200 in five branches (four branches in Kiritimati, one on Fanning Island); a significant number considering the combined population for Kiritimati and Fanning Islands numbering less than 8,000.

There are now two stakes and one district in Kiribati.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Survey Request - LDS Growth in Your Area

I am making a final push with this survey to gather additional data from Latter-day Saints to assess the implementation of the Hastening the Work of Salvation initiative. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. So far I have received 88 responses. Some of the diverse places represented in this sample include Belarus, Laos, and Namibia, although the vast majority of respondents have been from the United States.

Click here to start the survey. Your responses will be solely used for research purposes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Cumorah Newsletter

Click here to access our June 2014 newsletter for