Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Stakes Created in India, Nevada, Nigeria, Russia, and Utah; New Districts Created in Mexico and South Africa; Stake Discontinued in Mexico

The Church organized its second stake in India on November 15th. The Bengaluru India District was organized from the Bangalore India District. All five branches within the city of Bengaluru appeared to become wards, whereas the Kolar Gold Fields Branch did not appear to become a ward. The Church created its first stake in India in 2012 in Hyderabad.

There are now two stakes and five districts in India.

The Church created a new stake in Henderson, Nevada on November 15th. The Henderson Nevada McCullough Hills Stake was created from a division of the Henderson Nevada Black Mountain and Henderson Nevada Eldorado Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Dutchman Pass, Eldorado Pass, Highland Hills, Laurel Hills, McCullough Hills, Palm Canyon, and Paradise Hills Wards.

There are now 35 stakes in Nevada. Local members also report another new stake will be created in northwestern Las Vegas on December 13th.

The Church created two new stakes in Lagos from a division of the three previously operating stakes in the city.

The Lagos Nigeria Egbeda Stake was organized from a division of the Lagos Nigeria West Stake (renamed the Lagos Nigeria Agege Stake). The new stake includes the following six wards: the Akowonjo, Ayobo, Egbeda, Ejigbo, Igando, and Ikotun Wards. The Lagos Nigeria Festac Stake was organized from a division of the Lagos Nigeria South Stake (renamed the Lagos Nigeria Yaba Stake). The new stake includes the following five wards and four branches: the Apapa, Festac, Okokomaiko, Olodi-Apapa, and Satellite Wards, and the Ajangbadi, Badagry, Mosafejor, and Snake Island Branches. The number of stakes in Lagos increased from one in 1997 to two in 2005, three in 2011, and five in 2015. Rapid congregational growth has occurred in Lagos since the late 2000s. For more information, click here to access a case study analyzing LDS growth in Lagos dated August 2014.

There are now 32 stakes and 19 districts in Nigeria.

The Church created a new stake in Russia. The Saratov Russia Stake was organized from the Saratov Russia District. The new stake includes the following five wards and three branches: the Dachny, Penza, Solnichny, Volzhski, and Zavodskoy Wards, and the Balakovo, Engels, and Marks Branches. The Church organized its first two stakes in Russia in 2011 and 2012.

There are now three stakes and seven districts in Russia.

The Church created a new stake in St George. The St George Utah Southgate Stake was organized from the Bloomington Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Bloomington 3rd, Bloomington 7th, Bloomington 9th (Samoan), Southgate 1st, Southgate 2nd, and Southgate 3rd Wards.

There are now 580 stakes and one district in Utah.

The Church discontinued the San Cristóbal México Stake on November 1st and divided the stake into two districts, namely the Comitán México and San Cristóbal México Districts. The decision to discontinue the stake appeared rooted in stagnant real growth within the stake boundaries, long distances between congregations, and the operation of multiple member groups within the stake boundaries in recent years. A lack of local leadership may have also prompted the closure of the stake. The creation of the Comitán México District may provide greater inroads to the lesser-reached Tojolabal people - a Mayan people who resides in rural areas east of Comitán.

There are now 230 stakes and 40 districts in Mexico.

South Africa
The Church created a new district in the southern Johannesburg metropolitan area. The Vaal South Africa District was organized from a division of the Bedfordview South Africa Stake. The new district includes the following five branches: the Ennerdale, Orange Farm, Sebokeng, Sharpeville, and Vereeniging Branches.

There are now 15 stakes and four districts in South Africa.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stakes Likely to Split Outside the United States and Canada - November 2015 Edition

Below is an updated list of stakes likely to split within the near future. Previous lists are available for December 2012, January 2014, and December 2014.


  • Aba Nigeria (13 wards, 3 branches)
  • Aba Nigeria Ogbor Hill (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East (12 wards)
  • Abuja Nigeria (13 wards, 2 branches)
  • Cape Coast Ghana (12 wards, 2 branches)
  • Cocody Cote d'Ivoire (10 wards) 
  • East London South Africa (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Eket Nigeria (11 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Etinan Nigeria (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Kananga Democratic Republic of Congo (12 wards)
  • Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo Binza (10 wards)
  • Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Kimbanseke (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Masina (10 wards)
  • Kumasi Ghana Bantama (11 wards, 5 branches)
  • Lagos Nigeria West (12 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lomé Togo (9 wards, 7 branches)
  • Lubumbashi Democratic Republic of Congo (10 wards)
  • Nairobi Kenya (12 wards, 3 branches)
  • Nsit Ubium Nigeria (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Owerri Nigeria (5 wards, 10 branches) - likely to split to form a new district
  • Port-Bouet Cote d'Ivoire (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria East (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Port Harcourt Nigeria West (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Praia Cape Verde (12 wards, 4 branches)
  • Takoradi Ghana (11 wards, 5 branches)
  • Jakarta Indonesia (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Butuan Philippines (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Hong Kong China (9 wards) 
  • Iloilo Philippines North (9 wards, 2 branches)
  • Lipa Philippines (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Mandaue Philippines (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Singapore (10 wards)
  • Kaohsiung Taiwan West and Kaohsiung Taiwan East (16 wards, 1 branch combined)
  • Tao Yuan Taiwan (9 wards)
  • Verona Italy (8 wards, 5 branches)
  • Amatitlán Guatemala (10 wards)
  • Guatemala City Stake (9 wards, 2 branches)
  • La Ceiba Honduras (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Managua Nicaragua (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Mazatenango Guatemala (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • San Pedro Honduras El Progreso (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • San Pedro Sula Honduras (10 wards)
  • San Salvador El Salvador La Libertad (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Ozama (10 wards)
  • Amecameca Mexico (11 wards)
  • Celaya Mexico (11 wards)
  • Chalco Mexico (10 wards)
  • Chilpancingo Mexico (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Coatzacoalcos Mexico Puerto (13 wards, 1 branch)
  • Culiacan Mexico (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Juchitan Mexico (10 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Mexico City Anahuac (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Chapultepec (10 wards)
  • Mexico City Cuautitlan (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Culturas (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Iztapalapa (10 wards)
  • Mexico City La Perla (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Mexico City Tecamac (11 wards)
  • Mexico City Tepalcapa (11 wards)
  • Oaxaca Mexico Monte Alban (10 wards, 3 branches)
  • Puebla México La Libertad (10 wards) 
  • Puebla México Mayorazgo (10 wards)
  • Toluca México (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Veracruz Mexico Villa Rica (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Villahermosa Mexico Gaviotas (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Ha'apai Tonga (9 wards, 5 branches) 
  • Ipswich Australia and Brisbane Australia Centenary (16 wards, 3 branches combined)
  • Macarthur Australia (9 wards, 1 branch) 
  • Paea Tahiti and Papeari Tahiti (18 wards combined)
  • Punaauia Tahiti (11 wards)
  • Upolu Samoa East (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Belém Brazil Icoaraci (9 wards)
  • Buenos Aires Argentina Castelar (10 wards)
  • Joao Pessoa Brazil Rangel (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lima Peru Canto Grande (10 wards)
  • Luque Paraguay (10 wards, 1 branch) 
  • Maceió Brazil  (11 wards)
  • Maracanaú Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch) 
  • Passo Fundo Brazil (11 wards)
  • Rio Branco Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • Santa Maria Brazil (10 wards, 1 branch)
  • São José Brazil (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • São José dos Campos Brazil (10 wards)
  • São Luis Brazil (10 wards) 
  • São Paulo Brazil Casa Grande (9 wards)
  • São Paulo Brazil Guarapiranga (10 wards)
  • São Paulo Brazil Penha (10 wards)
  • Tarija Bolivia Stake (10 wards)

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Stakes Created in Ghana, Guatemala, North Carolina, and the Philippines; New Districts Created in Kenya and Russia; Stake Discontinued in California; District Discontinued in Chile

Two new stakes have been created in Ghana.

The Accra Ghana Lartebiokorshie Stake was organized on October 25th from a division of the Accra Ghana Kaneshie Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Dansoman, Korle-Bu, Lartebiokorshie, Mamponse, and Mataheko Wards. The Accra Ghana Kaneshie Stake was also realigned with the Accra Ghana Kasoa Stake. Covering an area of less than 17 square miles, the new Accra Ghana Lartebiokorshie Stake covers the smallest geographical area of any stake in Ghana, indicating progress with greater saturation of the Church in urban areas.

The Accra Ghana Ofankor Stake was organized on November 8th from a division of the Accra Ghana Adenta and Accra Ghana Tesano Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Achimota, Amasaman, Chantan, Kwabenya, and Ofankor Wards, and the Adoagyiri and Nsawam Branches.

There are now 15 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

The Church organized its first stake in northern Guatemala on November 1st. The San Benito Guatemala Stake was organized from the San Benito Guatemala District. Mission leadership has spent many years preparing the district to become a stake one day. Information on which branches have advanced into wards is currently unavailable.

There are now 44 stakes and 16 districts in Guatemala.

North Carolina
The Church organized its 17th stake in North Carolina on November 8th. The Raleigh North Carolina South Stake was organized from a division of the Apex North Carolina and Raleigh North Carolina Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Harris Lake, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Swift Creek, and Zebulon Wards.

The Church organized a new stake on November 8th. The Mangaldan Philippines Stake was organized from the Mangaldan Philippines District. The Mangaldan Philippines District previously operated as a stake from 1991 until 2003 when the district returned to district status. The Church consolidated the Mapandan Philippines District with the Mangaldan Philippines District in 2014 to prepare for the reestablishment of a stake.

There are now 96 stakes and 77 districts in the Philippines.

The Church organized a new district on October 25th. The Mombasa Kenya District was organized from three mission branches in the Mombasa area, namely the Bamburi, Changamwe, and Mombasa Branches. All areas of the country with clusters of three or more mission branches now have had districts organized.

There are now four districts and one stake in Kenya.

The Church reinstated a district on November 8th. The Volgograd Russia District was organized from mission branches in the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission. The following five branches are assigned to the district: the Astrakhan, Volgograd Krasniarmesky, Volgograd Russia District, Volgograd Tsentralny, and Volzhsky Branch. The reinstated district is the Church's fifth district created this year. This surge in new districts appears attributed to a new policy or vision by the area presidency to reestablish districts in locations where there are clusters of branches. Most of the Church's districts in Russia were discontinued during the early 2010s.

There are now two stakes and seven districts (eight districts if counting the newly organized district in Crimea) in Russia

The Church discontinued a Spanish-speaking stake in California. The Covina California Stake (Spanish) was discontinued. Wards and branches previously assigned to the Spanish-speaking stake were redistributed to English-speaking stakes in the area. The decision to discontinue the stake does not appear attributed to leadership problems or inactivity. Rather, this decision appears attributed to a focus in the United States to consolidate Spanish-speaking stakes into ordinary stakes. Similar administrative changes have recently occurred in other stakes in the Los Angeles area and in Houston, Texas.

There are now 156 stakes in California.

The Church recently discontinued the La Unión Chile District. None of the seven branches previously assigned to the district were discontinued. Five of these branches were reassigned to the Osorno Chile Stake, whereas two of these branches were assigned to the Chile Osorno Mission. The decision to discontinue the district was likely due to some of the branches likely meeting the criteria to become wards, but no realistic opportunities for the district to become a stake within the foreseeable future.

There are now 77 stakes and 18 districts in Chile.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Senior Missionaries to Begin Service in Senegal

The Church has appeared to approve the assignment of a humanitarian senior missionary couple to the West African nation of Senegal. The Church recently announced the future opening of an assignment in Dakar, Senegal in its weekly Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin. Senior missionaries serving in the Africa West Area headquarters noted earlier this year of an investigatory trip to Dakar, Senegal. These missionaries also reported that a member group now operates in Dakar to provide worship services to foreigners residing in the city. It is likely that a senior missionary couple assigned to Dakar would not only engage in humanitarian work, but explore opportunities for the ultimate assignment of young, proselytizing missionaries. The Senegalese population is 94% Muslim and 5% Christian, with most Christians concentrated in the Dakar area. There are no restrictions on religious freedom. Other missionary-focused Christian groups such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained a presence in Senegal for many years.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

How Will Handbook Policy Changes Surrounding Children in Same-Sex Marriages Affect LDS Growth?

I noticed speculation in some news articles and social media posts surrounding whether recent changes announced by the Church regarding children in same-sex marriages would result in a "mass exodus" of members from the Church. Although it is difficult to say at this time how this policy change will affect member activity rates, convert retention rates, and the receptivity of populations around the world to LDS proselytism, past experience from similar announcements regarding changes in church policy suggest little or no change will likely occur. For example, no noticeable correlation occurred in regards to past policy changes and LDS growth surrounding issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s/early 1980 or Proposition 8 in California during the late 2000s. Worldwide growth measured by several LDS statistical measurements (e.g. increases in total membership, the number stakes, the number of congregations) accelerated during the late 1970s/early 1980s. There was little to no change in worldwide LDS growth trends during the late 2000s. LDS growth rates in the United States within the past 10 years have also appeared stable. Annual membership growth rates have fluctuated from 1.1-1.7%, annual congregational growth rates have averaged around 1%, and steady increases in the number of stakes have occurred every year.

So what affects LDS growth rates? I have found the following factors to be the strongest predictors of LDS growth - whether local, regional, or international: the maintenance of consistently high convert baptismal standards, member-missionary participation, the regular opening of congregations in previously unreached locations, church-planting tactics, self-sufficiency in church administration, cultural conditions (e.g. secularism, nominalism, double-affiliation, ethnoreligious ties), and increasing numbers of full-time missionaries serving.

My prediction is that there will be little to no change in LDS growth rates in the United States or internationally due to the Church's recent policy change surrounding the children of same-sex marriages. Although there will likely be many who disaffiliate themselves from the Church due to this announcement, there will likely be many who return to activity in the Church or join the Church due to media exposure or personal association with active members. Similar findings have been noted in regards to the influence of the internet on LDS growth. LDS growth rates in the United States will likely remain stable or slightly decline in the coming years as a result of the continued secularization of American society and culture, declining birth rates in the Church, persistent problems with member-missionary participation, and full-time missionary over-saturation of some areas.