Saturday, January 26, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - a nation in the Lesser Antilles inhabited by approximately 100,000 people. The Church has experienced slow, albeit steady, growth during the past 15 years as the number of branches has increased from one to three. Here is the Future Prospects section of this article:

The Church in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has reported slow, but steady, growth since the late 2000s. The number of branches tripling from one to three and the opening of two additional cities to missionary activity since 2007 stand as the greatest accomplishment of the Church in recent memory. Furthermore, there have also appeared to be good progress with local leadership development. These trends have been sustained for several years and offer a promising outlook for long-term church growth if sustained. Continued growth in the Kingstown Branch may necessitate the creation of a fourth branch. Prospects for the formation of a district will depend on the creation of additional congregations and increases in the number of qualified local leaders. Member-missionary activity appears the only feasible method to expand national outreach into rural areas due to the small population and limited missionary resources available regionally and internationally.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Grenada

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Grenada. The Church currently has one branch and one member group. Here is the Future Prospects section of this country report:

Sustained increases in the number of active members, improvements in leadership development, and efforts to expand missionary operations into additional areas outside of St. George’s are welcome developments in Grenada, which in the past has experienced low member activity and inadequate numbers of active members to fill leadership positions. Sustained growth will be most clearly measured by the creation of additional branches in the coming years as active membership grows too large to be administered by one congregation. Youth regularly preparing and serving full-time missions and remaining in Grenada will add greater stability and promote long-term growth. There is a need for greater local Grenadian member and leader involvement in the expansion of the Church into additional areas of the country. The Grenville Group may become a branch once there is adequate local leadership to staff essential callings. A district may be organized once there are at least three branches in Grenada.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Church Obtains Official Recognition in Mali

Local members in the West African nation of Mali report that the Church obtained official recognition from the Malian government today. The announcement was made to local members by President Nash of the Africa West Area. The Church has been in the process of obtaining official registration with the government for several months. The first official branch, the Bamako Branch, was organized in mid-2017. One member group also operates in Mali on the outskirts of Bamako in the village of Frako. Additionally, prospects appear favorable for the establishment of a second member group in another village nearby Frako in the immediate future. In November 2018, there were approximately 50 who attended meetings in Frako and 30 who attended meetings in the Bamako Branch. Mali is assigned to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. The Church reported 42 members in Mali as of April 2018. At least an additional 20 converts were baptized before the end of the year, suggesting that church membership may be as high as 60-70 as of year-end 2018. With today's announcement, prospects appear favorable for the assignment of full-time missionaries within the near future. Full-time missionaries have previously taught investigators over the Internet from Cote d'Ivoire.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Malta

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Malta. The Church operates only one branch in Malta that has approximately 30 active members. Here is the Future Prospects section of this country report:

Slow church growth and no increase in mission outreach centers on Malta will likely continue for the foreseeable future due to the small size of Latter-day Saint membership, limited missionary resources, and low receptivity of the general population. Latter-day Saints have made little, if any, progress over the past decade, as there has been no significant increase in active membership. Progress in the 1990s in developing local leadership and several full families joining the Church has dissipated in recent years to the point that only one local branch can now be sustained. Involving youth in seminary and institute may offer prospects for breaking out of stagnant church growth and leading to breakthroughs with the native Maltese population. Recent progress with member-missionary involvement is promising that greater results may be achieved in the foreseeable future as long as new converts remain active, contributing members in the Mosta Branch.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Ukraine

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Ukraine. The Future Prospects sections of this article sums up the current challenges and opportunities for growth:

Ukraine would seem to be, in many ways, a fertile field for missionary work. Western Ukraine is pluralistic and very tolerant of religions; many people are deeply religious; alcohol and tobacco use, although prevalent, are less ubiquitous than in Russia; people are generally open and approachable; and there is very little anti-Mormon activity. Elder Andersen of the Twelve stated in 2009 that “the temple will be a blessing to Ukraine” and that “people will join the Church here by the hundreds and thousands.”[60] However, much remains to be done to accomplish this ambitious mandate. Contemporary growth rates in Ukraine for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have fallen significantly below rates in stagnant Western European missions in the mid-1990s.[61] Contemporary missions are now baptizing only as many people in a year as were baptized in a month through much of the 1990s. Low convert retention and member activity and heavy dependence on the North American church for funds and missionary manpower remain major challenges. Moreover, political instability and war in Russian separatist areas have posed significant challenges for the Church that have all but erased ambitions for a stake in Donetsk one day. Efforts to organize stakes in additional cities continue to experience setbacks and frustration. Only Kharkiv appears likely to have a stake organized within the foreseeable future, and this seems only possible with the addition of branches from the former Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine District and other outlying mission branches in northeastern Ukraine. The Church continues to rely on full-time missionaries to open new cities for missionary work, yet the number of Ukrainian missions and number of missionaries assigned to Ukraine has declined in recent years, limiting the needed manpower to start new congregations in unreached cities. Although essentially all mission branches have native members who serve in essential leadership positions, most of these outlying congregations have less than thirty active members despite most of these cities having a Church presence for two decades or longer. Emigration of active members away from Ukraine and low birth rates in the Church remain significant challenges for the stability of the Church in the long-term. Dramatic changes in the current dynamics appear unlikely in the medium term.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Statistical Pages Updated on Official Church Newsroom Website

The Church recently updated its country and world region statistical pages on its official Newsroom site. For the first time, the Church has published online its year-end 2017 figures for several metrics, including:
  • Membership
  • Congregations (with breakdown of wards/branches)
  • Stakes
  • Districts
  • Missions
  • Family History Centers
  • Temples
With this information made easily accessible to the public, the Church now publishes nearly all of the data that was previously included in the defunct Deseret Church News Almanac series that ran from 1974 to 2013. Additionally, the Church has published graphs that display membership and congregational growth by world region to provide greater context to growth trends. For example, congregational decline in Europe and South America are clearly evident in these graphs, as well as steady growth in congregational growth in Africa and North America.

Although this is a major improvement in making accurate information more accessible to researchers and the public, there remains much to be done in regards to greater access to official Church data to assist the study of Church growth. For example, the Church does not publish its membership, congregational, stake, district, mission, and temple data by country for prior years (although this information is available for all countries at Also, there remain many countries/territories without official church statistics reported even though there is not a sensitive Church presence, such as Vietnam, Gabon, Bermuda, Macedonia, Senegal, and Guinea.

See below for my recommendations in regards to additional metrics that appear appropriate to release to the public. None of these metrics appear sensitive and can provide a more accurate measure of the Church's size in terms of active membership and growth trends. The Church has previously published some of the following information, whereas some of these metrics have never been published by the Church.
  • Consistent updates (e.g. daily or weekly) regarding the creation of new congregations or discontinuation of congregations
  • Consistent, accurate updates regarding the creation and discontinuation of stakes and districts
  • The annual number of convert baptisms by country and mission
  • The annual number of missionaries serving by country
  • Average sacrament meeting attendance by country
  • Seminary and institute enrollment by country

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New Stakes Created in Utah (2), New Districts (2) in Uganda

The Church organized two new stakes on January 6th.

The Hurricane Utah North Stake was organized from a division of the Hurricane Utah West Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: Hurricane 1st, Hurricane 2nd, Hurricane 7th, Hurricane 8th, Hurricane 12th, Hurricane 14th, Hurricane 17th, and Hurricane 25th Wards. There are now three stakes in Hurricane and 30 stakes in Washington County.

The Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Creek Stake was organized from a division of the Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Manila 2nd, Manila 3rd, Manila 4th, Manila 5th, Manila 7th, Manila 8th, and Manila 12th Wards. There are now 10 stakes in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

There are now 598 stakes and one district in Utah.

The Church organized two new districts in Uganda. With these new district creations, the number of cities with a stake or district in Uganda has doubled from two to four.

On January 6th, the Masaka Uganda District was organized from three mission branches located in the city of Masaka, namely the Kijjabwemi, Masaka, and Nyendo Branches. Mission leaders report that 313 people attended the special conference to organize the district. Significant growth has recently occurred in Masaka over the past few years as church attendance has increased from 95 people in one branch to approximately 300 in three branches. Of the three branches in the city, two were organized in 2018. The original Masaka Branch was organized in 2011 after fortuitous efforts from senior missionaries who conducted humanitarian work in the area and made contact with members and investigators who had moved to the area. There were no plans to create a branch in Masaka originally based upon reports from senior missionaries who served in the area. However, mission leadership eventually decided to establish a member group and then a branch due to the high level of interest from members and investigators in the city.

On January 13th, the Busia Uganda District was organized from three branches in the Uganda Kampala Mission, namely the Busia 1st, Busia 2nd, and Busia 3rd Branches. Mission leaders report that 317 people attended the special conference to organize the district. The Church organized its first branch in Busia on the Kenyan-side of the city in 2009, followed by a second branch on the Ugandan-side of the city in 2012. A third branch was created in the city on the Ugandan-side in 2018. Like with Masaka, significant increases in church attendance and convert baptisms have recently occurred in Busia. The Church reassigned the Kenya-based Busia 1st Branch from the Kenya Nairobi Mission to the Uganda Kampala Mission within the past couple years to help better administered to the branches needs and prepare for the creation of a district one day.

There are now three stakes and two districts in Uganda. Prospects appear likely within the next 1-2 years for the organization of new districts in additional cities once a third branch is organized in these locations. The Church currently reports two mission branches each in three additional cities: Gulu, Lira, and Mbale.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Twelve Missions to Close, Four Missions to Open this July - Analysis

As I noted in a post last week, the Church announced plans to close twelve missions and organize four new missions in July of 2019. There will be 399 missions worldwide after these changes go into effect. Missions that will consolidate with nearby missions include:
  • Argentina Posadas 
  • California Irvine 
  • California Long Beach 
  • California Rancho Cucamonga 
  • Canada Halifax 
  • Florida Tallahassee 
  • Georgia Macon 
  • Idaho Nampa 
  • Japan Sendai 
  • Korea Daejeon 
  • New York Utica 
  • Virginia Chesapeake 
The closure of most of these twelve missions appeared likely. As I noted
in a post in December, I believed it was likely that as many as 22 missions may close this summer albeit only five of these missions I correctly predicted (six if you count California Anaheim instead of California Irvine). These mission closures appeared likely given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts serviced by the missions, and size and receptivity of populations targeted by missionary efforts in these locations. Stabilization in the number of full-time missionaries serving worldwide appears to be a major reason why some of these missions were closed, as six of these missions were organized in 2013 to accommodate the sudden increase in the number of members serving full-time missions due to the double-cohort that resulted from a decrease in the minimum age for missionary service (e.g. Argentina Posadas, California Irvine, California Rancho Cucamonga, Georgia Macon, Idaho Nampa, Virginia Chesapeake). Furthermore many of these missions appeared to be originally organized due to better capabilities of the Church in the United States to suddenly accommodate large numbers of full-time missions serving from the United States compared to other countries given the Church's well-developed infrastructure in the country. Furthermore, although eight of the 12 mission scheduled to close this July are located in the United States, there will still be 109 missions in the United States after these changes go into effect. This is a higher number of missions in the United States than at any time prior to 2013. There were 103 missions in the United States in 2012.

Missions to open this July include:
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East 
  • Guatemala Antigua 
  • Perú Limatambo 
  • Philippines Antipolo 
I provided a list of 36 missions that appeared likely to be organized within the foreseeable future. All four new mission to be organized were on this list of likely predictions. Each of these four missions will be organized in nations where there has been significant increases in the number of members serving full-time missions. Thus, the decision to organize additional missions in these nations appears related to increases in the number of full-time missionaries serving in nations within these world regions.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East Mission will likely be organized from a division of only one mission, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission. Kinshasa will be the fourth city in Sub-Saharan Africa to have two missions headquartered within the same city (the other cities being Accra, Ghana [two missions since 2013]; Johannesburg, South Africa [two missions since approximately 2014 when the Botswana/Namibia Mission moved headquarters to Pretoria]; and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire [two missions since 2014). The Church has reported a significant increase in the number of Congolese member who serve full-time missions, which has appeared to be a major catalyst for the decision to organize a second mission in Kinshasa. Also, there are now 10 stakes in Kinshasa with 1-2 more stakes likely to be organized in the near future. It is likely that the creation of the new mission will assist with the further development of the Church in Kisangani, as well as the probable establishment of an official Church presence in additional large cities in the northern portion of the country such as Bandundu where there are significant numbers of members who have petitioned Church leaders to establish an official branch (more information here). There are now four missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It appears likely that the Church will organize a third area in Africa, possibly called the Africa Central Area, within the near future to help better supervise the expansion of the Church in the region.

Guatemala Antigua
The Guatemala Antigua Mission will likely be organized from a division of Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission and the Guatemala City Central Mission. The new mission will be the Church's seventh mission in Guatemala. The Church has reported that the number of Central American members who serve full-time missions has nearly doubled in the past decade.

Peru Limatambo
The Peru Limatambo Mission will be the Church's sixth mission to operate within the Lima metropolitan area where the Church operates 44 stakes - the largest number of stakes of any metropolitan area outside of the United States. Local members report that the new mission will be organized from a division of the Peru Lima Central Mission although additional missions headquartered in Lima may also be involved. The Church also organized a larger-than-normal number of new wards in Lima during 2018 and most congregations in the city appear to have 80-200 active members.

With these changes, there will be 14 missions in Peru, and Peru will be the country with the fifth most missions in the world.

Philippines Antipolo
The Philippines Antipolo Mission will be the Church's 23rd mission to operate in the Philippines. The new mission will be organized from a division of three missions: Philippines Quezon City Mission, Philippines Quezon City North Mission, and the Philippines San Pablo Mission. With these changes, there will be five missions headquartered in the Metro Manila area - more missions in a single metropolitan area than any other city in Asia, Europe, or Africa. The Church has regularly organized new stakes and congregations in the Metro Manila area and surrounding cities during the past decade. Furthermore, there have been significant increases in the number of active members in the Philippines during the past decade. The Philippines has the fourth most missions of any country in the world.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Year in Review - Most Significant Church Growth Developments in 2018

Click here to access my annual article that highlights the ten most encouraging and ten most discouraging church growth developments during the prior year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our December 2018 monthly newsletter for

Twelve Missions to Close, Four Missions to Open this July

The Church announced the discontinuation of 12 missions and the creation of four missions today. These changes will go into effect this July. Missions to close this July include:
  •  Argentina Posadas
  • California Irvine
  • California Long Beach
  • California Rancho Cucamonga
  • Canada Halifax
  • Florida Tallahassee
  • Georgia Macon
  • Idaho Nampa
  • Japan Sendai
  • Korea Daejeon
  • New York Utica
  • Virginia Chesapeake
Missions to open this July include:
  •  Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa East
  • Guatemala Antigua
  • Perú Limatambo
  • Philippines Antipolo
I'll provide more information analysis about these changes in the next couple days. The official announcement can be found here. I have been a bit behind working on the monthly newsletter as well as the top 10 most encouraging and the top 10 most discouraging Church growth developments for 2018.