Friday, March 29, 2019

Updated Country Profile - The Bahamas

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for The Bahamas. Little has changed for the Church in The Bahamas since the 2014 Edition of Reaching the Nations was published. The member activity rate in the country is estimated at 12%. Although a district was reestablished with "Nassau" in the name of it in early 2018, the district is headquartered out of the Cayman Islands and not The Bahamas. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Low receptivity, negative cultural attitudes concerning the Church, and a high rate of church attendance in other faiths create significant challenges for future growth. Prospects for the creation of additional congregations appear poor until member reactivation efforts improve member activity rates, a higher percentage of new converts remain active for the long-term, and increases in convert baptisms occur. Traveling missionaries holding cottage meetings while visiting members and investigators on currently unreached islands may be a means of beginning missionary work in these locations.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Trinidad and Tobago

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Trinidad and Tobago. The Church has maintained a continuous presence in the country for over 40 years, yet there remain only 3,500 members (15% of whom regularly attend church - one of the lowest member activity rates in the Caribbean). The Church reported significant growth in Trinidad during the 2000s which ultimately culminated in the creation of the first stake in 2009, but this growth has significantly slowed in the 2010s primarily due to problems with securing an adequate number of full-time missionary visas, poor member-missionary participation, and very low member activity rates. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The outlook for future growth appears mixed. The Church continues to operate a stake in Trinidad despite comparatively few members and low activity rates. Also, the reduced geographic size of the mission since 2015 permits greater mission president oversight and resources for proselytism and expansion. Moreover, the population remains receptive to proselytism efforts by the Church. However, the Church struggles with dependence on foreign, full-time missionaries to meet local proselytism needs. Given recent limitations with the number of visas granted to the Church for foreign full-time missionaries, the Church is understaffed in its missionary force on the islands. This situation underscores the need for greater self-sufficiency both in the Church in Trinidad and Tobago, and in the Caribbean as a whole, to meet local proselytism needs. The Church continues to struggle with greater local leadership development as evidenced by no new wards or branches organized since the late 2000s. As a result, no new wards or branches appear likely to be organized within the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Jamaica

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Jamaica. Many new sources were incorporated into this updated article, including dozens of surveys completed by returned missionaries and local members. The Church in Jamaica has struggled to achieve greater growth since its permanent establishment on the island nearly half a century ago. The Church currently reports more than 6,400 members although no more than 1,500 members appear to attend church regularly. The creation of the first stake in Jamaica in 2014 came after decades of preparation and signals some improvements in leadership development. Also, the first Jamaican to serve as a mission president began his 2013. However, there have not appeared to have been any measurable increases in active membership for the island since the stake was organized. Jamaica has one of the lowest percentages of Latter-day Saints in the population in the Caribbean as one in 465 was nominally a Latter-day Saint in 2017. See below for more information about cultural factors that have stifled growth, and the outlook for future growth.

Returned missionaries consistently report concerns with the over-saturation of churches in Jamaica and public indifference regarding the Latter-day Saint gospel message as many Jamaicans assume The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lacks distinctness from other religious groups. Nevertheless, the Church has experienced a large amount of persecution and prejudice especially in outlying cities and towns. Opposition has been strong enough to necessitate the closure of some cities to missionary work such as Lucea in May 2001. This has caused many Jamaicans to avoid learning about the Church and creates an atmosphere of intolerance. Many smaller communities are religiously divided based on denomination. Secularism has increased in recent years as interest in religious declines in the major cities. Widespread drug abuse and violent crime are major concerns. 

The Church may organized a second stake in Jamaica in the medium term as the Mandeville Jamaica District has several branches that appear to meet the qualifications to become wards. Additional congregations along the northern coast and in the Saint Mary Parish may be organized. Small branches or groups in many of the small towns unreached by current congregations may be created once greater activity and membership growth occurs. Historically low convert retention rates and low member activity rates are consistent barriers to greater real church growth and self-sustainability. Little progress expanding national outreach will likely continue until these issues are resolved. The Church may build a small temple in Kingston once there are multiple stakes in Jamaica due to distance to the nearest temple.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

New Stakes Created in Peru (2), Philippines, and South Carolina, New Districts Created in Brazil, Cote d'ivoire,

The Church organized two new stakes in Lima, Peru.

The Lima Perú La Campiña was organized on March 10th from a division of the Lima Perú Chorrillos Stake and the Lima Perú San Juan Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the La Campiña 1st, Las Delicias, Las Palmeras, Las Villas, and the Umamarca Wards.

The Lima Perú Begonias Stake was organized on March 17th from a division of the Lima Perú Canto Grande Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Begonias, Canto Chico, Los Manzanos, Los Postes, Santa Fe, and Viña Wards.

There are now 46 stakes in Lima - the largest number of stakes of any metropolitan area in the world outside of the United States. To put that number into perspective, there are more stakes in Lima that there are in all but ten countries in the world. The number of stakes in Lima is approximately the same number of stakes as there are in the Church in the United Kingdom (45). Members in Peru report that many wards are likely to be organize in the near future. The Church has regularly organized new wards in Lima during the past 18 months on nearly a monthly or biweekly basis. Furthermore, most wards reach over 300 active members (or even 400 active members in rare situations) before they are divided to organize new congregations. Additional new stakes appear likely to be created in Lima in the next 1-2 years.

The Church organized a new stake in northern Luzon on March 17th. The Ballesteros Philippines Stake was organized from the Ballesteros Philippines District and one branch from the Bangui Philippines District. The new stake includes six wards: the Abulog, Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Lasam, and Sanchez Mira Wards. The new stake is the Church's first stake located on the northern shore of the northernmost area of Luzon island.

There are now 108 stakes and 67 districts in the Philippines.

South Carolina
The Church organized another new stake in South Carolina in February. The new stake was organized on the 24th. The Hilton Head South Carolina Stake was organized from a division of the Savannah Georgia Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Beaufort, Hilton Head, Pooler, Ridgeland, and Rincon Wards, and the Okatie (Spanish) and Parris Island Military Branches. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in South Carolina in the past 12 months.

There are now nine stakes in South Carolina.

The Church organized a new district in western Pernambuco State on February 24th. The Araripina Brazil District was organized from the Juazeiro do Norte Brazil Stake. The new district includes the following three branches: Araripina, Salgueiro, and Trindade. All three of these branches have been organized within the past decade.

There are now 273 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new district from several mission branches in the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission on February 24th. The Duekoue Cote d'Ivoire District was organized with four branches that previously reported directly to the mission, namely the Bangolo 1st, Bangolo 2nd, Duekoue 1st, and Duekoue 2nd Branches. Missionaries serving in the mission report plans to organize several additional districts and many new branches within the mission within the near future. Locations that appear likely for new districts in the near future include Danane, Sinfra, Issia, and Meagui.

There are now 14 stakes and 14 districts in Cote d'Ivoire.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Saint Kitts and Nevis

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Saint Kitts and Nevis. The Church has maintained a presence on the islands since 1985 although there is only one official branch at present. Membership growth has been essentially stagnant for more than a decade. There were 211 members in the country as of year-end 2017. See below for the Future Prospects section of the article:

Attempted mission outreach expansion in the 2000s only endured for half a decade before coming to a close in 2010 and produced mixed results, as only one official congregation remains, member activity rates remain low, and local priesthood leadership is extremely limited. Efforts to establish a self-sufficient congregation in Nevis continue to be frustrated due to low receptivity, few active members, and priesthood leaders who move away from the island. The consistent assignment of a senior missionary couple may address these issues without compromising the limited self-sufficiency developed in Basseterre. However, local members will need to take responsibility for finding, teaching, and preparing prospective members for baptism and lifelong discipleship for real growth to be achieved.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Antigua and Barbuda

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Antigua and Barbuda. Little has appeared to change for the Church in Antigua and Barbuda since we first published the almanac in 2013. The Church organized its first and only branch in the country in 1985. There were 237 members in the country as of year-end 2017. See below for the future prospects section of the article:

With a small population and few mission outreach resources dedicated, Antigua and Barbuda has demonstrated consistent but slow membership growth in recent years. Infrequent interaction with international Church leaders and reliance on local members to operate the Church have facilitated moderate member activity rates and self-reliance. Growth in the number of active members and local leadership development may lead to the organization of a second congregation on Antigua over the medium term.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Potential New Temples - March 2019 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in April. Data used to identify likely locations for future temples include the number of stakes and districts, the number of wards and branches, age of the oldest stake, trends in church growth, distance to the nearest temple, number of endowment sessions scheduled at the nearest temple, and member and missionary reports regarding member activity, temple attendance, and convert retention.

With this most recent edition of my temple prediction map, I have added another category of potential new temples that may be announced. There are now "likely temples to be announced" and "less likely temples to be announced." I made this distinction as there are some locations that appear likely to have small temples announced given recent trends in temple announcements. Most of the less likely temples to be announced would be small temples that would service membership who live in remote areas where the Church appears capable of supporting a small temple. I have added 34 potential less-likely-to-be-announced temples to the map. I also added five additional likely new temples to be announced to the map since October 2018. These locations include:
  • Angeles, Philippines
  • Cape Coast, Ghana
  • Heber City, Utah
  • Kampala Uganda
  • Pachuca, Mexico
The Church announced 19 new temples during 2018. This is the second most temples ever announced in a single year after 1998 when there were 27 new temples announced. As a result, it is unclear whether the Church will announce additional temples in the upcoming General Conference given there were so many new temples announced last year. Also, there are a large number of planned temples (22) that have yet to have groundbreakings announced. As a result, the Church may delay additional temple announcements until more planned temples begin construction. Nevertheless, the Church has had a trend of accelerating temple construction in recent years. See below for my top 10 picks for the most likely temple announcements:
  • Benin City, Nigeria
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Freetown, Sierra Leone 
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
  • Rogers, Arkansas 
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • Tacoma, Washington 
  • West Valley City, Utah
Red squares on the map below are temples which are in operation, under construction, or officially announced. Yellow squares are likely potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. Blue circles are less likely potential new temples that may be announced in the near future. As part of the semi-annual tradition, your predictions for new temple announcements are appreciated and encouraged.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Dominica

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Dominica. Dominica is one of the most recently reached nations in the Caribbean as the first branch was organized in 2007. Approximately one hundred converts joined the Church during the first few years that full-time missionaries were assigned to the island. There were three branches in the late 2000s, but two of the three branches closed in 2010. Stagnant growth has occurred in Dominica in the 2010s. Only 74,000 people live in the country. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The outlook for Church growth appears mixed in the coming years as the Church has experienced stagnant membership growth for several consecutive years and no progress has occurred with the opening of additional branches outside of Portsmouth. With a small population that is distant from mission headquarters in Puerto Rico, there appears to be little indication of any noticeable increase in mission resources that may be allocated to Dominica to fuel growth. A member-missionary and church planting approach to proselytism will be required for additional advances in national outreach due to the island’s tiny population and limited missionary resources in the region. Leadership development and increases in active membership may result in the reorganization of the Roseau Branch in the years to come.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Membership Growth in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire

The Church published an article yesterday that provides some up-to-date membership figures for several West African nations. It appears that these membership figures are as of year-end 2018. Membership was reported for the following nations:
  • Nigeria (more than 177,000) - likely increase of at least 13,300, or 8.1%
  • Ghana (nearly 84,000) - likely increase of approximately 5,500-6,000, or 7.0-7.5%
  • Cote d'Ivoire (nearly 49,000) - likely increase of approximately 5,000, or 11.4%
These preliminary membership data suggest that membership growth rates have remained steady since year-end 2016 for Ghana (annual membership growth of 7.6% in 2017) and Cote d'Ivoire (annual membership growth of 10.9% in 2017), but that the Church in Nigeria has experienced a slight acceleration in membership growth rates (8.1% in 2018 versus 7.1% in 2017). However, annual membership growth rates in Nigeria have ranged from 7-10% since 2013.

The Church also reported 621,000 members in Africa, which appears to be a figure from year-end 2018. There were 578,944 members in Africa as of year-end 2017. This indicates that there has been a net increase of 42,000 members on the continent, or 7.26%. It is likely that church membership likely increased by approximately 10% in West Africa and 5-7% in the remainder of Africa given historical trends in the past decade.

Updated Country Profile - Guadeloupe

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Guadeloupe. The Church has made good progress with local leadership development although the total number of members in the islands remains less than 600. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Moderate-to-low levels of receptivity, commensurate congregational and membership growth during the 2000s, an adequately-sized missionary force to service the population, and developed local leadership in many areas suggest a more positive outlook for future growth in the coming years compared to other islands in the Lesser Antilles with strong ties to Western Europe. The late establishment of the Church on Guadeloupe resulted in Latter-day Saints missing the window of opportunity in which the population was most receptive to missionary outreach. The closure of four congregations in the early 2010s may discourage the creation of more member groups or branches until established branches become large enough to divide. Greater numbers of local members serving full-time missions, the establishment of additional congregations, and efficiently utilizing limited missionary resources will be necessary to continue church growth into the 2020s and maintain and increase current levels of self-sufficiency.

Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access our February 2019 newsletter for