Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Stakes Created in Mexico (2), Ecuador, and Texas; New Districts Created in Mexico (2); Stake Discontinued in Mexico


Two new stakes were organized in Mexico on December 2nd.

The Mexico City Los Heroes Tecamac Stake was organized from the Mexico City Tecamac Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Bosques 1st, Bosques 2nd, Los Heroes 1st, Los Heroes 2nd, Montes, and Venta de Carpio Wards, and the Jardines de Morelos Branch.

The Tizayuca Mexico Stake was organized from the Mexico City Tecamac Stake and the Pachuca Mexico South Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Plazas Tizayuca, Tizayuca 1st, Tizayuca 2nd, Zumpango 1st, and Zumpango 2nd Wards.

Two new districts were organized in northeastern Mexico City.

The Mexico City Chimalhuacan District was organized from the Mexico City La Perla Stake. The new stake includes the following four branches (which used to be wards): Arboleda, Ciudad Alegre, Plateros, and Xochitenco Branches.

The Texcoco Mexico District was organized from the Mexico City Los Reyes Stake. The new district includes the following four branches: the Chapingo, Chiautla, Coatlinchan, and Texcoco Branches. Of the four branches in the new district, two of the branches were organized when the district was created.

One stake was discontinued in Mexico City.

The Mexico City Centenario Stake was recently discontinued. Retained congregations were reassigned to the Mexico City Industrial Stake or the Mexico City Madero Stake. The Mexico City Centenario Stake was originally organized in 1997.

There may be additional discontinued stakes or created stakes as part of a major restructuring of the Church's congregations in Mexico City. Thus far, there have been approximately 80 wards and branches discontinued, and approximately one dozen new wards and branches organized. Three stakes have been discontinued, and two new stakes and two new districts have been organized. I will provide more updates once I obtain additional information.

There are now 220 stakes and 47 districts in Mexico. There has been a net decrease of 139 congregations (7.0% annual decrease) in Mexico thus far in 2018 - the largest decrease in the number of wards/branches ever reported by the Church in Mexico, and the largest annual decrease in the number of wards/branches ever reported in a single country in the history of the Church. Although this may sound alarming, similar and even more drastic ward/branch consolidations have occurred in the Church in the past two decades in other countries with low member activity rates when one looks at percentage decrease in the number of congregations. For example, the Church reported a net decrease of 137 congregations (16.1% annual decrease) in Chile in the year 2002. There was a net decrease of 121 congregations (9.8% annual decrease) in the Philippines in 2003, a net decrease of 116 congregations (6.2% annual decrease) in Brazil in 2000, and a net decrease of 82 congregations (9.8% annual decrease) in Peru in 2000. Ward/branch consolidations in 2018 in Mexico mark the first widespread efforts in Mexico to establish congregations with larger numbers of active members. In contrast, nearly all other Latin American countries underwent similar congregation consolidations primarily during the early to mid 2000s. Thus, these current changes in Mexico have occurred much later than in most countries in the region.

The outlook for future growth after such dramatic unit consolidations is mixed. For example, the Church in Brazil quickly reversed net decreases in the number of congregations by the mid-2010s (bottoming out at 1,668 congregations) and currently reaches new all-time highs for the number of wards and branches (currently over 2,100), whereas the Church in Chile continues to report decreases in the number of wards and branches (currently less than 600). Time will tell whether these ward/branch realignments and consolidations will reverse recent stagnant growth trends in Mexico. However, returned missionaries report a severe disconnect between members and missionaries, especially in Mexico City, and dangerous proselytism conditions in many areas of the country. Thus, any major turnaround in growth rates appears unlikely for at least several more years.

A new stake was organized in Ecuador. The Machala Ecuador Puerto Bolivar Stake was organized from the Machala Ecuador Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Dieciocho de Octubre, Florida, La Paz, Los Esteros, and Puerto Bolivar Wards. The original Machala Ecuador Stake was organized in 1992. Machala becomes the first city in southern Ecuador to have more than one stake after the Guayaquil metropolitan area. I have received conflicting information for the date the new stake was organized. The two dates I have received are December 2nd and September 23rd.

There are now 42 stakes and 8 districts in Ecuador

A new stake was organized in southern Texas on December 2nd. The Laredo Texas Stake was organized from the Laredo Texas District. Currently, the Church reports the following four wards and one branch in the new stake: the Laredo 1st, Laredo 2nd (Spanish), Laredo 4th, and Laredo 5th (Spanish) Wards, and the Laredo 6th Branch (Spanish). It is likely that the Laredo 6th Branch (Spanish) was also upgraded to a ward but that this information has not been published yet given new stakes usually have a minimum of five new wards. The original Laredo Texas District was organized in 1995.

There are now 75 stakes and 2 districts in Texas. There are now only six districts left in the entire United States.


L. Chris Jones said...

It seems that some parts of the Mexico City Metropolitan area are growing better than others.

Eduardo said...

Good to see growth in Mexico with the contractions.

Eric S. said...

The remaining six districts in the United States are:

- Wendover Utah (three branches)
- Pierre South Dakota (twelve branches)
- Traverse City Michigan (eight branches)
- Potsdam New York (six branches)
- Fort Stockton Texas (four branches)
- Eagle Pass Texas (five branches)

Ryan Wilson said...

There was no growth in Mexico.

"There has been a net decrease of 139 congregations (7.0% annual decrease) in Mexico thus far in 2018 - the largest decrease in the number of wards/branches ever reported by the Church in Mexico, and the largest annual decrease in the number of wards/branches ever reported in a single country in the history of the Church."

James Anderson said...

The six remaining districts will take some time to develop to the point stakes can be formed.

Fort Stockton and Eagle Pass are in remote, very sparsely populated areas of Texas, and while it is true that Fort Stockton is at a major highway junction, I-10 and I-20, it is quite small. Eagle Pass is similarly situated as far as proximity to populated areas.

Pierre SD is made up of a number of resevation town branches and small town branches, the largest is Pierre itself with only about 15k population, now the number of branches would suggest a second district but many of these places are very small to a few thousand locally.

The northern part of Michigan, 'up north' also has smaller towns, Many places in the area of the 'miten' where the fingers would be and most of the Thumb plus the UP 'Rabbit' also are low-population areas or are somewhat spread out, most townships in the area will occasionally share a government office with two or more others, depending on population so that gives you an idea there.

Wendover is scattered too, Podsdam also has this issue.

David Todd said...

I served part of my mission in the Traverse City, Michigan District. It is very close to becoming a stake. They petitioned for stakehood a few years back and were denied due to lack of membership. Then they transfered another branch from the neighboring stake to add membership to the district and applied again, petitioning to become a stake even though they dont have the required number specified by headquarters. The petition was accepted, and they were told if they could get to a smaller number (I think 2500 but I cant remember the exact details) they would satisfy that qualification, but they werent quite there yet. A few branches are big enough to definitely be wards and a few are questionably large enough. Traverse City used to be a ward when it was part of the Midland Stake in the 80s. I think it will be made a stake within 5-10 years if growth remains at the consistent, albeit slow, rate.

Eduardo said...

Ryan: two new stakes in Mexico were just organized. That is growth. You quoted an overall loss as cited. It would be like saying 100 people died and 6 new ones were born, and not recognizing that six families just grew. Make sense?
Sure, the 100 losses is sad, but the addition of six new lives is joyous.
I was referring to the growth of those two stakes.

Unknown said...

So, two new stakes (minus one discontinued--net is one additional stake) and 139 fewer wards/branches is growth? It doesn't appear that way.

Eduardo said...

Overall, there is a contraction as I originally commented. Units and priesthood callings disappeared. But as I have stated and given example of analogy for, TWO new stakes were created. That is growth.
Another example. Your town of 50,000 loses 10,000 people. However, 500 new people move in to the adjoining town. The town has decreased but I am happy about the 500 in the new neighboring district.
There was growth there relative to the area. Even though there was loss in the original town.
Salt Lake City is dealing with Church growth in this manner for decades.
It is regrettable that Mexico overall has lost units. However, as I reassert, I am happy for the growth of two new stakes. In Mexico.

Eduardo said...

Another thing about Church growth.
Some people may think that overall numbers of gains and losses indicate the overall success of the faith, showing its overall worth or validity.
Some of my views of that have been as such over the years.
For example, after living in Chile three times and observing convert growth and retention, I would sometimes think that unit growth was the best indicator of how good our Church was, or how effective the Restoration was. But I do not think that numbers of units are the best metric for assessing things like that.
It is natural to do, sure. I do it. We observe leaders reflect it, similar to faith promoting stories. We like to see evidence of what we believe to be true.
I tend to believe that temple activity is one of the best measures of real growth. Chile baptized hundreds of thousands, only now adding its second temple.
Mexico has about 10. While many Mexican members on the records are not active and no longer affiliate with the faith or have loyalties to it, Mexico, overall, is doing all right with Church growth.
Consolidation and retraction are natural parts of long term growth.
I am not trying to be a rosy eyed optimist, but realistically evaluating that Mexico and the Church worlwide is progressing, growing, and things will happen as foretold whether we participate in it or believe in it or not.
You don't have to agree with me. I just tell it like I see it.

John Pack Lambert said...

The thumb is not in the Traverse City District, but in the Midland Michigan Stake. The large metro area of the Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Tri-cities seperates the thumb from Michigan further north.

The Traverse City District was seperated from the Midland Stake in about 1994. Over the last few years the district has seen consolidations of branches, which may indicate a build up towards a stake. It is probably the one of the six existing districts closest to being a stake.

Mexico is seeing growth in some ways despite net decline in total members. We also have to bear in mind there is continuing factors of emigration of members to other countries.

Ryan Searcy said...

I am reminded of God is the Gardener by Hugh B Brown. Sometimes, things need to be cut down in order to grow back stronger.

Ryan Wilson said...

Eduardo, thanks for the clarification but using the word "growth" was very inaccurate. Assume I have an investment account comprised of 80% in stocks and 20% in bonds. Assume the stocks lose 30% in a bad year and the bonds make 5%. My overall or net return that year was negative 23%. Even though there was 5% growth in 20% of my account, I still got crushed and lost money overall.

Sectioning out a tiny section of my account to say, "It was good to see growth," isn't accurate or comforting given what occurred overall. Based on your comment, I wasn't sure if you had even read the information. Given the information of what is going on in Mexico, it may be more likely that those two new stakes have more to do with reorganizing the losses than it has to do with any actual growth in those areas.

In the last 5-10 years in the US, many stakes were reorganized from 10-12 units down to 5-8 units. This downsizing of units per stake created additional stakes in many locations even though there was little actual growth occurring in many of those areas and some actual losses in other areas. For this reason, looking at unit growth (wards/branches) gives you a better picture of real, actual growth. According to the data, the direction that Mexico is headed does not look promising. Given the information, it is much more likely that those two stakes were created due to a similar reorganization and not due to any actual growth in those areas. However, we don't have the specific data to know for sure.

This was the largest contraction in the history of the Church in Mexico and in the history of the church in any single country. Given what took place in Chile and the Philippines back in the early 2000s, that says a lot and it is very unfortunate.

Eric S. said...

Let's not forget that Mexico just had its fourteenth temple announced. That is certainly a positive development and will have a longer, eternal impact than any geographic boundaries.

After all, ward/branch/stake boundaries are just a geographic representation of where the people are. There are always going to be changes to those boundaries for varieties of reasons, especially over time. If hundreds of units need to close in order to develop stronger wards/branches with more active members, then that is what should happen. "Strengthen thy stakes" can mean many different things.

John Pack Lambert said...

The goal of the Church is not to have as many units as possible. It is to have as many people come unto Christ through the ordinances of the temple. At times more people achieve this goal with larger units, at times more achieve it with smaller units. Wards and branches are not eternal and exist to advance a larger missions.