Stakes discontinued in Mexico during the past 1-2 months include:
- Coatzacoalcos México Puerto
- Madero México Ampliación
- Minatitlán México
- Minatitlán México Tecnológico
- Monterrey México Morelos
- Monterrey México Paraíso
- Tampico México Chairel
The Madero México Ampliación Stake was organized in 2001 and had six wards prior to its consolidation with the Madero México Stake. The Madero México Stake had seven wards before the consolidation occurred. There are now five wards and two branches in the Madero México Stake. The Tampico México Chairel Stake was organized in 2000 and had six wards prior to its consolidation with the Tampico México Stake. Four of the wards in the original stake were discontinued. The Tampico México Stake now has five wards and two branches. As a result of these changes, the number of stakes in the Tampico/Madero metropolitan area decreased from five to three.
The Minatitlán México Stake was organized in 1977 and had six wards prior to its discontinuation. The Minatitlán México Tecnológico Stake was organized in 1997 and had six wards and one branch prior to its discontinuation. The two Minatitlán Stakes were merged into the Minatitlán México Tecnológico District, which has seven branches. This marks the first time in LDS history where the Church in a city with two stakes has had both of its stakes discontinued and merged into a single district. In contrast, the Church has usually discontinued only one of its two stakes in a city where there are two stakes.
The Monterrey México Morelos Stake was organized in 1980 and had five wards prior to its consolidation with the Monterrey México Anáhuac Stake and the Monterrey México Mitras Stake. Two of the wards in the original stake were discontinued. The Monterrey México Paraíso Stake was organized in 1978 and had six wards prior to its consolidation with the Monterrey México Los Angeles Stake and the Monterrey México Roma Stake. Three of the wards in the original stake were discontinued. As a result of the discontinuation of these two stakes, the number of stakes in Monterrey decreased from 12 to 10.
The decision by the Church to discontinue seven stakes and more than 50 wards/branches in several cities in Mexico during the past 1-2 months does not indicate a sudden drop in church attendance or member activity/convert retention rates. Rather, these changes were likely many months or years in planning due to many wards in these cities with few active members and emphasis from the area presidency for better utilization of meetinghouse space. Data from returned missionary and local member surveys indicate that many, if not most, of the wards discontinued during the past 1-2 months in Mexico had between 40-100 active members. Church leaders in the Mexico Area have also focused on the creation of wards that have at least 100 active members in order to better utilize LDS meetinghouse space to conserve costs and to establish larger wards that provide more opportunities for fellowship and socialization. The creation of wards with more active members has also appeared motivated to address challenges with leadership burnout or difficulties with quality church leadership on a local level.
Most concerning with these developments has been the lack of success of strengthening wards/branches in many cities in Mexico during the last 5-10 years despite a significantly increased missionary presence in many areas. For example, the number of missions in Mexico increased from 24 in 2011 to 34 in 2013, and decreased to 32 in 2018. However, there has now been no net increase in the number of stakes since 2011 and a decrease of 67 wards/branches during this time even though church membership has increased by 162,184 (or 12.7%) from 1,273,199 to 1,435,383. Thus, the Church in Mexico has appeared to experience the lowest "real growth" productivity of any country in the world with a significant LDS presence (i.e. more than 100,000 members) during the 2010s. Local church leaders and returned missionaries indicate low member-missionary participation, poor collaboration between church leaders and full-time missionaries in regards to proselytism and reactivation efforts, and low participation by many active members in fulfilling callings and meeting other member responsibilities (such as regular temple attendance) have appeared primarily responsible for these changes in LDS growth trends. For example, members have appeared to minimally utilize the Mexico City Mexico Temple even though the Mexico City Mexico Temple has one of the largest temple districts in the world with approximately 80 stakes.
The Church in Mexico began to consolidate wards and stakes with smaller numbers of active members as early as 2011 and 2012 although most of these changes occurred in 2017. The Church first began widespread consolidations in Mexico in Guadalajara where two stakes and 17 wards/branches were discontinued in late 2011 and in 2012. These changes have appeared to have had a positive effect on growth as four new wards/branches have since been organized in Guadalajara after these initial consolidations occurred. Moreover, the Church has reported significant improvements in the functionality and strength of the Church in Guadalajara since these changes occurred. The Church reported significant ward/branch consolidations in Chilpancingo, Ciudad Obregón, Culiacán, Juchitán, Mazatlán, Puebla, Salina Cruz, and Tijuana during 2017 albeit these changes necessitated the discontinuation of stakes only in Ciudad Obregón and Mazatlán. However, there has been significant variability in the magnitude of ward/branch consolidations in Mexico during 2017 and 2018. For example, the Church discontinued approximately half of its wards/branches in the Tampico/Madero metropolitan area and in the city of Minatitlán, whereas only 10-20% of wards/branches were discontinued in other major cities such as Monterrey or Puebla. Furthermore, no stakes were discontinued when ward/branch consolidations occurred in Puebla. To the contrary, one new stake and one new district were organized as part of the restructuring of stakes and congregations.
Despite the bleak picture presented by recent trends in national stake and congregational growth, the Church in Mexico has experienced steady growth in several locations which appear unlikely to experience future consolidations or only a minimal number of consolidations, such as Cancún, Querétaro, Mérida, Orizaba, and Xalapa. Variability in growth trends and church strength/stability has also appeared affected by crime and economic opportunities. Nevertheless, the recent trend in nationwide congregation and stake consolidations does not appear to be over as there appear many wards/stakes in the Mexico City area and other cities in northern Mexico that appear vulnerable to closure.