Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 2014 Newsletter

We have just posted the September edition of our newsletter for cumorah.com detailing recent church growth developments and new resources posted on our website. The newsletter can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clear and Convincing Progress in the Philippines Reversing Stagnant LDS Growth

There have been many recent LDS growth developments in the Philippines that indicate the Church has taken a significant turn in achieving "real growth." Some of these developments include:
  • A net increase of 26 congregations (21 wards and 5 branches) so far in 2014. This is the largest increase in congregations in a single year for the Philippines since 2001.
  • The creation of 12 new stakes since 2010. The last time as many new stakes were created in as short of a time period in the Philippines was from 1999 to 2001.
  • The opening of member groups in dozens of lesser-reached or previously unreached locations within the past few years.
  • The number of full-time missionaries assigned to the Philippines increases from 2,600 in early 2013 to 4,300 in early 2014. 
  • The number of Filipino members serving full-time missions reaching 2,425 at year-end 2013. 
  • Significant improvements in various activity measurements, such as sacrament meeting attendance and the number of temple recommend holders.
With membership recently surpassing 700,000 members and the total number of stakes nearing 100 (92 at present), the Church has significant opportunities for growth in the near future due to increasing numbers of missionaries serving, focus on higher baptismal standards and member-missionary participation, and the opening of member groups and branches in additional locations. All this recent progress has occurred despite no increase in the number of converts baptized between 2010 and 2013. Many districts appear likely to become stakes within the next year or two. Also, the Church may announced new temples in additional cities due to recent growth, such as Bacolod, Davao (instead of Cagayan de Oro), and Naga.

Click here to access a case study I wrote for cumorah.com on recent LDS growth developments in the Philippines. This case study article was written last April.

The cumorah.com LDS International Atlas page for the Philippines can be found here, and the statistical profile for the Philippines can be found here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Temple Prediction Map

As part of my biannual tradition to discuss likely predictions for new temples that may be announced in General Conference, I have included my most recent map of locations which I think are most likely to have temples announced within the foreseeable future. I have not added any new locations to this map within the past six months as there have not appeared to have been any major developments during this period that would warrant additional locations to be added to the map. However, the formation of new stakes in Southeast Asia and Cape Verde during this period suggest that both of these locations appear more probable for future temples in the coming years.

Based on President Monson's statements last conference about the Church concentrating on completing temples that have already been announced or that are under construction, I do not predict that any temples will be announced this coming October General Conference. However, if any temples are announced, I would predict the following five as the most likely based on recent church growth developments:
  1. Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  2. Praia, Cape Verde
  3. Puebla, Mexico
  4. Pocatello, Idaho
  5. Bangkok, Thailand or Phnom Penh, Cambodia

View Potential New Temples in a larger map

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

General Conference Talks in Other Languages

Several news media outlets such as the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune report that beginning this October General Conference, the Church will permit speakers to give their talks in their native language. Cited as an example of the internationalization of the LDS Church, this change in policy has been long overdue and may improve the perception of the compatibility of the Church with other cultures and societies. Additionally, this development may indicate that additional progress will be made with the calling of General Authorities who do not speak English at all in the coming months and years ahead.

The Church has made some significant progress translating its General Conference proceedings to a wider audience. In 1988, General Conference was translated into only 12 languages (see article). Currently the Church reports that proceedings are translated into 94 languages, although only 70 of these languages can be accessed via the Church's website.

Utilizing English as the Church's language for administration has significantly simplified its operations, but has also conveyed a sense that it is Ameri-centric and reinforces centralization. I am curious what steps the Church will take to translate General Conference talks given in the speaker's native language into languages other than English. I imagine that these talks will likely be translated first into English, and then into other languages. The Church has utilized Spanish translations for many years to translate talks into Amerindian languages such as Aymara, Q'eqchi', and Quichua, and this pattern would likely be easiest and most efficient for translation. However, like a game of telephone, nuances and deeper meanings may be lost through this process, which creates challenges for maintaining doctrinal purity and ensuring translations are accurate.

On a topic related to translation work, the Church recently updated its statistical page on mormonnewsroom.org and now reports 189 published languages. This new total is 13 higher than the total provided in 2011. Unfortunately, the Church has not published a comprehensive list of all languages into which it has translated at least one church material. If anyone has information on what languages have recently had materials translated, please comment. See here for my missiology encyclopedia entry on "Languages with LDS Materials."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First New Stake Created in Chile Since 1998

Last Sunday, the Church organized a new stake in Chile. The Coquimbo Chile Stake was organized from the Coquimbo Chile District and most of the six branches became wards. This marks a significant development for the Church in Chile as no new stakes have been organized in the country since the massive consolidation of 42 stakes between 2000 and 2005. The creation of the Coquimbo Chile Stake may signal at least some tangible improvements in member activity rates in some locations. However, the Church in Chile has experienced a net decline in the number of wards and branches thus far in 2014, indicating ongoing problems with rectifying some of the most problematic member activity and convert retention problems ever experienced in the worldwide Church.

There are now 75 stakes and 21 districts in Chile.

Second Stake Created in the Republic of the Congo

Last Sunday, a new stake was created in the Republic of the Congo. The second stake to ever operate in the country, the Makelekele Republic of Congo Stake was organized from a division of the Brazzaville Republic of Congo Stake and includes the following five wards: the BaCongo, Guynemer, Kinsoundi, Makelekele, and Mfilou Wards. The Church originally organized the Brazzaville Republic of Congo Stake in 2003.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First LDS Member Group Opens in the Northern DR Congo

Mission leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission report that a member group now assembles in Kisangani and that 32 converts were recently baptized into the group. The operation of the Kisangani Group constitutes the first time that the Church has operated in the northern half of the DR Congo and has occurred shortly after the Church organized its first member group in Bukavu located near the Burundi/Rwanda border.

See below for a map of known LDS congregations in the DR Congo outside of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.

View Wards and Branches outside of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi (DR Congo) in a larger map