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.