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.


Eduardo said...

Yay! Finally, let the attrition end. As the post comments, Chile has undergone more issues with sheer baptisms and membership than most parts of the world. I have blogged about it lately; over the years it has preoccupied some of my thoughts. Plus, I have returned for two significant stints that shed further light on issues there.

What happens to the people that I taught? What is going on with the wards and branches I served in? The people of Chile are unique when it comes to our faith, many expectations have not been met yet hopes remain cautiously optimistic. This new stake upgrade is cause for hope and continued reason to believe that Chile can sustain a stronger LDS faith.

Michael Worley said...

Excellent news! If this region of Chile has turned the corner, perhaps others will follow.

Mike Johnson said...

The stake now has the following six units:

El Llano Ward
Parte Alta Ward
San Juan Ward
Sindempart Ward
Tierras Blancas Ward
Andacollo Branch

Ray said...

August and year-to-date church unit growth:

Aug +30 W&B; + 28 W +2B; US +11; + 9 W +2B + 2 ST; Outside US + 19; + 19 W + 0 B + 3 ST + 0 D

YTD + 228 W&B; + 250 W - 22 B + 43 ST - 6 D + 2 Temples; US + 106; + 102 W +2 B + 16 ST - 1 D + 2 Temples; outside US + 122; + 146 W - 24 B + 27 ST - 5 D + 0 Temples

Countries with greatest congregational growth:
US +107, Ghana + 27, Nigeria and Philippines, each + 23, Cote d'Ivoire + 19, Brazil + 16, Mexico + 9, Sierra Leone + 7, D.R. Congo + 6, Canada + 5
Countries with declines Argentina - 23, Chile - 9, Japan - 8, Uruguay - 8
US States with greatest growth:
Utah + 31, Tx + 12, Id + 9, Az + 8, Fl + 5

Keith Held said...

A decrease in Argentina of 23 congregations? Wonder what the issues are thats causing people to go inactive in some countries, and if they are different from country to country.

Unknown said...

In Argentina, like most of South America, the problem is quite possibly the low emphasis on Church attendance throughout society, while religion is still valued. In other words, a lot of the converts in South America that joined during the strongest era of growth between 1970 and 2000 were a) insufficiently prepared for baptism and b) culturally conditioned that Church attendance, by which we mostly measure activity, is not important. I feel like those are the two main reasons why the activity rates in South America are so terrifying.

A lot of countries in Latin America, such as Brazil, Ecuador, and now hopefully Chile, have gone through most of the worst consolidations and are now at a point where outreach can start out again. Argentina is probably at its worst right now but hopefully within a year or two, the tide might start changing. I fear that Peru will be next for a major downbreak, although cultural circumstances seem a tiny bit more favorable.

Ben said...

On the surface it seems like good news - which it is. But I think the reality is that the Coquimbo area has experienced immense localized population growth. More people in area, more members. So it's not necessarily anything that is being done differently, just that more people, and hence more members, are moving to the area.

There are a number of areas where the population is being redistributed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Pascal is true that Peru has problems, there are still wards and branches that may be discontinued, but the current units have been strengthened. So far in 2014 with all the changes that occurred, there was no net decline.

2011: 617 wards, 171 branches, 788 units
2012: 617 wards, 169 branches, 786 units
2013: 619 wards, 157 branches, 776 units
2014: 619 wards, 157 branches, 776 units

The conclusion is simple, in 2013 was where most units were disbanded this began in 2011. In fact my ward was one of the many that was dissolved in 2013.
It is true that many units are created branches where there were groups, but creating Escardó ward, Lima Peru Maranga Stake, indicates a breakthrough, only branches were converted into wards for almost 2 years.
Although the situation in 2013 Peru reached the 100th stakes.
When compared to countries like USA (1526), Brazil (251), Mexico (227) and the Philippines (90). They have over 100 million inhabitants and Peru only 30 million, is also likely that Philippines soon pass Peru in number of stakes.
Argentina was the only country in South America in early 2000s had no net decline in their units, to correct that started several units are dissolved and this will continue maybe for a year or two more.

Brooks M. Wilson said...

I am continually impressed with the local knowledge possessed by people who comment on this blog. Likewise, the detail in Matt's case studies is remarkable.

I published a paper in Square Two ( Vol 7, No 2) that attempts to forecast church membership growth and member retention (not just convert) starting with the death rate of European colonizers. Other variables used include the total fertility rate and per capita gross domestic product.

I guess the take away point in where I differ from Matt is that I credit and blame institutions, primarily bad economic and political institutions, both for fast membership growth and low retention rather than culture.

Both Matt's work and mine may suggest that the church take a different approach to baptismal requirements depending on where a missionary teaches the gospel. There may be nothing wrong with quick baptisms in the United States and Canada and much wrong with quick baptisms in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Eduardo said...

Chile, Chile, Chile.

Great place in many ways. But like most of Latin America and the developing world, there are a few ghosts that haunt it. The 1973 coup d'etat and the consequent dictatorship had its effects on most Chileans. The Socialists and Communists were brutalized in many ways, and a few others who were not necessarily involved got mixed up in it. We baptized an older lady (60), Maria Capot, who had been tortured in the early days of the regime. Michelle Bachillet, two time president, was also tortured, maybe raped.
Some Latinos have natural apprehension to the United States and its policies and missions. This can overlap with our faith, fair or not. The Iraq war in this century was contested heavily, Mexico and Chile in particular trying to forestall the invasion that lead to Saddam's removal. Sometimes world politics like that gets in the way of warmer or happier feelings about an "American church". I was happy there was a newly called Chilean General Authority when I served ('90-'91) named Eduardo Ayala. It was nice to point to him in the Liahona.

Other factors remain: smaller families due to demographic shift, more economic prosperity helps some people feel less dependent on religion, a lingering socio-economic class struggle (many poor ward members were upset with the "rich" church employee bishop), and on and on. "Gossip" seemed to be a national sport in Chile. And the haves and have-nots can have a lot to say about each other.

In Peru, perhaps there is not as great a disparity of wealth. In Argentina, many of the coverts were foreign immigrants like chilenos and peruanos, bolivianos, paraguayos...

Sometimes hard to assimilate with the naturally proud Argentines.

Anyway, the rate of baptism could be problematic as noted, but there are also collective and individual endemic factors to be accounted for.

Every "quick" baptism has a story, just like in the "first world". Some work and many do not.

Eduardo said...

Sorry, re-reading I meant to write "converts", not coverts.

Speaking of covert, there were people involved with the '73 coup that might have been Chilean or American (some members maybe), that got wrapped up in the disappearances of a few thousand people, some 3-5 thousand who are still missing, but occasionally are discovered like some of our GIs in Vietnam or elsewhere.

My wife and I took a nice walk to the Cantaras of Deuco in 2005, a mining pit that is filled with water that is purported to be incredibly deep. I am not sure how far it goes down; maybe 2,000 feet? I can't remember and I am not sure if anybody knows. It is rumored that there might be a few bodies down there. Also, the ocean was probably used for killing and disappeared persons, like the dirty wars of Argentina (1978-83?). Despite all these horrors and bad memories, faithful Saints are admonished to look to Christ with an eye single to His glory. May we do that wherever we are, whoever we are.

John said...

The Salisbury 1st and 2nd wards in the Dover Delaware Stake have been combined into the Salisbury Ward. This leaves Dover stake with six wards and one branch.

The Opinion said...

Just wanted to share what is happening in my ward in the past 15 months. I attend the Garner ward in the Apex NC Stake. When the new bishop was called 16 months ago there were an average of 175 attending with 550 on the rolls. As the ward mission leader then, I was amazed how a concerted effort to find the prepared less active led to them coming back fairly quickly. Last Sunday we had 294 in attendance and yesterday we had 322 in attendance. The marvelous work and miracle is in few gear now here.

James Anderson said...

I ran across this infographic in this blog post, and apparently the convert baptism rates may not have started to increase all that much.

We may not see an increase at all this year, in fact there may even possibly be a decrease, based on the four-month figure shown in the infographic.

Mike Johnson said...

The Mabalacat 2nd Ward, Angeles Philippines Stake, was created on 7 September. There are now 10 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

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

The Rexburg YSA 98th Ward, Rexburg Idaho YSA 2nd Stake, was created on 7 September. There are now 12 wards in the stake:

Rexburg YSA 10th Ward
Rexburg YSA 12th Ward
Rexburg YSA 15th Ward
Rexburg YSA 21st Ward
Rexburg YSA 26th Ward
Rexburg YSA 33rd Ward
Rexburg YSA 48th Ward
Rexburg YSA 49th Ward
Rexburg YSA 69th Ward
Rexburg YSA 70th Ward
Rexburg YSA 95th Ward
Rexburg YSA 98th Ward

Unknown said...

If my information is correct there will be a new stake created next Sunday through a realignment of the Roswell New Mexico Stake and the Lubbock Texas Stake. I don't know how the boundaries will be split, but I know that three wards (Hobbs, Clovis, Portalis) and a branch (Hobbs 2nd) from the Roswell Stake will be combined with units from the Lubbock Stake. There are currently 8 wards and 4 branches in the Lubbock Stake so there must be split of some sort coming.

Unknown said...

By the way, that will leave 6 wards and 3 branches in the Roswell New Mexico Stake.

Ray said...

To John:
Interesting news about Salisbury. For many years Maryland has had very slow congregational growrh. In fact the total units (82) are unchanged since 1/1/2000, whereas the neighboring states of Virginia and North Carolina have had steady growth since then (Va from 147 to 197 and NC from 117 to 153).
Both my daughter and her family lived in Md for many years and my daughter-in-law grew up in a Md ward adjoining Salisbury,

Grant Emery said...

The Salt Lake Tribune (and LDS Living) reported that starting this General Conference, general authorities will now be given the option to either deliver their talks in their native languages or in English. If not in English, there will be subtitles in the Conference Center and dubbed English on the live broadcast. This obviously reflects an increased emphasis on the international Church, following the internationalization of the Young Women's General Board.

As far as predictions of whether President Uchtdorf will speak in German or English, I think it comes down to understanding what the goal of this change is. If the goal is to help out non-anglophone GAs, then I think he'll stick with English, as he speaks very well. If the goal is to provide non-anglophone members with more chances to hear talks in their language without the rigidity that comes with interpretation, then I think he'll German it up. My guess is that he'll go with English. It will be interesting to see what other General Authorities choose, however.

Ray said...


Great news about Lubbock and Roswell. I'm thinking the Lubbock Stake will be divided east and west (or north and south) and will take in some of the Roswell units. Both stakes are very large now.

Ray said...

To Grant,

I agree that Pres. Uchtdorf will continue to use English because of his incredible proficiency in it and the marvelous word pictures he creates when speaking. I also agree that outreach to non-English-speaking members (over half of the nominal membership) is a wonderful development.

TempleRick said...

There is a new meetinghouse in southwest Lubbock (6310 114th St) that looks like it would serve nicely as a stake center.

Mike Johnson said...

Actually, it is 198 congregations in Virginia. The Abingdon Ward--meets in Abingdon, VA, all members of the Bishopric live in Abingdon, VA, and more than 90% of the area of the ward is in Virginia, but for some reason CDOL alternates between listing it in Virginia and Tennessee. CDOL currently lists that ward in Tennessee.

Mike Johnson said...

My guess is President Uchtdorf will mix it up. After all, he will speak several times during conference. He might do some German in one more talks, or he might do one of his talks in German.

Mike Johnson said...

Rick, the meetinghouse houses the College Park YSA, Monterrey Park, and Regal Park wards.

Mike Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Pack Lambert said...

Actually, I am not convinced that Chile experienced the most problematic member retention problems. There was a point in the 1850s where net-membership dropped. In the 19th-century the Church possibly had lower inactivity rates, but if so this was because there was a much more agressive policy of excommunication.

John said...

"Both my daughter and her family lived in Md for many years and my daughter-in-law grew up in a Md ward adjoining Salisbury,"

The only Maryland unit that borders the Salisbury Ward is the Cambridge Branch. Seaford (Delaware) Ward is to the north, and Eastern Shore (Virginia) Branch is to the south.

When the Wilmington Delaware Stake divided in 2012, Wilmington kept six wards, a Spanish branch and a YSA branch. None of those units have changed, though in 2010 four wards and a branch had been realigned to create those six wards.

Dover Delaware Stake got six wards and two geographic branches. Since then the Dover ward and branch have realigned to create two wards, and the two Salisbury wards have been combined. Dover's stake clerk said that a lot of active families have moved out of Salisbury the past few years.

Ray said...

I'm sorry, it was a ward in or near Mechanicsville, Md, on the other side of Chesapeake Bay, and not on the Delmarva Peninsula. My mistake!

Eduardo said...

John: Right, Chile may not have had the worst LDS membership retention problems of all time, but it is something nearer and dearer to my heart. I went back to my own mission of Concepcion in 1994 for over three months (2+ years after my time served) and did some follow up on some of my investigators, a lot of it disappointing and gut wrenching. We like to think that we baptize for keeps, and I was not even a "baptizer" compared to many other missionaries.

Eduardo said...

I went again in 2005 (about 14 years after mission) and stayed for 6 months. The place mystifies and tantalizes in a few ways. Still a lot of promise.

Historia Familiar Valenzuela Escobar said...

As a Chilean, I am sorry to see how the number of baptized who attend has decreased, hundreds of chapels closed or to be sold, so much effort wasted or wasted.
When I came to the church in July 1990, there were already many inactive people, however, it increased over the years.
There are so many reasons for this tremendous problem of degrowth in Chile and the world, however, there are so many factors and they are difficult to remedy, this causes the church to fail to strengthen itself.
Chile in a minute became a benchmark for growth, today it is far from it. I live in Santiago and I see how many neighborhoods have dissolved, causing more disunity than strength in the church.
It was a tremendous sacrifice to build churches, it was the effort of many baptized and that was thrown away, the chapels are far from people's houses and it makes it more difficult for them to attend each week.
Hopefully with the temples of conception and soon that of Antofagasta will find a great fortress. I look forward to the day when in Viña del Mar, La Serena, Rancagua, Osorno, Valdivia and Punta arenas build other temples, rewarding the faith and dedication of those who have remained, since in other countries temples are built with a stake.

Omar Valenzuela Escobar
Santiago de Chile