Sunday, January 17, 2021

Mission Discontinued in Wyoming, Districts Discontinued in Malaysia and the Philippines


The Church discontinued its only mission in Wyoming at the beginning of 2021. The Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission was discontinued and consolidated with Colorado Fort Collins Mission. The mission was organized in January 2015, but its purpose appeared primarily related to managing Church history sites in central Wyoming rather than proselytism. The mission boundaries included an extremely small geographical area in and nearby Martin's Cove. The decision to discontinue the mission was likely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacting public use of these Church history sites. With the closure of the mission, there are now 107 missions in the United States.


The Church discontinued one of its districts in Malaysia in late 2020. The Ipoh Malaysia District was consolidated with the Kuala Lumpur Malaysia District - the only remaining district in West Malaysia. The former district had only two branches: one in Ipoh and one in Penang. In contrast, the Church used to operate four branches in the district, but closed branches in Butterworth and Sitiawan in the mid-2010s. The Church has struggled for many years with very slow membership growth and continued branch consolidations. In contrast, the Church in Malaysia reports some of the most rapid growth in the worldwide Church in the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, convert retention rates were low during these period of rapid growth. Leadership development has been a major challenge, especially considering most converts come from ethnic minority groups or migrant workers from other countries. Malaysia is the country with the most members without a stake which is primarily attributed to low member activity rates nationwide combined with membership scattered in several of the most populous cities such as Bintulu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Miri, and Sibu. The decision to consolidate the two districts in West Malaysia may be in preparation to form a stake, albeit there do not appear to be any imminent plans or prospects for the district to become a stake. Most recent reports from returned missionaries suggest that Kuching is most likely to be where the first stake in Malaysia will be organized.

There are now five districts in Malaysia.

The Philippines

The Church discontinued the Burgos Philippines District in early January 2021. The Burgos Philippines District included five Ilokano-speaking branches, namely the Burgos, Calinguian, Catabban, Gamu, and Mabini Branches, prior to its closure. Four of the five branches were reassigned to the neighboring Roxas Philippines Isabela District, whereas the Gamu Branch was reassigned to the Ilagan Philippines Stake. The Burgos Philippines District and the Roxas Philippines Isabela District were originally organized in 2005 after the Burgos Philippines Stake was discontinued. Any wards in the stake were downgraded to branches and divided between the two new districts. The original Burgos Philippines Stake was organized in 2001 from the Roxas Isabela Philippines District and included eight wards and three branches. The Burgos Philippines Stake numbered among the six stakes discontinued in the early and mid-2000s following a major restructuring of the Church's congregations, stakes, and district to rectify problems with local leadership development and low numbers of active members in individual congregations. The closure of the Burgos Philippines District has been an anomaly as only two other districts in the Philippines have closed since 2007, namely the Camiling Philippines West District (2017) and the Mapandan Philippines District (2014) - both of which were discontinued and combined with a neighboring district to create a stake shortly thereafter. Thus, the consolidation of the Burgos Philippines District with the Roxas Philippines Isabela District was likely motivated to create a stake in the foreseeable future. Many, if not most, of the branches in the Roxas Philippines Isabela District appear to have enough active members to become wards. 

There are now 116 stakes and 61 districts in the Philippines.


Eduardo said...

Too bad. Things will pick up again in Malaya. Phillippines will regroup, too.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know where the temple (in North America) was that Elder Bednar referenced in his BYU Devotional talk yesterday (Jan. 19)? It was open for 24 hours a day for several days... the temple president wanted to get all living ordinances in before the government would close it completely. Thanks for any help.

James said...

Unknown, per Elder Bednar's remarks, it was actually more than one temple. And given the comment about a "large jurisdiction" of several communities, I was led to look back at the following article:

In that Church News report, six members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the same day to young adults in each of the 6 geographical areas of the Church in North America.

Using a triangulation of Church sources here, the Church's biography for Elder Brent H. Nielson (the junior member of the Presidency of the Seventy) notes that he assists Elder Quentin L. Cook in supervising the North America West Area.

And Elder Cook was the apostle who spoke to young adults in the North America West Area in November. Based on those facts, it can be concluded that each apostle who spoke to those in any given North American Area are the same apostles assigned oversight for those corresponding areas.

If that's correct as well, then with Elder Bednar both heading up the Temple and Family History Executive Council and due to the fact that he spoke in November to those in the North America Southeast Area, it may be safe to surmise that the 24-hour operation of temples he mentioned occurred in the North America Southeast Area.

That's a lot of maybes based on personal analysis and conjecture, but since he didn't specify either way, that's my conclusion. My sister and her family reside within that area presently, and what Elder Bednar mentioned in the devotional about this situation also aligns with what my so has said about COVID-19 in her area, so there's that to consider as well.

Sorry for the sermon, but hope this information is helpful.

James said...

Although I hope my reply to Unknown's question is published, there is another matter I wanted to mention here. This morning, the Church announced that the April 2021 General Conference will follow the same format as the two held last year (held in a small auditorium on Temple Square, pre-recorded music, and that, aside from senior Church leaders, only those speaking or praying in each session (and their spouses) will attend each session. For my analysis on that announcement, anyone interested may visit the following page:

My thanks once again to you all.

Jim Anderson said...

No on that location, but there were some closures about that time in California.

James said...

Unknown, I looked back at the reports I'd provided on the phased temple reopenings during the period in question. And during that mid-November period, within a two-week span, operations were paused for the Philadelphia Pennsylvania on or around Monday November 9, and exactly one week later, pauses went into effect for both the Sacramento and San Diego California Temples. Any or all of these three cities could count as "a large jurisdiction" as defined by Elder Bednar. Which one in particular that might be could be up for debate. But that is the additional information I was able to glean from the archives of reports I had done on the closures at around that same time. Hope that information is helpful.

Cory said...

I’ve been downloading the PDF document the church newsroom releases every Monday concerning the status of temples worldwide. During the week that Elder Bednar mentioned, the temples in California were moved from phase two to “paused.”

Christopher Duerig said...

The "Ufa Russia District - 277517", has recently been reinstated from a division of both the "Yekaterinburg Russia District - 272280" + the "Samara Russia District - 2050943", of the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission and the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission, respectively.

Also today the "Ufa Russia District Branch - 2170876" was added to the Classic Maps.

"Branches Opened"
"....13 Jan 24, 2021 Ufa Russia District Branch"

It includes the Izhevsk, Perm, Ufa and Ufa District Branches, from the Yekaterinburg Russia District. And the Kazan Russia Branch, from the Samara Russia District. And the Orenburg Russia Branch from the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission.,55.481333&z=6&m=google.road&layers=stakecenter,mission&find=stake:277517

Not sure which mission (Yekaterinburg or Rostov) it will be assigned?

Does anyone know what date the District was reinstated?

Eduardo said...

Speaking of the present and future growth of Wyoming, I read that the decommissioning of coal as a product will greatly affect the jobs and therefore the population in and around Gillette, WY. Can the locals find other ways to maintain their livelihoods, apart from coal? This will inevitably affect wards and stakes in that part of the state.

What other predictions do we have for 2021? Africa does not seem to be too affected by C-19, yet. Maybe it still will, or maybe I have missed the bad reporting, other than South Africa.

James said...

Eudardo, when it comes to COVID-19, a few parts of the world are doing great at keeping it well under control. That includes Cambodia, where, since the pandemic began, only 458 cases have been diagnosed, and 409 of that number have reportedly recovered, with 0 pandemic-related deaths. Several of the Pacific Island nations are similarly doing very well in mitigating the potential impact of COVID-19. To-date, American Samoa reports 4 cases, with 3 fully recovered, and again, 0 deaths. Tonga is a bit more of a mess in that respect, but Papua New Guinea has reported 835 cases, with 790 recovered and only 9 deaths. Some Africa nations have been a bit of a mess, not just South Africa. By the way, if it matters, my mother, a South African native, notes that the reason that nation is struggling so much with COVID-19 is primarily because the healthcare system in that nation is so mseed up. She also has connections to the wife of a current area seventy residing in that nation, and let me know a couple days ago that both that area seventy and his wife are adealing with that virus themselves.

So the virus is really no respector of persons. Each of the 4 most junior apostles of the Church have dealt with it, as have other area and local Church leaders throughout the world. The virus has also impacted so many world leaders, primarily those who did not take the pandemic threat seriously enough. So there's some additional analysis and context on that for you. Hope all who read this information may find it useful.

James said...

Eduardo, I almost forgot to address the part of your question dealing with predictions for 2021. I believe we will see an uptick in stake creations in the coming weeks and months, since that is something that can be done remotely, with limited in-person attendance. All temple dedications and rededications are likely to be delayed, at least through the ened of the first half of this year. But the good news is that I don't see the pandemic delaying groundbreaking ceremonies for new temples, nor slowing down the announcement of temples.

I count at least 9 temples thus far that could have a groundbreaking in the next 6-8 months, with as many as 6 other having official information released within that same period of time, whether or not a groundbreaking is able to occur within that window as well. And it is worth noting as well that I received information indicating that at least one of the temples for which massive delays were anticipated may (and that's a very strong may) see something official announced sooner than expected.

We are likely to also see Church leaders continue to minister to Church members worldwide through the usage of technology while travel restrictions are in effect. And it is also possible that several of the new mission presidents could begin their service as such remotely, if they are not able to get to their assigned field of labor for the time being. I also don't think we can rule out other major announcements not related to temples coming from Church leaders this year, both during and outside of each General Conference.

One other unknown factor is how soon the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines will assist in the process of achieving herd immunity, or how quickly that could enable the world as a whole to establish a new normal. Either way, it has already been a signficiant year for Church-related developments, and January isn't even over yet. So there will be much more to come in a wide variety of aspects. Hope this also helps.

Christopher Nicholson said...

I haven't heard much about death tolls in Africa, but my friends in Uganda and Kenya have been under government lockdowns off and on and that's been hard for them. Kenya also had severe flooding and locusts last year, so the virus was just a little bonus.

miro said...

@Christopher Duerig

According CDOL (date of the district president called) the ufa Russia District was reinstated on the 20. Dec 2021.

Christopher Duerig said...


We know from this article the "Ufa Russia District" was disorganized in 2010.

But do we know the date of the original organization? Around 1999?

A side note, Ufa is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, within the Russian Federation. Also Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, within the Russian Federation.

David Tilton said...

James, Tonga has had zero cases of Covid-19 so far. How is that a “bit more of a mess” than American Sāmoa?

David Todd said...

I figured I would share that two new wards were created in my stake this past Sunday (Orem YSA 1st Stake). Both wards are in Vineyard. With all of the rapid growth in Vineyard and how it is attracting young professionals, I expect a Vineyard YSA Stake to be created in within the next 3-5 years.

miro said...

@Christopher Duerig
I meant 20. Dec 2020. Sorry for the typo.

The original cration date of the Ufa Russa District is according to CDOL the 5. Dez 1999.

James said...

David Tilton, I am not sure where exactly I got the data on which I based my previous comment, but based on your question, I did some follow-up research just now, and you are correct that Tonga has no recorded cases. I apologize for that unintention misinformation from my previous comment. Chalk it up to my currently dealing with some major issues with my sleep apnea and daily headaches. With all of that going on, I've not been at my best lately. Thanks for catching my unintentional error in that respect. I appreciate you!

Matt said...

Areas where COVID rates are low often have to do with their diet. Areas that consume more rice, and less wheat or other forms of gluten do much better, than areas that consume more gluten in their diet.

Climate too is also a factor, where areas with warmer (and more humid) climates, and with people outside than inside, tend to have much lower rates of COVID.

Jim Anderson said...

In 1987 Gillette WY was in a bust cycle for oil drilling, they had had a boom a few years earlier which sent the population over 40k, it has not fully recovered from even that since a lot moved out after that earlier bust.

For some new things coming this year, see the Seminary and Institutes Annual Training Broadcast, shifted from June to January, they say why in the broadcast. The things that were announced earlier with much more detail this time, some things the pandemic had them realizing they could do more with tech, and one thing they will be doing that will be seen outside S&I, are detailed in the 'Panel Discussion' segment.

John Pack Lambert said...

Keep in mind Tonga only has 100,000 people. More people live in Provo than all of Tonga.

Christopher Duerig said...

Recently organized is the new "Lesser Antilles North District - 2167468"

4 Jan 28, 2021 Lesser Antilles North District,-62.5177&z=7&m=google.hybrid&layers=stakecenter&q=Lesser%20Antilles%20North%20District&find=stake:2167468

which includes the Portsmouth, St Croix, St John's, St Kitts, St Thomas and Tortola Branches, from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat and Dominica.

James said...

David Tilton, I attempted to reply to your comment earlier, but for whatever reason, it was apparently not approved. You are correct that American Samoa and Tonga have no recorded cases. It appears that what I was trying to indicate was that, in comparison to both nations, Papua New Guinea was "a bit more of a mess" than the other two Pacific Island nations. The numbers in Papua New Guinea, though worse than those for American Samoa and Tonga, are still not too horrible, with the latest case count being 851 total, with 812 recovered, and 9 deaths. The Pacific Islands overall have had monumental success in curbing the effects of the pandemic, where there has been any impact at all. Thanks for catching my error.

Given that none of the three Pacific Island nations are having the degree of overall difficulty with COVID-19 that other areas of the world have had in the midst of the periods of time in which groundbreakings occurred in some of those nations last year, I don't see the current status of COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea as any kind of deterrent to a groundbreaking for the Port Moresby temple. My guess is that, for Pago Pago, Neiafu, and Port Moresby, any one or two or all of them could potentially have groundbreaking ceremonies either just before the April General Conference, or else not long thereafter.

James said...

We should also keep our eyes open for news on the groundbreaking for the Syracuse Utah Temple at some point this spring, and it appears as though preliminary efforts are underway to prepare the not-yet-confirmed sites for the Bahia Blanca Argentina and Salvador Brazil Temples. I cannot in good conscience rule out something happening soon for the first temple in Cambodia, but my understanding is that there may be some delays with that one.

I also wanted to report some new information I came across very recently, which seems to indicate that, with the possible exception of the rededication for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, all other temple open houses, dedications, and rededications could be deferred until fall of this year in the United States, which means we may see a span of at least 1.5 years between last February's dedication of the Durban South Africa Temple and the first dedications or rededications of this year.

James said...

But as I've mentioned previously, with President Nelson opting to delegate most temple dedications or rededications during his prophetic administration thus far to his fellow apostles, a backlogged queue of temples that need to be dedicated or rededicated shouldn't be problematic. Once it's safe for the Church to do so, all it would take is for any apostle or apostolic groups to be sent out in a way that could potentially allow 2 or more temples to be dedicated or rededicated in a single weekend, and the queue would be trimmed down in a matter of a month or two, if not a few weeks.

In the meantime, the queue of temples under construction, particularly those that are anticipated to be completed in 2023, has shifted dramatically. Within the last 72 hours alone, I've logged 4 such adjustments made so far. 2020 concluded with 10 temples having full-scale construction pending. That's now down to 8, with full-scale construction now well underway for both the McAllen Texas and Davao Philippines Temples. Meanwhile, it seems likely that at least 2 others in the "Full-scale construction pending" queue could soon see that work begin.

Hope all of this information is helpful to some of you who read it. We have already seen monumental temple developments this year, and it's apparent there will be much more to come.

Aaron and Kamyra said...

Assigned to yekaterinburg

John Pack Lambert said...

Papua New Guinea is one country where I have very little belief in their numbers. If Covid-19 has spread to rural areas I do not believe they know what is going on.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@James Stokes

Sorry to hear about your recent medical troubles, James. Hope you get to feeling better soon. :)