Thursday, June 11, 2020

Updated Country Profile - France

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for France. The percentage of Latter-day Saints in France is comparable to most other Western European nations. Although France boasts the third most members of any country in continental Europe, the first temple in the country was not dedicated until 2017 after many years of preparation and searching for land. The Church in France has experienced comparable growth trends to the Church in Italy as smaller branches have been consolidated in many areas to establish larger congregations to create wards and form new stakes. Today, all of France is covered with stakes, and the number of stakes (10) is the same as Italy. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment in the past two decades for the Church has been further strengthening and maturation of active membership, along with slight increases in the number of active members. However, a rapidly secularizing population in which those who claim no religion or who are atheist is approximately the same size as the number who identify as Roman Catholic poses significant challenges for Latter-day Saint missionary efforts. Furthermore, misinformation about the Church that associates it with fundamentalist polygamist groups in the Western United States and the Amish has posed major barriers with the Church's reputation in France. Additionally, full-time missionaries are often misidentified as Jehovah's Witnesses. Nevertheless, the Church in France reports steady membership growth rates which have remained relatively unchanged for 20 years (see here), together with improving convert retention rates (approximately 60% for converts one year after baptism). See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The outlook for future Latter-day Saint growth in France is mediocre due to low levels of member activity, inconsistent mission practices regarding the baptism of new converts, persistent congregation consolidations, reduction in the number of full-time missionaries assigned, few local members serving full-time missions, and mission policies isolating Muslims from mission outreach. Emphasizing seminary and institute attendance, developing youth-directed mission outreach, and stronger member-missionary participation may alleviate some of these issues. Emigration of French members continues to frustrate greater long-term self-sufficiency and development of a strong French Latter-day Saint community. France will likely continue its role in facilitating the establishment of the Church in unreached and reached Francophone nations in West Africa by immigrants from these nations joining the Church and returning to their homelands or referring friends and family to study about the Church. Mission outreach centers are established in most major cities, allowing for continued outreach to half the population. The reduction in the full-time missionary force in the past two decades has increased the efficiency of missionary activities, resulting in a slight increase in convert baptisms. Time will only tell whether these modifications will continue to yield increases in convert baptisms without reducing convert retention rates in a nation that has become highly secularized with a significant Roman Catholic minority.


Eduardo said...

France is one of many countries in the world that is "the size of Texas". That is big, if you have ever driven across the Lone Star State. It has many more people than California.
The temple is a great sign, but the general trend of secularism is perhaps the biggest indicator of why France as much of Europe is a slow Church growth area.
From what I know France has a better native born child rate than most European nations, however part of the substantial growth of Church of Jesus Christ members is due to foreign immigrants. Sub-Saharan peoples and Latinos in Europe are helping the advancing of the faith in general.

Jim Anderson said...

This was just announced:

Christopher Nicholson said...

This sets a bad precedent. Next thing you know, other priesthood holders will think it's okay to wear dress shirts that aren't white. And then what? Facial hair? This will all end in mass hysteria, I tell you!

Unknown said...

@Christopher Nicholson fortunately it is only in certain areas, so some locations may not be affected by this change :)

James G. Stokes said...

Christopher Nicholson, I sincerely hope you are being sarcastic. The changes announced today correspond to changes made for sister missionaries in late 2018, and will only take effect if approved by the area presidencies for their areas. Also, the idea that one cannot be a good male Church member and have facial hair is false doctrine based solely on the precedent of tradition. After concluding my temple service in 2012, due to the physical difficulties I have in shaving as a result of cerebral palsy, I started growing facial hair, and the times since then that i have been clean-shaven are few and far between.

The Church news releases on this make the parameters of this change clear, and clarify that white shirts and ties are to be used still for weekly worship services, temple worship, and most missionary meetings and conferences. Also, this will not be an abrupt change where all male missionaries everywhere will completely redo their clothing selections to include the adjustments into their wardrobe immediately. These changes will be gradually phased in as current clothing wears out. And as it happens, this is merely an extension of practices that have come into play in some parts of the world where local conditions, governmental regulations, or other factors have prevented and prohibited the standard dress code of white suits and ties.

And this is merely an exception for usage where advisable. It's not like it's going to be an overnight change. The only mass hysteria I see this change causing would be if they try to make more or less of this than what it actually is. And the news releases should be made perfectly clear. Of course, that's just my assessment in response to your comment, based on what I read in the relevant Newsroom releases and Church News articles.

Nancy said...

I definitely heard some sarcasm/humor in ChrisNich's post. I have long wondered when the general leadership would accept facial hair again, so that men can look like The Father and The Son as depicted in all artistic images I've seen. My husband, a TBM if ever there was one, currently has a very long, mountain man looking beard, thanks to covid. So he's right there with you, James; he just hates to shave. I'm happy to see some adjustments to the elders' clothing requirements. Seems good and helpful, especially in areas where the missionaries don't blend in with the local populations well when they wear suits. Very much lines up with the sisters' clothing.

Chris D. said...

"13 June 2020 - Auckland, New Zealand News Release

Church and Community Leaders Break Ground to Officially Commence Auckland Temple Construction

A video of the proceedings will be available online from Sunday evening 14 June

Chris D. said...

Does anyone know when the Nochixtlan México District (2029987), organized 12 July 2015, was renamed the "Mixteca México District" in the Oaxaca Mexico Temple District?,-97.581493&z=8&m=google.hybrid&layers=stakecenter&find=stake:2029987

Christopher Nicholson said...

I was definitely being sarcastic. I only shave once a week and often wear a blue dress shirt because it brings out my eyes. I just like to mock Utah culture.

Eduardo said...

Being able to mock ourselves is sometimes a healthy exercise, but sometimes it comes across as glib, mean, or needlessly puerile or disrespectful. I am not past any of that, as Happy Dane or the moderator may know. ( I will never see those genius deleted posts again, thanks!).
Jewish who mock their Israeli brethren and sisters have their reasons, but Zion is Zion for a reason. Somebody has to constitute it to exist, right?
The priesthood leader that required white shirts the most on my lifetime was Stake President Dale Poulsen, a lifetime Californian. Times change, as has the facial hair standards since the 1930s or so. Or temple worker standards too.
I don't like shaving, mostly, so I avoid full shaves most days but get parts and bits to not appear or feel too Cave Man. To each his own, and all Church guys can do as they please.

Jim Anderson said...

The main thing here is 'look to the prophets', they set the example for looks and dress. But sometimes things happen and a shirt does not look purely white, hard water, washing mistakes (mixing whites with colors is the chief one there) and other accidents or conditions can be a factor. Watch the videos that show a church meeting, including those that show the sacrament too.

They do not turn anyone away due to dress. I had a major stroke, and two months later while still in rehab I attended in a long sleeved shirt and sweats. Only two months later I was using my suits again after I got out. I was even recovered enough that I could wear a five-button vest with the suit. The recovery will never be complete, the right side is still somewhat weak so I need caregivers to help with some things, I am not all that stable in certain situations due to the neurological damage caused by the stroke.

JMR said...

I have to agree with James and Jim Anderson here. Look to the prophets and trust that they are doing what the Lord would have them do. I have no problem with the change as long as it is carefully implemented, which it seems like it will be. As far as facial hair is concerned, there is no doctrinal reason for not having it. I have no problem with it. Some men look great in well trimmed facial hair. I do not! However, I don't know that we'll ever see the day when facial hair will be worn by the brethren. More than anything, I think it is an attempt to keep the dress and grooming standards high so that it doesn't devolve into an unkempt, shaggy look. I recall just a few months ago, before the Mount Timpanogos Temple closed, we were have a prayer meeting prior to our shift and the shift supervisors kindly reminded the brethren to come to the temple clean shaven. Some of them (that evening) had a bit more scraggly, unkempt look than is appropriate for a temple worker, so it was counsel that was very appropriately timed. Years ago, I was in a priesthood leadership training meeting with President Boyd K. Packer in Saratoga Springs. I was the ward clerk and our bishop was an old cowboy with a great looking handlebar mustache. In President Packer's remarks he mentioned facial hair and the importance of being an example of clean grooming standards. The next Sunday, my bishop's mustache was gone and he didn't grow it back until he was released from the Stake Presidency years later. Sometimes, I think it is just an opportunity to show a humble willingness to comply with counsel given by the Lord's annointed.

Unknown said...


Looking at the CDOL, it says that the page for the Mixteca Mexico District was last edited on Feb. 4 of this year. They also got a new district presidency two days earlier... so if there was to be a name change that seems like the appropriate time.

Chris D. said...

@Unknown, Thank you.

Bryan Dorman said...

@Chris, whereas Nochixtlán is the central city in Oaxaca where the district is headquartered, the region is called Mixteca, corresponding to northwestern Oaxaca near the border with southern Puebla state. A corresponding Mixteca region exists in Puebla and extends up to close to Tehuacán (where a stake is operating) and those areas south and west of Tehuacán until you get to the tri-border of Puebla-Oaxaca-Guerrero.

It is called Mixteca for the language that is also spoken there, Mixteco. Albeit, afaik, all the services there are still in Spanish.

Chris D. said...

Just 2 weeks left until the annual Mission adjustments. In this case for the 8 new Missions to begin 07/01/2020 :

1) Brazil Recife South
2) Cameroon Yaounde
3) Ecuador Guayaquil East
4) Ethiopia Addis Ababa
5) Mozambique Beira
6) Tanzania Dar es Salaam
7) Texas Austin
8) Texas Dallas East

Chris D. said...

Here is my list of my personal predictions as to the assigned Stakes/Districts of each :

1) Brazil Recife South

562211 Caruaru Brazil
521744 Jaboatão Brazil Litoral
522775 Jaboatão dos Guararapes Brazil
515302 Recife Brazil Boa Viagem
524426 Recife Brazil Imbiribeira
520829 Recife Brazil Jardim São Paulo
460966 Palmares Brazil

2) Cameroon Yaounde

2088363 Douala Cameroon
1862391 Yaounde Cameroon

3) Ecuador Guayaquil East

524743 Ambato Ecuador
472727 Babahoyo Ecuador
527793 Cuenca Ecuador
521426 Durán Ecuador North
521434 Durán Ecuador South
520586 Milagro Ecuador
412899 El Triunfo Ecuador
614157 Riobamba Ecuador

4) Ethiopia Addis Ababa

1123769 Addis Ababa Ethiopia

5) Mozambique Beira

423076 Beira Mozambique
2045281 Beira Mozambique Manga
2109018 Nampula Mozambique

6) Tanzania Dar Es Salaam

481475 Dar Es Salaam Tanzania

7) Texas Austin

506915 Austin Texas
520845 Austin Texas Oak Hills
2144379 Austin Texas West
2072181 Cedar Park Texas
511196 Killeen Texas
555800 Kyle Texas
272795 Round Rock Texas
1994719 Round Rock Texas East

8) Texas Dallas East

509124 Dallas Texas East
515922 Gilmer Texas
1903853 Heath Texas
505455 Longview Texas
516066 Richardson Texas
502804 Shreveport Louisiana
468282 Tyler Texas

We'll see how close I was to the reality of the reassignments.

Christopher Nicholson said...

There was a controversy last year when a black man working in the Payson Temple was told he had to get rid of his dreadlocks. He got the temple president to check with headquarters who confirmed that there's actually no rule against temple workers wearing dreadlocks.

We've already seen the day when facial hair will be worn by the brethren. It was approximately the first 120 years of the Church's existence.

Matt said...

When it comes to France is there any outreach in the church to growing Muslim population? It baffles my mind how there are not Arabic speaking Sunday School classes, groups, or branches formed in France.

Jim Anderson said...

The Church right now does not proselyte to Muslims, but some do ind the Church on their own.

JMR said...

Christopher Nicholson, I think you missed my point. Or, maybe I didn't state it correctly. I am well aware that the early brethren wore facial hair. What I meant to say was that I don't think we'll ever see the day (going forward) where we will see that. I thought the context of how I opined was pretty obvious, but I guess it wasn't. I think that time has passed. However, I could be wrong.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does proselytize to Mulims. One of the general authorities Peter M. Johnson converted from Islam.

There are no worldwide restrictions on proselytizing to Muslims. There are two forms of restrictions. One is a worldwide guideline that applies to outreach to Muslims with family in areas or likely to return to areas where their leaving Islam would be a matter of concern.

The other is severe restrictions and outright bans on proselytizing in some Muslim nations.

With Sierra Leone being roughly 80% Muslim we would not have any success if we did not proselytize to Muslims. Sierra Leone has an open society so much there was no religious motivated violence in its bitter civil war.

Peter M. Johnson is by no means the only African-Ameeican Muslim to have joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The notion we do not proselytize Muslims is false and needlessly restricts inviting all to come unto Christ. There are limits, but they are not as broad as some state.

John Pack Lambert said...

From my understanding policies against having facial hair for male temple workers are stricter now than they used to be. As in the current policies are less than 20 years old.

I do not claim to understand the future. I cannot predict it. However I do not see any current trends likely to soon result in temple workers with facial hair.

BYU is more likely to tolerate beards in the near future.

I also think some of our understanding of the rules is obscured if we focus too much on official policies.

On my mission the rule was I believe wear a suit and tie when you go shopping on preparation day, except between Mar 1 and Oct 31 when just a white shirt, dress slacks and tie was allowed. Some missionaries would go shopping on the way to or from playing sports and not be dressed per guidelines.

I have also read that in the 1970s on some Native Ameeican reservations missionaries were allowed to wear jeans.

James G. Stokes said...

I'd like to apologize if my previous comment came across as overly critical towards Christopher Nicholson. I also agree that for certain callings/positions in the Church (particularly for General Authorities, male general officers, area seventies, and full-time male missionaries or male temple workers) a clean-cut look is more professional and appropriate for the service being rendered. As a temple worker and missionary, I was always clean-shaven. I wouldn't have felt fit to serve if that had not been the case. But after ending that service, being clean-shaven was far less of a priority for me, as it's easier for me at this point on a physical level to not shave.

And unfortunately, in my family, I caught a lot of guff around 5 years ago for posting a picture of myself on social media with facial hair. Some well-meaning relatives tried to insinuate that a standard recommendation from their local Church leaders (that all men in their stake should be clean shaven) should be universally applied devolved into a familial argument that is still a sore spot when issues like this come up, so the memory of that familial misunderstanding and argument in particular has led to my being less patient than I would normally be with such insinuations.

Of course, I recognize that no one weighing in on that topic here could have known about that past experience in my personal life unless I mentioned it, so I'm glad I did so now. And I again apologize if my own personal memory of the familial drama on the subject unnecessarily led to a negative response from me when this subject originally came up. I suppose I need to do more to not let my past experiences taint my current mode and manner of speaking, but I'm clearly not there yet. Again, my apologies to you all.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

We taught a few Muslims on my mission. Two I remember specifically were an Iraqui Kurd, and the other was also from Iraq, I believe (there were a fair number of Iraqui and Afghan refugees in Kentucky at that time - this was back in 2002-2004). I don't think my mission president had any policy one way or another about us proselytizing to them, but my senior companion said they might need to get interviewed by an Apostle if they ended up wanting to be baptized. I don't know if that was just something he heard, or if that was official policy. I believe it was due to the guideline JPL mentioned above: "...a worldwide guideline that applies to outreach to Muslims with family in areas or likely to return to areas where their leaving Islam would be a matter of concern."

We actually ran into a lot more white European Muslims in Louisville, than we did Arabs. There were a lot of Bosnian and Croatian refugees in my area there, both Christian and Muslim.

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