Friday, September 30, 2016

September 2016 Newsletter

Click here to access the September 2016 monthly newsletter for

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 is Online is back online. We apologize for the website problems.

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Temple Prediction Map - September 2016 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. No new locations have been added to the new temple prediction map since the last update in March 2016. My top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements during next month's General Conference include:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Belo Horizonte, Brazil 
  • Brasília, Brazil
  • Davao, Philippines OR Cagayan del Oro, Philippines
  • Guam OR Tarawa, Kiribati
  • Lagos, Nigeria OR Benin City, Nigeria
  • Managua, Nicaragua 
  • Praia, Cape Verde
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Rogers, Arkansas

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New Stakes Created in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, and Texas

A new stake was created in Brazil on September 4th. The Passo Fundo Brazil South Stake was organized from a division of the Passo Fundo Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Bosque, Erechim, Lagoa Vermelha, Marau, Petrópolis, and Planaltina Wards. Passo Fundo is now the third metropolitan area in the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul with two or more stakes. There are now 23 stakes and seven districts in Rio Grande do Sul.

There are now 263 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on September 11th. The Dokui Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from a division of the Cocody Cote d'Ivoire and Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stakes. The new stake includes the following nine wards: the Abobote 1st, Abobote 2nd, Agbekoi, Angré, Belle-ville, Dokui 1st, Dokui 2nd, Plaque, and Quatre Etages Wards. Five of the wards in the new stake have been organized since 2013. It is unclear why the new stake was organized with so many wards as most new stakes in West Africa generally have between five and seven wards. Rapid growth in the area has likely prompted the organization of a large new stake possibly due to limited leadership manpower to fill stake-level callings. Three wards in the new Dokui Cote d'Ivoire Stake were previously assigned to the Abobo Cote d'Ivoire East Stake - a stake organized only two years ago that had grown to 12 wards by the end of 2015. There are now 10 stakes in the Abidjan metropolitan area - more than any other metropolitan area in the Africa-Eurasian continental landmass. Several additional in Abidjan stakes appear likely to divide in the next 12 months and members report that additional wards will be organized in the coming months. For example, last Sunday three new wards were organized in the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Yopougon Attie Stake. There are now three stakes in Abidjan with 10 or more wards. Rapid congregational growth continues in Cote d'Ivoire as there has been a net increase of 41 congregations for 2016 - the second highest net increase in congregations for any country in the world for the year thus far and only 30 less than the net increase reported for the Church in the United States where there has been a net increase of 71 congregations.

There are now 11 stakes and nine districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

A new stake was created in Texas on September 11th. The Burleson Texas Stake was organized from a division of the Arlington Texas, Fort Worth Texas, and Weatherford Texas Stakes. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Burleson, Centennial, Cleburne, Joshua, Mansfield 1st, and Mansfield 2nd Wards, and the Keene Branch (Marshallese).

There are now 71 stakes and three districts in Texas. There have been seven new stakes organized in Texas thus far in 2016.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Church in Mali

Although the Church does not have an official presence in Mali, I have recently confirmed that a member group operates in the country. Missionaries serving in Ghana report that a member group operates outside the capital city of Bamako. Based upon information obtained from other sources, it appears that the member group functions in Ouélessébougou - the hometown of former LDS presidential candidate Yeah Samake. The number of members in Mali has been described as "small" and appear to number no more than 20. Missionaries report that a family from Mali recently traveled to Accra, Ghana to be baptized. Reports indicate that there are approximately 30 prospective members in Mali, most of which appear to reside in the Ouélessébougou and Bamako areas. Most of these potential members have not been baptized due to concern with their level of understanding of LDS teachings and the lack of an official LDS presence in the country. Additionally, concerns have been noted with establishing an LDS presence in Mali due to Muslims constituting the majority of the population. Despite these concerns, risks for proselytism and formal church operations appear minimal based upon the operation of other nontraditional Christian groups that have operated in the country for many years, such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are no laws or government policies that forbid the operation of Christian groups or proselytism. There do not appear to be any legal barriers in Mali for the Church to obtain legal status based upon the International Religious Freedom Report for 2015. Political instability poses some safety concerns, but prospects appear favorable for an LDS establishment within the foreseeable future, especially in the Bamako and Ouélessébougou areas.

Missionaries serving in Ghana also report that there are two additional countries in the Africa West Area where no official LDS presence operates but where there is a member group operating. It is unclear which countries have a member group, but Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau appear the most likely to have at least one member group in operation.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lack of Progress Translating LDS Materials into Additional Languages

Within the past three years, essentially no progress has occurred for the Church in regards to translating basic LDS gospel materials into additional languages. Currently the Church reports 188 "published languages," whereas nearly 20 years ago the Church reported 175 languages with translations of at least one LDS material. In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses report more than 850 languages with proselytism materials translated - a remarkable 100 more languages than one year ago. There remains a significant need to revamp translation efforts in the Church in order for proselytism, convert retention, and member activity rates to improve in many areas of the world.

Click here for more information on the Church's translation efforts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Stakes Created in Utah; Two Stakes Discontinued in South Korea; District Reinstated in Russia

The Church created two new stakes in Provo, Utah on August 28th.

The Provo Utah YSA 20th and the Provo Utah YSA 21st Stakes were organized from a division of several YSA stakes in the Provo area. The Provo Utah YSA 20th Stake includes the following eight wards: the Provo YSA 46th, Provo YSA 49th, Provo YSA 53rd, Provo YSA 56th, Provo YSA 57th, Provo YSA 48th, Provo YSA 58th, and Provo YSA 59th Wards. The Provo Utah YSA 21st Stake includes the following seven wards: the Provo YSA 108th, Provo YSA 110th, Provo YSA 114th, Provo YSA 115th, Provo YSA 117th, Provo YSA 118th, and Provo YSA 119th Wards.

There are now 582 stakes and one district in Utah.

South Korea
The Church discontinued two stakes in the Seoul metropolitan area. The Anyang Korea and Suwon Korea Stakes were discontinued. Retained congregations were reassigned to the Seoul Korea South and the Gyeonggi Korea (formerly the Seoul Korea Yeongdong) Stakes. Several wards were also discontinued as part of the stake realignment. As a returned missionary who had served in the affected area, I observed over 10 years ago that the Anyang Korea and the Suwon Korea Stakes operated with a minimal number of wards. At the time, many of the wards in these stakes had between 50-100 active members. The decision to discontinue the stakes appears attributed to the ongoing exodus of active Latter-day Saint families to other countries (e.g. the United States, Australia, and China), few convert baptisms, and low birth rates. Coincidentally, both the Anyang Korea and Suwon Korea Stakes were also created the same year from a division of the original Seoul Korea West Stake. The last time the Church simultaneously discontinued two stakes in the same metropolitan area was in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2012.

There are now 13 stakes and six districts in South Korea. The Church has discontinued four stakes in South Korea within the past four years.

The Church reinstated another member district in Russia. The Vladivostok Russia District was organized from six mission branches in the Russia Vladivostok Mission. The new district includes the following seven branches: the Artyom, Khabarovsk, Nakhodka, Ussuriysk, Vladivostok, Vladivostok Russia District, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Branches. With the reinstatement of the Vladivostok Russia District, all branches in the Russia Vladivostok Mission pertain to a district (except for the Russia Vladivostok Mission Branch which services the vast expanses of the Russian Far East outside of districts headquartered in Irkutsk and Vladivostok).

There are now three stakes and 10 districts in Russia.