Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LDS Apostle Visits Guinea, Mali, and Senegal

Elder David A. Bednar became the first LDS apostle to visit the West African nations of Guinea, Mali, and Senegal on a recent trip to the region between May 21st-23rd. A recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site reported that Elder Bednar met with members of the Dakar Branch in Senegal and offered a special prayer in which he appeared to dedicate the country for missionary work. Elder Bednar also visited with a group of 17 Latter-day Saints and 250 prospective members in the rural village of Tabakoro, Mali. There are now two member groups that operate in Mali at present, including another group that has functioned for several years in Ouélessébougou. Unfortunately, the article does not give any information regarding the Church or Elder Bednar's visit to Guinea. This visit may signal plans in the near future to officially establish LDS congregations in Mali and Guinea, and begin formal missionary activity in Senegal. Currently there are seven West African nations without an official LDS presence, including Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Russia Vladivostok Mission to Close This Summer

The Church announced on May 20th that the Russia Vladivostok Mission will close and that volunteers (missionaries) and branches within the mission will be reassigned to the Russia Novosibirsk Mission. Although the official announcement indicates that this mission consolidation will occur on July 1st, the mission president and his wife have already appeared to have been released. This decision appears primarily influenced by fewer volunteers called to serve in Russia due to visa problems and increasing government restrictions on religious freedom.

The decision to close the Russia Vladivostok Mission has appear long overdue. It is likely that additional mission consolidations in Russia will occur as the Church has for many years operated missions with a minimal number of missionaries. Furthermore, Russian missions baptize few converts and administer an average of 14 congregations. To contrast, most missions in the Church service between 50 and 150 congregations within their geographical boundaries. Russia's enormous geographical size, large population, and lack of church leaders have all appeared to play a significant roll in the significant LDS missionary presence in the country despite the small size of the Church.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Temple Construction Costs

The Church used to report the construction costs for temples around the world prior to 1982 in the Deseret News Church Almanac. See below for a list of temple construction costs as indicated in the Deseret News 1981 Church Almanac. I have also calculated what these previous costs would be for temples build since 1919 in current United States Dollars given inflation using the CPI Inflation Calculator which can be accessed here. For temples built before 1919, I used another inflation calculator website that allows for calculations to be made prior to this time. These data provide insights into current construction costs for temples built by the Church. Click on the table below if you have trouble reading it.

Financial self-sufficiency of the Church as a whole and in individual countries is an important aspect of church growth. These funds are necessary for meetinghouse construction, temple construction, missionary work, printing and media costs, and so forth. The Church originally requested members to donate or fund raise temple construction costs in order to meet these purposes. However, this practice is infrequent at present for the worldwide Church since tithing funds appear to primarily fund these needs. Unfortunately, the Church appears to lack financial self-sufficiency in most countries of the world due to lower member incomes in comparison to other nations such as the United States. Greater long-term health and growth in the Church, particularly in regards to temple construction, will likely be achieved once the Church develops greater self-sufficiency in meeting its financial needs in individual countries around the world, particularly in developing nations such as in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

Percent LDS by US State

Below is a list of states in the United States provided with the population of the state (according to 2016 estimates retrieved from, church-reported membership as of year-end 2016, the ratio of population to Latter-day Saints, and percentage of Latter-day Saints in the population. Click on the pictures below to view these data more easily. You can access historical LDS membership data by US state on here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

First Q'eqchi'-Speaking Stake to be Organized in Guatemala

Mission leaders in the Guatemala Coban Mission report that the Church will organize its first Q'eqchi'-speaking stake on June 4th in Senahu. The Church has maintained a presence among the Q'eqchi' since the 1970s and has translated a sizable number of church materials into the Mayan Q'eqchi' language, including all LDS scriptures. Currently the Senahu Guatemala District has nine branches and at least one member group. The Church has generally reported good member activity and convert retention rates among the Q'eqchi'.

Click here to read more about the Q'eqchi' in a case study I wrote approximately five years ago.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

LDS Congregational Growth Significantly Decelerates in the United States

The Church in the United States has experienced significant deceleration in regards to increases in the number of congregations (e.g. ward and branch) thus far in 2017. Currently the Church in the United States reports a net increase of only 11 congregations thus far in 2017. To contrast, the Church in the United States reported an annual net increase of 65 congregations in 2016, 142 congregations in 2015, 152 congregations in 2014, and 124 congregations in 2013. Historically, the Church in the United States has generally reported a net increase 30-50 congregations during the first four months of the year, and a net increase of 100-150 congregations per year.

A decrease in the rate that new congregations have been organized appears primarily responsible for decelerating congregational growth rates in the United States thus far in 2017. Additionally, the rate that congregations have been consolidated or closed has remained consistent, resulting in smaller net increases in the number of congregations. The Church has also emphasized better utilization of church meetinghouses in the United States and other areas of the world. As a result, the Church has encouraged larger numbers of congregations to share the same meetinghouse and for congregations to have larger numbers of active members in order to conserve meetinghouse maintenance and building costs. For example, in some areas the Church is striving for sacrament meeting attendance to comprise at least 75% of seating available in a meetinghouse. Consequently, the Church has combined smaller congregations in order to reduce the number of meetinghouses needed.

The Church in the United States has also appeared to baptize fewer converts and report a lower birth rate as evidenced by slowing annual membership growth rates. The increasing influence of secularism on American society, particularly in the western United States, appears primarily responsible for these trends. LDS membership in the United States increased by a mere 0.93% during 2016 - the lowest in nearly 30 years. Rates for member resignation, excommunication, and deaths have appeared to be constant during the past few years based upon reports I have received from local and regional church leaders in several areas of the United States. Thus, the Church has reported smaller net increases in the number of members on its records for the United States.

For more information on historical LDS statistics for the Church in the United States, click here to access the country statistical profile for the United States on

Friday, May 12, 2017

200 Official Congregations in Cote d'Ivoire

Rapid LDS growth continues in Cote d'Ivoire. In late April, the Church reached the milestone of 200 wards and branches. No other country has experienced as rapid congregational growth within the past five years as Cote d'Ivoire in regards to percentage and numerical growth rates. The number of wards and branches reached 40 in 2010, 50 in 2012, and 100 in 2015. Annual congregational growth rates have exceeded 30% every year since 2013. These findings indicate that the Church in Cote d'Ivoire has experienced significant increases in the number of active members, rapid expansion of the Church into previously unreached areas, and good local leadership development.

Click here to access the LDS statistical profile for Cote d'Ivoire on

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Brazil, Canada, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Mozambique, Texas, and Washington; New Districts Created in Cote d'Ivoire, Fiji, Guyana, and Mexico; Districts Discontinued in Cambodia, Chile, and Peru


Last Sunday, the Church organized a new stake in northern Arizona. The Flagstaff Arizona East Stake was organized from a division of the Flagstaff Arizona Stake (renamed the Flagstaff Arizona West Stake). The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Doney Park, Flagstaff YSA 1st, Linda Vista, Mount Elden, Switzer Canyon, and Walnut Canyon Wards, and the Sawmill Branch (Correctional Facility).

There are now 113 stakes in Arizona

The Church organized its first stake in Roraima State last Sunday. All five branches in the former Boa Vista Brazil District appear to have become wards in the newly organized Boa Vista Brazil Stake. Roraima was the last Brazilian state to not have a stake.

There are now 266 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.

The Church organized a new stake in the Edmonton area in Alberta, Canada on April 9th. The Sherwood Park Alberta Stake was organized from a division of the Edmonton Alberta Bonnie Doon Stake and the Edmonton Alberta North Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and four branches: the Cherry Grove, Clarkdale, Fort Saskatchewan, Glen Allan, Nottingham, and Wood Buffalo Wards, and the Lloydminster, St Paul, Tofield, and Vermilion Branches.

There are now 24 stakes in Alberta, and 49 stakes and three districts in Canada.

The Church organized a new stake in the Accra metropolitan area on April 23rd. The Teshie Ghana Stake was organized from a division of the Accra Ghana Christiansborg Stake and the Tema Ghana Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Adjorman, Nungua 1st, Nungua 2nd, Nungua 3rd, Teshie 1st, Teshie 2nd, and Teshie 3rd Wards. There are now 10 stakes in the Accra metropolitan area.

There are now 19 stakes and 12 districts in Ghana.

The Church organized a new stake in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on March 19th. The  Quetzaltenango Guatemala Santa Fé was organized from a division of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala West Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Bougambilias, La Esperanza, Las Américas, San Mateo, and Villa Hermosa Wards, and the San Juan Ostuncalco Branch. The new stake is the Church's fourth stake in the Quetzaltenango metropolitan area.

There are now 46 stakes and 16 districts in Guatemala.

The Church organized its second stake in Liberia on April 30th. The Monrovia Liberia Stake was organized from the Monrovia Liberia District. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Central Monrovia, Congo Town 2nd, Doe Community, Matadi, and Sinkor Wards, and the Congo Town 1st Branch. The Church initially organized the Monrovia Liberia District in 1989 and the district previously operated as a stake between 2000 and 2007.

There are now two stakes and two districts in Liberia.

The Church organized a new stake in Beira, Mozambique on March 19th. The Beira Mozambique Manga Stake was organized from the Beira Mozambique Manga District and the Beira Mozambique Stake. The new stake includes the following two wards and three branches: the Chingussura and
Mascarenha Wards, and the Chamba, Inhamízua, and Vila Massane Branches. It is likely that all three branches have been advanced into wards but that the official directly has not made these updates yet.

There are now three stakes and zero districts in Mozambique.

The Church organized a new stake in the Houston area on April 30th. The Conroe Texas Stake was organized from a division of the College Station Texas Stake, Spring Texas Stake, and The Woodlands Texas Stake. The new stake includes the follow five wards and four branches: the Conroe 1st, Conroe 2nd, Crighton, Huntsville 1st, and Montgomery Wards, and the Crockett, Heritage YSA, Huntsville 2nd (Correctional Facility), and Madisonville Branches. There are now 17 stakes in the Houston metropolitan area.

There are now 73 stakes and three districts in Texas.

The Church organized a new stake in the Seattle area on April 23rd. The Oak Harbor Washington Stake was organized from a division of the Everett Washington and Mount Vernon Washington Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards and three branches: the Anacortes, Mount Erie, Mount Vernon YSA, Oak Harbor 1st, Oak Harbor 2nd, Penn Cove, and South Whidbey Island Wards, and the Eastsound, Friday Harbor, and Lopez Branches.

There are now 62 stakes in Washington.


Cote d'Ivoire
A new district was organized in Cote d'Ivoire on April 23rd. The Akoupé Cote d'Ivoire District was organized from a division of the Adzope Cote d'Ivoire District. The new district appears to include the following four branches: the Affrey 1st, Affrey 2nd, Affrey 3rd, and Akoupé Branches. With the exception of the 1990s before stakes were organized in the country, the new district appears to be the first time in the Church's history of Cote d'Ivoire when a district was divided to organize a new district.

There are now 11 stakes and 12 districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

The Church organized a new district in Fiji on the main island of Viti Levu. The Korovou Fiji District
was organized from a division of the Nausori Fiji Stake and Lautoka Fiji Stake. The new district includes the following four branches: the Korovou, Levuka, Nasautoka, and Saioko Branches. The decision to organize the new district was likely due to the large number of member groups that operate on the eastern side of Viti Levu Island. For example, the new district appears to include at least two member groups, Moturiki and Waimaula, whereas there are approximately five additional member groups that appear to operate in the Nausori Fiji Stake.

There are now four stakes and two districts in Fiji.

The Church organized a new district in Guyana on April 23rd. The Berbice Guyana District was organized from five former mission branches in the New Amsterdam area, including the Corriverton, East Canje, New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, and Rosignol Branches. One former mission branch, the Bushlot Branch, was discontinued when the district was organized. The Church previously operated a district in the area between 2005 and 2010 called the Canje Guyana District. The decision to reestablish the district may indicate improvements in local leadership development after significant leadership challenges and convert retention problems during the brief period of rapid growth in the late 2000s prompted the closure of the district to strengthen individual branches.

There are now two districts in Guyana.

The Church organized a new district in Puebla State, Mexico on April 16th. The Puebla México Citlaltépetl District was organized from the Puebla México Amalucan Stake, Puebla México Fuertes Stake, and the Tehuacán México Stake. The new district includes the following six branches: the Citlaltépetl, Grajales, Libres, Serdán, Tecamachalco, and Tlachichuca Branches. Two of the branches were organized at the same time that the district was creaetd.

There are now 230 stakes and 41 districts in Mexico.


The Church discontinued the Phnom Penh Cambodia Central (Vietnamese) District approximately a couple months ago. The district was originally organized in 2001 and included three Vietnamese-speaking branches that met in Phnom Penh. One of the branches was closed when the district was discontinued. The two remaining Vietnamese branches now report directly to the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. The Church has reported slow growth among the Vietnamese-speaking population in Phnom Penh during the past several years.

There are now two stakes and four districts in Cambodia.

The Church recently discontinued the Parral Chile District. The four branches that pertained to the former district have since been reassigned to the Linares Chile District. With seven branches, the Linares Chile District may be close to becoming a stake. The Linares Chile District used to operate as a stake between 1988 and 2002.

There are now 77 stakes and 16 districts in Chile.

The Church discontinued the Juli Perú District a couple months ago. The district was organized in 1995 and previously included three branches. The branches now pertain to the Puno Perú Central Stake.

There are now 101 stakes and 19 districts in Peru.