Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our January 2018 monthly newsletter providing news on recent church growth and missionary updates for

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mission Consolidations/Creations - 46 Missions to be Affected

I have received a report that 46 missions will be affected by mission consolidations and the creation of new missions this July.

At most recent report, the following missions will be discontinued this July:
  • Australia Sydney (two missions to be consolidated into one)
  • Bulgaria Sofia (to be combined with the Central Eurasian Mission)
  • Mississippi Jackson (to be combined with Louisiana Baton Rouge and Texas Dallas)
  • New York New York (two missions to be consolidated into one)
  • Ohio Cleveland (to be combined with three surrounding missions)
  • Russia Samara (to be combined with Russia Rostov-Na-Donu)
  • Ukraine L'viv (to be combined with Ukraine Kyiv)
  • Washington Federal Way (to be combined with surrounding missions)
The consolidation of these missions has appeared needed for many years due to historically low numbers of convert baptisms, and often few missionaries assigned to these missions and other nearby missions. For example, missions in Bulgaria and L'viv have had few missionaries assigned for many years and report extremely few convert baptisms. Also, it appears that many of the missions created to accommodate "the surge" of missionaries serving in the mid-2010s due to the lowering of the age of full-time missionary service may be consolidated - especially in the United States. These missions primarily created in 2013 represented a quick-fix to accommodate tens of thousands of more missionaries serving, most of which were from the United States, within a short period of time. As the Church in the United States has the greatest infrastructure to accommodate such a rapid and temporary increase in the number of full-time missionaries, it is unsurprising that these mission consolidations have occurred now that the double-cohort of missionaries has passed. Moreover, the decision to close these missions will likely indicate a shift in resource allocation from less productive areas of the world (e.g. North America, Europe, industrialized nations in Asia and Oceania) to more productive ones (e.g. Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, industrializing nations in Asia).

At most recent report, I have received reports of the following missions to be created this July:
  • Philippines Cabanatuan
  • Utah Layton
  • Zimbabwe Harare
If you have any information about new mission creations or mission consolidations, please comment.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Ghana, and Nigeria; New District Created in The Bahamas

The Church organized a new stake in Queen Creek, Arizona on January 14th. The Queen Creek Arizona Ocotillo Stake was organized from a division of the Queen Creek Arizona East Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Castlegate 1st, Castlegate 2nd, Castlegate 3rd, Creekside, Laredo Ranch, and Morningside Wards.

There are now 115 stakes in Arizona

The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on January 21st. The Accra Ghana Masina Stake was organized from a division of the Accra Ghana Adenta Stake and the Accra Ghana Ofankor Stake. Approximately 2,500 people attended the stake conference for the Accra Ghana Adenta Stake when the announcement of the new stake was made. The new stake includes the following six wards and two branches: the Achimota, Agbogba, Ashaley Botwe, Kwabenya, Madina 1st, and Madina 2nd Wards, and the Haatso and Legon Branches. Moreover, the Church reported 78,295 members in Ghana as of January 15th, 2018 - approximately 7.9% more members than at year-end 2016 and a more rapid rate of annual membership growth compared to 2016.

There are now 11 stakes in the Accra metropolitan area, and 23 stakes and nine districts in Ghana.

The Church organized a new stake in Edo State on January 14th. The Ekpoma Nigeria Stake was organized from the Ekpoma Nigeria District. Local members indicate that the new stake includes the following eight wards and one branch: the Avbiosi, Ekpoma, Iruekpen 1st, Iruekpen 2nd, Iruekpen 3rd, Ozalla 1st, Ozalla 2nd, and Ozalla 3rd Wards, and the Uhonmora Branch. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be primarily located in rural communities outside of southeastern Nigeria. Rapid growth has occurred in the villages of Ozalla and Iruekpen as the first branches were organized in these villages in 2004 and 2005, respectively. It is likely that there are no other stakes in Nigeria that have as small of a population within their geographical boundaries as the Ekpoma Nigeria Stake. The growth of the Church in the Ekpoma area provides a good illustration of the impressive growth that can rapidly occur in rural communities which are almost entirely unreached by the Church throughout the world. See below for a map of congregations in the new stake. It is likely that Ozalla and Iruekpen may report the highest percentages of Latter-day Saints of any villages in Nigeria given three wards operate in each village despite the small size of these villages.

There are now 46 stakes and 15 districts in Nigeria.

The Bahamas
The Church has reestablished a district headquartered in The Bahamas. The Nassau Caribbean District includes four branches that previously reported directly to the Jamaica Kingston Mission, namely the Grand Bahama, Grand Cayman, New Providence, and Providenciales Branches. Two of the branches are located in The Bahamas, whereas one branch operates in the Cayman Islands and one branch operates in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Church had previously operated a district in The Bahamas between 2002 and 2009 called the New Providence Bahamas District although this former district only serviced branches in The Bahamas. Prior to the creation of the new district, The Bahamas were the country that had the second most members on church records without a stake or district headquartered within its geographical boundaries.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Elder Uchtdorf Receives New Assignment - Chair of Missionary Executive Council and Chair of Correlation Executive Council

Today the Church announced that Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was assigned to be the new Chair of the Missionary Executive Council and the new Chair of the Correlation Executive Council. Furthermore, Elder Ucthdorf will also be the "primary contact" for the Church's Europe and Europe East Areas. President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks previously served as the Chair of the Missionary Executive Council. It is unclear who previously served as the Chair for the Correlation Executive Council.

The appointment of Elder Uchtdorf to serve as the chair for these councils is significant and may have implications for future LDS growth. Currently, there are no other apostles who have the personal experience of being born and raised in a country outside of the United States. Moreover, Elder Uchtdoft has extensive experience with church administration in Europe. His career with Lufthansa also provided him with experience meeting people from many areas of the world. Due to this unique background, Elder Uchtdorf likely possesses valuable insight, experience, and talent in regards to heading worldwide LDS missionary operations and the oversight of the publication of LDS materials (which may also include translation efforts). As a result, it will be interesting to see whether his appointment may correspond to changes in the worldwide distribution of missionary resources to better meet regional needs.

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Mission to be Created this July in the Philippines

Missionaries serving in the Philippines Angeles Mission report that the mission will divide this July to create the new Philippines Cabanatuan Mission. The Philippines Angeles Mission was originally called the Philippine Cabanuatuan when it was organized in 1992 until the mission relocated to Angeles and was renamed the Philippines Angeles Mission in 1999. The decision to organize a new mission in this region of Luzon may indicate plans for the Church to more thoroughly saturate this area with missionaries, especially considering Angeles City and Pampanga report some of the lowest percentages of Latter-day Saints in the general population among the major administrative divisions of Luzon according to 2015 census numbers. Once the new mission is organized, there will be 22 missions in the Philippines.