Friday, May 29, 2020

Updated Country Profile - Italy

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Italy. The Church reestablished missionary activity in Italy in 1966, and today there are approximately 27,500 members nationwide. The Church has achieved significant progress with the establishment of stakes in the country and the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple in 2019. There were only three stakes in 2000, whereas today there are 10 stakes. However, the establishment of stakes has come at the cost of closing dozens of branches to establish larger congregations due to slow membership growth during this period. Consequently, the Church in Italy maintained a more widespread presence in the late 1990s than 20 years later even though Church membership increased by over 11,000 during this time. Nevertheless, the Church in Italy has many strong wards with as many as 150 active members today. However, the Church will need to reverse its trend of declining national outreach in order to achieve greater growth. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The trend of decreasing numbers of congregations and missionaries during the past two decades has resulted in more limited national outreach. Although membership has matured in many areas, smaller cities and rural areas have seen little or no progress in the growth of the Church over the past two decades. Long-term growth and self-sufficiency of the Church will largely depend on increasing native-Italian missionaries, breakthroughs in outreach among Italians, and a sustained reversal of congregational declines. Some positive developments have occurred in lieu of the Rome Italy Temple announcement and dedication, such as increasing convert baptisms of full Italian families. However, the Church in Italy continues to struggle with a lack of progress among Italian members and expanding the Church’s outreach rather than consolidating it. With the entire country administered by stakes as of 2020, stake presidents may have better opportunities to identify cities and towns which appear favorable to begin member groups to help spur greater growth. In sum, future Latter-day Saint growth in Italy will strongly depend on the local Italian Church’s ability to be self-sufficient in leadership and missionary needs, and the mobilization of local members to take the lead to find, prepare, and fellowship new converts who develop a lifelong conversion to the Church.

8 comments:

Xavier Raveau said...

You have listed in bold Ferrara as not having any congregation, but there is a branch there. It belongs to the Venice stake.

Christopher Duerig said...

Upon review of the Classic Maps site, these are the Stakes (19) + Districts (22) that do not have an assigned Stake Office (stakecenter) :

Stakes :

520470 Accra Ghana Adenta
2123908 Assin Foso Ghana South
2148935 Piracicaba Brazil Rezende
517186 Hong Kong China Tolo Harbour
2138220 Camarin Philippines
2139685 Central Valley Utah
506362 Monterrey México Libertad
521574 San Francisco California East (Tongan)
527939 Daejeon Korea
508934 Poza Rica México Palmas
2104458 Anonkoua Côte d'Ivoire
2077396 Dokui Côte d'Ivoire
2070251 Grand-Bassam Côte d'Ivoire
2112493 Freetown Sierra Leone East
2114798 Benin City Nigeria Sokponba
2081717 Harare Zimbabwe East
2150913 Malandji Democratic Republic of the Congo
279722 Puebla México Angelópolis
2140950 Puebla México Ometoxtla

Districts :

2119439 Ilorin Nigeria
2144859 Bori Nigeria
2099411 Alepe Cote d'Ivoire
2138964 Danané Cote d'Ivoire
2022451 Gagnoa Cote d'Ivoire
2125439 Issia Cote d'Ivoire
2125412 Man Cote d'Ivoire
2152754 Sinfra Cote d'Ivoire
555959 Newcastle South Africa
606162 Ipiales Colombia
607592 Newfoundland and Labrador
2106361 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
2140209 Kitale Kenya
2058111 Mombasa Kenya
2145073 Gulu Uganda
2156334 Kasumbalesa Democratic Republic of the Congo
616915 Minsk Belarus
2116707 Vanadzor Armenia
2146266 Quezon Philippines Palawan
2102072 Havana Cuba
2145480 Southern Kiribati
602736 Okinawa Japan Military

If anyone knows the location of these offices, they can send feedback to the site.

Christopher Duerig said...

I missed a Stake on the previous list no assigned Stake office :

2052024 Eagle Mountain Utah Silver Lake

Matt said...

Xavier - not sure how I missed this with Ferrara. The article has been updated. Thanks!

Eduardo said...

Italy has a temple in Rome. Things will continue to go forward. Praise to former missionary Steven Duke who served there and died a year and a half ago, born in 1977.
Thanks to all who served the Lord in Italian, including those in Australia.

Mike said...

I'm sorry, but I find it difficult to be optimistic, and especially difficult to be enthusiastic. I served a mission to Italy between 1969-1971, back when we baptized a lot. Although it wasn't Mexico or Brazil, many missionaries baptized 20 or 30 people in their two years.

Some years later, my job took me to Rome, where I served, among other positions, on the district high council. I was there when the Padova mission had been closed, but was there when it re-opened. Then it closed again, and shortly afterward, the Catania, Sicily, mission also closed. The church tried to soften the blow by saying that they closed the Catania mission because the area had "matured." This caused a lot of cynicism. After all, no automobile manufacturer would close dealerships because their market was "mature," but would open more dealerships in any successful area. Had the area "matured," the church likely would have opened a second mission in Sicily.

There are two problems: One problem is that of an upstart religion coming in and trying to overlay there religion onto an ancient culture where their religion is part of the culture's fabric. That is why the church has never taken off in Greece; Greek Orthodoxy is a better example of a religion interwoven into the very fabric of their culture, hence the church has grown no bigger than it was over 20 years ago. Success in Italy or anywhere else was always going to top off at some point due to common regional saturation of the brand. The second problem is the fact that Europeans, as well as Americans, are simply dropping their need for religion. In all developed regions such as in Europe and North America, we're all going secular. There is little that the LDS church--or any church--can do about that. Having initially enjoyed exuberant growth in the 1960s and 1970s, the LDS church achieved saturation in certain areas, having more or less contacted as many people as would ever be expected to convert.

Today, Italy-wide (indeed, Europe-wide), most baptisms are those of undocumented immigrants coming mostly from West and Sub-Saharan Africa. As undocumented immigrants are forced to do everywhere they exist, they move frequently, have no fixed addresses, often are caught and deported by authorities, and always exist somewhere in the woodwork. Hope springs eternal, but one cannot call this true "success," and especially not "growth," because the immigrants living in the margins can never influence actual growth of the church in any country where this is the case.

Sorry. I just don't see it. The Rome stake was cobbled together from existing branches in the district, most of them meeting in store-fronts of the failing strip malls on the outskirts of Rome. And, if I understand correctly, the district was more or less just re-classified as a stake. I have heard from credible sources that the church had to make considerable compromises regarding what constitutes a stake, accepting that they did not have adequate priesthood, sufficient members, and especially sufficient members who actually pay tithing and who do all the other stuff expected of true activity in the church. I'm not saying that the church is screwed in Italy, but I just think that one has to be more circumspect, and not be overly optimistic of the progress there.

James said...

Mike, as a former missionary in Italy, you'd be in a position to know what you're talking about. Follow-up question for you: Have you studied what has happened for the Church in Italy since the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple last year? What President Nelson said while all of the apostles were gathered there in March 2019 could apply just as equally to Europe or Italy specifically as it does to the rest of the world in general. And on my end, I have heard some reports of people finding their way back to faith as a result of the personal way COVID-19 has impacted them. I hope that might prove true for Italy as well. Time will tell. Either way, I trust the lord's statement that "I will hasten my work in its' time."

miro said...

@Mike

I need to correct you a bit. It is true that most baptism in many european countries are immigrants. But only a (small) part of those are illegal (my estimate 10%). When the rome stake was created it propably was a small stake. But the rome area deffeneitly has seen some good grothw over the past 15 years. Might hava had to do with the announcment of the temple and latter saint families form other areas of italy moving there.

I am from Switzerland and i have met many italiean saints in the swiss temple, that they attended very dilligently till the rome temple was dedicated.

Church leaders in europe said that spain and itlay are the countries that made the most progress in convert baptisms and increase of active membership in the last years.
Italian friends told me that int the past few years they also had more native italien converts and more complete families. (sitll small in numbers compared to the imigrants).

Italy defenitly matured in pisthood leadership and tithepaying in the last 15 years.

Itlay still struggles (specially in the south) with strong memebers moving away for work. Ether to nothern Italay, Germany, England, Switzerland or the USA.