Tuesday, October 19, 2021

13 New Temples Announced - Analysis - Part II

As promised, this is a continuation of my previous blog post regarding the 13 new temple announced made by the Church on October 3rd, 2021:

Vitória Brazil Temple

The Vitória Brazil Temple will be the Church's 14th temple in Brazil. Vitória was a major surprise given that there are few stakes in the Vitória metropolitan area and it surrounding cities in Espírito Santo State. However, given the trend with the Church announcing more temples in locations distant to the nearest temple, this location was added to my less likely locations for a new temple map in September 2019. The new temple will likely include only four stakes and two districts. The Church first established a stake in Vitória in 1987 and has experienced slow growth as only two additional stakes have been organized in the metropolitan area since then in 1995 and 2005. The Brazil Vitória Mission was created in 1993. Stakes in Espírito Santo State will likely be assigned to the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple once the temple is dedicated. Currently, stakes and districts in the likely district for the new Vitória Brazil Temple are assigned to the Campinas Brazil Temple.

La Paz Bolivia Temple

The La Paz Bolivia Temple ranked as one of the most likely locations to have a new temple announced given that it was the metropolitan area with the most stakes without a temple announced or dedicated outside of the United States prior to October 2021. There are nine stakes in the La Paz/El Alto metropolitan area, and the new temple will likely have nine stakes and one district in its temple district. The first stake in the metropolitan area was organized in 1979, and the most recently organized stake in the metropolitan area was created in 2013. Now, all three cities in Bolivia with more than one million people have a temple announced or dedicated. The Bolivia La Paz Mission was originally organized in 1966, and a second mission in the metropolitan area was organized in 2015 (Bolivia La Paz El Alto). La Paz was on my list of top 10 most likely locations to have a temple announced since March 2020. There are now three temples in Bolivia, namely the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple (dedicated in 2000) and the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple (announced in 2020). Currently, stakes in La Paz/El Alto attend the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple. The new La Paz Bolivia Temple will be the temple located at the highest altitude of any temple in the world given that the metropolitan area rests at approximately 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) above sea level. Currently, the dedicated temple at the highest elevation in the Church is the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple at approximately 8,700 feet (2,650 meters) above sea level.

Santiago West Chile Temple

The Santiago West Chile Temple is the Church's fourth temple in Chile. The Church has previously dedicated temples in Santiago (1983) and Concepción (2018), and the Church announced a temple in Antofagasta (2020). I added a second temple for Santiago to my less likely list for temple announcements in March 2021, but I had predicted a second temple was most likely for southern Santiago. The new temple will likely include 15-20 stakes and three districts in Santiago and cities south of the city in O'Higgins and Maule Regions. The Church organized its first stake in Santiago in 1972, and there are currently 30 stakes in the metropolitan area. Santiago is now the fifth metropolitan area outside of the United States with two temples dedicated or announced after Lima, Peru; Manila, Philippines; Guatemala City, Guatemala; and São Paulo, Brazil.

Fort Worth Texas Temple

Forth Worth was added to my list of less likely temple locations in March 2021. The new temple is the sixth temple in Texas, and the new temple will likely include 11 stakes in the Fort Worth area and cities to the south and west. The first stake in Fort Worth was organized in 1967, and the Texas Fort Worth Mission was created in 1986. The Church dedicated its temple in Dallas in 1984. Currently, the Dallas Texas Temple has 28 stakes in its district. Rapid growth in the number of stakes has occurred in the Dallas/Fort Worth area within the past 10 years as there have been eight stakes created in the metropolitan area during this time. Other temples in Texas are located in Houston (dedicated in 2000), Lubbock (dedicated in 2002), San Antonio (dedicated in 2005), and McAllen (announced in 2019, currently under construction).

Cody Wyoming Temple

The Cody Wyoming Temple was a complete surprise to me, and I did not include it on any of my predictions of locations likely to have a new temple announced. The new temple will likely include only three stakes: the Cody Wyoming Stake (organized in 1973), the Lovell Wyoming Stake (organized in 1901), and the Worland Wyoming Stake (organized in 1980). The Cody Wyoming Stake appears likely to divide in the near future as there are 13 wards in the stake. The new temple is the Church's third temple in Wyoming after the Star Valley Wyoming Temple (dedicated in 2016) and the Casper Wyoming Temple (announced in 2021, currently under construction).

Rexburg North Idaho Temple

Commenters on this blog have speculated about the announcement of a second temple in Rexburg prior to the October 2021 General Conference, and these speculations ended up being correct. The new temple announcement appeared heavily influenced by the Church's growing university in Rexburg and reports of the current Rexburg Idaho Temple being well utilized by membership in the area. Currently, the Rexburg Idaho Temple (announced in 2003 and dedicated in 2008) has 26 stakes in its temple district (15 of which are young single adult stakes or married student stakes). It is likely that the new temple will include half of the stakes currently assigned to the Rexburg Idaho Temple. The first stake in Rexburg was organized in 1884. The new temple is the eighth temple in Idaho after the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (announced in 1937, dedicated in 1945), Boise Idaho Temple (announced in 1982, dedicated in 1984), the Rexburg Idaho Temple (announced in 2003, dedicated in 2008), the Twin Falls Idaho Temple (announced in 2004, dedicated in 2008), the Meridian Idaho Temple (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2017), the Pocatello Idaho Temple (announced in 2017), and the Burley Idaho Temple (announced in April 2021).

Heber Valley Utah Temple

The Church has announced a new temple in Utah at every General Conference since April 2018. The Heber Valley Utah Temple is the Church's 28th temple to be announced in Utah. Heber City has numbered among the most likely locations in Utah given its location and number of stakes in the area. The new temple will likely service eight stakes in Wasatch and Summit Counties. The first stake in Heber City was organized in 1877. Previously dedicated or announced temples in Utah include: the St. George Utah Temple (announced in 1871, dedicated in 1877), the Logan Utah Temple (announced in 1876, dedicated in 1884), the Manti Utah Temple (announced in 1875, dedicated in 1888), the Salt Lake Temple (announced in 1847, dedicated in 1893), the Ogden Utah Temple (announced in 1967, dedicated in 1972), the Provo Utah Temple (announced in 1967, dedicated in 1972), the Jordan River Utah Temple (announced in 1978, dedicated in 1981), the Bountiful Utah Temple (announced in 1990, dedicated in 1995), the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple (announced in 1992, dedicated in 1996), the Vernal Utah Temple (announced in 1994, dedicated in 1997), the Monticello Utah Temple (announced in 1997, dedicated in 1998), the Draper Utah Temple (announced in 2004, dedicated in 2009), the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple (announced in 2005, dedicated in 2009), the Brigham City Utah Temple (announced in 2009, dedicated in 2012), the Payson Utah Temple (announced in 2010, dedicated in 2015), the Provo City Center Temple (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2016), Cedar City Utah Temple (announced in 2013, dedicated in 2017), the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple (announced in 2017), the Layton Utah Temple (announced in 2018), the Red Cliffs Utah Temple (located in St. George) (announced in 2018), the Deseret Peak Utah Temple (located in Tooele) (announced in 2019), the Orem Utah Temple (announced in 2019), the Taylorsville Utah Temple (announced in 2019), the Syracuse Utah Temple (announced in 2020), the Lindon Utah Temple (announced in 2020), the Smithfield Utah Temple (announced in 2021), and the Ephraim Utah Temple (announced in 2021). There is an average of 22 stakes per temple at present given the number of stakes in Utah (621).

Sunday, October 10, 2021

13 New Temples Announced - Analysis - Part I

One week ago, the Church announced plans to construct 13 new temples. This post provides an analysis of the first six of the 13 announced temples. I will provide Part II of this analysis within the next week.

Kaohsiung Taiwan Temple

The Kaohsiung Taiwan Temple will be the Church's second temple in Taiwan. The Church has maintained a presence in Taiwan for more than 60 years. The Church's first temple in Taiwan was dedicated in Taipei in 1984. The Church in Taiwan achieved significantly higher membership and congregational growth rates than other industrialized East Asian nations until the early 2010s. The announcement of the temple in Kaohsiung is a significant development given returned missionary reports have noted significant long-term challenges with leadership development and church growth in southern Taiwan for decades. For example, the Church discontinued the Pingtung Taiwan Stake (located immediately east of Kaohsiung) in 2019 - the first time the Church had ever discontinued a stake in Taiwan. The new temple in Kaohsiung will likely include at least four stakes in the new temple district (and perhaps as many as eight stakes if the four stakes in the Taichung area are included in the district). All of these stakes currently pertain to the Taipei Taiwan Temple district. Returned missionaries report that the greatest centers of strength of the Church in Taiwan are Taipei and Taichung. The Church organized its first stake in Kaohsiung in 1981, but it discontinued the Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission in 2009. There are now two missions in Taiwan. I added Kaohsiung to my list of less likely temple locations for future temples in September 2019.

Tacloban City Philippines Temple

The Tacloban City Philippines Temple will be the Church's eighth temple in the Philippines. The Church has maintained a presence in the Philippines for 60 years and reports more than 800,000 members on the records for the country. The Church in the Philippines has achieved an impressive turnaround with growth during the past decade after a decade of low membership growth rates and few new stakes and congregations organized. This has been evident by the number of temples in the Philippines (dedicated and announced) increasing from three in 2011 to eight today. The new temple will be the Church's third temple in the Visayas region of the Philippines after Cebu (announced in 2006 and dedicated in 2010) and Bacolod City (announced in 2019). Other temples recently announced by the Church include Urdaneta (2010), Alabang (2017), Cagayan de Oro (2018), and Davao (2018). The new temple will likely include five stake and six districts on the islands of Leyte, Samar, and Biliran - all of which are currently assigned to the Cebu City Philippines Temple. The Church organized the Philippines Tacloban Mission in 1990, and the Tacloban Philippines Stake was organized in 2007. I added Tacloban City to my list of more likely temple locations for future temples in September 2018.

Monrovia Liberia Temple

The Monrovia Liberia Temple will be the Church's first temple in the West African nation of Liberia. The Church has maintained a presence in Liberia since the late 1980s. The Church in Liberia has experienced two periods of rapid growth: 1987-2002 and 2011-present. Currently, the Church in Liberia has five stakes (all organized since 2016, albeit the original Monrovia Liberia Stake operated from 2000 to 2007). The Church continues to experience rapid membership growth notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently there are approximately 15,000 Latter-day Saints in Liberia. Rapid national outreach expansion has also occurred in the past five years with the number of cities/towns with an official congregation increasing from three in 2008 to nine at present. The new temple will likely include all five stakes and the one district in Liberia - all of which are currently assigned to the Accra Ghana Temple. Monrovia has ranked among the three most likely locations to have a temple announced on my prediction list for more than two years given the large number of stakes in the metropolitan area and continued rapid growth. The Church organized the Liberia Monrovia Mission in 2013. It appears likely a couple new stakes will be organized in Monrovia in the near future.

Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple

The Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple is the Church's third temple announced for the DR Congo after Kinshasa (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2019) and Lubumbashi (announced in 2020). Apostle Elder Neil L. Andersen visited the Kasai Region in 2016 (the area in the central DR Congo where Kananga is located) and counseled the members to prepare for a temple in the Kasai Region one day. The Kasai Region has experienced some of the most rapid growth of the Church in modern times. The first stake in the region was organized in 2011, and today there are six stakes. The creation of additional stakes appears imminent given steady growth in the number of congregations. The Church operates a mission headquartered in Mbuji-Mayi to service the Kasai Region which was organized in 2016. Kananga is currently the only city in Kasai with multiple stakes (3), and the first stake in the city was created in 2011. The new temple will likely include the six stake and one district in the Kasai Region, albeit many more stakes will likely be organized by the time a temple is completed. Previously trained construction crews utilized to build the Kinshasa temple will likely be utilized in the construction of the new temple in Kananga. The Kasai Region has been included on my list of likely temples for many years. Currently, the region pertains to the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple.

Antananarivo Madagascar Temple

The Antananarivo Madagascar Temple is the Church's first temple to be announced for Madagascar where there are approximately 13,000 Latter-day Saints. The Church was first established in Madagascar in 1990, and the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission was created in 1998. The new temple will likely service the Church's two stakes and three districts in Madagascar, its district in Mauritius, and its district in Reunion. Currently, Madagascar pertains to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple district. The first stake in Madagascar was organized in 2000. Antananarivo was added to the list of likely locations for new temples in September 2018.

Culiacán México Temple

The Culiacán México Temple is the Church's 17th temple to be announced for México where there are approximately 1.5 million members on Church records. I had included Culiacán on my list of more likely locations to have a temple announced until September 2018 when I transitioned the city to less likely locations for a temple to be announced as a result of concerns with violence in Sinaloa State and many ward/stake consolidations in the region. The Church organized a stake in Culiacán in 1977 and a mission in 1987. Stakes in Sinaloa State currently attend the Hermosillo México Temple. The new temple will likely service six stakes and four districts in Sinaloa and Sonora states. The Church in México has previously dedicated or announced the following temples: the México City México Temple (dedicated in 1983), the Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Temple (dedicated in 1999), the Ciudad Juárez México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Hermosillo Sonora México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Oaxaca México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Tampico México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Villahermosa México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Mérida México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Veracruz México Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Guadalajara México Temple (dedicated in 2001), the Monterrey México Temple (dedicated in 2002), the Tijuana México Temple (dedicated in 2015), the Puebla Mexico Temple (announced in 2018), the Querétaro Mexico Temple (announced in 2021), and the Torreón Mexico Temple (announced in 2021).

Sunday, October 3, 2021

13 New Temples Announced

Today, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to construct 13 more temples in the following locations:

  • Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Tacloban City, Philippines
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Culiacán, México
  • Vitória, Brazil
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Santiago West, Chile
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cody, Wyoming
  • Rexburg North, Idaho
  • Heber Valley, Utah

There are now 265 temples in operation, under construction, or planned. 

I will provide analysis of these new temple announcements in the coming days.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

September 2021 Newsletter

 Click here to access the September 2021 newsletter for cumorah.com.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

New Temple Predictions Part 2 - September 2021 Edition

I have enjoyed reading through the hundreds of comments regarding temple predictions for this coming October General Conference. Something that has been apparent to me as I have reviewed recent temple announcements and the comments for my previous blog post is that the Church has placed an emphasis on building more temples in remote areas of the world or in places where there are comparatively few members regardless of recent growth trends since 2018. My traditional method to predict and identify likely temple sites has primarily been based on factors that have appeared most correlated with previous temple announcements in the past 20 years from approximately 2001 to 2017. However, it appears that it may be appropriate to provide two top 10 lists to better account for this recent change in temple announcement trends - one that uses the traditional method to identify likely locations to have a temple announced (i.e., number of stakes, age of the oldest stake, rate of church growth, proximity to the nearest temple, level of usage of the nearest temple by temple patrons) and another that predicts new temple locations based on other criteria (i.e., distance to the nearest temple, duration of a church presence in the location, at least one stake). Thus, I have provided my top 10 list for likely locations for new temple announcements based upon the latter criteria. These temples would be small temples given the small size of the Church and slow rate of growth in the area that each potential temple would serve:

  1. Glasgow, Scotland
  2. Tirana, Albania
  3. Hobart, Australia
  4. Christchurch, New Zealand
  5. Kingston, Jamaica
  6. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  7. Fairbanks, Alaska
  8. Augusta, Maine
  9. Rapid City, South Dakota
  10. Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

Sunday, September 12, 2021

New Temple Predictions - September 2021 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in October. Data used to identify probable locations for future temples include the size of the Church in a specific geographical area (i.e. number of stakes and districts, the number of wards and branches), the age of the oldest stake in a specific geographical area, church growth trends, distance to the nearest temple, the historical number of endowment sessions scheduled at the nearest temple, and member and missionary reports regarding member activity, temple attendance, and convert retention. Altogether, there are 156 potential temples on the map (33 more like temples, 108 less likely temples).

One Location was added to the temple prediction map in September 2021:

  • Laoag City Philippines Temple

    The following prospective temples were transferred from the less likely category to the more likely category:

    • Maceió Brazil Temple
    • Viña del Mar/Valparaíso Chile Temple

    The following 10 locations appear most likely to have temples announced this coming General Conference. You are welcome to provide your top 10 picks for temple announcements in the comments below.

    1. Monrovia, Liberia 
    2. La Paz, Bolivia
    3. Angeles or Olongapo, Philippines
    4. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 
    5. Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    6. Charlotte, North Carolina
    7. Austin, Texas
    8. Santiago/Tuguegarao Philippines
    9. Tacoma Washington
    10. Colorado Springs, Colorado 

    See below for the map of likely and less likely new temple sites:

     

    Monday, September 6, 2021

    August 2021 Monthly Newsletter

    Click here to access our August 2021 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com. Things have been slow the past couple months for Church growth developments, so I do not have much to report in the monthly newsletter.

    Sunday, September 5, 2021

    New Stake in Idaho and New District in Burundi

    Idaho

    The Church organized a new stake in Idaho. The Twin Falls Idaho East Stake was organized on August 29th from the Kimberly Idaho Stake and the Twin Falls Idaho Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Eastbrooke, Twin Falls 1st, Twin Falls 7th, Twin Falls 11th, Twin Falls 15th, Twin Falls 19th, and Twin Falls YSA 1st Wards. There are now four stakes in the immediate Twin Falls area (with two additional stakes nearby in Filer and Kimberly). 

    There are now 135 stakes in Idaho.

    Burundi 

    The Church organized its first district in Burundi. The Bujumbura Burundi District was organized on August 22nd, 2021. The new district includes all three branches in the country, namely the Bujumbura 1st, Bujumbura 2nd, and the Bujumbura 3rd Branches. Burundi ranked among the countries of the world with the most members without a stake or district prior to the creation of the new district. The Church reported 749 members at year-end 2019. Burundi pertains to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission. Burundi and Rwanda appear highly likely to become their own mission in the foreseeable future given strong receptivity to the Latter-day Saint gospel message and recent periods of rapid membership growth.

    Wednesday, August 4, 2021

    Church Enters Northern Benin - First Member Group Organized

    The Church's meetinghouse locator website indicates that a chapel now operates in the northern Benin city of Parakou. Scores of individuals in Parakou have had significant interest in the Church's unofficial French Facebook. Parakou is the Church's first city in northern Benin to have a member group organized. Parakou is the third most populous city in Benin with approximately one-quarter of a million inhabitants.

    Sunday, August 1, 2021

    July 2021 Newsletter

     Click here to access our July 2021 newsletter for cumorah.com.

    Sunday, July 25, 2021

    New Stake in the Philippines

    Today, the Church in the Philippines organized a new stake in southern Luzon. The Sipocot Philippines Stake was organized from the Pamplona Philippines District (organized in 2000). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Libmanan, Lubigan, Pamplona, Pasacao, and Sipocot Wards, and the Del Gallego and Ragay Branches. Most of the congregations in the new stake are Bikolano speaking. The Pamplona Philippines District pertained to the Philippines Naga Mission prior to the creation of the new stake. Now, only stakes operate within the Philippines Naga Mission. Naga appears one of the most likely locations in the Philippines to have a future temple announced given the nearest temple is in the Manila metropolitan area. A future temple in Naga could service seven stakes and six districts in southern Luzon and Masbate, and it appears likely that two of the stakes may divided soon due to a large number of wards. It is unclear whether any of the five districts in southern Luzon appear likely to become stakes soon.

    There are now 123 stakes and 56 districts in the Philippines.

    Sunday, July 18, 2021

    New Stakes Created in the Philippines (4), Utah (2), Brazil, Cabo Verde, the DR Congo, Finland, Michigan, and Nigeria; New District Created in Brazil; District Reinstated in Canada; Stakes Discontinued in Japan (3) and California (2); Districts Discontinued in Brazil and Moldova

    I apologize for the delay with updates on stake/district organizations and discontinuations. I am optimistic that I will been more consistent with these updates in the weeks and months ahead.

    The Philippines 

    The Church has organized four new stakes in the Philippines.

    The Marikina Philippines East Stake was organized on May 23rd from a division of the Antipolo Philippines Stake and the Marikina Philippines Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Bagong Nayon, Cogeo, Marikina 6th, Sumulong 1st, and Sumulong 2nd Wards. 

    The Cauayan Philippines Stake was organized on May 30th from the Cauayan Philippines District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Cabatuan, Cauayan Isabela 1st, Cauayan Isabela 2nd, Cauayan Isabela 3rd, and San Mateo Wards, and the Naguilian and Victoria Branches. The original Cauayan Philippines District was organized in 1996.

    The Vigan Philippines Stake was organized from the Vigan Philippines District on June 13th. All five branches in the former district were reorganized into wards, including the Cabugao, Santo Domingo, Sinait, Vigan 1st, and Vigan 2nd Wards. The Vigan Philippines District was originally organized in 2002 from a division of the Narvacan Philippines Stake (which was later renamed the Candon Philippines Stake). 

    The Tagum Philippines Stake was organized from the Tagum Philippines District on June 27th. Five of the six branches in the former district were reorganized into wards. The new stake includes the following five wards and one branch: the Maco, Tagum 1st, Tagum 2nd, Tagum 3rd, and Tagum 4th Wards, and the Kapalong Branch. The original Tagum Philippines District was organized in 1993. The new stake is the Church's third stake in the Philippines Butuan Mission - a mission in the Philippines (organized in 2006) which had only one stake until 2018. There remain six districts in the Philippines Butuan Mission.

    There are now 122 stakes and 57 districts in the Philippines. Despite significant progress with dozens of districts becoming stakes in the past decade, the Philippines continues to have the most districts of any country in the Church. Brazil is the country with the second most districts at 39.

    Utah

    The Church has organized two new stakes in Utah on June 6th.

    The Heber City Utah Old Mill Stake was organized from a division of the Heber City Utah Stake, the Heber City Utah East Stake, and the Heber City Utah North Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards and one branch: the Cobblestone, Heber 3rd, Heber 4th, Heber 7th, Heber 15th, Old Mill 1st, Old Mill 2nd, and Old Mill 3rd Wards, and the Heber 13th (Spanish) Branch. There are now six stakes in Wasatch County.

    The Hyrum Utah West Stake was organized from a division of the Hyrum Utah Stake and the Hyrum Utah North Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Hyrum 1st, Hyrum 3rd, Hyrum 5th, Hyrum 6th, Hyrum 10th, Hyrum 11th, Hyrum 13th, and Little Bear Wards. There are now 38 stakes in Cache County.

    There are now 619 stakes and two districts in Utah.

    Brazil 

    The Church organized a new stake in Brazil on June 6th. The Palhoça Brazil Stake was organized from a division of the São José Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and one branch: the Fazenda do Max, Forquilhinhas, Palhoça, and Pedra Branca Wards, and the Santo Amaro Branch. There are now 10 stakes in Santa Catarina State.

    The Church organized a new district in Brazil on May 2nd. The Campo Maior Brazil District was organized from three mission branches in the Brazil Teresina Mission. The new district includes the Campo Maior, Piripiri, and Surubim Branches. Two of the branches in the district (Campo Maior and Surubim) are located in the city of Campo Maior. There are now three stakes and two districts in Piaui State.

    The Church discontinued a district in Brazil. The Ipoméia Brazil District was discontinued and branches that pertained to the former district were reassigned to the Chapecó Brazil Stake and the Lages Brazil Stake. The district was originally organized in 1990 and included five branches when it was discontinued. The district was likely discontinued because it had no realistic prospects to become a stake in the foreseeable future, but there appear to be at least two branches which may become wards now that they are within the boundaries of a stake.

    Cabo Verde

    The Church organized a new stake in Cabo Verde on June 6th. The Assomada Cape Verde Stake was organized from the Assomada Cape Verde District (organized in 2015) and the Praia Cape Verde Stake (organized in 2012). The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Achada Grande, Achada Mato, Assomada 1st, Assomada 2nd, Praia 2nd, and Tarrafal Wards, and the Calheta, Pedra Badejo, and Ribeirão Manuel Branches. The Church discontinued one branch (Chão Bom) in the district as part of the organization of the new stake in order for one of the units to be large enough to become a ward (Tarrafal). 

    There are now four stakes and one district in Cabo Verde.

    DR Congo

    A new stake was organized in the DR Congo on July 4th. The Kikula Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake was organized from a division of the Likasi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake (organized in 2016). The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Kakanda, Kakontwe 1st, Kakontwe 2nd, Kelangile, Kikula 1st, and Kikula 2nd Wards, and the Dipeta, Fungurume, and Kambove Branches. The new stake primarily consists of congregations in the western half of the city of Kikula, albeit the new stake also includes congregations in three additional cities (Fungurume, Kakanda, and Kambove). 

    There are now 24 stakes and 6 districts in the DR Congo.

    Finland 

    The Church organized its first new stake in Finland since 1983. The Jyväskylä Finland Stake was organized from three districts and two wards from neighboring stakes in southern Finland on May 16th. Of the five wards in the new stake, three were organized from branches in the former districts. Use of technology and steady or increasing numbers of active members in northern Finland appear primarily responsible for the creation of the new stake. The Church in Finland has one of the highest member activity rates in the developed world (as high as 50% attending Church regularly, 66% of Church-reported membership self-affiliated on the census in 2015) which is attested by the Church operating three stakes in the country even though there are slightly less than 5,000 members on the records. However, the Church closed two branches as part of the new stake’s creation—a significant negative development considering the last time the Church had discontinued a congregation in Finland was in 2006. Nevertheless, the Church in Finland has roughly maintained the same number of congregations in Finland (approximately 30) for decades, whereas the Church in most European nations has experienced a significant consolidation of wards and branches since 2000.

    Michigan 

    The Church organized a new stake in Michigan - the first time a new stake has been organized in Michigan since the Kalamazoo Michigan Stake was created in 1979. The new stake was organized on May 23rd from the Ann Arbor Michigan Stake, the Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake, and the Westland Michigan Stake, and it includes the following six wards: the Commerce, Farmington Hills, Howell, Livonia, Northville, and White Lake Wards. The Church in Michigan has experienced stagnant congregational growth and extremely slow membership growth in recent years. The creation of the stake was unusual given that none of the stakes in the Detroit area were large and ready to divide prior to the creation of the new stake. However, on rare occasions the Church has organized new stakes in such situations which has appeared prompted by efforts to provide more leadership mentoring and a lower ratio of members to Church leaders. 

    There are now nine stakes and one district in Michigan.

    Nigeria 

    The Church organized a new stake in Nigeria. The Ijebu-Ode Nigeria Stake was organized on May 30th from the Ijebu-Ode Nigeria District (organized in 1993). The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Ilese, Imodi, Imushin, Irewon, Isoku, and Sagamu Wards, and the Ago-Iwoye, Igbeba, and Ijebu-Ife Branches. Of the congregations assigned to the new stake, two units were created at the same time the stake was organized (the Imushin Ward and the Igbeba Branch). 

    There are now 61 stakes and 17 districts in Nigeria.

    Canada 

    The Church reinstated a district in Canada. The Québec City District was reinstated (originally organized in 1977), and the district was organized from a division of the Longueuil Quebec Stake. Information of the Church's official meetinghouse locator website appears to remain incomplete on which branches are assigned to the reinstated district. However, there are likely at least seven branches assigned to the district (Alma, Charlesbourg, Chicoutimi, Lévis, Québec, Rimouski, and Victoriaville).

    There are now three stakes and one district in Québec, and there are now 52 stakes and five districts in Canada.

    Japan 

    The Church discontinued three stakes in Japan. The Church discontinued the Fujisawa Japan Stake (organized in 1998), the Musashino Japan Stake (organized in 1982), and the Saitama Japan Stake (organized in 1977). Approximately half a dozen congregations closed at approximately the same time as the discontinuation of these three stakes. All three of the stakes were located in the Tokyo metropolitan area and each had six wards (and the Fujisawa Japan Stake also had one branch as well). The Church in Japan has gradually consolidated congregations in the Tokyo metropolitan area over the past two decades, and the decision to discontinue the stakes was likely prompted due to an insufficient number of congregations to continue to operate the status quo number of stakes in the area. The Church in Japan reached an all-time high of 31 stakes in 2000. With the closure of the three stakes, there are now 25 stakes and 13 districts in Japan. Annual membership growth rates in Japan have been less than one percent since 2003.

    California

    The Church discontinued two stakes in California. The San Diego California North Stake (organized in 1969) and the Santee California Stake (organized in 1985) were discontinued, and remaining congregations in these stakes were reassigned to neighboring stakes. These changes resulted in the number of stakes in the San Diego area decreasing from six to four. Decades of active membership leaving the area combined with an insufficient number of converts joining the Church or members moving to the area to offset these loses has been principally responsible for this decline. The Church most recently had discontinued the San Diego Sweetwater Stake in 2016. 

    There are now 149 stakes in California. The Church in California reported an all-time high of 162 stakes in 1995.

    Moldova

    The Church discontinued its sole district in Moldova. The Chisinau Moldova District (originally organized in 2009) was discontinued, and the Balti and Orhei Branches were also closed. There remain only two branches in Moldova - both of which are located in Chisinau. The Church in Moldova has reported very slow growth since its initial establishment in the late 1990s. There were 430 members on Church records in Moldova as of year-end 2019.

    Friday, July 9, 2021

    New Mission In Tonga - Update

    The Church's New Zealand Newsroom website posted the following statement about the creation of the Tonga Outer Islands Mission:

    The Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will divide into two missions for approximately one year.

    This is to enable local missionaries to serve while overseas assignments are not possible due to the pandemic.

    Saturday, July 3, 2021

    June 2021 Newsletter

    Click here to access the June 2021 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

    Thursday, July 1, 2021

    New Mission in Tonga

    The Church's official meetinghouse locator website indicated that a new mission has been organized in Tonga. The Tonga Outer Islands Mission was organized from the Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission. The new mission includes the five stakes and two districts off the main island of Tongatapu. The realigned Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission now has 14 stakes. The new mission appears to have the smallest population of any proselytizing mission in the Church outside the United States. The mission may include as few as 25,000 people within its geographical boundaries. Tonga has long been a country in which the number of members serving full-time missions has far exceeded the number of members serving full-time missions within the country. Thus, the new mission may be part of the Church's efforts to assign Tongan missionaries to serve within their home nation. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of Church membership in Tonga does not identify as Latter-day Saint on the census. Thus, the new mission may assist in the Church's reactivation efforts. Based upon the most recent statistics available from the Church as of year-end 2019, 62.5% of the Tongan population is a member of the Church on Church records.

    Saturday, June 26, 2021

    Love, Share, Invite Missionary Broadcast: Analysis and Opinion

    This morning, I watched the Church's Love, Share, Invite broadcast. The broadcast can be found here. I found this broadcast to be one of the most fascinating and unusual broadcasts I have ever seen in the Church. Here are reasons why I think this:

    • The entire broadcast was on member-missionary work, and it was not about referring others to the full-time missionaries, preparing members for full-time missionary service, or how full-time missionaries should do missionary work
    • The focus was on children, youth, and young single adults doing missionary work, not older adults, families, or full-time missionaries doing missionary work
    • Addressing rejection of member invitations in missionary work
    • The need to continue to share the Gospel even if previous efforts seem unsuccessful
    • Avoiding pressuring others or using methods that are not natural to share the Gospel
    • No talks given as part of the broadcast by Church leaders - just commentary and testimonies
    • A brief interview with the parents of a convert who disagreed with their child's decision to join the Church and who have not since joined the Church, but who later noted a positive change in their son's life
    • The implicit message that we, as a Church, need to change our culture to be more effective missionaries in regards to how we interact with those who are not members of the Church

    Elder Bednar provided many quotes that hit right on the mark of the problems the Church has had with its lack of worldwide effectiveness and progress with its missionary program, namely that the culture in the Church has been such that missionary work has been seen as something just full-time missionaries do for 18 months or two years rather than it being a part of lifelong discipleship. This attitude neutralizes missionary efforts for almost the entire duration of the average member's life. First, Elder Bednar stated, "Love, Share, and Invite should not be seen as the Church's new program for sharing the Gospel," and rather he emphasized that the purpose of the broadcast was "fundamental Gospel principles that we are reemphasizing." He emphasized that missionary work should "become a natural expression of genuine love." The need to totally reshape member attitudes about missionary was highlighted when he said we should "not talk about missionary work as a discrete and separate activity that some of do some of the time," and instead it should become an "integral permanent part of our daily lives." Ultimately, Elder Bednar emphasized "Church leaders will no longer have to ask members to add sharing the Gospel to their already lengthy list of things to do" once Church culture to conform to these standards. Elder Uchtdorf also highlighted this need by stating missionary work must use "normal and in natural ways" in order to "invite people to come and see, come and help, and come and belong." Another implicit message from the broadcast was that these changes need to happen with the Church's leaders around the world first if there is any hope that change is to happen to the main body of active membership in the Church. In other words, the leaders need to lead by example and not just occupy some type of managerial role in supervising and cheering on those under their stewardship.

    I was also pleased to see that this broadcast directly addressed some of the points mentioned in my blog post from February 25th, 2019 entitled The Urgent Need to Reform the Missionary Program. It is quite concerning that the culture about member-missionary work in the Church has been such that it seems most members do not know how to to do it. I believe this has arisen due to a combination of factors which I have seen through the data I have collected as well as my own personal experiences. First, the high-pressured tactics and quota-driven approaches to missionary work, which began to be implemented in the early 1960s in the United Kingdom, eventually spread to most areas of the Church, and this has resulted in members usually only referring people to the missionaries if they are confident that these individuals are ready to join the Church or are able to be comfortable with such pressure. Thus, the negative relationship between members and full-time missionaries often appears to be the result of concerns whether full-time missionary efforts are motivated by secondary gain (i.e., reaching a goal to have X many baptisms) or genuine concern for the well-being of the individuals involved in their missionary efforts. Second, active Latter-day Saints in many areas of the world develop their own sub-culture in the area and tend to spend much of their socialization with fellow active members. This results in fewer opportunities to associate with "non-members" and can also result in greater anxiety about interacting with those "outside the Church" due to differences in culture, practices, and beliefs. Third, many members of the Church are afraid of rejection or offending others. These members may lack sufficient member-missionary skills and/or had negative or unsuccessful past experiences sharing the Gospel. Fourth, missionary work has long since been something done by full-time missionaries for a discrete period of time rather than something expected to occur on an everyday basis (a point I mentioned earlier). One of the main points driven in the broadcast was for members of the Church to invite others to activities they are already doing - whether they were official Church activities or social gatherings or activities. Although the broadcast is a major step in the right direction, it will probably take many years, or perhaps decades, for there to be an effective shift in culture in the Church in most areas to try to effectively adopt these principles. Efforts to deliberately change culture are not easy, and sometimes these efforts can even backfire. However, the research I have conducted, and the messages shared in the broadcast today, make it clear that a change is warranted nonetheless for there to be any type of measurable improvement in missionary efforts, and these measurable improvements will ultimately be reflected at some point by the statistical data published by the Church.

    Finally, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, opinions, and observations. Please provide your comments on what you noticed about the broadcast and its potential impact with the Church's missionary efforts.

    Sunday, June 20, 2021

    Second Stake in Benin Created Today and Corrections to Updated Benin Reaching the Nations Article

    Today, the Church organized its second stake in the West African nation of Benin. The new stake, the Cococodji Benin Stake, was organized from the Cococodji Benin District. The Cococodji Benin District was organized from a division of the Cotonou Benin Stake in late 2018. It is unclear whether any units from the Cotonou Benin Stake were reassigned to the new stake. A video of the conference can be found here. Likely thousands of members appear to be attending the conference in the video. For those French speakers, please try to find where the information is presented on the new stake organization and let me know which units were assigned to the new stake and which branches became wards.

    I have received information from local members and leaders in Benin that estimates for member activity rates in Benin contained in the updated Reaching the Nations article are significantly less than what they actually are. Recent numbers indicate as much as 85% of recent converts continue to regularly attend church services. The Cotonou Benin Stake reported more than 80% of members regularly attend church services during early 2021, and there were approximately 100 converts baptized in the stake in 2020. These activity and retention rates stand in stark contrast to reports I had received from returned missionaries 2-4 years ago who reported the emergence of member inactivity and leadership development problems. I apologize for the inaccurate data, and I am very grateful for the updated information which appears likely to be very accurate. As with any updates I provide on this blog, or updates to the Reaching the Nations articles or other resources on cumorah.com, if you ever find inaccurate data please contact me so that way we can do our best to present accurate information. I will be amending the Benin country profile report sometime in the next week to reflect the new data we received.

    Saturday, June 5, 2021

    A Late May 2021 Newsleter and Cumorah.com Update

    I apologize for the tardiness on the May 2021 Newsletter - there were a lot of significant developments related to Church growth that month. Click here to access the newsletter. Also, the www.cumorah.com website has been restored after we suffered another malicious attack.

    Saturday, May 29, 2021

    The Collapse of the Church in Armenia?

    Recently, the Church posted on its meetinghouse locator website that both of the districts in Armenia have been discontinued. Also, all of the branches in Armenia except for four branches (the Arabkir, Artashat, Vanadzor, and Yerevan Central Branches) have been discontinued which resulted in the number of branches decreasing from 11 to four. This is an unprecedented development for the Church in Armenia where a stake briefly operated between 2013 and 2016. Some of the branches discontinued were the only branches of the Church in the city where they operated. Moreover, some of these branches, such as Gyumri, had as many as 65 active members 7-9 years ago. The Church in Armenia had nearly 3,600 members as of year-end 2019 which means that, with year-end 2019 membership totals, the Church in Armenia has the highest ratio of members-to-congregations of approximately 900. There has not been any other country in the world to have experienced such a dramatic decline in congregations, national outreach, and active membership as Armenia during the past several decades of the worldwide Church.

    I have not been able to find any information about the cause for these most recent developments. In fact, the situation in Armenia had appeared to be stabilizing in recent years given the creation of a second district based in Vanadzor in 2018 and the reestablishment of Alaverdi Branch in 2018. However, the Church in Armenia experienced a major leadership crisis in 2016 which culminated in the discontinuation of the stake and many leaving the Church. Returned missionaries have indicated that the mishandling of Church finances and local leadership development problems warranted the stake being discontinued. The Church in Armenia has struggled with very low member activity rates for many years which have appeared primarily attributed to inadequate prebaptismal preparation during periods of the most rapid membership growth in the 2000s. In the late 2010s, I estimated that only 17-19% of membership on Church records were active. The emigration of active membership in Armenia has been a major long-term challenge for the Church to maintain its stability in the country. In fact, the Church in Bulgaria has experienced similar difficulties with the emigration of active members. Similarly, the Church in Bulgaria is likely the country that has experienced the second most significant decline in the past several decades in the worldwide Church given that the number of branches in Bulgaria decreased by 67% from 21 to 7 between 2007 and 2018

    Please comment if you have any information about the current status of the Church in Armenia and why both of the districts and most of the branches in the country were discontinued.

    Sunday, May 16, 2021

    New Stakes Created in Utah (2), Alaska, Ghana, Indiana, the Philippines, Pennsylvania, Portugal, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe; Stake Discontinued in Idaho; Districts Discontinued in Portugal (2) and Ecuador

    Utah

    Two new stakes have been created in Utah.

    The Lake Point Utah stake was organized on February 7th from a division of the Stansbury Park Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Adobe Rock, Big Canyon, Brigham Park, Lake Point, Oquirrh Mountain, Porter Way, and Rockwood Wards. The new stake is the Church's 12th stake in Tooele County.

    The Orem Utah YSA 4th Stake was organized on March 14th. The new stake was organized from a division of the Orem Utah YSA 2nd Stake and the Orem Utah YSA 1st Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Orem YSA 14 (Spanish), Orem YSA 17th Ward, Orem YSA 19th, Orem YSA 21st, Orem YSA 23rd, Orem YSA 32nd, and Orem YSA 33rd Wards. 

    There are now 617 stakes and two districts in Utah.

    Alaska

    A new stake was created in Alaska on March 28th. The North Pole Alaska Stake was organized from a division of the Fairbanks Alaska Stake (organized in 1979). The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Badger Road, Delta Junction, Eielson, Fairbanks 3rd, and North Pole Wards, and the North Slope and Salcha Branches.

    There are now nine stakes in Alaska.

    Ghana

    A new stake was organized in Ghana on April 18th. The Abura Ghana Stake was organized from a division of the Cape Coast Ghana Stake and the Yamoransa Ghana Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and two branches: the Abura 1st, Abura 2nd, Abura 3rd, Green Hill, Nkanfoa, and Ntranoa Wards, and the Akotokyer and Brafoyaw Branches. The new stake is the Church's third stake in the Cape Coast metropolitan area which appears the most likely candidate for the Church's third temple in Ghana one day. 

    There are now 27 stakes and 10 districts in Ghana.

    Indiana

    A new stake was organized in Indiana on April 11th. The Fishers Indiana Stake was organized from the Indianapolis Indiana North Stake and the Lafayette Indiana Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Fishers 1st, Fishers 2nd, Fishers 3rd, Kokomo, Lawrence, and Noblesville Wards. The new stake is the Church's fourth stake in the Indianapolis metropolitan area and the first new stake organized in Indiana since 2007.

    There are now 12 stakes in Indiana.

    The Philippines

    A new stake was organized in the Philippines on March 21st. The Imus Philippines Stake was organized from a division of the Bacoor Philippines Stake (organized in 2012). The new stake includes the following five wards: the Buhay Na Tubig, Imus 1st, Imus 2nd, Imus 3rd, and Medicion Wards. There are now 118 stakes and 60 districts in the Philippines. 

    Pennsylvania

    A new stake was organized in Pennsylvania on March 28th. The Gettysburg Pennsylvania Stake was organized from a division of the Chambersburg Pennsylvania Stake, Colombia Maryland Stake, and Frederick Maryland Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Carlisle, Fairview, Gettysburg, Hampstead, Hanover, and Westminster Wards, and the Cumberland Valley YSA Branch. 

    There are now 13 stakes in Pennsylvania.

    Portugal

    A new stake was organized in Portugal on March 28th - the first time a new stake has been created in Portugal since 2002. The Almada Portugal Stake was organized from the Setubal Portugal Stake and the Madeira Portugal District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Almada, Barreiro, Costa da Caparica, Montijo, and Seixal Wards, and the Camacha and Funchal Branches. Moreover, the Church also discontinued the Algarve Portugal District as part of the new stake's creation. Three branches in the former Algarve Portugal District were advanced into wards. These changes resulted in no more districts on the mainland of Portugal. 

    There are now seven stakes and one district in Portugal. The sole remaining district in Portugal is in the Azores.

    Ukraine

    The Church organized its second stake in Ukraine on April 25th - nearly 17 years after the creation of the first stake in Kyiv. The Kharkiv Ukraine Stake was organized from the Kharkiv Ukraine District and the Ukraine Dnipro Mission. There were 10 branches within the boundaries of the present Kharkiv Ukraine Stake immediately prior to the stake's creation. Information on which branches have become wards remains unavailable. The creation of the new stake appeared to be years in the making as the present-day boundaries of the stake once included another district based in Dnipro and there were several additional branches within the former two districts which were gradually consolidated to create larger congregations. There are now two stakes and three districts (four if Crimea is included) in Ukraine.

    Zimbabwe

    The Church organized a new stake in Zimbabwe. The Bindura Zimbabwe Stake was organized from the Bindura Zimbabwe District. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Aerodrome, Bindura, Chipadze, Chiwarido 1st, Chiwarido 2nd, and Chiwarido 3rd Wards, and the Avilion, Trojan, and Retreat Branches. The Church in the Bindura area has reported some of its most rapid growth in Zimbabwe during the past decade. The Bindura Zimbabwe District was originally organized in 2012 with four branches.

    There are now eight stakes and two districts in Zimbabwe.

    Ecuador

    The Church discontinued the Jipijapa Ecuador District. Originally organized in 1988, the Jipijapa Ecuador District has experienced no increase in the number of branches for decades. The three branches that previously pertained to the district are now assigned to the Portoviejo Ecuador Stake. 

    There are now 42 stakes and 5 districts in Ecuador.

    Idaho

    The Church discontinued a YSA stake in Idaho. The Pocatello Idaho YSA 2nd Stake (organized in 1998) was discontinued and consolidated with the Pocatello Idaho YSA 1st Stake (renamed the Pocatello Idaho YSA Stake). The sole YSA in Pocatello now contains eight wards. The Church has discontinued 11 YSA wards in the Pocatello area since 2012 - six of which had previously pertained to one of the two YSA stakes before the stakes were consolidated in March 2021.

    There are now 134 stakes in Idaho.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2021

    Updated Country Profile: Benin

    Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Benin. So much has changed for the Church in Benin since we originally posted this article on cumorah.com over 10 years ago. See below for the Future Prospects section of the article:

    The Church in Benin has achieved significant growth within a short period of time as attested by the establishment of the Church’s first two stakes in the country within less than two decades of the first branch being organized. Convert retention and member activity rates are among the highest in the world, albeit there have been periods of time when there have been challenges with local leadership development and convert retention in the recent past. Recent experience has demonstrated that there are excellent prospects for rapid Church growth in Benin, but there is a need for strict fidelity to the timeless principles of effective missionary work—namely adequate and careful prebaptismal preparation, local member-led finding and fellowshipping efforts, emphasis on full-time mission preparation for youth, and proper mentoring and training of local leaders who are almost entirely recent converts from the past 5-10 years. The expansion of the Church into additional cities outside of Cotonou since the early 2010s is a welcome development especially given the mission’s focus during this time with the establishment of the first district in 2012 and the first stake in 2016. The creation of a separate mission for neighboring Togo appears likely in the foreseeable future, and this development may further help strengthen the fledgling Church in Benin.

    Saturday, May 1, 2021

    April 2021 Monthly Newsletter

     Click here to access the April 2021 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

    New Temple Announced in Ephraim, Utah

    This morning, the Church announced plans to build a temple in Ephraim, Utah. The new temple was announced due to modifications with the upcoming renovation of the Manti Utah Temple in order to better preserve the pioneer craftsmanship of this early temple. The Manti Utah Temple was the third temple dedicated in Utah in 1888. The Ephraim Utah Temple is anticipated to be approximately the same size of the Brigham City Utah Temple which is about 36,000 square feet. The new temple is expected to service 30,000 Latter-day Saints and have four, 30-seat endowment rooms, three sealing rooms, and one baptistry. Moreover, the Church plans to schedule endowment sessions every 30 minutes once the temple is completed.

    This announcement was a complete surprise to me, and it is not just because of the timing of the temple announcement on a Saturday not during a General Conference weekend (and less than a month after the most recent General Conference). Ephraim and Manti are less than 10 miles apart from one another. The new temple will likely include only six stakes in the area, including three stakes in Ephraim (two of which are young single adult [YSA] stakes for Snow College). President Nelson referenced Latter-day Saint young adults who attend Snow College as some of the beneficiaries for the new temple. The current Manti Utah Temple district includes 23 stakes in central Utah. It was a major surprise to me that a new temple was announced for Ephraim, but there remains no temple for Latter-day Saints who live in Price (five stakes in the area) or for the three stakes south of Price (Castle Dale, Ferron, and Huntington). The last time the Church announced a new temple not during a General Conference weekend was the Paris France Temple in July 2011.

    The new temple will be the Church's 27th temple in Utah and the 252nd temple in the worldwide Church.

    Friday, April 23, 2021

    Year-End 2020 Membership and Congregation Data by Country Remains Unavailable

    The Church has yet to update its Facts and Statistics page on its Newsroom website - the only location where the Church publishes year-end membership and congregation data by country and province/state (for the United States and Canada). This marks the longest the Church has ever taken to update this page after the annual General Conference (the last time it took this long to update the page was in 2013 when it was not updated until April 22nd). Typically, these data are available within 1-2 weeks after the annual General Conference. I have contacted the Newsroom staff about the issue, and the statistics have yet to be updated with year-end 2020 figures. The Church continues to not report membership and congregational data for more than a dozen non-sensitive countries -- most of which have had a recent official Church establishment (e.g., Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Senegal) or a de-sensitization of its previous status during the past few years (e.g., Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kosovo, Lebanon, Morocco, North Macedonia, Vietnam). Other countries have had a long-term, nonsensitive presence and remain missing from the statistics pages on the Newsroom site (e.g., Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, constituent countries in the United Kingdom).

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    Two Baptistries in the New Syracuse Utah Temple

    Blueprints released today by the City of Syracuse for the proposed Syracuse Utah Temple detail two separate baptistries on the bottom level of the temple. This finding suggests that other large temples in Utah may also include a double baptistry to accommodate the significant demand for this type of ordinance in the temple. Baptistries in many of the large Utah temple are often highly utilized and result in limited opportunities to meet demand for patrons. The groundbreaking for the Syracuse Utah Temple is scheduled for June 2021. Click here to access the blueprints for the temple. If you have any confirmation of other temples with a double baptistry, please comment.

    Monday, April 19, 2021

    Holguin Branch Organized in Cuba

    In a major development, the Church in Cuba has organized its first branch in a major city outside of Havana. The Holguin Branch was recently organized under the Havana Cuba District. The Havana Cuba District now includes five branches including one in the city of Havana, two on the outskirts of Havana in the town of Cotorro, and the district branch to service members who live outside of the Havana metropolitan area and Holguin. Holguin is the fourth most populous city in Cuba and has approximately 300,000 inhabitants. The Church has reported rapid membership growth in Cuba in recent years. There were 357 Latter-day Saints in Cuba according to official Church totals as of year-end 2018 (a 47.5% increase from year-end 2017). Cuba is not currently assigned to a mission, and the country is directly administered by the Caribbean Area Presidency. The number of branches in Cuba increased from one to two in 2014, three in 2017, four in 2019, and five as of April 2021. The Havana Cuba District was organized in 2017. There are approximately 11 million people who live in Cuba.

    Monday, April 12, 2021

    March 2021 Monthly Newsletter

    I just realized I totally forgot to upload last month's newsletter for cumorah.com. The newsletter can be accessed here.

    Updated Country Profile - Rwanda

    Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Rwanda. See below for the Future Prospects section of the report:

    The Church in Rwanda has significant potential given a highly receptive population to Latter-day Saint missionary work, increases in mission resources allocated to the country in recent years, official government recognition, the translation of Latter-day Saint scriptures into Kinyarwanda, and the establishment of dedicated and committed local leaders. However, the Church continues to assign few resources to Rwanda, and the country remains under the jurisdiction of the Uganda Kampala Mission. The organization of a separate mission headquartered in Kigali is greatly needed to provide greater mission president oversight and more resources and attention to fledgling congregations which have seen a significant reduction in member activity rates due to the government’s closure of thousands of places of worship. Moreover, the Church will require strategic vision to reach more than 80% of the Rwandan population which lives in rural areas.

    Sunday, April 11, 2021

    The Announcement of 20 New Temples: Analysis

    As noted last Sunday, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced plans to construct 20 new temples in the following locations:

    • Oslo, Norway
    • Brussels, Belgium
    • Vienna, Austria
    • Kumasi, Ghana
    • Beira, Mozambique
    • Cape Town, South Africa
    • Singapore, Republic of Singapore
    • Belo Horizonte, Brazil
    • Cali, Colombia
    • Querétaro, México
    • Torreón, México
    • Helena, Montana
    • Casper, Wyoming
    • Grand Junction, Colorado
    • Farmington, New Mexico
    • Burley, Idaho
    • Eugene, Oregon
    • Elko, Nevada
    • Yorba Linda, California
    • Smithfield, Utah

    This marks the most temples announced in a single day in which the Church has identified the specific location of the temples announced. The record for the most temples announced in a single day was set in April 1998 when President Hinckley announced plans to construct 32 temples. The announcement of these 20 new temples on April 4th, 2021 increased the total number of temples announced or dedicated to 251 - an 8.0% increase from prior to the announcement. President Nelson has announced 69 new temples since he became President of the Church in early 2018. Fifty (50) of the 69 new temples announced have been in locations that have been typical for most temple announcements in the Church in terms of factors such as geographic distance to the nearest temple, number of stakes likely to be served by the new temple, and the duration of a Church presence in the location. These temples include the following: 

    • Salta Argentina Temple
    • Auckland New Zealand Temple
    • Davao Philippines Temple
    • Lagos Nigeria Temple
    • Mendoza Argentina Temple
    • Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple
    • Praia Cabo Verde Temple
    • Puebla Mexico Temple
    • Red Cliffs Utah Temple
    • Salvador Brazil Temple
    • San Juan Puerto Rico Temple
    • Antofagasta Chile Temple
    • Deseret Peak Utah Temple
    • Neiafu Tonga Temple
    • Pago Pago American Samoa Temple
    • San Pedro Sula Honduras Temple
    • Bacolod Philippines Temple
    • Bentonville Arkansas Temple
    • Freetown Sierra Leone Temple
    • McAllen Texas Temple
    • Orem Utah Temple
    • Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Temple
    • Taylorsville Utah Temple
    • Bahía Blanca Argentina Temple
    • Benin City Nigeria Temple
    • Lubumbashi Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple
    • Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Temple
    • Syracuse Utah Temple
    • Tallahassee Florida Temple
    • Lindon Utah Temple
    • Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple
    • Tarawa Kiribati Temple
    • Belo Horizonte Brazil Temple
    • Casper Wyoming Temple
    • Elko Nevada Temple
    • Eugene Oregon Temple
    • Farmington New Mexico Temple
    • Grand Junction Colorado Temple
    • Helena Montana Temple
    • Kumasi Ghana Temple
    • Oslo Norway Temple
    • Querétaro Mexico Temple
    • Smithfield Utah Temple
    • Torreón Mexico Temple

    I believe that 19 of the 69 temples announced by President Nelson have not fit the typical criteria seen for new temple announcements given the small size of the Church in these locations, relatively close proximity to the nearest temple, and/or the short duration of the Church's presence.

    • Feather River California Temple
    • Yigo Guam Temple
    • Budapest Hungary Temple
    • Moses Lake Washington Temple
    • Okinawa Japan Temple
    • Cobán Guatemala Temple
    • Dubai United Arab Emirates Temple
    • Shanghai China Temple
    • Greater Guatemala City Guatemala Temple
    • Port Vila Vanuatu Temple
    • São Paulo Brazil East Temple
    • Beira Mozambique Temple
    • Brussels Belgium Temple
    • Burley Idaho Temple
    • Cali Colombia Temple
    • Cape Town South Africa Temple
    • Singapore Republic of Singapore Temple
    • Vienna Austria Temple
    • Yorba Linda California Temple

    Regardless whether you agree with my organization of President Nelson's temple announcements into typical or atypical categorized based upon previous temple announcements, I think that there has been a surprising number of temple announcements in locations that few have considered as likely candidates. Also, the news release that provides information about the new temples announced on April 4th, 2021 included the following statement about how the Church chooses sites for new temples:

    Temple sites are chosen by the First Presidency based on several factors, including the number of members in an area, travel time to the nearest temple and the need for additional temple capacity in a region.

    See below for an analysis of each of the 20 new temples announced on April 4th, 2021:

    Oslo Norway Temple

    Norway was the only continental Northern European country not to have its own temple prior to the announcement of the Oslo Norway Temple. Church membership in Norway has vacillated between 4,400 and 4,700 since approximately 2010. The number of members reported on Church records in Norway is comparable to neighboring Denmark (4,466 in 2019) and Finland (4,885 in 2019), yet each of these two nations had temples announced in 1999 and 2000, respectively. However, Norway had only one stake (the Oslo Norway Stake organized in 1977) until 2012 when a second stake was organized in Drammen. Approximately 30% of members in Norway appeared to regularly attend Church as of the late 2010s. Nevertheless, there is a strong core of active members to staff and support a small temple in Oslo. The new temple will likely include just the country of Norway with its two stakes and four isolated mission branches in northern Norway. Norway currently pertains to the Stockholm Sweden Temple. The Church has had a long-term presence in Norway with some congregations operating continuously since the 1850s. Approximately 8,500 converts joined the Church in Norway prior to 1930 of whom 3,500 immigrated to Utah. Prospects for future growth in Norway appear bleak given secularism in society, low birth rates in the Church, and few youth converts who are Norwegian. For more information about the Church's history in Norway, click here. Norway currently pertains to the Stockholm Sweden Temple.

    Brussels Belgium Temple

    This temple announcement was a total shock to me given Belgium's close geographic proximity to The Hague Netherlands Temple (announced in 1999, dedicated in 2002), the small size of the Church in Belgium, and very slow growth in recent decades. The number of congregations in Belgium decreased from an all-time high of 29 in 1999 to 11 in 2017. This decline was due to the steady discontinuation of all of the 18 branches in the country with the exception of one branch. The Church undertook a massive consolidation of wards and branches in Belgium in 2017 that resulted in the only ward or branch being closed in several cities. Today, there are 12 congregations in Belgium and two congregations in neighboring Luxembourg. Local members have noted that travel to The Hague Netherlands Temple is difficult for many Belgian members due to reliance on public transportation. Moreover, Belgium was the sovereign European country with the most members without a temple announced or dedicated prior to the announcement of the Brussels Belgium Temple (there were 6,605 members in Belgium as of year-end 2019). The new temple will likely service the two Belgian stakes (Antwerp [organized in 1994] and Brussels [organized in 1977]) and the Lille France Stake. Finally, members report that a site for the new temple has appeared to have already been secured. It is anticipated that the new temple may provide greater awareness of the Church in Europe given Brussels' prominence in European politics and cosmopolitan demography. The Church has had a continual presence in Belgium since the late 1880s. Belgium currently pertains to The Hague Netherlands Temple.

    Vienna Austria Temple

    This temple announcement was also a surprise to me given the recent announcement of the nearby Budapest Hungary Temple in 2019. The Church's growth in Austria in the past decade has been characterized by slow membership growth and stagnant congregational growth. The Church reported 4,693 members and 17 congregations as of year-end 2019. The Church has operated two stakes in Austria in Vienna (since 1980) and Salzburg (since 1997). The first official branch in Austria was organized in 1901. The new temple will likely include the two stakes in Austria, possibly one district each in Croatia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and possibly the Prague Czech Republic Stake. Austria currently pertains to the Freiberg Germany Temple.

    Kumasi Ghana Temple

    Kumasi has experienced some of the most rapid growth in the Church in West Africa during the past decade. The number of stakes in Kumasi has increased from one in 2010 to four at present. The first stake in Kumasi was created in 1998. The rapid growth of the Church in Kumasi began after the Ghana Cape Coast Mission initiated an aggressive church-planting strategy in which approximately one dozen member groups were organized in lesser-reached areas of the city. These member groups quickly matured into branches, and many of these branches have since become wards. The new temple will be the Church's second temple in Ghana where the first temple was announced in 1998 and dedicated in 2004. There are currently four stakes and five districts which appear likely to be assigned to the new temple, albeit the number of stakes and districts may be much higher by the time the temple is complete given recent growth trends. The Ghana Kumasi Mission was organized in 2012. 

    The Church organized its first branch in Ghana in 1978. All of Ghana is currently serviced by the Accra Ghana Temple. Ghana appears a good candidate for the announcement of a third temple in the foreseeable future in the Cape Coast/Takoradi area where there are six stakes and three districts. There were 89,135 members and 328 congregations in Ghana as of year-end 2019.

    Beira Mozambique Temple

    The new temple in Beira, Mozambique will be the Church's first temple in the country. The Church organized its first branch in Beira in 1999, and the first branch in Mozambique was created in Maputo in 1996. Beira was likely chosen as the site of the Church's first temple in Mozambique due to its central location and recent rapid growth. Mozambique currently pertains to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. There are five stakes (two in Beira, two in Maputo, one in Nampula) and one district (Chimoio) in Mozambique - all of which will likely be assigned to the new temple once it is completed. The Church organized its first stakes in Mozambique in 2015 with one stake each in Beira and Maputo. This summer the Church will organize the Mozambique Beira Mission from a division of the Mozambique Maputo Mission (organized in 2005).

    Cape Town South Africa Temple

    The long-awaited temple in Cape Town, South Africa was announced after many years of hopes and prayers by the members of the Church to have a temple announced for their city. There has been speculation for many years that the Church may one day announce a small temple for Cape Town due to long distance to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. There are only two stakes in Cape Town which were organized in 1984 and 2014. However, the new temple may also service additional 1-3 stakes and one district in southern South Africa which currently pertain to the Durban South Africa Temple. The Church has had a long-term presence in Cape Town with the first branch being organized in the 1850s, albeit an official presence was not consistently sustained for many decades. The new temple will be the Church's third temple in South Africa after the Johannesburg South Africa Temple (announced in 1981 and dedicated in 1985) and the Durban South Africa Temple (announced in 2011 and dedicated in 2020). The South Africa Cape Town Mission was organized in 1984. There were 68,772 members and 193 congregations in South Africa as of year-end 2019.

    Singapore Republic of Singapore Temple

    The Singapore Republic of Singapore Temple will be the Church's first temple in Singapore where the Church operates one stake (organized in 1995). President Hinckley publicly proposed a temple for Singapore in a member meeting in 2000. Singapore currently pertains to the Manila Philippines Temple. The Church reported slow, steady membership growth in Singapore until the early 2010s, and the Church has since experienced stagnant growth or a slight decline in membership from year to year. As of year-end 2019, there were 3,439 members and seven congregations (all wards) in Singapore. Approximately 28% of Church membership attends church on a regular basis. Prospects appeared favorable for the Church to organize a second stake in Singapore until 2019 when three wards were discontinued in order to establish wards with larger numbers of active members. Singapore ranks among countries with the fewest members with a temple announced or dedicated. However, the new temple will also service membership in neighboring Malaysia where there were 10,845 members (only 15% are active) and 31 branches as of year-end 2019 (Malaysia is the country with the most members without a stake when excluding mainland China). Moreover, Singapore will also likely service Latter-day Saints in Indonesia and Timor-Leste where there were a combined 7,600 members, two stakes, and one district as of year-end 2019. The Church organized its first branch in Singapore in 1968, and the Singapore Mission was organized in 1980.

    Belo Horizonte Brazil Temple

    The Belo Horizonte Brazil Temple will be the Church's 13th temple in Brazil. The new temple will likely include the six stakes in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area, at least four stakes in neighboring cities, and perhaps two or more districts. The first stake organized in Belo Horizonte was created in 1981, and the Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission was organized in 1988. The first branch in Belo Horizonte appeared to be organized as early as 1974. Previously built or announced temples in Brazil include the São Paulo Brazil Temple (dedicated in 1978), the Recife Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Campinas Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2002), the Curitiba Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2008), the Manaus Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2012), the Fortaleza Brazil Temple (dedicated in 2019), Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple (announced in 2013 and currently waiting to be dedicated), Belém Brazil Temple (announced in 2016 and under construction), the Brasília Brazil Temple (announced in 2017 and under construction), the Salvador Brazil Temple (announced in 2018), and the São Paulo Brazil East Temple (announced in 2020). The Church in Brazil reported 1.43 million members, 2,142 congregations, 277 stakes, 39 districts, and 35 missions as of year-end 2019.

    Cali Colombia Temple

    The new temple announced for Cali, Colombia will be the Church's third temple in Colombia following the Bogota Colombia Temple (announced in 1984 and dedicated in 1999) and the Barranquilla Colombia Temple (announced 2011 and dedicated in 2018). The new temple will likely include six stakes and six districts in southern Colombia. The Church has reported slow growth in southern Colombia as no new stakes have been organized in this region of the country since 1997. The Colombia Cali Mission was organized in 1975, and the first stake in the city was created in 1978. The Church in Colombia reported 209,985 members, 249 congregations, 30 stakes, and 10 districts as of year-end 2019.

    Querétaro Mexico Temple

    The Querétaro Mexico Temple will be the Church's first temple in central Mexico between Mexico City and Guadalajara - a region of Mexico with some of the lowest percentages of Latter-day Saints in the general population. Local members have reported Querétaro is an important evolving center for the Church in the region, and it is the only city between Mexico City and Guadalajara with more than two stakes. The first stake in Querétaro was organized in 1995, and the most recently organized stake in Querétaro was created in 2012. The Mexico Querétaro Mission was organized in 2013. The new temple will likely include the three stakes in Querétaro, three stakes and one district in neighboring Guanajuato State, possibly 2-4 stakes in Michoacan State, and possibly two stakes in San Luis Potosí. These stakes are currently assigned to the Mexico City Mexico Temple or the Guadalajara Mexico Temple. 

    The Church in Mexico has previously dedicated or announced 14 temples in Mexico including the Mexico City Mexico Temple (dedicated in 1983), the Colonia Juárez Chihuahua Mexico Temple (dedicated in 1999), the Ciudad Juárez Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Hermosillo Sonora Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Oaxaca Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Tampico Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Villahermosa Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Mérida Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Veracruz Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2000), the Guadalajara Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2001), the Monterrey Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2002), the Tijuana Mexico Temple (dedicated in 2015), and the Puebla Mexico Temple (announced in 2018). The Church in Mexico reported 1.48 million members, 1,843 congregations, 222 stakes, 47 districts, and 32 missions as of year-end 2019.

    Torreón Mexico Temple

    The Torreón Mexico Temple will be the Church's 16th temple in Mexico. The new temple will likely service the five stakes in the Torreón/Gomez Palacio metropolitan area, the two stakes in Durango, and two districts north of Torreón. The Church has experienced slow growth in this area of Mexico in recent years, and the most recently organized stake that will likely be assigned to the new temple district was created in 1995. The Mexico Torreón Mission was originally organized in 1968.

    UNITED STATES TEMPLES

    Helena Montana Temple 

    The Helena Montana Temple will be the Church's second temple in Montana after the Billings Montana Temple (announced in 1996, dedicated in 1999). The new temple will likely serve approximately eight stakes in western Montana. Slow Church growth has occurred in Montana for much of the past 30 years, albeit two new stakes were created in 2017. The Church in Montana reported 50,552 members, 126 congregations, 13 stakes, and one mission as of year-end 2019.

    Casper Wyoming Temple

    The Casper Wyoming Temple will be the Church's second temple in Wyoming after the Star Valley Wyoming Temple (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2016) which is located in Afton. The new temple was announced shortly after the creation of a second stake in Casper in 2020. The Church has consistently organized new wards in Casper in recent years. The Church's first stake in Casper was organized in 1962. The new temple will likely service the two Casper stakes, 2-3 additional stakes in Wyoming, and possibly the Rapid City South Dakota Stake. These stakes pertain to three different temple districts: the Fort Collins Colorado Temple district, the Billings Montana Temple district, and the Bismark North Dakota Temple district. The Church in Wyoming reported 67,729 members, 171 congregations, and 17 stakes as of year-end 2019.

    Grand Junction Colorado Temple

    The Grand Junction Colorado Temple will be the Church's third temple in Colorado after the Denver Colorado Temple (announced in 1982, dedicated in 1986) and the Fort Collins Colorado Temple (announced 2011, dedicated in 2016). The new temple will likely service the two Grand Junction stakes, the Montrose Colorado Stake, and the Rifle Colorado Stake. The Church's first stake in Grand Junction was organized in 1955. Stakes in the likely temple district currently pertain to the Monticello Utah Temple district and the Vernal Utah Temple district. The Church has reported slow growth on the Western Slope of Colorado. Statewide, the Church in Colorado has experienced stagnant membership growth since 2015. The Church in Colorado reported 150,958 members, 305 congregations, 35 stakes, and four missions as of year-end 2019.

    Farmington New Mexico Temple

    The Farmington New Mexico Temple will be the Church's second temple in New Mexico after the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple (announced in 1997, dedicated in 2000). The new temple will likely primarily service the historic Mormon colonies in northwestern New Mexico, Native American members in the Four Corners area, and southwestern Colorado. The new temple will likely include 5-6 stakes in the Four Corners area. The Farmington New Mexico Stake was organized in 1912. The Four Corners currently pertain to the Monticello Utah Temple and the Snowflake Arizona Temple. The New Mexico Farmington Mission was organized in 2010. The Church in New Mexico has reported stagnant membership growth since 2015. The Church in New Mexico reported 69,488 members, 138 congregations, 14 stakes, and two missions as of year-end 2019.

    Burley Idaho Temple

    The Burley Idaho Temple will be the Church's seventh temple in Idaho after the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (announced in 1937, dedicated in 1945), Boise Idaho Temple (announced in 1982, dedicated in 1984), the Rexburg Idaho Temple (announced in 2003, dedicated in 2008), the Twin Falls Idaho Temple (announced in 2004, dedicated in 2008), the Meridian Idaho Temple (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2017), the Pocatello Idaho Temple (announced in 2017). The new temple will likely include seven stakes in the Burley area. The oldest stake in the area is the Oakley Idaho Stake which was organized in 1887. Several of the stakes have operated for nearly 100 years. The number of stakes in the Twin Falls Idaho Temple District will likely be cut in half as a result of the new temple announcement. The Church has experienced slow growth in the Twin Falls area (where a couple stakes are close to dividing), whereas essentially stagnant growth has occurred in the Burley area for many years. The Church in Idaho reported 462,069 members, 1,181 congregations, 132 stakes, and three missions as of year-end 2019. Unlike many states, the Church in Idaho has reported consistent membership growth rates for many years (typically 1-2% per year).

    Eugene Oregon Temple

    The Eugene Oregon Temple will be the Church's third temple in Oregon after the Portland Oregon Temple (announced in 1984, dedicated in 1989) and the Medford Oregon Temple (announced in 1999, dedicated in 2000). The new temple will likely include approximately nine stakes in west central Oregon which currently pertain to the Portland Oregon Temple. This region of Oregon has experienced essentially stagnant growth for several decades. The Church organized its first stake in the Eugene metropolitan area in 1951 (today the Springfield Oregon Stake). The Church in Oregon reported 153,540 members, 306 congregations, 35 stakes, and 3 missions as of year-end 2019.

    Elko Nevada Temple

    The Elko Nevada Temple will be the Church's third temple in Nevada after the Las Vegas Nevada Temple (announced in 1984, dedicated in 1989) and the Reno Nevada Temple (announced in 1999, dedicated in 2000). The Church organized its first stake in Elko in 1942. The new temple will likely include the two stakes in Elko, the Ely Nevada Stake, the Winnemucca Nevada Stake, and the Wendover Utah District. The likely temple district is currently divided between four temples: the Twin Falls Idaho Temple, the Reno Nevada Temple, the Cedar City Utah Temple, and the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple (located in South Jordan). The most recently organized stake in the likely temple district was organized in Elko in 1995. The Church in Nevada has reported extremely slow membership growth in recent years. There were 184,703 members, 350 congregations, 42 stakes, and 3 missions in Nevada as of year-end 2019.

    Yorba Linda California Temple

    The Yorba Linda California Temple will be the ninth temple in California after the Los Angeles California Temple (announced in 1937, dedicated in 1956), the Oakland California Temple (announced in 1961, dedicated in 1964), the San Diego California Temple (announced in 1984, dedicated in 1993), the Fresno California Temple (announced in 1999, dedicated in 2000), the Redlands California Temple (announced in 2001, dedicated in 2003), the Newport Beach California Temple (announced in 2001, dedicated in 2005), the Sacramento California Temple (announced in 2001, dedicated in 2006), and the Feather River California Temple (located in Yuba City) (announced in 2018). This temple announcement came as a complete surprise to me given the Church's decades-long trend of active members moving away from northern Orange County (and much of Southern California in general) as well as several temples with the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. For example, the Church discontinued the Placentia California Stake in 2020 due to steady declines in the number of congregations in the area. The new temple will likely include 8-10 stakes which currently pertain to neighboring temple districts. The Church has reported consistent net decreases in membership in California since 2013 (all-time high for Church membership was reached in 2013 at 780,200). As of year-end 2019, there were 756,507 members, 1,229 congregations, 153 stakes, and 15 missions in California. The Church in California has had at least three distinct periods of membership decline in the past 30 years (early 1990s, mid-2000s, and mid-2010s to present).

    Smithfield Utah Temple

    The Smithfield Utah Temple will be the Church's 26th temple in Utah. The Church organized its first stake in Smithfield in 1938. The new temple will likely include eight stakes in northern Cache County and four stakes in southern Idaho. It is important to note that many of the stakes in Cache County are rather large at present, and it appears many new stakes will be organized in the area within the immediate future. Previously dedicated or announced temples in Utah include: the St. George Utah Temple (announced in 1871, dedicated in 1877), the Logan Utah Temple (announced in 1876, dedicated in 1884), the Manti Utah Temple (announced in 1875, dedicated in 1888), the Salt Lake Temple (announced in 1847, dedicated in 1893), the Ogden Utah Temple (announced in 1967, dedicated in 1972), the Provo Utah Temple (announced in 1967, dedicated in 1972), the Jordan River Utah Temple (announced in 1978, dedicated in 1981), the Bountiful Utah Temple (announced in 1990, dedicated in 1995), the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple (announced in 1992, dedicated in 1996), the Vernal Utah Temple (announced in 1994, dedicated in 1997), the Monticello Utah Temple (announced in 1997, dedicated in 1998), the Draper Utah Temple (announced in 2004, dedicated in 2009), the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple (announced in 2005, dedicated in 2009), the Brigham City Utah Temple (announced in 2009, dedicated in 2012), the Payson Utah Temple (announced in 2010, dedicated in 2015), the Provo City Center Temple (announced in 2011, dedicated in 2016), Cedar City Utah Temple (announced in 2013, dedicated in 2017), the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple (announced in 2017), the Layton Utah Temple (announced in 2018), the Red Cliffs Utah Temple (located in St. George) (announced in 2018), the Deseret Peak Utah Temple (located in Tooele) (announced in 2019), the Orem Utah Temple (announced in 2019), the Taylorsville Utah Temple (announced in 2019), the Syracuse Utah Temple (announced in 2020), and the Lindon Utah Temple (announced in 2020).

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

    2020 Statistical Report: Analysis of Major Developments

    As promised, I have provided an analysis of the 2020 statistical report. See below for some of the major highlights indicated in this report. These data need to be interpreted within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government and church restrictions on missionary work and church activities appears primarily responsible for significant declines in membership growth during the year.

    Significant Decline in Convert Baptisms

    The number of convert baptisms in 2020 was a mere 125,930 - a stunning 49.4% decrease from the number of convert baptisms reported in 2019. This is the lowest number of convert baptisms reported by the Church since 1975 when there was 95,412 converts baptized. A significant decline in the number of convert baptisms during 2020 was anticipated given significant restrictions with missionary work worldwide. Most mission in the Church reported a large decrease in the number of convert baptisms during 2020, albeit in late 2020 there were also reports of some missions where the number of mostly convert baptisms surpassed the number of baptisms for the same month in 2019. Nevertheless, convert baptisms dramatically decreased in 2020, and this decreased appeared primarily due to the pandemic.

    Significant Decline in Annual Children of Record Increase

    Children of record are children under age 8 who are added to church records usually shortly after birth. The increase in children of record in 2020 was only 65,440. The most recent year when the annual increase of children of record was approximately this low was 2001 when 69,522 children were added to church records. The last time the Church regularly reported an increase of children of record in the 60,000s was in the early 1970s. Fewer and fewer children have been added to church records since 2012 when there were 122,273 children added to the records. In 2019, the increase in children of record was 94,266 - the first time this statistic was below 100,000 since 2007. However, the dramatic decline of approximately 30,000 in 2020 appears primarily due to delays in blessing children among infants born to church members (myself included - my son was born in August 2020 and we did not do his blessing until February 2021 which is when he was officially added to church records). Many members have chosen to postpone blessing their infant children and adding them to church records during the pandemic until gathering restrictions are relaxed to permit extended family to visit for this ordinance.

    Children of record increase has had previous periods of accelerating and decelerating growth. For example, the Church reached an all-time high for increase of children of record in 1982 at 124,000. Annual children of record increase steadily increased from the early 1970s to the early 1980s and then decreased to the 90,000s in the mid to late 1980s, the 70,000s for most years in the 1990s, 80,000s for most years in the early 2000s, and the 90,000s for most years in the mid to late 2000s. It is anticipated that the increase in children of record for 2021 may be much higher than 2020 or previous years if COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and conditions continue to normalize. However, the Church continues to report decreasing numbers of annual children of record increase. Lower birth rates among North American Latter-day Saints, married members constituting smaller percentages of overall church membership, and difficulties with establishing full-member families outside the United States are some of the primary causes for recent decelerating growth trends with this metric.

    Lowest Annual Membership Growth Rate Since 1857

    The year 2020 was the year with the slowest membership growth reported by the Church in more than 150 years. The last time the Church reported an annual membership growth rate that was slower than 2020 was in 1857 when negative membership growth occurred (this was during the time of the reformation movement when church leaders advocated re-baptism to recommit to their covenants and to church teachings). Church membership increased by 98,627 in 2020 - a 0.60% increase from 2019. The last time there was an increase of less than 100,000 for total church membership was in 1973 when there was a net increase of 87,750 members. Despite significant decreases in members being added to church records, the number of members removed from church records in 2020 appeared consistent with recent years. The difference between the summation of convert baptisms and new children of record and the actual increase in church membership was 92,743. This statistic has remained consistently around 90,000-120,000 for most years since 2013 and represents the approximate numbers of members removed from church records due to death, excommunication, resignation, or children of record over age 8 who do not get baptized and confirmed as members of the Church. Thus, the pandemic did not appear to significantly change trends with deaths, excommunications, resignations, or removal of unbaptized children of record over age 8 for the year 2020.

    Congregational Growth Rate Surpasses Membership Growth Rate

    This is a significant development given that the last time congregational growth rates surpassed membership growth rates was in 1998. Low membership growth rates appear primarily responsible for congregational growth rates surpassing membership growth rates. Nevertheless, it is important to note that congregational growth rates did not fall as significantly as membership growth rates during 2020 to the point that the worldwide average number of members per congregation decreased from 535.4 to 535.2. There were significant periods of time in 2020 when the Church organized or discontinued extremely few congregations (primarily from March until August). Approval to organize new wards and branches often takes months, or even years, to complete, and thus many of the congregations created in 2020 were likely planned and approved before the pandemic began. Many of the new congregations organized in 2020 were in the United States. There was a significant deceleration in congregational growth rates in most of Sub-Saharan Africa with a few exceptions (such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Nevertheless, congregational growth rates have become more commensurate with membership growth rates for most recent years which suggests improvements in convert retention and member activity in the countries with the most congregations (such as the United States and Brazil). However, compounding convert attrition and member inactivity has plagued membership records for decades in most countries of the world. Although the average ward or branch in the Church has 535 members on its records, most congregations in the Church (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) had between 100-200 active members. 

    Full-time Missionary Numbers Significantly Decrease

    The Church has reported approximately 65,000-70,000 members serving full-time missions for most years since the end of the "surge" in the double-cohort of full-time missionaries in the early to mid-2010s. The Church reported only 51,819 members serving full-time proselytizing missions as of year-end 2020. The number of full-time missionaries widely vacillated during the year due to temporary releases or early permanent releases of full-time missionaries during the year. Many members have appeared to chose to postpone missionary service until conditions further normalize. Nevertheless, many members continue to begin missionary service, albeit their numbers appear less than normal. This is also a likely metric to see a significant and temporary increase in 2021 if conditions continue to improve.