Saturday, August 31, 2019

August 2019 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to access the August 2019 monthly newsletter for

New Temples and Other Announcements in General Conference This October; Rare Church Statistics on Brazil Released

A Church Newsroom article published yesterday noted that President Nelson informed news media that "more temples and other announcements will be made in the October general conference." It is unclear what these other announcements may be, but it appears that a reformation to the Church's missionary program is likely given the new missionary handbook's upcoming release and other matters I have discussed on this blog. Coincidentally, I will be publishing my predictions for temple announcements for this October General Conference over the weekend, which include some significant additions and changes given recent trends in temple announcements since President Nelson's tenure as President of the Church.

Also, the Church Newsroom article I mentioned at the beginning of this post provided some rare statistics published by the Church. More specifically, the article notes that there are currently 5,300 missionaries serving in Brazil at present - the second most of any country in the world after the United States. This indicates there is an average of 151 missionaries per mission in Brazil. The Church does not publish annual country-by-country figures for the number of full-time missionaries serving. There have only been a few other times in Church history that the Church has published information on the number of missionaries serving in a country, such as in the Philippines or Mexico.

Updated Reaching the Nations Country Profile - Myanmar (Burma)

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Myanmar (Burma). The Church has achieved significant progress within the past 5-6 years with the introduction of young, proselytizing full-time missionaries to Yangon, the creation of a second branch in Yangon, completion and publication online of portions of the Burmese translation of the Book of Mormon, and significant increases in convert baptisms and local members who are serving full-time missions. However, total church membership is estimated at only about 250 as of year-end 2018. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

Prospects appear favorable for continued Church growth in Yangon due to recent successes with steady numbers of new converts joining the Church, increasing numbers of active members, the creation of a second branch in Yangon, high member activity and convert retention rates, and the forthcoming translation of more Church materials into Burmese. Additional member groups or branches appear likely to be organized to improve accessibility to congregations and spark greater growth. Local members who complete full-time missionary service and return and remain in Myanmar thereafter present the greatest opportunities for expansion and growth. Branches in Yangon may be organized into a district once there is sufficient local leadership to staff both branch and district callings. The Church may organize member groups in additional cities, primarily in areas under control of the federal government. However, expansion of the Church into additional cities appears more likely once a separate mission is organized in Myanmar. Nevertheless, the Church will need to secure full government recognition and become more self-sufficient in its local leadership to better prepare for future opportunities for growth. Translation of Church materials into additional languages, such as Karen, appears needed. However, given trends in language translation efforts among minority languages, such prospects appear dim for the foreseeable future notwithstanding good opportunities for these materials to be utilized in missionary efforts.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Nepal

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Nepal. The Church in Nepal appears to have approximately 200 members on Church records, but only about 50 appear to regularly attend church services. Despite a low member activity rate, the Kathmandu Branch, the only branch in the entire country of 30 million people, has had more than 30 members serve full-time missions since the branch was organized in 2001 as of 2017. However, the vast majority of these returned missionaries have immigrated to India. A sacrament meeting service held twice a month began to occur in Itahari in mid-2019. There are additional cities with isolated members albeit there do not appear to be any official member groups. Government restrictions on religious freedom and the consistent emigration of active returned missionaries are the greatest barriers for growth. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article.

As local members share their faith with family and friends and missionaries return home and stay in Nepal, greater growth will occur. A second branch in Kathmandu may be organized to reduce travel time for members or from a lack of space in the current renovated meetinghouse. However, recent reports on the number of active members in Kathmandu suggest no imminent plans or prospects for more units to be created given leadership shortages. Additional groups or small branches may be organized in larger cities as returned missionaries move to these locations, share their beliefs with those around them, and have adequate leadership experience to operate congregations. Greater outreach with humanitarian missionaries will likely not occur until greater religious freedom is granted. Translations of additional Latter-day Saint scriptures into Nepali are needed, as well as Gospel study and scriptures translated into additional languages spoken by more than one million people. Literacy programs also present good opportunities for passive missionary service.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Timor-Leste (East Timor). Timor-Leste is a small island nation in Indonesia inhabited by 1.3 million people that has a homogeneously Christian population (98% Roman Catholic) with a Portuguese colonial history. This profile underwent a major overhaul due to several significant Church developments, such as the dedication of the country for missionary work by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and assignment of the first senior missionary couple to Dili in 2015, the completion of the first Church meetinghouse in 2017, and the first convert baptisms in 2019. A member group has operated in Dili for four years. See below for the Future Prospects section of this profile:

The Church has established a strong foundation among less than one dozen Timorese members in Dili – all of whom appeared active as of July 2019. Continued mentoring and fellowship of these members by one another and by senior missionaries will likely result in the development of local leadership that can one day sustain an official branch. The reason why the Church continues to lack official government recognition remains unclear as there do not appear to be any legal obstacles that prevent registration. It is unlikely that the Church will experience significant growth until such registration is obtained and young, full-time proselytizing missionaries are assigned. In the meantime, growth will most likely consist of high-quality converts who self-refer for information about the Church or who have personal connections with senior missionary couples or local members. Distance from mission headquarters in Jakarta, a comparatively tiny population, no translations of Church materials in Tetun, and an extremely small Church membership pose long-term challenges for future proselytism efforts through traditional means.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Africa Central Area Details

Details on the new Africa Central Area released, with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Stakes Created in Colombia, Ghana, Mexico, and Peru

The Church created a new stake in Colombia on August 4th. The Ibague Colombia Stake was organized from the Ibague Colombia District (originally created in 1978). The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Campiña, Chicoral, Girardot, Montealegre, and Piedra Pintada Wards, and the Melgar Branch. Several branches in the former district were closed in 2012 when the Girardot Colombia District (organized in 1993) was consolidated with the Ibague Colombia District (click here for more information). However, the area appears to have finally met the minimal qualifications to become a stake, albeit this required two districts to be merged seven years ago.

There are now 30 stakes and 10 districts in Colombia.

The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on August 11th. The Winneba Ghana Stake was reinstated from the Winneba Ghana District. Additionally, part of the Accra Ghana Kasoa Stake was included in the new stake. The Winneba Ghana District was originally organized in 1989 and became a stake in 2014. However, the stake was discontinued when the stake was divided to organize the new stake in Swedru in 2018. The reinstated Winneba Ghana Stake includes the following five wards and three branches: the Ansaful, Buduburam 1st, Buduburam 2nd, Kojo Bedu, and Winneba 2nd Wards, and the Apam, Awutu Breku, and Winneba 1st Branches.

There are now 25 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

The Church created a new stake in Veracruz, Mexico on August 4th. The Veracruz Mexico Puerto Stake was organized from a division of the Veracruz Mexico Villa Rica Stake and the Veracruz Mexico Reforma Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Altamirano, Buenavista, Constituyentes, Libertad, Reserva, and Tecnológico Wards. The new stake is the Church's fifth stake in Veracruz. Prior to the creation of the new stake this month, the most recently organized stake in Veracruz was created in 1995.

There are now 222 stakes and 47 districts in Mexico.

The Church organized another new stake in Lima, Peru - the fifth new stake to be created in Lima thus far in 2019. The Lima Peru Santa Clara Stake was created on August 11th from a division of the Lima Peru Campoy Stake, Lima Peru Vitarte Stake, and the Lima Peru Chaclacayo Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and two branches: the Cajamarquilla, Jicamarca, Santa Clara, and Praderas Wards, and the Carapongo and Nicolas de Pierola Branches. Following the pattern of other recently organized stakes in Lima, the Church has created new stakes from two or more stakes, and has often created additional wards or branches following the creation of new stakes. It is likely that the two branches in the new stake have become wards or will soon become wards. The Church in Lima has not created stakes with fewer numbers of wards than historical averages. Furthermore, the number of active members per ward or branch in Lima has significantly increased within the past decade to generally 100-200 active members (compared to 50-150 active members per unit previously).

There are now 49 stakes in the Lima metropolitan area - more than any other metropolitan area outside of the United States. There are only five metropolitan areas within the United States that have more stakes than Lima, including the greater Salt Lake City, Utah metropolitan area (approximately 180 stakes within Salt Lake County); the greater Orem, Utah metropolitan area (approximately 165 stakes within Utah County); the greater Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area (approximately 80 stakes); the greater Ogden/Roy/Layton/Farmington metropolitan area in Utah (approximately 80 stakes); and the greater Los Angeles, California metropolitan area (approximately 65 stakes).

There are now 110 stakes and 18 districts in Peru.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

First Young, Proselytizing Missionaries Assigned to Mali

Local members report that young, proselytizing missionaries were assigned to Mali for the first time in Church history. Two young Black African missionary companionships from the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission were assigned to the Bamako Branch and will begin teaching dozens of prospective members in multiple locations within the Bamako area. There are also additional villages near Frako (Mountougoula) that have as many as 1-2 dozen interested individuals. The Church currently has approximately 80 people who attend church meetings spread across one branch and one member group (Frako). Essentially all members on church records are active.

There have been small numbers of Malians who have joined the Church over the past several decades, but there were no overt efforts by the Africa West Area Presidency to establish an official Church presence until the past few years. Elder David A. Bednar visited Mali in May 2017. The Church organized its first branch in Mali, the Bamako Branch, in July 2017. The Bamako area was assigned to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission around this time. The first convert baptisms occurred in February 2018. There were 42 members in Mali in April 2018, and likely as many as 70 members in Mali by year-end 2018. The Church obtained official recognition from the government in January 2019. Other proselytism-focused Christians have maintained a presence in Mali for decades. However, these groups report few members and slow growth rates. Religious freedom is supported by the government in government-controlled areas of the country.

Prospects appear highly favorable for rapid initial growth with the introduction of full-time missionaries given sustained interest in many who wish to join the Church. However, language barriers and illiteracy pose challenges for growth. Leadership development also appears a challenge. Most individuals interested in joining the Church speak Bambara and demonstrate little fluency in French. Only two Church materials are translated into Bambara, and no Latter-day Saint scriptures. Local members fluent in French, English, and Bambara have been instrumental in the establishment of the Church in Mali. Only Black African missionaries appear likely to be assigned to Mali within the foreseeable future due to safety concerns with terrorism as non-Africans are often more susceptible to these attacks.

Mali is the second West African country to have had full-time missionaries assigned for the first time in the past 18 months. Senegal is the other country where full-time missionaries were first assigned in 2018. Both Mali and Senegal have homogeneously Muslim populations. However, converts have come from a mix of religious backgrounds.

Monday, August 12, 2019

July 2019 Newsletter

I know this is almost two weeks late, but please click here to access our July 2019 monthly newsletter for I wanted to wait until the site was back up to post the newsletter so the links for the updated country profiles would work. I will include profiles updated in July in the August monthly newsletter since the links will not work at present, and I have not been able to post the updated Timor-Leste profile (where the Church has had some significant recent developments with convert baptisms). We are getting closer to fixing the issue with the site, and hopefully it will be back up in the next few days.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cumorah Website Down

I have received many inquiries into as the site is currently down. We had a hosting problem and hope that the site will be back up soon. I will publish the July newsletter once the site is restored so that way the links are active for the country profiles updated during the month, which include Bangladesh, Brunei, and Timor-Leste (East Timor).