Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Stakes Created in Australia, New Zealand, and Nigeria; New Districts Created in Lebanon and Macau; Districts Discontinued in Brazil, Germany, and Venezuela

The Church organized a new stake in the Sydney area on May 17th. The Gosford Australia Stake was organized from a division of the Newcastle Australia and Sydney Australia Baulkham Hills Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Gosford, Normanhurst, Ourimbah, Toronto, Toukley, and Tuggerah Wards. There are now 38 stakes and eight districts in Australia.

New Zealand
The Church organized a new stake in Auckland on May 17th. The Auckland New Zealand Penrose Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Auckland New Zealand Mt Roskill and Auckland New Zealand Panmure Stakes. Information on the names of congregations in the new stake is currently unavailable. There are now 29 stakes and three districts in New Zealand.

The Church organized a new stake in Calabar on May 17th. The Calabar Nigeria South Stake was organized from a division of the Calabar Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Egerton, Etta Agbor, Mbukpa, New Airport, Uwanse, and Yellow Duke Wards. There are now 27 stakes and 20 districts in Nigeria

The Church organized a new district in Lebanon in late April. The Beirut Lebanon District was organized from a division of the Amman Jordan District. The new district appears to include two congregations: the Beirut Branch and the Cairo Branch. It is unclear why the Church decided to divide the Amman Jordan District as the district had only five branches prior to its division. The new Beirut Lebanon District appears to be the first district of the Church ever organized in this nation. Prospects appear favorable for passive missionary activity in Lebanon as there is no legislation barring proselytism or changing religious affiliation. Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians among Middle East nations as 40% of the population is Christian.

The Church organized a new district in Macau on May 17th. The Macau China District is the Church's first district ever organized in this special administrative region of China. The new district includes the Macau 1st, Macau 2nd (English), and Macau 3rd Branches. The Macau 1st Branch administers Cantonese speakers whereas the Macau 3rd Branch administers Mandarin speakers. Missionaries are optimistic that the district can become a stake in the foreseeable future as there are currently 1,400 members in Macau - just 500 shy of the minimal criteria for a stake to operate. The branches previous pertained to the China Hong Kong Mission. The Church has experienced startling progress reactivating members and organizing new congregations in Hong Kong and Macau within the past year.

The Church recently discontinued the Teófilo Otoni Brazil District. The district was originally organized in 2006 and had two branches for many years. Branches in the former district were reassigned to the Nanuque Brazil District. There are now 253 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

The Church recently discontinued the Erfurt Germany District. The district was originally organized in 2004 and had seven branches. Four of the branches were discontinued due to extremely few active members. Local members report significant problems with low receptivity and active members moving away from this economically depressed area of Germany. Retained branches were reassigned to the Leipzig Germany Stake and the Erfurt Branch became a ward in the stake. There are now 15 stakes and two districts in Germany.

The Church recently discontinued the Calabozo Venezuela District. The district was originally organized in 2005 and had two branches. The district had two if its branches recently discontinued. The retained branches have been reassigned to the Venezuela Caracas Mission.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Missionaries Withdawn from Burundi

Missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission report that all young full-time missionaries have been removed from Burundi due to civil unrest and a coup. Plans have been made for the three branches in the country to have branch missionaries continue teaching and baptizing new converts.

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Stakes in Chile and Utah

Yesterday the Church organized a new stake in Chile. The Talagante Chile Stake was organized from the Talagante Chile District and includes the following five wards and three branches: El Monte, Melipilla 1st, Melipilla 2nd, Talagante 1st, and Talagante 2nd Wards and the Bollenar, Isla de Maipo, and La Islita Branches. The Church previously operated a stake in Melipilla from 1993 to 2002 and a stake in Talagante from 1997 to 2002. Both of the stakes were downgraded to districts in 2002 and consolidated the districts into a single district in 2014. The Church in Chile has made some minor advancements with strengthening local leadership and advancing districts into stakes within the past couple years. The Church in Chile organized a new stake for the first time in 15 years in 2014 when the Coquimbo Chile District became a stake.

There are now 76 stakes and 20 districts in Chile.

The Church organized a new stake in Draper, Utah on May 3rd. The Draper Utah Meadows Stake was organized from a division of the Draper Utah Mountain Point Stake and includes the following seven wards: the Bellevue Park, Bellevue, Bridle Pointe, Brown Farm, Creekside, Lone Rock, and Willow Springs Wards. There are now 576 stakes and one district in Utah.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Full-time Missionaries to Return to Liberia and Sierra Leone This Summer

The Church announced yesterday that full-time missionaries will return to Liberia and Sierra Leone this summer. Missionaries were removed from these two nations in August 2014 as a result of the Ebola outbreak that claimed over 8,500 lives and infected approximately 22,000 people in the region. It appears that mission presidents and young full-time missionaries will restart formal proselytism efforts in July.

It was initially unclear as to whether the Church in these two nations would continue to sustain rapid membership and congregational growth following the removal of full-time missionaries and mission presidents. The Church in these two nations has historically struggled with local leadership development, member-missionary participation, member activity, and convert retention. However, the Church has appeared to experience steady "real growth" in these two nations during this period, particularly in Sierra Leone. The Church in Sierra Leone has organized seven new branches since full-time missionaries were removed. Reports from members in the nation indicate that local members have been effective at continuing missionary work despite the absence of full-time missionaries. Some congregations have continued to baptize new converts on almost a weekly basis within the past nine months.

Although it will become more clear within the next six month as to what progress the Church has achieved in these two nations since full-time missionaries were removed, membership and congregational growth trends have been encouraging and suggest that the Church may have turned a corner in developing a self-sufficient Church led by indigenous members. The advancement of districts into stakes within the next couple years will be a key indicator to assess real growth, the maturation in local leadership development, and the self-sufficiency of members and church leaders.

The Church currently reports one stake and five districts in Sierra Leone and three districts in Liberia. See below for links to statistical profiles for these two nations.