Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Significant Realignment of Missions in Nigeria Announced

On April 23rd, the Africa West Area Presidency announced a significant realignment of the seven missions in Nigeria. No missions will be closed or opened as part of the changes. However, the Nigeria Calabar Mission will be renamed the Nigeria Uyo Mission, which was the original name of the mission from 2002-2008, and mission headquarters will be relocated to Uyo. Here are additional changes that have been announced:
  • Reassignment of four mission branches from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Enugu Mission (Ikom, Ogoja, Ugep 1st, and Ugep 2nd Branches)
  • Transfer of two stakes from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Owerri Mission (Abak Nigeria Stake and Ikot Ekpene Nigeria Stake)
  • Transfer of two stakes from the Nigeria Calabar Mission to the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission (Ikot Akpaden Nigeria Stake and Ikot Akpatek Nigeria Stake)
  • Transfer of two stakes and one district from the Nigeria Enugu Mission to the Nigeria Lagos Mission (Abuja Nigeria North Stake, Abuja Nigeria South Stake, and Jos Nigeria District)
  • Transfer of one stake and one district from the Nigeria Owerri Mission to the Nigeria Enugu Mission (Umuahia Nigeria Stake and Asaga Ohafia Nigeria District)
The area presidency announced that these changes "are being made to better position the missions in Nigeria for the future growth and establishment of the Church," and added, "We anticipate significant future growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nigeria and recognize the Lord’s hand in bringing this about."

The Church in Nigeria has indeed experienced some of the most impressive worldwide growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in recent decades. Church membership increased from 12,000 in 1989 to 42,746 in 1999, 88,374 in 2008, and 177,280 in 2018. Annual membership growth rates have exceeded 7% since 2013. The number of congregations (i.e. wards and branches) has grown from 72 in 1989 to 185 in 1999, 260 in 2008, and 649 in 2018. There has been a net increase of approximately 30 wards and branches in 2019 thus far. Stake growth in the past decade has been particularly significant with the number of stakes increasing from 16 to 56.

Despite recent progress, the Church in Nigeria remains comparatively small. Church membership accounts for only 0.087% of the population, or one Latter-day Saint per 1,148. There remain 12 states in Nigeria without a single ward or branch although most are in the predominantly Muslim north. Several cities with more than 500,000 people have no Church presence. Nigeria will also soon surpass Pakistan and Brazil in population as the world's fifth most populous country as there are now more than 200 million people. If the Church in Nigeria were to maintain the same ratio of population to missions (one mission per seven million people), there would need to be 29 missions in Nigeria.

The mission realignments announced by the area presidency have good potential to better distribute mission resources and Church units across the seven missions. Many of the changes have good potential to help the Church expand into previously unreached areas, particularly those with high population densities nearby cities with a well-established Church presence such as between Port Harcourt and Efik, and between Enugu and Umuahia. Greater expansion in Central and Northern Nigeria may occur. The Nigeria Calabar Mission previously had 14 stakes and two districts - the largest number of stakes assigned to a single mission in all of Africa. Now, the realigned Nigeria Uyo Mission will have a more manageable number of stakes with 10 stakes and two districts.

The changes also appear inspired with long-term plans to organize additional missions. For example, the Nigeria Lagos Mission will now have two separate geographical areas, one in the Lagos metropolitan area and the other including most of central and northern Nigeria. It appears that the Church may organize a mission headquartered in Abuja in the foreseeable future given this change. Also, the Church may organize a mission headquartered in Delta State to service the rapidly growing Nigeria Benin City Mission which now has 11 stakes and three districts within its boundaries.

Many new stakes will likely be organized in the near future due to steady growth in active membership and the organization of new wards and branches. See below for a list of stakes likely to divide in the near future to create additional stakes:
  • Aba Nigeria North (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Abak Nigeria (9 wards, 1 branch) 
  • Abuja Nigeria North (10 wards, 2 branches)
  • Abuja Nigeria South (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Benin City Nigeria Oregbeni  (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Benin City Nigeria Ugbowo (10 wards, 3 branches) 
  • Ikot Ekpene Nigeria (11 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lagos Nigeria Ojodu (9 wards, 1 branch)
  • Lagos Nigeria Yaba (9 wards)
  • Onitsha Nigeria (10 wards, 4 branches)
  • Ukat Aran Nigeria  (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Warri Nigeria (14 wards, 2 branches)
Many districts also appear close to becoming stakes. There are currently a total of 17 districts. See below for a list of stakes likely to be created from districts in the near future.
  • Akamkpa Nigeria (9 branches)
  • Asaga Ohafia Nigeria (7 branches)
  • Ijebu-Ode Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Jos Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Mbaise Nigeria (12 branches)
  • Ogwashi Nigeria (8 branches)
  • Okrika Nigeria (10 branches) - or division into several districts
  • Ondo Nigeria (6 branches)
  • Oron Nigeria (7 branches)
Altogether, the Church in Nigeria may add as many as 21 new stakes in the next two years.

Additionally, a couple new districts appear likely to be organized from mission branches in the near future. Probable locations with the likely number of branches include:
  • Sapele (3 branches)
  • Ugep (4 branches)


Christopher Nicholson said...

"The seed of the gospel will grow into a giant tree. The Church in Nigeria will surprise the world in its growth. The number of baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations you have performed in this country show only a beginning." - Anthony Obinna, 1978

Unknown said...

It staggers the mind how small the Church is in Nigeria and how much growth potential thre is.

Am I understanding right that the Nigeria Lagos Mission is non-contiguous?

I have to admit I hope a Nigeria area will be created this year. It has been several years since a new area was created. Still with both the huge population of Nigeria rivalling Brazil, huge Church growth in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Sierra Leone and the Church being established in Mali, Senegal and Guinea, and hopefully soon Burkina Fasso it would seem splitting the area might be justified at this time.

Cory said...

Here is current alignment as provided by the Atlas. It's curious that Abuja and northern Nigeria was assigned to Lagos and not Ibadan.

My thought was that there will soon be an influx of missionaries into Nigeria. Perhaps similar to the Ivory Coast, more foreign and North American missionaries will be assigned there. This blog has attributed some of the success in Nigeria to not having North American missionaries serving there. However, it would be an effective way to increase the missionary presence in a relatively short amount of time.

Eduardo said...

We could see the day when Nigerian Saints outnumber sizable Latin American countries in numbers of members and stakes.
It seems that the majority of the 54 or so African nations now have a growing presence of the Restored Church of the Anointed One.
What a day!
The majority Muslim countries of the north will continue to struggle while not enjoying freedom of religion like in the middle and south.
Temples will dot the land there similar to North and South America.
Very exciting.

Chris D. said...

Effective August 1, 2019 : the 10 North American Areas will be merged to 6. Idaho/North America Central will be renamed "North America Central". North America Northwest/West Area will be renamed "North America West". Utah North/Salt Lake City/South will be renamed "Utah" Areas.

Ray said...

We used to be able to obtain membership totals for each Church Area, but I haven't seen those since the Church Almanac ceased publication. Does anyone know how to access total membership by Church Area? Thanks.

Ryan Searcy said...

That article about the consolidation of North American areas I feel is a re-post of something that was reported a few years ago, and was never established as actual consolidations, but just shared presidencies. Also, I checked the official newsroom, there is no mention today of this sort of announcement.

Gnesileah said...

Axim Ghana District created
Transferred from the Tarkwa Ghana District:
- Axim Branch
- Esiama Branch
- Nkroful Branch

Nairobi Kenya East Stake
- Ruai Branch created

Okrika Nigeria District
- Taabaa Branch created
- Zaakpo Branch created

Valenzuela Philippines Stake
- General T. de Leon 2nd Ward created
- General T. de Leon Ward renamed General T. de Leon 1st Ward

El Alto Bolivia Satélite Stake
- Achocalla Branch created
- Circunvalacion Ward created

Lima Perú Magdalena Stake
- Jesús María Ward created

Emmett Idaho Stake
- Garden Valley Branch upgraded to Ward

Provo Utah YSA 4th Stake
- Provo YSA 73rd Ward created

Riverton Utah YSA Stake
- Riverton YSA Ward (Spanish)

Salt Lake Granger West Stake
- Granger West 6th & 8th Ward discontinued

twinnumerouno said...

If I'm reading this post correctly, 1 of the 7 Nigeria missions is not impacted by the change.

John Pack Lambert said...

The process of consolidating the areas in North America has in many ways been long and drawn out. However an area is more than its presidency. Generally Area Seventies are only assigned within their area. Also various administrative and support staff exist for areas, although with some functions like the Church Educational System Canada is treated as a seperate entity.

With all North America Areas headquartered from Salt Lake City there has not been as much of a clear area structure as those elsewhere where they are locally headquartered.

This issue has become even more pronounced as Church History, Family History and Presiding Bishop's Office functions have been decentralized, but in the US at least all of these that are done on an area level elsewhere, with the exception of some Area Advisor callings, are done out of central offices in Salt Lake City. The areas of the United States have never been as fully seperated out as those in other parts of the world, and to some extent we might ask if in the future there will be one US area.

With both Mexico and Brazil having seen their past two areas consolidated back to 1, I could see that happening.

It appears there are no changes to areaboundaries outside the US. These used to change more often, with a significant growth in the number of areas for the first 20 years afterh there were started in 1985.

Did any of the mission consolidations in South-east Europe last year change area boundaries? Some were changed due to mission realignment in the US last year. Some may change this year because of mission boundary changes.

Another question is will the building of a Toolle Temple cause a mission chage for Elko. Evidently there was an attempt to switch Elko to the Salt Lake City mission about 2005, but lobbying by the Las Vegas Mission President halted that change. Elko has since been assigned to the Reno Mission, and since it has always been assigned to the Salt Lake Temple and Temple district boundaries rarely conform to mission boundaries, and sometimes effectively ignore even stake boundaries, I don't see changes there as pressing.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Middle East Area now has a full presidency, in the past there was only one counselor. This area and the Europe East Area appear to be the only places where the whole presidency is not general authority seventies.

If I counted right 8 of the 15 area presidents outside the US and Canada are from outside the US and Canada. A full half if you exclude the special case of the Middle East Area. 3 Area presidents are Mexicans.

Every area presidency that covers part of the US includes a member who is by some definitions not an American. My own area North America North East continues with out Canadian president who lived much of his life in the USA. The complex wording is because Elder Montoya and Elder Ochoa were both born in the US, and thus US citizens, but raised in Mexico, although Elder Ochoa spent a part of his adult life in the US. Elder Wong though born in Hong Kong may have US citizenship, and spent possibly more of his youth in the US than any other country. South America Northwest, Caribbean, Europe East and Brazil Area presidencies lack people who would generally be classed as Americans. Joaquin E. Costa of the Brazil Area Presidency is a native of Argentina, who has degrees from I think BYU, worked in I believe the Chicago area, but also in the Czech Republic, Oman and Peru.

Actually none of the members of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency are US born. Elder S. Mark Palmer the president of the area was born in New Zealand, and has a degree from the University of Aukland. He then got a graduate degree from BYU. He was however an area seventy in the North America Southwest Area when called as a general authority.

Elder Palmer's parents joined the Church shortly after his birth in New Zealand. His father was at one point president of the mission in Fiji, but I am not sure if Elder Palmer resided in Fiji. He served his mission in New Zealand. Based on this bio it seems hiswife is an American. After getting an MBA from BYU Elder Palmer seems to have spent his life living in Austin, Texas.

His counselors are Elder Sitati, a Kenyan, and Elder Koch, a Brazilian. In the Caribbean Area Two of the members of the area presidency are clearly not American. Elder Alvarado was resident in Utah when called as a general authority, but that is because he was a multi-area supervisor of the Church's self-relianace services program. We might as well say Elder Soares who was working in Utah on a special assignment for the Office of the Presiding Bishopric when he was called as a general authority is American. On the other hand, Elder Alvarado as a Puerto Rican is a US citizen, even if as an unincorporated territory not all US rights are technically extended to Puerto Ricans on the island. But since Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean Area, if we are going that route, than it is not fully a non-US area, and neither for that matter is Asia North with Guam and Pacific with American Samoa. Although Puerto Rico has far more people than these other two places.

Was Hawaii ever included in the Pacific Area. In some ways that might make sense.

touzai said...

Unrelated, but on the subject of the new home-centered church policy that we have, it's becoming much more important for areas like China. Word is that many of the local branches in China are being disbanded by the government and are no longer allowed to meet, with the exception of branches in Beijing and Shanghai. Although I know many church members have been optimistic about President Nelson's possible influence on church relations with China due to his positive history with the country, it seems that unfortunately the anti-religion influence of the Communist government is prevailing so far.

Matt said...

Touzai - could you please email me about this at

Aritz Lizarraga Olascoaga said...

The seed of Israel is very numerous in Nigeria, especially among the Igbos. This folks have a strong tradition of being lost Israelites. No wonder the first Nigerian temple, the Aba temple, was made in Igboland. I believe Anthony Obinna was an Igbo too.

Michael Worley said...

If the two new Okrika branches were not included in Matt's total of 10, this may set a record for how fast a post became outdated.