Friday, November 30, 2018

November 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our November 2018 monthly newsletter for

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Updated Country Profiles - The Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

We have updated several additional Reaching the Nations country profiles on These profiles include:
Due to many high-quality surveys and local member reports, I believe these profiles number among some of the most accurate and comprehensive country profiles we have posted since updating the almanac. These profiles include a significant amount of information about member activity and convert retention rates in these nations, as well as trends in these metrics over the past 20 years. Furthermore, we have also obtained information about "natural growth" in the Church in these nations (i.e. children born into the Church). Interestingly, there has been a significant "baby boom" in the Church in Estonia and Latvia in the past couple years although there has been no such increase in births in the Church in Lithuania. The Church remains very small in all the Baltic States with 950-1,350 members in each of these nations. However, the Church has been successful in the establishment of a core of local leadership capable of leading congregations with minimal support from mission leadership. Although membership growth rates has substantially slowed in the past 15 years to essentially stagnant membership growth at present (mainly due to few convert baptisms and emigration), convert retention rates have markedly increased in these nations to good-to-excellent levels. Furthermore, much of the recent progress in improving convert retention rates has occurred despite the number of full-time missionaries assigned to the Baltic Mission at the lowest levels seen since the early 2000s.

On another note, we are in the process of updating and revamping There have been issues with ads being placed on the site due to outdated coding on the site. These ads will be removed once the updates are completed. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Updated Country Profiles - Belarus, Israel, Kazakhstan, and Palestine

We have updated the following Reaching the Nations country profiles on
The Church in Belarus has continuously operated since the early 1990s. Today, the Minsk Branch numbers among the most self-sufficient congregations in the Baltic Mission with approximately one hundred active members and many families and children. However, the Church in Belarus operates an official branch in only two cities at present, and the Vitebsk Branch has only a few active members. There are 469 members in Belarus.

The Church in Kazakhstan reports only approximately 200 members nationwide. Most members live in the most populous city of Almaty. Current government restrictions prevent the Church from expanding to additional cities outside of Almaty and Astana. Nevertheless, the Church has achieved good progress with the establishment of a self-sufficient Latter-day Saint community in Almaty.

The Church in Israel and Palestine also reports an extremely limited presence. Altogether, there are approximately 300 members in both nations. Most members in Palestine are native Palestinians who have joined the Church abroad, whereas most members in Israel are foreigners. The Church is reliant on foreign members to meet most of its leadership needs in Israel and Palestine.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Georgian Translation of The Book of Mormon Completed and Published

The Church has finished and published its Georgian translation of the Book of Mormon. The translation can be found here. The committee to translate the Book of Mormon into Georgian was first established in early 2012. This translation has been in the works for many years and is finally available for members in the two Georgian-speaking branches located in the Republic of Georgia. The new translation will be a valuable tool and resource for proselytism, teaching, and testimony development in the Republic of Georgia. Members have previously relied in Russian translations to study the scriptures. There were 268 members in the Republic of Georgia as of year-end 2017. There are 3.7 million speakers of Georgian worldwide.

There are now 112 languages with a translation of the Book of Mormon.

Updated Country Profiles - Lebanon, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates

We have recently updated several Reaching the Nations country profiles on Updated profiles include:
The Church reports its largest church membership in the Middle East in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with more than 1,500 members - all of whom are foreigners primarily from North America, Europe, and the Philippines. The UAE is a likely candidate for the Church's first temple in the Middle East considering the Church is able to construct religious buildings and have a public presence - religious freedoms not permitted in nearly all other nations in the region. Church membership in Lebanon is small and comprised of native members. There were approximately 30 active members in the Beirut Branch a couple years ago per senior missionary reports. However, convert baptisms appear to regularly occur through member-missionary efforts. No proselytizing missionaries operate in Lebanon, Qatar, or the UAE.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Human Development Index (HDI) and Annual Membership Growth Rate: Correlational Analysis

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a widely quoted statistic that combines education, life expectancy, and standard of living into a single number ranging from 0-1. HDI by country provides a snapshot into some of the basic variables that define human development for individual nations (see more at

See below for a graph that displays 2017 Human Development Index (HDI) and 2017 annual membership growth by country for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click on the graph to enlarge it. HDI numbers were retrieved here. Annual membership growth rates were obtained from year-end 2016 and year-end 2017 membership data published by the Church. Only 132 countries were included in the analysis as these were the only nations for which 2016 and 2017 membership data and HDI figures were available. A correlation analysis of the two variables revealed a moderate negative relationship between HDI and annual membership growth rates for 2017 (r = -0.517). Therefore, we can conclude that HDI accounts for 26.7% of the shared variability between the two variables. Thus, higher levels of education, life expectancy, and standard of living are negatively correlated with annual membership growth rates in the Church. This finding supports more comprehensive work done by Ryan Cragun and Ronald Lawson regarding "The Secular Transition" of nations in which groups like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports slower growth in high HDI countries in comparison to lower HDI countries.

See below for the data used to create the above graph:

Albania 0.785 4.09%
Angola 0.581 15.78%
Antigua and Barbuda 0.780 3.04%
Argentina 0.825 1.62%
Armenia 0.755 -1.16%
Australia 0.939 1.47%
Austria 0.908 1.00%
Bahamas 0.807 1.26%
Barbados 0.800 4.18%
Belgium 0.916 -2.76%
Belize 0.708 0.79%
Benin 0.515 17.70%
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 0.693 2.02%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.768 4.55%
Botswana 0.717 4.36%
Brazil 0.759 2.19%
Bulgaria 0.813 -0.45%
Burundi 0.417 14.57%
Cambodia 0.582 3.94%
Cameroon 0.556 19.35%
Canada 0.926 0.72%
Cape Verde 0.654 5.19%
Central African Republic 0.367 8.33%
Chile 0.843 0.72%
Colombia 0.747 1.95%
Congo (Democratic Republic of th 0.457 9.16%
Congo 0.606 4.51%
Costa Rica 0.794 2.88%
Côte d'Ivoire 0.492 10.88%
Croatia 0.831 1.13%
Cyprus 0.869 0.00%
Czechia 0.888 1.84%
Denmark 0.929 0.54%
Dominica 0.715 -2.42%
Dominican Republic 0.736 2.15%
Ecuador 0.752 1.79%
El Salvador 0.674 1.03%
Estonia 0.871 -1.13%
Ethiopia 0.463 0.37%
Fiji 0.741 3.92%
Finland 0.920 -1.19%
France 0.901 1.68%
Georgia 0.780 1.13%
Germany 0.936 0.06%
Ghana 0.592 7.62%
Greece 0.870 3.89%
Grenada 0.772 2.16%
Guatemala 0.650 1.86%
Guyana 0.654 2.93%
Haiti 0.498 3.24%
Honduras 0.617 1.67%
Hong Kong, China (SAR) 0.933 -0.09%
Hungary 0.838 0.42%
Iceland 0.935 2.53%
India 0.640 3.26%
Indonesia 0.694 1.51%
Ireland 0.938 2.28%
Israel 0.903 11.63%
Italy 0.880 1.41%
Jamaica 0.732 1.24%
Japan 0.909 0.37%
Kazakhstan 0.800 -7.08%
Kenya 0.590 3.13%
Kiribati 0.612 7.20%
Korea (Republic of) 0.903 0.25%
Latvia 0.847 0.65%
Lesotho 0.520 8.19%
Liberia 0.435 9.18%
Lithuania 0.858 -0.41%
Luxembourg 0.904 5.34%
Madagascar 0.519 4.77%
Malawi 0.477 10.42%
Malaysia 0.802 2.14%
Malta 0.878 6.63%
Marshall Islands 0.708 -6.39%
Mauritius 0.790 0.78%
Mexico 0.774 1.30%
Micronesia (Federated States of) 0.627 3.84%
Moldova (Republic of) 0.700 4.79%
Mongolia 0.741 1.79%
Montenegro 0.814 -17.39%
Mozambique 0.437 15.18%
Namibia 0.647 -0.23%
Netherlands 0.931 2.26%
New Zealand 0.917 0.95%
Nicaragua 0.658 2.89%
Nigeria 0.532 7.09%
Norway 0.953 -0.22%
Palau 0.798 1.98%
Panama 0.789 5.23%
Papua New Guinea 0.544 5.05%
Paraguay 0.702 1.64%
Peru 0.750 2.00%
Philippines 0.699 2.61%
Poland 0.865 2.22%
Portugal 0.847 1.57%
Romania 0.811 -0.23%
Russian Federation 0.816 0.31%
Rwanda 0.524 52.82%
Saint Kitts and Nevis 0.778 -11.34%
Saint Lucia 0.747 4.84%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0.723 4.59%
Samoa 0.713 2.15%
Serbia 0.787 2.72%
Sierra Leone 0.419 10.03%
Singapore 0.932 -0.41%
Slovakia 0.855 1.49%
Slovenia 0.896 -2.07%
Solomon Islands 0.546 15.44%
South Africa 0.699 2.54%
Spain 0.891 2.51%
Sri Lanka 0.770 5.22%
Suriname 0.720 2.14%
Swaziland 0.588 2.78%
Sweden 0.933 0.74%
Switzerland 0.944 -2.29%
Tanzania (United Republic of) 0.538 8.31%
Thailand 0.755 3.88%
Togo 0.503 8.68%
Tonga 0.726 1.04%
Trinidad and Tobago 0.784 0.29%
Turkey 0.791 6.63%
Uganda 0.516 5.42%
Ukraine 0.751 0.63%
United Arab Emirates 0.863 0.78%
United Kingdom 0.922 0.54%
United States 0.924 0.75%
Uruguay 0.804 0.91%
Vanuatu 0.603 11.13%
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 0.761 0.46%
Zambia 0.588 7.25%
Zimbabwe 0.535 6.41%

Monday, November 12, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Syria

Click here to access our updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Syria where there is one branch and at least two member groups. All members in the country are native Syrians. Most members are recent converts. Church operations in Syria are supervised by district leadership in neighboring Lebanon.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Second Most Populous City in Liberia Opens to Missionary Work

Yesterday, the Church organized its first member group in the Liberian city of Gbarnga. Gbarnga is the second most populous city in Liberia and is inhabited by at least 57,000 people. The mission reported 64 people in attendance for the first meeting of the Gbarnga Group. A single full-time missionary companionship has also been assigned to serve in the city. Gbarnga is the most distant city from Monrovia to have had full-time missionaries assigned. Click here to read the mission president's report about the creation of the new member group.

Earlier this year, the Church in Liberia organized its first branches in two additional cities: Buchanan and Totota. There are now five cities with an official branch, and nine cities with a ward, branch, or member group. Furthermore, rapid congregational growth has occurred in Monrovia during 2018. There are now 38 wards and branches in Monrovia - up from nine branches a decade earlier.

See below for a map of wards, branches, and member groups in Liberia.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

New Stakes Created in the Philippines (2) and Nigeria; New District in Romania; Two Stakes Discontinued in Mexico

Today the Church organized two new stakes in the Philippines.

The Agoo Philippines Stake was organized from the Agoo Philippines District. The Agoo Philippines District included seven branches and most of the branches have become wards in the new stake. The Church initially organized the Agoo Philippines Stake in 1999, but discontinued the stake and reorganized retained congregations into branches in 2004. The Church has experienced steady progress in Agoo in recent years as two new branches have been organized in the district and branches in the district have had increases in active membership. The Agoo Philippines Stake is the third new stake organized within the Philippines Baguio Mission and Philippines Urdaneta Mission since 2015.

The Morong Rizal Philippines Stake was organized from the Morong Rizal Philippines District. Most, if not all, of the branches in the former district were organized into wards. The Morong Rizal Philippines District was originally created in 1992. With the advancement of the district into a stake, there are now no districts within the Greater Metro Manila area. Steady growth has occurred in the Greater Metro Manila as evidenced by four new stakes organized in the area since the beginning of 2017, and nine new stakes organized in the area since 2011. There are now 28 stakes in the Greater Metro Manila area - more than any other metropolitan area in all of Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania.

There are now 107 stakes and 68 districts in the Philippines.

A new stake was organized in Nigeria on October 28th. The Abakaliki Nigeria Stake was organized from the Abakaliki Nigeria District. Information on which of the 10 branches in the former district became wards remains unavailable. However, local members report that most of the branches were advanced into wards when the new stake was organized. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be organized in Ebonyi State, Nigeria - home to 2.9 million people. The Church organized its first branch in Ebonyi State in 2005 in Abakaliki, whereas the first branches were organized in Afikpo in 2006, Okposi in 2007, and Edda in 2018. Today, there are five congregations in Afikpo, two congregations in Abakaliki, two congregations in Okposi, and one congregation in Edda. The creation of the new stake came as a complete surprise to me considering half of the congregations were organized just within the past two years and the 10 branches were spread across four different cities. Generally in these situations, the Church divides districts instead of creating a stake to reduce travel times. Nevertheless, the organization of the new stake indicates strength in local leadership that has warranted the district to mature into a stake only four years after the district was initially organized from four mission branches.

There are now 54 stakes and 15 districts in Nigeria. The number of stakes in Nigeria has increased by nine since January 2018 - the largest annual increase in the number of stakes for an African country in the history of the Church. Nigeria is now the country in the world with the eighth most stakes.

A new district was organized in Romania. The Iaşi România District was organized from a division of the Bucharest Romania District. The new district includes the following four branches: the Bacãu, Braşov, Galati, and Iaşi Branches. The decision to organize the new district does not appear due to any recent growth in the area as overall membership growth has been stagnant in the country for several consecutive years. Rather, the decision to create the new district appears related to mission leaders abandoning plans to try to organize a stake from the Bucharest Romania District, and instead focus on strengthening individual branches while reducing travel times for district leadership. The Church in Romania used to operate two districts in eastern Romania, with a former district headquartered in Ploiesti until 2009. There are now three districts in Romania. The Romania Bucharest Mission closed last summer and was consolidated with the Hungary Budapest Mission.

Two stakes were recently discontinued in Mexico City.

The Mexico City Xalostoc Stake (organized in 1997) and the Mexico City Pantitlan Stake (organized in 1997) were discontinued. The Mexico City Xalostoc Stake was consolidated with the Mexico City Azteca Stake and the Mexico City Ecatepec Stake, whereas the Mexico City Pantitlan Stake was consolidated with the Mexico City Netzahualcoyotl Stake and the Mexico City Moctezuma Stake. Additionally, five wards were discontinued as part of this realignment of stakes and congregations. Mexico City is one of the last metropolitan areas in Mexico where the Church had not combined congregations with smaller numbers of active members (usually between 50-100 active members). Additional stake and congregation realignments are underway, which will result in the discontinuation and creation of congregations and stakes in the immediate future. I predict there may be as many as 25-50 ward closures and 5-10 stake closures before the end of the year. However, there may also be several new congregations and stakes organized as part of these changes. The Church in Mexico City has sought for many years to make a plan to better utilize meetinghouse space to conserve costs and establish congregations with larger numbers of active members. I just received a report that the Mexico City Centenario Stake was discontinued today, and a new stake, Mexico City Villa Madero Stake, was organized. However, I will officially report these changes in another update once I have more information.

There are now 219 stakes and 45 districts in Mexico.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October 2018 Newsletter

Click here to access our October 2018 newsletter for