Tuesday, March 21, 2017

800+ LDS Congregations (Wards and Branches) to Close in Europe?

There have been recent rumors that there are approximately 800 congregations in Europe that are considered "too weak" to continue to function and that will need to close in the foreseeable future. The reliability of these numbers, let alone their sources, appears highly questionable. Although I do not have any official information to refute these rumors from reliable sources, I wanted to make some comments regarding LDS congregational growth trends and congregational decline.

First off, I find it hard to believe that there will be anywhere close to 800 units discontinued within Europe within the next two decades, let alone the next couple years as the rumor indicates. There are only 1,302 congregations (808 wards, 494 branches) within the Europe Area at present, and only 194 congregations in the Europe East Area. If this claim applies just to the Europe Area, which services Western Europe and Central Europe, it would mean that 61.4% of LDS congregations in the area would be discontinued (53% if the Europe East Area is also included). Aside from countries that used to have a more widespread LDS presence but no longer do due to political or military issues (e.g. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam), there has NEVER been as large of a percentage decline in congregations for any country of world region. Provided with the percentage decline in the number of wards and branches from their all-time highs in parentheses, the countries that have experienced the highest percentage declines include Belgium (41%), Panama (37%), and Chile (36%), However, even these countries have experienced these declines over a period usually a decade longer or more, not a mere couple years. Furthermore, all three of these countries, and most countries that have experienced similar significant trends in the decline in the number of congregations, eventually reach a point when consolidations slow until stagnation. Sometimes, trends can reverse or resume given a variety of changes in church policies, receptivity, and other issues.

It is likely that there is a plan to consolidate LDS congregations in Europe. In fact, this has been the trend in most European countries since the early 2000s. However, these unit consolidations are generally carefully considered in order to avoid longer distances to meetinghouses resulting in a reduction in the number of members who attend church services. Furthermore, it is common for unit creations and consolidations to vacillate over time based upon area policies, receptivity, goals for growth, and vision for mission outreach. Eastern Europe is the quintessential example of this phenomenon as the Church in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yerevan, and Sofia has undergone multiple iterations of congregations closing and later being re-created. Unfortunately, this process results in many members lost in the reshuffle due to problems with socialization, assimilation, and longer distances to meetinghouses that discourage some to stop attending. It has been quite the vicious cycle in some area, especially major cities in Russia, that I believe significantly delayed the creation of stakes in several cities for many years.

Recently we have published the number of active members in many wards and branches in Europe based upon thousands of surveys collected from returned missionaries and local members. This data is accessible on cumorah.com via the LDS International Atlas. The most complete data we have in Europe is for Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Like most areas outside of North America, wards in Europe are significantly smaller than in the United States and Canada. Most wards have between 50-150 active members, whereas most branches have between 10-50 active members. There has not been any significant change in the number of active members per congregation for most European countries during the past decade according to reports from returned missionaries and local members.

Lastly, I wanted to emphasize the seriousness of congregations closing and its impact on LDS growth trends. My experience over the years of collecting data and researching LDS growth trends indicates that congregation consolidations often do not result in noticeable improvements with member activity or convert retention rates. The idea sounds good on paper when congregations struggle, especially if it has been for many years, as congregations with more active members may provide greater opportunities for fellowshipping, socialization, and staffing leadership/callings. However, this strategy appears to address the symptom rather than the root issue of the problem for why congregations struggle to grow and maintain self-sufficiency. These challenges should prompt reflection on what needs to change with local members, leadership, and missionary tactics rather than structural and organizational changes that temporarily ward off these challenges. Even small congregations can become productive and serve as important outreach centers to the population they administer after years of stagnant growth or decline. For example, the Church in Indonesia has struggled for years to revamp growth after several decades of essentially extremely slow membership growth and congregational growth. Despite these challenges, the Church has maintained one branch each in Manado, Sulawesi and Medan, Sumatra since 1984 and 1994, respectively. It is quite remarkable that mission and area leadership did not close either of these branches as both have historically had only 20-30 active members, lacked sufficient local leadership to properly operate, and are isolated from the body of church membership and mission headquarters in Java. Despite these long-term challenges, the Church in both the Manado Branch and the Medan Branch has experienced steady growth within the past few years. Today both branches are fully staffed by native branch presidencies. Church attendance has also significantly improved in these units based upon recent reports. These improvements appeared attributed to changes in the way the mission has approached missionary efforts in these cities such as changing the meetinghouse location, the focus of proselytism, and the implementation of more effective teaching and finding tactics. Thus, diligence in maintaining struggling small branches, particularly ones in locations without a nearby LDS congregation, can have high pay-offs for long-term growth if missionary activity becomes more productive and cultural conditions become more favorable for growth. The reestablishment of branches in cities where branches once used to operate can become a much more challenging feat than continuing to maintain struggling congregations.

For more information on effective approaches to proselytism and missionary work, I suggest you listen to the 2014 Dialogue Podcast of a presentation given by me and David Stewart, particularly David Stewart's comments at the end of the presentation.


miro said...

They definitly won't close 800 congregations. But there will be some that will close this year. Like the person form the Netherlands mentioned some that have, some that will ans one that might happen in the Netherlands. Also the UK lost some wards recently and will propably lose some more. Ohter ward's there might devide.

The europe area is trying to have bigger congregations. I have a friend thats works in the office in frankfurt that is responsible for planning unit changes. He said that they are looking to divide ward's when attendance reaches 230. He also mentioned last Mai that attendence in the europe area dropped a lot and concerned the church leaders. In my opionion it has manly to do with the push that all congregations should have saccramet first by the beginning of 2016. Did they really think that this does have no effect? In my ward i saw that it did have an effect. Attendance dropt by around 10, but in 2017 we are again back there where we where before. Sometimes the members need just a bit time to adjust.

The europe area leaders see, that there are not many converts, most of them are immigrants and struggle with the language. A problem i see is that we somehow rarely don't manage that converts become contributes that just consumers.
Conneted to that the church leaders see that in small congregations a lot of the youth is lost and that bigger congregations do better with that. I think this and the fear of member burnout is the main reason for a push to bigger congregations.
Like the person in the podcast mentioned this is very hard on the elderly members that have run there congregation for decades.

Bryan Dorman said...

80 w+b seems more likely than 800.

This attendance rule is being implemented all over the world. They want 250 before division here in Mexico too

Jim Anderson said...

I sthink 20 is unrealistic because that means you would have on average, 400-500 members in a given ward. That would make them similar to Wasatch Front wards.

Here in Provo, my chapel can only seat 270 on account of the fire code before openng the back, but that is done anyway even though our sacrament meeting attendance was about 50 percent, at the time I saw that the raw number ranged between 180 and 220.

Christopher Nicholson said...

"ward off" these challenges... I see what you did there ;)

Thanks for addressing this. Hopefully at least the discussion generated by this rumor will be a wake-up call for some members about how poorly things are going in Europe. I know some of them just assume that the Church is spreading like wildfire all over the world without them having to do anything.

bwebster said...

Here's a single, quite tangential data point that nevertheless might be useful to keep in mind about whatever adjusting may need to be done in Europe.

About 20 years ago, my wife and I were in the Penasquitos San Diego Stake in northern San Diego. We happened to move to a different house in the Rancho Penasquitos suburb, which moved us from PQ 1st Ward to PQ 3rd Ward. What I discovered there -- having been called as ward clerk shortly after the move -- was that PQ3 only had 13 active Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Needless to say, this made staffing the ward organizations very difficult.

Everyone from the stake presidency on down were pretty much scratching our heads as to the reasons why; it seemed to be tied to the fact that PQ3 had more apartments and fewer houses, and that there just weren't a lot of (active) LDS members renting in those apartments. Keep in mind that the Church was (and is) very well established in San Diego (it's where I joined the Church nearly 30 years earlier); the San Diego Temple had been dedicated just a year or two earlier. As the numbering implies, there were three wards in Rancho Penasquitos alone, but PQ3 was struggling to operate.

The solution wasn't to close down PQ3; instead a slice of PQ 2nd Ward was added to PQ3. Bishop Hansen ("Consumer Bob" Hansen, for those familiar with San Diego TV news) was able to better staff the ward organizations. Less than a year later, Sandra and I relocated to the Washington DC area. A few years later, while visiting San Diego on vacation and attending PQ3 on Sunday, I found out that PQ2 -- the 'donor' ward -- was now having some staffing problems of its own, and further re-adjusting of ward boundaries was being considered. Don't know if ever happened, though.

Anyway, my point is that if you don't have the necessary active MP holders to run a ward (or a stake), then readjustments will in fact need to be made, and that can happen here in the States as well as in Europe or elsewhere.

Reese said...

I served in the Ukraine, Kyiv Mission just prior to the creation of the Kyiv Stake. In the run-up to the Stake organization, we combined several branches in the Kyiv area to make them "Ward sized" units. Within a few years, some of those consolidated Wards had been redivided along old boundaries, with one unit remaining a Ward and another becoming a Branch (I'm thinking specifically of the Vinogradar/Obolon units in Kyiv, which were combined and then later split).

Sometimes, letting a small unit grow slowly is the best thing for the church in that area.

MainTour said...

When was the last time a new stake was created in Western Europe?

C & C Dawson said...

I don't think it should be implied that 800 +/- wards are being closed. Moreso that 800+/- will be affected. If one unit closes and it is absorbed in to 2 other units, then 3 units were affected. It think this is the general idea.

Ryan Searcy said...

The last stake created from a district was the Prague Czech Republic Stake organized in May 2016

The last stake divided to form a new stake was the Friedrichsdorf Germany Stake organized in June 2014.

Unknown said...

My impression of at least German-speaking Europe is that leadership is strong - perhaps stronger than in Utah by commitment, Gospel knowledge, etc. - but numerically limited. I don't think that's a secret given the over-proportional number of general and area authorities Germany has "produced."

We've also seen a number of new units created (a ward in Mainz, branches in the northern Eifel, and in Heidelberg and Hanover - the latter of which was discontinued later to, from what I've heard, allow for the approaching split of the ward in the city). Kassel and Gelsenkirchen both became wards. Friedrichsdorf got a stake, and there is still some indication that a new stake will be created out of Duesseldorf/Dortmund in the next few years. The discontinuation of the Erfurt District was all demographic, not really an issue of inactivity, but rather a sign of the mass exodus from central Germany.

Baptisms and retention rates have both gone up from what I can tell, too. And it's not just immigrants, although they make up a significant portion of most missionaries' teaching pools.

I call baloney on the number (and even on a SLC-delegated mass consolidation of congregations). A couple will be consolidated here and there. A few more will be created ever once in a while. But really, there is no true sign of deviation from stagnation in most areas of Europe, with a few local pockets of reasonably strong growth.

Ohhappydane33 said...

You guys take stories like this too personally. Either the Church will close a lot of these units or it won't. It isn't anything that certainly anybody here has any control over, so why worry about it? Either the Church has sufficient numbers of active membership to support these units or it does not.

BTW, the mass Chile stake consolidation did happen over a relatively short time period with 2002 being the year that sticks out like a sore thumb.

John Pack Lambert said...

These facts about the drawbacks to discontinuing units are reflected here in my home stake. My current ward, the Southfield Ward, got part of the old Grand River Branch when it was discontinued in 2012. There are lots of factors involved including continued population decline in Detroit.

Still we have lots of people living in the old Grand River Branch boundaries who are on the ward records but never come out.

When I say population decline there are blocks that used to have 20-30 houses and have none and there are other blocks that had 20-30 houses with 5 left and only 2 of those houses luved in.

John Pack Lambert said...

In both the cases of Gratiot Branch and Grand River Branch I wonder if the discontinuance came too soon. In the Gratiot case a ward and a branch were realigned into 2 wards but the wards were consolidated maybe 3 years later. Our stake president praised this as having made 8 Mile no more a boundary in our stake, but it was still a boundary in peoples hearts.

North of 8 mile is no longer lilly white but when the student body of the pre-K to 8 school I teach at is 98.5% African-American, I am not exagerating at all, and student bodies even in the most inner suburbs are still majority white if a thin majority, to just end the divide by fiat ignores the deep social cultural reasons church units were drawn just in Detroit in the first place.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the case of Roseville and Warren Wards I still think it was a mistake to create alk white bishoprics. I know some will say I am being to race sensitive but the reality is we have to speak to people in their own language and especially going from the majority African American Gratiot branch the change asked was too great too quick.

True today the young men's presudent in Rosevilke Ward is an African American man who has been a member since Gratiot Branch days. His wife was relief society president until he was called as young men's president. They live in Detroit. The ward had another black relief society president who lived in St. clair Shores but I think she moved out from the city at a time when she moved in the ward. On the other hand my girlfriends mother moved back to Roseville Ward because she didnt get along with some members in Belle Isle Branch specifically a black sister whose husband was in the branch presidency.

John Pack Lambert said...

In general my impression in Southfield Ward is all the black members are either single or married to non-members. This includes the black member of the bishopric. I am not sure if he is a widower or divorced but I suspect the former.

On the other hand when I returned from my mission the member of the high council assigned to my ward was a black man, with a clack wife and about 10 year old child who lived in Southfield Ward. He only was in Michigan maybe 3 years total. My guess is if he had moved into metro Detroit today he would have ended up in Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills or maybe Walled Lake Ward due to more negatibe perceptions of Southfield Schools, the fact that people who want to live in racially mixed areas generally consider Southfield too black to achieve that goal and other complex social economic factors.

John Pack Lambert said...

There are other factors that mitigate against Southfield Ward having as stark a divide as seen in say Belle Isle Branch. Belle Isle Branch has one of the workds fastest changes in socio-economic ststus. True there is one African-American member who lives in Grosse Pointe Park and there was a couple living there where the husband was white and the wife black who moved to Tennesseee. They knew my brother because the husband waa s assigned on the high council to my brothers brsnch in the Westland Stake.

That couple met when he was the quintessential yuppy living in an expensive highrise in the revitalizing midtown Detroit area and she was a young woman just baptized and living in the projects. OK to be fair the fact that he not only went to Church but served as branch president meant he was not actually the quintessential yuppy.

Southfield Ward has more entrenched Michigan members as opposed to Belle Isle Branch having more transients to Michigan. Yet of all the wards in the stake Southfield is most transient because especially historically it has fotten the most medical residents.

The thing is the leadership side of the ward, those who stay around more than 4 years, are people with deep Michigan roots. The bishop is a ward boundary native and a convert as is the formeer stake president who lives in the ward.To be fair I think his 8 Mile no more a boundary would have worked better if there had not been so many members in the resulting 2 wards who resented not going to Church with their old friends.

I hate to say this but I think instead of going to 3 wards in one building they should have had the Warren Ward meet somewhere in Warren.

John Pack Lambert said...

I felt I did a real good work last Sunday when I told an African-American sister in the Southfield Ward who now lives in Southfield and was baptized a month ago about the old Mormon chapel on Serrento the one that was razed to build I-96. It helped even more that one of the youth was there and mentioned there is a pocture of her great grandparents standing in front of the building. I had not anticipated the sister to be so emotional about learning the Mormons had been on Sorrento. I should have told her there is a sister in the ward whose mother was at the dedication of the Detroit Chapel as a missionary. That sister also has a black grandson who sang at her husbands funeral.

John Pack Lambert said...

I take it back. There is one married couple in the Southfield Ward where they are black and active members. They are not there every Sunday but often enough to count as active and they do better at attending stake conference than some people who make Church regularly.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually a look at what has happened to the Church in Italy over the last 30 years is a sign pf growth. Maybe not spectacular but growth none the less.

I think the Church and its initiatives related to refugees will also play out in some of these situations.

The Deseret News just ran an article on how the 1st presidency has increased the amount of the LDS Charities budget devoted to refugee aid. The article was basically structured around interviews with Linda K. Burton, RSGP and Sharon Eubank, head of LDS charities. Such an article giving two women basically the only voice says a lot about women and their voice in the Church. However I think most of the rhetoric about women and the LDS Church is bunk. One only needs to read Mia Love's statements about how it was the way men and women treated each other in the Church with respect that attracted her to it to realize that claims about the voice and role of women in Mormonism tend to underestimate their role all the time.

The article mentions a 7-year-old girl in England raising money to help refugees in Greece. Nothing else in relation to Europe stood out. President Kerron the Europe Area President who is Beitish and joined the Church in the 1980s at the earliest shows some of the rhetoric of stsgnation is false.

John Pack Lambert said...

I would challenge the odd claim that immigrant converts in Europe are only consumers of the Church and not contributors to it.

To begin with if converts are not actively contributing it may be because contributing is expected in too narrow a way. If new converts are not submitting family members names for temple work and preferably doing it themselves than the existing structure of the Church is valuing the tempke too little.

John Pack Lambert said...

However the reality is that much of the Church growth in countries outside Europe has come from people converted in Eueope who understood how to be member missionaries, something I do less well at than I wish I did.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually anyone who questions that immigrant converts in Europe are contributing to the building up of God's kingdom on tfe earth needs to read Elder Andersen's talk when the Cambodia, Haiti and Ivory Coast Tempkes were announced. He mentions the bachbone couples for the Church in Ivory Coast. One joined the Church in France but returned to Ivory Coast. The other consisted of an Ivorian man and his German wife. Their going to IC not only put Sister Asaard far from her family but involved Brother Assard sacrificing a well paying job in Germany for less gainful employment in his home land.

Emmanuel Abu Kissi, a key leader of the Church in Ghana, joined in the Unied Kingdom. Mozambique got a jump start in the gospel from Francisco Dique Sousa. I think that was the father in law of the man who went to East Germany for advanced studies in socialist thought and returned a Mormon when he lost his visa when East Germany ceased to exist.

I am sure there are other exampkes as well.

Eduardo said...

A couple considerations when comparing Europe to other areas:
1. The growth and apparent sustainment of many temples in the continent is very impressive. As compared to Chile, which is going on 600 thousand members on paper but only just now finishing their second temple, Europe has a consistent growth in temple building and notably in major nations of Italy and France.
With temples in smaller countries like Dennmark, Finnland, and Holland, I see Europe as a consistent growth area.
As regarding non-European natives who join the Church and may or may not stay in those host countries, this is an indication of demographic shift, cultural and economic change, and frankly, signs of the times.
New wine in old bottles, the last to be first, Jacob 5, etc.
Members from 3rd world nations will increasingly be grafted into the kingdom of God on earth, and this will happen both in first world economies and places of less dynamic growth.
I think Europe will continue to grow, as seen by temple advancements, and Chile as well is advancing in what has been a place of huge numbers of baptisms but an area more difficult to develop real Gospel traction.
But I see divine purpose in all of it. Even Arab refugees, Muslim and Christian and others, are moving about as a sign of how God's peoples are preparing for the final days.
The scriptures do not lie; the first will be last.

miro said...

@John Pack Lambert
I think you missuderstood me. I did not say that imigrant converts are not contributing to building up gods kingdom. I was speaking of experiences form my own ward. Mabe other wards and stakes do a lot better.
In my ward imigrant converts often stay active for over a year. But the 5 year mark does not look so good. They rarly progress to the melkezidek pristhood. And if they do, often after a few years of church attendance. The same is true with the temple. Also it is rare that they get any meaningful calling. The only one i rembember from the past 10 years is a female ysa represantive. The calling was difficutl for her she became less and less active. She has been released a bit more than a year ageo and has come to church more often recently. I also don't want to say it is there fault, it could easly just be a problem of my ward. It is just that wich i observe.

I don't doubt there are a lot of immigrant converts like some you mentioned that do great work in the church.

Just an example again of the leaked europe area report that can be found in the internet. Attendance in 2009 (2. quarter) was around 95000 in the europe area. In 2013 (2.quarter) 100400. In my experience the 2. quarter has the highest attendance numbers in the quarterly reports. In this 5 years there where more than 36000 convert baptisms. This nummber is a lot highter than i thouht it would be.
The statistics is this report over the years form 2009 to 2013 show slow but solid growth. In that report is also a nice map that shows where attendance is growing and where declining (stakes and districts).

From an area seventy i even know that chruch attendance in the europe area reached 110000 in 2015.
2016 was lower. I could see that as well in my stake, where attendance in no quarter reached 900. Between 2012 and 2015 there was at least one quarter with higher attendance.

John Pack Lambert said...

I tgink we should avoid the rhetoric of "3rd world" nations and the like. It obscures more than it reveals. Growth of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa is a very different phenomenon than in Latin America that has been essentially culturally Christian for 400 years while significant ibroads of Christianity into Africa are all in the last 150 years with some areas really only after World War II. Asia is so much more complex and tags like 1st and 3rd world prove false.

If men are still active a year after their baptism and not holders of the melchizedek priesthood this is often a sign the ward leadership is not trying hard enough to incorporate tge converts.

In my ward we have immigrant converts who are thriving in the Church. While some were baptized in their gome countries I am thinking the 2nd counselor in the young women's presidency joined the Church in the US and not her native Russia. Another member of the ward is a native of Argentina who has served in the high council and in the bishopric. I am not sure if he joined the Church in Italy, Canada or the US. I have the impression he has lived in all those countries.

John Pack Lambert said...

The member of the high council assigned to my ward is the son of Meican immigrants who lacked documentation at the time they joined the Church. The family had 13 children and many of them have contributed to building the Church in various parts of the US.

Pf course when I was little our stake president was an immigrant, true he was from Canada and had joined the Church as a child there. My parents home teacher is not an immigrsnt but he only spoke French the first 4 years of his life his grandparents who he lived with then being natives of Quebec

John Pack Lambert said...

About 21 years ago just after President Hinckley had become president of the Church he did a press interview in England in which he was confronted with the view the LDS Church was mainly white. His response was that in one of the London stakes the membership was avout a third black with a black member of the staje presidency. So at least in London the Church has incorporated immigrants and their children into the Church although one could wish more Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants were baprized in England.

It may also be telling that the most notable Black British LDS convert is probably Alex Boye who now lives in Utah with his white Utah native wife and several children and is a US citizen. One of the lead figures in the Mormon film scene is Christian Vuissa a native of Austria who now lives in Utah.

One issue in modern immigration is brain drain. In the LDS Church the fear is spirit drain.

This is a tendency of the most faithful and active members in an area to move to areas where the Church is stronger. It is most pronounced with migratuons to the US from abroad.

However so.e things I have read suggest there is spirit drain to Lima from other parts of Peru.

In the US this phenomenon may lead to people moving to Utah. I have known some YSAs who had been inactuve and then moved to Utah just after getting active.

The Church generally discourages Spirit drain, but some of us will admit that at least on the sub-national level some people greatly increase their ability to stsy active by cutting off their old ties to friwnds engaged in activities that violate the word of wisdom and moving to a new location.

I still hold you can bloom in any place but do understand my girlfriends desire to leave Detroit. Some might think her dislike of how blacks are treated in the suburbs might make going to Utah even less of an option.

However I am reminded ofmy Navajo deacon's quorum advisor,s observation that the only place he had seen anti-Native American racism was on the boundaries of the reservation. There are some anti-black actions and attitudes that come out most in areas by the ghetto. There may be some that are more likely in Utah, but my onservation is that it is the Detroit suburbs where a vlack driver is more lukeky to be pulled over without justification and the like.

Plus even in mych of the Detroit suburbs there is dysfuctuonal culture.

On the other hand my girlfriend has not yet been to Utah so some of her ideas may be spurred by being able to make a place where she has not been super idyllic.

Jim Anderson said...

Racism is still alive and well in Utah.

We have not had a black member in our ward in several years, but once we had a black bishopric member and he reported that he was on 100 North in Provo (in ward boudaries) and he regularly reported being called the n-word, often accompanied by the dreaded f-bomb. If they didn't yell anything at him, they woud often flip him off.

Eduardo said...

I have known quite a few black people in Utah and I don't think that many have been attacked for their race. Utah has a lot of Latinos and Polynesians, I see the state as more diverse than others do. Then again, when I lived there I worked in about 30 jobs and perhaps I saw more than most. I recall seeing full length posters of Karl Malone in office buildings, full of "white" people, I presume.
Economics make a difference in countries and cultures: whether we call them North and South, East or West, developing or sub-standard, number of children and GDP per capita affect a lot of things.
I don't know as much the last 20 years, but in Chile, for example, the grand majority of elders and sisters had their missionary service subsidized, which has an influence on levels of dedication and commitment. Greater power to those that credit the Lord eternally for their blessings of such assistance. I am grateful for my parents and high GDP nation that provides so much.
I am not saying high GDP is better than lower, but each economy has its own challenges when dealing with a full commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each person, family, unit, area face unique challenges.
Brigham Young correctly feared for the future wealthy Utahns who would forget the Lord. Bless those that have not.
Of course President Young foresaw the future back when Deseret struggled.
Like parts of the developing world today.
20 million people under threat of starvation. We should do another special fast like we did in 1985.

James said...

I personally don't buy into the rumor that 800 Church units will close in Europe. In the article I shared in response to another post Matt did, which appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune and quoted Matt as a well-known and well-respected expert on the subject, Church growth is stagnating in the United States but that is not at all true of anywhere else in the world. Europe was mentioned in that article as one country that was flourishing in terms of the progression of the gospel. And I find it hard to believe that so many units would be discontinued, even if the intention is to provide strength to other units that are doing better. It is my hope we will see at least one temple announced for Europe during General Conference, but I can see why other areas of the world might need temples more. As to the growth in Africa, it is encouraging. I find all the Church growth developments that are happening worldwide to be amazing and inspiring. Thanks to you all for this wonderful discussion. I am in full and complete agreement with mostly everything said here.

John Pack Lambert said...

I heavily question this is a sign of racism. Children at my school are constantly using the n word to describe other people.

Anyway a higher percentage of Utah's US house delegation is black than in Michigan.

Lastly people who use the f word are in general not part of the power brokering community in Utah.

John Pack Lambert said...

Utah clearly is more black today than it was even 10 years ago. The surest sign of this is that one of the members of the Utah US house delegation is black. Although Mia Love as the daughter of Haitian immigrant oarents has a different cultural background than African Americans like my girlfriend whose ancestors were enslaved in this country.

To some the number of black people especially who are church members in Utah is still too low. I would agree with that although since the only person I ever met at BYU and then saw when they were a missionary in the Detroit mission is black, and I could tell other examples, I am confident we are making progress even if it is on the slow side.

The Church even has a Swahili speaking branch in Salt Lake Citt. The man who was the first president of that branch is now acontender for the presidency of Kenya. I dont know if he has much of a chance to win but he is running.

John Pack Lambert said...

The percentage of non-whites varries a lot from place to place in Utah. Although I remember once while at BYU trying to explain the racial situation in metro Detroit to a Tongan coed who was from either Salt Lake City or WestValley City and she found it hard to fathom the extreme racial divides we have in metro Detroit.

Salt Lake City does have divides but not as stark. In some ways the Mormon/non-Mormon divide means the Mormon Tongans feel part of the majority in the stste while being part of the denigrated Mormon community in SLC itself.

John Pack Lambert said...

Europe is not a country.

On another note more church units are being created in the US than in Europe maybe even as a percentage of the whole.

What may be going on is the rate new units are formed in the US has fallen from what it used to be but the issues involved are complexed.

John Pack Lambert said...

Today lds Church temples reported 4 new units. 3 new wards and one new branch. The new wards are in Puebla and Queretaro. Both cities in the generalised area north of Mexico City that some expect to be the site of the next temple in Mexico although which precise city depends in who one listens to. 2 new wards means more stable stakes and that generally means more potential for temple workers.

The other ward is in Guayaquil Ecuador. On the branch side a Samoan branch in Saratoga Springs was formed in the Provo based stske that is designated Tongan speaking but with this branch has 7 Samoan speaking ward's and a Samoan speaking branch but only 7 Tongan speaking wards. There is an 8th Tongan speaking ward in Utah County but that is a YSA ward in one of the Provo YSA stakes.

Interestingly the Salt Lake named Tongan stakes only have Tongan units with the Samoan units in Salt Lake County being assigned to their geographical stakes. The Salt Lake Ytah (Tongan) stake includes some Davis county units but I am not sure there are any Samoan units in that county.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have to admit I always wish there were more non-white people in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

John Pack Lambert said...

A recent article in the Idaho State journal indicatez the LDS Church owns 10 acres of land that is probably going to be annexed into the city of Pocotello soon that were donated to the Church in 1997 with the hopes a temple would be built there.

My main takeaway from the article is actually thinking people out west have odd city set ups. Here in Michigan the notion that am area beyond city boundaries won't have water/Sewer services and the like because of city lines is just unfathomable. This is one reason that in Michigan urban area growth does not as much mean city boundary growth. The water authorities often extend well beyond city libes. Living in Sterling Heights I have Detroit water which only in the bankruptcy was ended being fully under the control of the Detroit governmrnt. Much of the rhetoric accusing suburbanites of trying to "steal" the water system when they were the majority of customers and even more so paid the majority of water rates is why I always felt Alberta "I got lower tax assesments from my one house tornado know one else knew off" Tilabi and a few other members of the city council were overly hatrful race mongers.

Eduardo said...

I worked with a Haitian-born gentleman who was surprised a few years ago that we had some 16,000 Saints on his home island; he maintained that the organization was so obviously racist that even that number in Haiti was a surprise. I remember American journalists angry at an LDS chapel in Haiti for not housing more homeless after the terrible quake of ... 2011? Can't remember, but it is sad people assume an institution is racist carte blanche without digging deeper, without attenpting to really find out.
Haiti would be so much better off with 10 or 20 times more members.
I'm not sure that the color of the Tabernacle choir would make a difference.
But continued missionary and ecclestiastical outreach will.
And I also hope Mia Love's popularity (she seems great) will continue to help the LDS image at home and abroad.
The terrorist attacks have brought interesting attention to the faith, too. So sad that this good Brother Cochran lost his life so young. Some consolation in leaving a noble legacy.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Where do you find the list of new branches/wards created on the LDS Church Temples site?

I look under Statistics and then Church Units, but I only ever see new Stakes and Districts.

James said...

@Johnathan Whiting: On that site, if you look at the page you indicated, directly below the list of stakes and districts that have recently been added/discontinued (about halfway down that page), there is a section that says "Recent Congregational Growth." That's where you find the breakdown of any changes in individual Church units. For example, yesterday (since it is now after midnight), there were reports of 2 wards created in 2 separate stakes in Mexico, another ward in Ecuador, and the creation of a Samoan branch in a Tongan stake based Provo Utah. Enjoy!

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


Oh. That is very simple. I guess I just assumed the whole page was stakes/districts.

Thanks! (he said, sheepishly)

John Pack Lambert said...

Membership in Haiti is now just over 21,000 per http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics/country/haiti. It is not clear to me if that is year end 2015 or 2016.

There are also noticeable numbers of Haitian members in the greater Boston area and in the greater Miami area.

The last president of the old Detroit district, who current is a member of my stake's high council, is a native of Haiti as is his wife who has been a temple worker at the Detroit Temple virtually since it opened in 1999. Their son was the first person to receive their own endowment at the Detroit Temple, I believe on the Tuesday after its dedication and then he went to the MTC that Wednesday to serve in the California Arcadia Mission.

Mia Love is not the only Haitian ancestried convert who joined the Church in the North-east US with a white husband I know of, but the maybe 4 I know of probably don't add to a trend.

In this article http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865676059/Were-not-pulling-back-from-helping-refugees-LDS-leader-says-as-First-Presidency-increases-budget.html we have this line "congregations in San Miguel, Chile, that opened opened a church building to teach Spanish and provide day care for 40,000 Haitian refugees." This seems to be referring most likely to the San Miguel Ward in the Santiago Chile San Miguel Stake. I had no clue there were any let alone 40,000 Haitian refugees in Chile. On the other hand I find it hard to see providing space for 40,000 in one building, so I am not sure what this number means.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was doing intensive readings of obituaries from Utah over the last year or so. It was a site that aggregated ones sponsored through several funeral homes, heavily in West Valley City area. I probably processed through about 1,000 obituaries but at some point I stopped more than quickly glancing at the ones other than those for African Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Polynesians.

Most of the Polynesians were Mormons, but one was a preacher for a Wesleyan Church. Most of the African-Americans were affiliated with Proestant, often overtly black Protestant Churchs like the Afircan Eposcipal Methodist Church. One person it never explicitly said he was LDS but it did identify his funeral would be at an LDS Chapel.

The Asians were a mixed bag, although one originally from China it said he would have a Buddhist funeral. I actually didn't pay enough attention to the many US born people of Japanese descent to track their religious affiliation. There were also a good number of Greek Orthodox, including one born in Iran with a last name that looked Armenian to me.

With the Hispanics the majority born in Latin-American were LDS. However the majority were Catholic or at least not LDS, but probably a majority Catholic. However these were generally born in New Mexico and Colorado and often had come to Utah with some connection to Kennecot Copper mines.

This didn't surprise me to much. There was a husband in a part member family I tried teaching on my mission who was Hispanic and born in Utah where his father was a miner.

John Pack Lambert said...

This weeks listing of mission presidents have come out. There is one couple from Mexico, one from Venezuela and the other 6 are Americans. One, David S. Wells, was born in Paraguay, but to American expatriate parents. His sister is Sharlene Wells Hawks, who was the first Miss America not born in the US.

Brother Wells currently lives in Utah, where his wife was born. However they spent much if not most of their married life in Michigan, and also lived for a time in Mexico. He was a counselor in my stake presidency a few years back and earlier was bishop of the ward I currently attend. Brother Wells served his mission in Spain.

Bryan Dorman said...

There will be a district created in San Salvador El Seco, Puebla, either the week after or two weeks after Conference.

At least four branches will be involved, with two groups MAYBE becoming branches.

Libres (currently a ward)
Serdan (currently a ward)
Citlaltepetl (the branch in El Seco, named after the nearby Orizaba volcano)
Grajales (a group--operates under Libres currently)
Tlachichuca (a group--operates under Serdan currently)

Confirmed by missionaries and a counselor in the mission presidency who I have a close relationship with.

Puebla is undergoing a massive realignment of wards right now. La Paz stake just lost a couple of wards. Cholula Stake just gained one and lost a branch. There has been a significant movement of people from the north and east sides of the city (which has been the historical industrial sector) to the south and west (where the new developments are rising up). Don´t be surprised to see a bit more contraction in the North Mission wards and branches, and growth in the South Mission wards and branches.

Mayorazgo (South mission) is getting quite close to having the necessary priesthood and members to split. They have 10 wards. Valsequillo though only with 7 wards is very strong with most of the wards filling to overflow.

There might be more contraction with Atlixco and Izucar due to the massive move-ins to the city center of Puebla where there are more jobs.

From what I hear, Queretaro is getting a massive influx of moveins due to the diversity of industries that are forming in the area. It is ranked currently as one of the safest and most prosperous cities in Mexico as a result. The growth in Queretaro has been more uniform than in Puebla, and there is spreading out in the growth (unlike Puebla where the growth appears to be inwards towards the city and to a specific region of the city).

Coronango Ward is the result of very hard work by the pioneers over the last 80 years in nearby San Gabriel Ometoxtla, a town so small it doesn´t show on most maps. The first congregation of Puebla state was formed there. The Ometoxtla branch over time became a ward, then two wards, then three, now four wards with the Coronango Ward forming.

Nealtican is a special case, because nearly half the town is Mormon, a fact that is not seen anywhere else in Mexico outside the Chihuahua colonies. That thanks to the Ometoxtlas. There are two stakes in Nealtican in a town of around 10-15k inhabitants, and chapels on every other street corner.

Hopefully we get a temple soon. But I would bet Queretaro gets called before we do, and you cannot discount the Sinaloa-Durango-Coahuila corridor between Culiacan and Torreon where there are in those three states 17 stakes that are well outside the 200 mile radius of any existing temple in Mexico (compare with Puebla/Tlaxcala 14 stakes).

John Pack Lambert said...

I was just reading about Iglesia ni Cristo, a Church based in the Philippines with about 2.5 million members in that country but some presence elsewhere.

I think I once had a Filipino Mormon tell me that the founder of this Church had been a dissident Mormon. That I doubt because it was established in 1914, and Mormon presence in the Philippines does not start until about 1960.

However the doctrinal assertions of Iglesia ni Christo, that the Church founded by Christ went into apostasy, that the Church is a restoration with Felix Manolo is "the last messenger of God, sent to reestablish the first church founded by Jesus Christ," do sound similar to the role of Joseph Smith in the restoration, even if the LDS Church does teach continuing revelation and prophets. Still you can find LDS rhetoric that presents Joseph Smith as a specially set abort dispensation head prophet.

This causes me to wonder if missionaries in the Philippines teach many people who are part of Iglesia ni Cristo, and how the similarities of doctrine effect potential reception.

John Pack Lambert said...

One issue that I always wonder about is why didnt the Church send missionaries to the Phillipines until the 1960s. It would seem outwardly that the Church should have been able to send missionaries starting in 1900 when the US controlled the Philippines.

John Pack Lambert said...

Bryan, thankyou for your comments. It is good to learn the particularized and specific history of the Church in Mexico.

It seems to me there needs to be a well written history of the Church in Mexico. F. Lamond Tullis' book was good, but at least the version I read did not cover after the reconciliation of the 3rd convention in much detail.

It also to me neglected a deep study of the geography of the Church in Mexico. Specifically the process the Church went through to spread from a few areas in central Mexico and then the Mormon colonies in the North, to having a presence in most of the country.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the issue of Iglesia ni Cristo, even though they believe the rest of Christianity was in apostasy, they only believe in the Bible. Evidently the last messenger of God had no words from God to actually give people.

From 1914 to 1968 Iglesia ni Cristo only existed in the philippines. It then spread to Hawaii and California, initially probably among Filipino expatriates. It has however since spread around the world.

John Pack Lambert said...

On the other hand Iglesia ni Cristo denies the diety of Jesus, while accepting him as mediator to God and God's highest creation. This may to some Nicene Trinitarians seem the postion of Latter-day Saints as well, but Latter-day Saints accept Jesus as divine and say he was the God of the Old Testament.

Bryan Dorman said...

Agricol Lozano has written a great book on the history of the Church in Mexico. I believe it is only available in Spanish though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricol_Lozano is a good article about the man.

The book is called Historia del Mormonismo en Mexico and it dates to 1983.

Bryan Dorman said...

Eduardo, you might like this book if you don't already have it:


Eduardo said...

Thanks, I will look into it.
I wonder how to measure increased church activity with the new temple in Concepcion. Or, I wonder if this will happen. It should.

mrcuff said...

I recently read an article that stated that there are currently 4000 Brazilians serving missions throughout the world. It would be interesting to see statistics from each country on the number of missionaries serving. I wonder if those statistics or even available.

John Pack Lambert said...

I don't know that the Church even keeps statistics on where missionaries are from.

If some statistics do exist, they would probably be based on the sending ward for each individual. I have known natives of both Ghana and Zambia who left on their missions from the US. The two I am thinking of both joined the Church in the US, so that might be worth considering.

On the other hand there was a missionary in my mission from Mexico whose family had moved to the US, but he went back to Mexico to send in his mission papers because he wanted to serve his mission in Mexico. Since I served in Las Vegas, Nevada this gaming of the system obviously didn't work.

There was another missionary in my mission who left on his mission from Chile. It is tempting to classify him as an American expatriate in Chile since he was born in the US, had the last name of Hawkes, and his father was without question an Anglo. The problem is his mother was Chilean, but in fact I had the impression he was raised as much in Mexico as in Chile, and overall lived the most in the US growing up.

I'm not sure people with complex multi-national backgrounds are common enough to put a wrench in the stats. Well at least for young missionaries. Alex Boye was without question British when he went on his mission. Senior couples at times are a bit harder to pin down.

James said...

@Jonathan Whiting: No problem whatsoever. It is an understandable assumption to make. With the changes added today, it has been noted that the Church renamed a ward in Spain, a ward was renamed in Pennsylvania while a Spanish branch was added for the same stake, a branch was discontinued in Bolivia, a ward was discontinued in Wales, one Puebla Mexico stake discontinued a branch, while another Puebla stake discontinued two wards. So quite a few changes are noted every day. These changes are interesting to follow to be sure.

@John Pack Lambert: Your comments continue to amaze and inspire me. I appreciate the added insights about different ethnic groups of the Saints. I am also intrigued by your comment later about

@Bryan Dorman: Thanks for your comments about Church developments in Mexico. I know a lot of people (myself and Matt included) who feel that Mexico's next temple will indeed be in Puebla. It is so nice to hear from someone with firsthand knowledge of the work of the Church in that area. Thank you again.

Thanks so much to you all for the remainder of the comments that have been made. I so appreciate reading your marvelous and inspiring insights. I feel like my understanding has increased of all the subjects that have been discussed here.

I can't wait to see how the Church continues to grow and develop over time. It will be amazing to see what happens throughout the Church as this year continues to progress. I appreciate all your comments, and hope that mine, such as they have been, are of some worth to some of you as well.

Noel said...

Looking at some congregation changes in the UK I see issues of demographics.
Our Stake has three chapels that have two congregations in the same building. At one site the carpark could not cope with a merged Ward, and would need members to use the Cultirak Hall fir Sacrament.
Another recently split Ward did so because,,again the chapel is too small.
Even the Stake Centre would need to use the Cultural Hall.

Yet other Stakes in larger urban areas have seen Wards consolidate, possibly as demographics of UK cities change. A Methodist Church closed in the next part of town to mine. Immediately taken over by local Muslims. Probably in terms their of worship facilities the three prominent Faith groups are Isoam, Anglican and Roman Catholic.
Young families in the UK are looking to escape the cities for many reasons. My Ward has seen many new faces looking for cheaper housing, close to work. But,,with no extended family often these couples will be visiting family at weekends, meaning we have a low attendance one week, higher another.

Unknown said...

I agree with this. I don't doubt that is what the other individual heard. I just doubt it'll even remotely happen, or that this is ever intended to be an actionable plan.

Christopher Nicholson said...

Thus far this year we have organized 10 stakes and 1 district. By this point last year we had organized 21 stakes and 9 districts. That disturbs me.

Eduardo said...

Our church, like many organizations, goes through cycles and waves, and if last year was a bumper year for formation of stakes and districts, great.
I think of my two year mission, for example. The first year we as the Concepcion Mission baptized 2 to 3 times more than the second year in 1991. On paper one year looks better than the other, but perhaps there was better church growth the second year for local leaders and active members.
Just because we are not building temples left and right and not dedicating new stakes every week does not mean the LDS faith is not growing. I could be wrong, but a year at 2017 rates not being as dynamic as 2016 may not be a sign of disturbing slow maturation, but could be a sign of even stronger internal growth.
Hard to know by numbers alone.

John Pack Lambert said...

I did the study on Scranton stake as to what temple is closest. It appears the 2 wards and 1 branch in Strousbourg have the least travel time to Manhattan. the Wilkes-Barre and Scanton Wards, plus the 3 branches in or just outside of Scranton have marginally less time to Philadelphia. The 2 branches in Hazelton save a lot of time going to Philly over anywhere else. The Montrose Brnach and the Susquehannah Branch (which includes the Priesthood Restoration site in its boundaries and is half in New York) have the shortest travel time to the Palmyra Temple.

John Pack Lambert said...

Stake organization is not a stable, fluid thing. If a place goes from 2 to 3 stakes one year, it does not mean that active Church membership has increased by 50%. So I think it is a bit too quick to take a 50% reduction in the rate of stake creation over 3 months as meaning much.

Jim Anderson said...

There is something that has been brewing that I have not been aware of, and that is they are creating 'midsingles magnet wards'. 31+ singles, haven't seen them here yet.

But I found two examples on Twitter, the Sahuarita 2nd Ward, and the Ann Arbor 2nd Ward. That Arizona one was created possibly not as a new unit but a consoldation of a unit and repurposing the unit, tht was not clear either way.

Marco Meiling said...

I´m the guy who came with it on John Dehlin´s podcast. I stand by my statements. 800 units are considered too weak. I believe a reduction of at least 200 (from 1200) is very realistic. Holland+Belgium will lose 9 units this year (from 49 to 40): Leaders of these wards already know.

John Pack Lambert said...

Southfield Ward where I go is a midsingles magnet ward. We have a midsingles gospel doctrine class and every fast sunday we have midsingles break the fast. It is a good set up since it allows for some people to take their children to primary and still come out. One sister there just had her son turn 12. When she moved here about 8 years ago she was a YSA but never in the YSA ward because they had no primary. Ann Arbor 2nd Ward is a designated midsingles magnet ward. All this means is that all midsingles in the stake have the option of sending their records there but they do nothing seperate from the regular ward have no midsingles aimed programs.

Ohhappydane33 said...

Don't waste your breath Marco. This blog is full of ostriches with their heads in the sands of denial as you can see from these comments. They are largely unwilling to accept anything negative about Church growth and will attempt to proverbially shoot you, the messenger, in the process.

John Pack Lambert said...

There was a baptism today in Belle Isle Branch.

John Pack Lambert said...

The stat on 4000 native born Brazilian missionaries is from the Church News article on Elder Christofferson's visit to Brazil. However as I read the article it seems this is the number of Brazilians serving in Brazil. We had at least 5 Brazilians on my mission in Las Vegas and I have known Brazilians who served in Japan. So the number of Brazilians serving full time missions could be well over 4000.

Matt said...


Struggling congregations in Europe has been a problem for decades. It will probably continue to be a problem for decades. However past experience has shown that it is very rare for the church to orchestrate a continent-wide mass consolidation of congregations. I do not doubt that the validity of your statement may be accurate, but I do doubt its implementation within a short period of time.

Eduardo said...

Happy: rather than compare ourselves to ostriches or some other random noble creatures of God, why not compare ourselves to the personalities of the original 12 apostles?
I would much rather be like Peter and slice the ear off a Roman in defending Him than kiss Him on the cheek and betray Him.
Or if we saw the original 12 of the Restoration selected by Joseph Smith (the Lord) we might see a few more examples of those that cast aspersions and fall away, or even persecute their former cause.
Fine. So be it. Choose your lot.
Ultimately the only two animals that will determine real Church growth in the end are the Lion and the Lamb, and they represent the same guy that many of us try to worship in the best form possible. Despite those jackals that harass and hinder.
But great, if I can as blessed as the largest of land birds and be saved by the Lion of Judah, count me on board.
Ephraim shall be counted whether all its tribe do or not. And that, my friend, is what Church growth signifies.
You are as welcome as anyone, not up to me to judge.
Avestruz;hasta las botas de ese pajaro se critica en la Iglesia, y ¿para que? ¿ Que proposito sirve? En serio...

Ohhappydane33 said...

Eduardo, I think it's high time you take your meds and get to bed. Do you not see what a pointless argument this is? If the Church has already decided to intend to close these units, then no amount of wishing, hoping, or praying is going to change that fact. And no, the mere presence of many temples is no guarantee of units staying open - just look at California. This issue has nothing to do with your worthiness or my worthiness so stop with your sanctimonious nonsense. Your last posts quite frankly sounds as if you are mentally ill.

Eduardo said...

I did take some meds last night, thanks. My head was congested and I have been sick most of the week. Mentally ill is a big claim; I see can how both my parents who are converts to the faith could be accused of some types of mental or behavioural neuroses. Yet, both of them have lived very honorable lives and have accomplished a lot in their lives. Maybe I am a wicked combination of them both, thanks for implicating them in my own personal status! Of course, it could be ALL me. Will let the pros decide on earth.
Jesus, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, in my opinion, were rather flamboyant and had radical views, and I aspire to be more like that. I am not delusional enough to think that I will be a high priesthood leader or authority figure like them, but I would like to say I would gladly take a bullet for one of them. If that is justifiably insane, give me the straight jacket.
Have you ever heard of Cody Judy? I observed him in person and I have seen reports about him years since, and THAT, my friend, is a case of mental issues.
I don't know your professional or medical credentials, HappyD, but thanks for your impressions about my ever evolving state of mind, which I will readily admit is different than the norm. A bit like my parents, who perhaps have given me some of their quirky and perhaps divergent attributes.
Have a great weekend, stay whole.
More about California later, it's a topic worth discussing. Among others.
Cachai? (That's Spanish, hermano).

John Pack Lambert said...

I am sickened by the use of the mentally ill accusation to undermine the contributions of others. I thought ee were moving to a more enlightened time when it was understood that mental illnesses are real afflictions and should not be used as grounds to denigrate others. I come to this blog because it is one of the few places on the internet generally free of hateful invective. Accusing others of having Kayden ental illness as a metgod of hateful attack should be beyond the pale for any discussion.

John Pack Lambert said...

The statue of the angel Moroni was recently placed on the Rome Italy Temple.

John Pack Lambert said...

250 of 488 LDS charities projects this last year were in Europe. The level of giving to LDS Humanitarian Servicws has also reached an all time high. I wish I could give more but my two jobs do not pay me at Hugh enough rates. I might find a day to give up to $5 a month but doubt it.

Ohhappydane33 said...

Wow, I must have struck a nerve here. Sorry Eduardo and John Pack Lambert. But babbling mostly incoherent nonsense is what both of you mostly do here. Do either of you even read what you write before hitting that publish button? You both ought to try that sometime.

Unknown said...

Can we honestly just block this guy Dane? I'm all for self-expression and the multiple viewpoints that enter this blog and its comment section, but he is just permanently in the business of diverting the conversation to personal attacks. Heck, in all honesty, I usually just skip over what Ed, John and James write, because most of it isn't that interesting to me, but calling them out to "take their meds" while having never contributed anything substantial to any conversation on here goes too far.

Christopher Nicholson said...

In his first appearance that I remember he mocked this blog for being "boring", yet he has returned to it again and again and again. Never contributing anything and always insulting people, as you say. He clearly has a very sad, boring and lonely life, and we all ought to pray for him.

On another note, the baptistry here in Logan has been jam-packed lately - I used to be able to go on Tuesday evenings and be in and out in twenty minutes, but now it takes well over an hour - and I heard today that appointments are booked a month out.

BYULAW said...

The church has room for everyone even if they have doubts, serious sins, are critical of certain church doctrines, etc. Unfortunately, LDS culture and the LDS church are not always in lockstep. LDS culture is often accepting of ostracizing/judgmental behavior and shunning others who are different, don't fit in, are less faithful, are critical of certain church positions, or who don't conform to what we expect an LDS member should be. My grandpa tells the story of when he was a youth in the 1930's he remembers the back of the chapel smelling like cigarette smoke from all the people who came who weren't living the word of wisdom. He laments at how you rarely have that happen anymore because LDS culture has made those who don't live the gospel to a certain standard feel unwelcome. Growing up the pianist in my ward was not LDS and had no intention of being baptized or following LDS teachings, even though he came to church regularly for about 15 years and played the hymns in sacrament. I wonder if people like him would feel welcome today.
In some ways this blog is a microcosm of the LDS culture in that a few vocal individuals dominate the culture (comment section) and expect others to conform to their ideals of what this blog should be. Think of the ones who read this blog and never comment, but see how certain perspectives are unwelcome. Suppose an anti-mormon started commenting. I suspect some would be inclined to bash that person and try to get them to stop commenting. Someone else who may never comment might be having a crisis of faith and read the negative comments against the anti-mormon and feel like those with different opinions are unwelcome. Look beyond your petty disagreements and be kind to one another.
It is my hope and prayer that LDS culture will someday be in lockstep with the LDS church and welcome everyone--albeit not condoning certain behaviors. I wish doubters, those with little faith, those critical of certain church doctrines, LGBTQ individuals, those who smoke, those who drink alcohol, non-members, etc. would feel welcome in the church (and on this blog).

Unknown said...

Was at the Birmingham Alabama temple yesterday and it was overflowing with partons. From what I'm told this is every weekend.

Michael Worley said...

Dane is a mixed bag. Maybe he should stay.

Unknown said...

Well, to get past the last few posts I have some information to share.

Today the Ward that my Wife grew up in and where my in-laws live in was consolidated with the neighboring ward today. These wards were the 1st and 2nd Newport News Wards of the Newport News Virginia Stake.

James said...

Thanks to all who have made positive contributions. I appreciate how much most of the comments serve to edify and enlighten those who post here. I hope that we can continue the discussion of Church growth in a civil, agreeable manner, and have respect for the views of others.
That said, it strikes me as funny how many times some people have commented more on the personality and real or imagined struggles of others simply because they feel that what has been said by those people is an attack on their personality, beliefs, or lack thereof. I am all for respecting other's views, and I support fully the Church's stance when they say: "Love the sinner without excusing or condoning the sin." Is that not the central message of the gospel?
I have a brother who was raised in the Church and has, by his own personal choices, and largely in response to those whom he feels is oppressing him and trying to run his life and who are active Church members, announced today his intention to send a request to the Church to have his records removed.
It is a somber time for me and my family. We have always made it clear to him that we will love and support him no matter what, but we are sorry to see that he has chosen to distance himself so fully from the faith he once embraced. My heart aches for him and for his family.
But at the end of the day, he and his wife will always be part of our family, and while I understand his knee-jerk reaction to feeling oppressed and like the Church is running his life, and while I will not try to dissuade him, I think he is looking at this matter through a darkened lens, and I know he will regret his decision one day. I will continue to hope and pray for his heart to be changed.
In the meantime, as to the direction of comments on this blog, particularly those who find the comments made by me, John, and Eduardo to be tiresome, too lengthy, or even pointless, it is your right to scroll through such comments, but continuing to mention your problem with what we say is not helpful nor at all conducive to the spirit of free expression by which this blog has generally been governed.
And as pertaining specifically to HappyDane, he has carried his problem with what I say to my own blog, where he has attempted to disparage and assault my character, his personal disagreement with what I post, and his belief that my time would be better spent in getting a job. Had he been paying the slightest attention to anything I have actually said, he would know that the only reason I am not working nor looking for work at present is the fact that I am battling at least two very extensive infections that have diminished not only my quality of life, but my ability to function on the whole. Simply put, my doctor has voiced his professional opinion that I am not medically able to work at present. This does not, however, limit my ability to provide what I hope will be an appreciated perspective on developments with the Church as observed by either Matt or myself.
His personal attacks aside, his persistence in being the one and only voice on this blog and my own blog that is so viciously attacking other people strengthens my feeling that the issue is more with him personally than with any other person against whom he complains. I have put him on notice in response to such comments on my blog that any further comments in this vein will result in my requesting that he be blocked from my blog, if not indeed from contributing to any discussion on Blogger at all.
I was raised with the notion that if you cannot say anything nice, you should not say anything at all. That is my reason for constantly encouraging civil discourse and for saying that we can disagree on issues without becoming disagreeable. I wish he realized that in pointing the finger at some few of us, he essentially has at least three of his own pointing back at himself.

James said...

It was well said by the Savior that one should not and cannot attempt to cast a mote out of his brother's eye when there exists a beam in his own. And the fact that most people here speak out against Dane's constant censure of a few board members and in support of those he criticizes tends to prove that point.
That said, I have wasted far too much of my currently limited strength and energy addressing someone whose comments quite clearly put the lie to his own words. I stand by what I said of him on my own blog. If he does continue in this vein, on my blog or any others on which he so comments, I will let Blogger know that he is bullying and criticizing people. So I would ask him to keep that in mind as he might choose to comment in the future. In my mind, his conduct does not warrant a second chance or another warning. I am so glad Matt has now enabled moderation of the comments on this blog. That should eliminate the problems entirely.

In the meantime, the fact that others are so quick to defend him would be commendable indeed if his conduct were not so vapid, vituperative, and injurious in nature. I generally respect the right of anyone to comment on any blog, mine or this one included. But when those comments cross the line so severely and are so clearly bordering on violating Blogger policies about civility, respect, and proper commenting etiquette, it is the duty of those who notice such conduct to speak out against it, and, if necessary, take action to ensure it does not continue.

Enough said in that regard. I would personally infinitely prefer to put personal pettiness and constant quibbling aside in favor of a positive discussion of relevant issues on this or any other blog. If that makes me a terrible person, exposes me to public ridicule or censure, or means I am not a good Latter-day Saint, I will take that chance.

After all, the whole reason we have the gospel and the Church and these opportunities to discuss developments pertaining thereunto is not because the Church is meant to be a sanctuary for Saints, but rather to be an infirmary for sinners and all of us who, because of our weaknesses and imperfections, fall short of the glory of God. Let us press forward and all work towards perfection, and, instead of finding fault with one another, instead use all the energy of our souls to uplift, inspire, and encourage everyone with whom we come in contact.

That has always been my intention. And I know that, at times, in my efforts to do so, I have given people a reason to misjudge or misconstrue my motivations, intentions, and character. I also know that, when something is important to me, I tend to say a lot about it, even if it means that my comments are too lengthy, extensive, confusing, or misleading. I hate to think that I have ever misrepresented my intentions, perspective, or character.

And yet, in spite of my own weaknesses, of which I am all too keenly aware, however I might portray myself to the contrary, I consider it a solemn and sacred obligation to embrace the charge I have been given to lift and encourage wherever the opportunity arises. If anything I have said has ever given anyone the wrong impression about why I say what I say, and why I so frequently repeat myself, or why I am so vigorously determined to take an active role in the discussion of subjects that matter to me, I apologize profusely.

It is my hope that what I say does inspire, enlighten, lift, and encourage others. And even if that is not true for a majority, if it can be for some few who do read my comments, I will consider my efforts to have been a complete success. Thanks to all who have in like manner uplifted, encouraged, inspired, and even at times defended me. Hope you know how much such comments mean to me.

James said...

In the meantime, I do very much appreciate the relevant comments on Church growth and developments. We are in a very unprecedented era of Church growth, and it is wonderful to think of what has happened in recent years and what might be possible in the years ahead.

In that regard, I do appreciate that my own blog has become a place like this where positive discussions relating to what I post on this matter are constantly adding to my own understanding and appreciation of everything that goes in to such developments.

It is my hope and prayer that the ongoing civil discourse of the future and the respect for others' views on the matter might prove helpful to all who read them. If it can be so, then my efforts to so report and so comment will indeed be a success. Thanks again to you all.

miro said...

Here is a link to the leaked Europe Area Report:

If would you prefer, to not have a link to leaked church information on your blog, just delete this post.


I specially find the statistic table and the maps lateron in the document interesting. As far as I understood the maps where created with the information of the 2 quaterly report 2013.

The first map shows change of sacrament meeeting attendance between 2008 and 2013 of the stakes and districts.
The next number active melckesidek pristhood holders.
Total members on record.
The last average attendance.

It is possible to zoom in the pdf to sea the coloration of the some stakes (specially UK) better.

Gnesileah said...

I like what BYULAW wrote. It reminded me of this article making the social media rounds:


Gnesileah said...

I like what BYULAW wrote. It reminded me of this article that splashed through social media this weekend:


Jim Anderson said...

There is a stake in Orem that has nine wards and the ward the LPN that assists me during my stroke recovery says it is exploding, her guess is up to 700 members, 100 in the YM/YW alone. 30 in the nursery, who knows what else. This is out in those new apartments by the railroad tracks and commuter rail station.

They may be looking at ward splits and stake realignment/splits in the mid-term I think

John Pack Lambert said...

On the other hand James Anderson it is at times hard to split wards with large numbers of youth and children

That ward does seem to be much in need of splitting.

Just over a week ago I was talking to a member of my stake presidency and he mentioned his sons ward in Hurricane has attendance rivaling our stake conference.

I always wonder why the church does not split some of these units faster. Likewise I always wonder if some new housing developments in Utah might best be given branches before emerging into wards.

John Pack Lambert said...

There is also an issue of resorce use. The Church only has x amont of money and using it to build new chapels in Ivory Coast and Ghana that will greatly reduce the time some need to travel to church would seem more pressing than building chapels in Utah where the people have so little ttavel time to Church.

Jim Anderson said...

A stake in Orem, in the Vineyard area on the old Geneva property somewhat, is exploding due to the construction of new apartments. Most are out by the Frontrunner tracks and sttion.

My LPN reports 100 YM/YW, 30 in nursery, who knows what else. May be the same issues with hitting Handbook 1 sandards for unit creation as in certain areas of Lehi.

9 wards right now in that Orem stake,

John Pack Lambert said...

Bluffdale Utah South Stake just got a 12th ward in it.Saratoga Springs Utah Mount Saratoga Stake went up to 10 wards. In Newport News 2 wards were discontinued but a new ward was formed.

The Tongan Stake in Salt Lake City got an additional ward and an added branch bringing it to 14 wards and 1 branch.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was thinking making the Davis County Tingan Wards their own stake might be a way to split Salt Lake City Utah (Tongan) stake. However there are only 3 Tongan Wards in Davis County. That stake currently covers units in 3 counties.

Jim Anderson said...

That duplicated effort on my part is due to a snafu in Blogger in it not posting either one until much later.

But the building issue is right on with so many units close together in Utah. Sometimes it is that they can]t find a suitable lot in already built-up areas. A mayoral candedate in Provo was at a groundbreaking for the building I was in because he was the stake president in the adjoining stake, the one mine was created from and complained to me of that being a difficult issue.

Don't know how things have gone here but a few have been built including one sandwiched between Seven PeaKES And the mountains, one side is feet away from those, but they got some of the parking lot in.

John Pack Lambert said...

There is at least one case in Utah of 2 LDS church buildings being on the same lot. In both Utah and California there are LDS buildings with multiple chapels on the building. I know of cases of 2 I dont know about going above 2.

Well at BYU I was in a building where 4 wards held sacrament meeting simultaneously. I think though with YSAs you can ignore the issues of parking demands easier.

Jim Anderson said...

The two-chapel site is at 8th South and 8th East in Orem, YSA stakes and wards use it.

I know of one if not more two-chapel buildings in Las Vegas, then there is that big one in or near Irvine, and one across from Lavell Edwards Stadioum that replaced a very old building, the new one has two chapels. The Orem and Salt Lake institute building has two and the Salt Lake building maay have four but I have not confirmed that

David Todd said...

23 wards meet in the building my ward meets in on BYU campus. My brother used to meet at a multi-stake center with two chapels in Rexburg, ID.

Cory said...

It's actually somewhat common, especially with YSA stakes. Orem has 2 land properties of 2 chapels, both along 800 S. Pocatello has two right next to ISU, and In Logan there are 3 on the same property, with 2 others very close by.

There are two next to Timpanogos High School and two in Payson. I know I have seen others in Utah. Mesquite Nevada and even Highland Ranch Colorado have a set of pairs.

With the Ward realignments posted today, a new stake could be organized soon in Caldwell Idaho. Also I'm sure a realignment to the Tongan Stakes in Utah is coming soon. Perhaps there could also be Samoan stakes organized.

Cory said...

It's actually somewhat common, especially with YSA stakes. Orem has 2 land properties of 2 chapels, both along 800 S. Pocatello has two right next to ISU, and In Logan there are 3 on the same property, with 2 others very close by.

There are two next to Timpanogos High School and two in Payson. I know I have seen others in Utah. Mesquite Nevada and even Highland Ranch Colorado have a set of pairs.

With the Ward realignments posted today, a new stake could be organized soon in Caldwell Idaho. Also I'm sure a realignment to the Tongan Stakes in Utah is coming soon. Perhaps there could also be Samoan stakes organized.

phxmars said...

Caldwell Idaho Stake looks like it will divide soon, created a new ward and another ward was transferred into an 11 ward stake.

Cory said...

It's actually somewhat common, especially with YSA stakes. There is another pair in Orem next to UVU at 800 South and 800 West, Pocatello has two right next to ISU, and In Logan there are 3 on the same property, with 2 others very close by.

There are two family ward buildings next to Timpanogos High School and two in Payson. I know I have seen others in Utah. Mesquite Nevada and even Highland Ranch Colorado have a set of pairs.

Also I'm sure a realignment to the Tongan Stakes in Utah is coming soon. Perhaps there could also be Samoan stakes organized.

A lot of Branch Growth has been happening in Nigeria this past week, good news. It's great that there are new branches being created in these cities to reduce travel time for members and make the boundaries smaller geographically. This means that leadership is sufficient enough and the people are receptive to create these new branches that will one day be grow into wards. These small wards will be strong because travel time to the chapel and to visit members wont be too costly and the church will have more of a community in these places. The new Branch in Adonte Nigeria (in the Ogwashi-Nsukwa Nigeria District) is especially significant considering the very small size of the town. There are still many towns much larger than Adonte that do not have church presence, so there is still a lot of work to do.

John Pack Lambert said...

Well The Provo Utah Wasatch (Tongan) Stake, actually has more Samoan units than Tongan ones. However some West Valley City stakes would be challenged to remain if they lost their Samoan units. I doubt the Church would make Samoan and Tongan stakes in Utah, but they might make dual Samoan and Tongan Stakes. On the other hand, the Church could go the way of Houston, and instead of making more language stakes, start merging into geographical stakes.

I just noticed that Syracuse 12th Ward in the Salt Lake Utah (Tongan) Stake is also a Samoan speaking unit. I do know that some regular geographical wards in the Salt Lake area have significant Samoan memberships. It may be easier to keep these people coming out to their regular wards if they are in a stake with a Samoan ward, so that at stake conference and other such events they have a chance to associate with other ethnic Samoans.

I think ideally the Church would like to have no language specific stakes, but in some cases outreach is just much better facilitated this way. For this reason I do not think the Church will ever have Spanish-speaking stakes in Utah, at least not unless there comes a time when parts of Utah have such an overwhelmingly large concentration of Spanish-speakers that you can create a compact stake of them, with maybe 1 ward of non-Spanish speakers covering the entire area of the stake or more.

I know in the mid-1980s stake leadership in New York City tried to split the stake into English and Spanish speaking stakes, but this move was vetoed by Church leadership higher up in favor of splitting it into 2 geographically. One of the resulting stakes was later disolved into multiple districts. It now is essentially 3 stakes. The other is basically 2 stakes today, although New York New York Stake has.

L. Chris Jones said...

In St George UT (Bloomington area) and nearby Ivins there are Two Chapels right next door to each other and these are not YSA buildings.

Eduardo said...

California is an interesting case to see how the LDS Church is growing or not. While many stakes and units have fused or consolidated over the years (maybe since the 1990s) the most positive signs of growth have two fold, in my opinion:
1. A state with 7 temples actively functioning is a tremendous thing. I live in a region of a state that has added 3 new stakes since last August and the entire state (VA) still has none. Zero temples as of yet. But LDS Church growth is steady, all the same.
Secondly, CA has added quite a few new missions in the last few years (especially since the age change of missionaries, 2012).
While economics pushes a lot of LDS away to other places for jobs, I am convinced that thousands of elders and sisters in the Golden State are growing the faith. I could be wrong.
HappyD, you may be a naysayer and accusatory, but I promise you that Christ's Church will continue to fill the earth and the scriptures prophesy correctly.
May sound hokey, extreme, crazy, far fetched, unlogical, but I believe it. It happens. But then again, I could be wrong and crazy.
For those who skip my comments, thanks for not reading.
For those who contribute to this blog, thanks for doing it. It's fascinating to see developments advance. Despite growing pains.
Did I consider and re-read what I read before I post/paste?
Yes! Thanks, bloggers! You're great.

coachodeeps said...

The two chapels next to reach other in Pocatello have am interesting story. My wife went to ISU and was told by an institute teacher that the church had site plans that called for building one chapel/ building in the middle. As I understand the story, as they were finalizing things to prepare for ground breaking something caused the change. Those in charge of the construction said they needed to move the building to one side and then it was discovered they could place two buildings on the site and the decision was made to do so. The buildings are well used and it is good to have the two buildings there.

Unknown said...

The Highlands Ranch Colorado stake has two buildings next to one another. The stake center and a smaller building are located on the same property next to ThunderRidge High School.

Unknown said...

The Highlands Ranch Colorado stake has two chapels next to one another. When we lived in the Summit View ward, we met in the stake center.

TempleRick said...

The Pocatello YSA stake centers are beautiful buildings and definitely get noticed. They have a highly visible location next to I-15 and the city's magnificent performing arts center. One day a couple pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car with temple bags in hand. "Which one is the temple?" they asked. Awkward! I don't know where they were from, but I hope it wasn't far. :)

Anonymous said...

For your consideration.

OC Surfer said...

Here's the current list for all Midsingles Wards (31-45) http://midsingles.wordpress.com/midsingles-wards-list

coachodeeps said...

Yet another reason to build a Temple in Pocatello, right TempleRick? ;)

Eduardo said...

The Irvine CA stake center is doubled up because of a city ordinance, one religious center only per zip, maybe.

Brett Stirling said...

Light and love to you. A beautifully considered and written comment.

Brett Stirling said...

In Melbourne, Australia growth has been strong in Werribbee, but suitable land is hard to find so they are building a new chapel next to and existing one.

TempleRick said...

That's right! We'd rather redirect our wandering temple-goers to another part of town than to another part of the state.

James said...

I agree fully that the subject of temples continues to be interesting. And I for one am most grateful for the opportunity I have as a blogger to keep my readers and others informed on the latest developments.

In that regard, I have done a number of blog posts lately, mostly Church-related. And thanks to so many wonderful comments both on my blog and the LDS Growth Forum, to say nothing of those who have contacted me by e-mail to share their feedback, such as it is, privately, I have been able to not only revised my list of temples that are most likely to be announced soon, but also my estimated timeline for future temple-related events. I have also done a number of temple construction progress updates. And all of this has been thrilling to follow. I am so grateful to the many who have taken interest in my thoughts on these subjects.

In the meantime, I am recognizing more and more lately just how much my comments might annoy others and even discourage them from commenting in some ways. I hope that is not the case for the most part. I like to think that for every person that has a problem with something I have said, there is a far greater number of people who might be positively impacted by the insights I share, such as they are. If my experiences, such as they are, can help to lift, inspire, and encourage others, then I will consider the fact that I have shared them to be a success. In the meantime, I want to sincerely apologize to any and all whom I may have bored, offended, or whose opinions I may have seemed to devalue and discredit. Thanks to you all.

If you like, you can catch up on my latest posts on my blog, where I have posted on a wide variety of Church-related topics. I welcome any feedback there. Thanks again.


John Pack Lambert said...

Senator Hatch has introduced a bill that would stream line the granting of visas for missionaries. This is a much needed bill. The current system can delay visas as much as 9 months. Expeditiously being able to have missionaries enter the US is much needed for the international cohesion of the Church.

Foreign nationals serving as missionaries in the US greatly improve the ability of the Church to conduct outreach to fellow nationals in the US. It also increases overall cohesion of the Church, and the less Church leaders are restricted by needless missionary movement restrictions the more the program can function well.

Jim Anderson said...

More backscatter from all the temple action in the Wasatch Front area. The Jordan River Temple has backed up things at other temples and done so in such a way that they began first driving down to Mount Timpanogos.

However, it is not quite that simple although it is an easy drive from the freeway on U-135 (new) to U-129 (designated last year), then up. When that backed up even further than it already was, they soon found it was actually faster to come to either temple in Provo. That in turn is causing the temple presidency at Provo City Center, where things are running full even without Jordan River being down, to modify the hours of operation and maybe change the times a bit, that could happen soon.

John Pack Lambert said...

We get out next report on new mission presidents. There is one couple from Ghana going to preside over the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission. He is the Accra Ghana Temple Recorder. He is 56, so born in about 1961. The article says he served in the Accra Ghana Mission, which was not organized until 1985. The math works out on this, especially if that is where President Engmann ended his mission, and when he started it was the Africa West Mission.

There is a couple from Arizona where the husband in Argentine and the wife is American being sent to preside over a mission in Mexico.

There there are Brother and Sister Kaluhiokalani. They capture being Hawaiian to a T. Sister Kaluhiokalani was born in Fiji, but is not Fijian. Her father was Wai Tong Kwong Yee, almost certainly in some form Chinese. although he may have been born in Fiji, or come from any one of many places. Her mother was Mereoni Torisi Sauhuaekaratini, who may or may not have been ethnically Fijian, I still have not parsed the name at all. Google searching for Sauhuaekaratini comes up with nothing.

Brother Kaluhiokalani is of Native Hawaiian descent, but actually apparently 3/4ths white by ancestry, and born in New Jersey.

J S A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

I know that Pocatello is on many people's lists of future temple possibilities. I also know that there are some possibilities on other people's lists with which some people might find fault. While I am never disappointed when the Lord surprises me with some temple sites, the system I have personally found helpful seems to be working well enough. I love the thought that everyone brings different ideas, and that the Lord can surprise all of us in so many ways, while indicating that some other choices are purely inspired. For me, I can't wait to see how my predictions in this regard stack up to what the Lord has planned. I have revised those predictions, if anyone wants to check them out. Thanks.


Also a general note: I have blogged quite a bit lately, so if any of you want to check out anything else I have posted, feel free to do so and to let me know what you think. Thanks!

Eduardo said...

Sanctimonious nonsense?
I don't think so.
Blog it.

Marco Meiling said...

Closing 5 units out of 8

I´m the guy who had the podcast.

Closing 2 WARDS out of 7

Apeldoorn and The Hague stakes are in the process of doing the same.

Any doubts the Church in the Benelux is being decimated??

Matt said...


The Church in Benelux has struggled for decades to achieve measurable growth. This decision sounds like a change in policy to create units with more active members rather than responsing to a sudden drop in active membership or a crisis in leadership. Your efforts to broadcast these developments as signs of LDS decline appear simplistic and biased, especially considering your reporting them to the so-called study of Mormonism on the Mormon Stories podcast series.