Sunday, March 28, 2021

Significant Growth in the Republic of the Congo

The Republic of Congo Brazzaville Mission is currently in a significant period of growth. The Church recently organized its first branch in the northern city of Ouesso on the border with Cameroon. The mission president reported that the mission receives 20 self-referrals per day from individuals who have learned about the Church online. The mission had 74 baptisms in February despite having few full-time missionaries assigned to the mission and many of these missionaries having little experience. There are 90 people who are not members of the Church who attend the Institutes of Religion class on a university in Brazzaville. Moreover, 17 new wards and branches will be organized by June 2021 in the mission. Currently, there are 28 wards and branches in the entire country. A video on Facebook that provides these details and more (with English subtitles) can be found here.

2020 Statistical Report: Predictions

The year 2020 was definitely an anomaly year in regards to the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tens of thousands of full-time missionaries were released or temporarily reassigned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were several months during the year when there were extremely few new congregations being organized or discontinued. Furthermore, there was a five-month hiatus in new stake creations from March until August. Children of record totals are likely much lower than usual due to many members delaying infant blessings as a result of COVID-19 restrictions which resulted in fewer children added to Church records. Moreover, the number of convert baptisms dramatically decreased in many of the historically highest baptizing missions for at least several months during the year. However, there are many reports that the number of convert baptisms surpassed the number of convert baptisms for at least some months of the year, including in some lower-baptizing mission in Europe as well as historically high baptizing mission in Latin America. Thus, it is very difficult to predict what convert baptism totals were for 2020 given these changes from the status quo for convert baptism rates. It is like some of these metrics will see a noticeable temporary bump in 2021 as conditions begin to normalize in many of the countries where the Church operates, such as with children of record increase and the number of members serving full-time missions. One metric that appears to have noticeably improved in 2020 compared to prior years is the number of individuals meeting with missionaries and lessons taught by missionaries given major changes in online proselytism and remote teaching. However, this is not an official statistic published by the Church.

See below for my predictions for the 2020 Annual Statistical Report:

  • Membership: 16.75 million (increase of approximately 200,00 from 2019; a 1.21% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 31,140 (increase of 200 from 2019; a 0.65% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,464 (increase of 27 from 2019; a 0.79% annual increase)
  • Districts: 537 (decrease of 5 from 2019; a 0.92% annual decrease)
  • Missions: 406 (increase of 7 from 2019; a 1.75% annual increase)
  • Convert Baptisms: 200,000 (decrease of 48,835 from 2019; a 19.6% annual decrease)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 60,000 (decrease of 34,266 from 2019; a 36.4% annual decrease)
  • Full-time missionaries: 54,000 (decrease of 13,021 from 2019; a 19.4% annual decrease)
  • Church service missionaries: 25,000 (decrease of 6,333 from 2019; a 20.2% annual decrease)

Your insights and predictions are welcomed and encouraged. They may take a few hours or up to a day to show up below the post. I approve comments due to recent concerns with spam comments.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

New Temple Predictions - March 2021 Edition

I have updated my temple prediction map in preparation for General Conference in April. 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. In September 2019, I divided prospective temple sites into more likely and less likely categories. This change appeared warranted given recent trends of temple announcements in remote areas of the world with few relatively Latter-day Saints, such as Tallahassee, Florida; Cobán, Guatemala; Budapest, Hungary; and Okinawa, Japan, that appear less likely to receive temple announcements given historical trends. Altogether, there are 156 potential temples on the map (40 more like temples, 116 less likely temples).

Locations added to the temple prediction map in March 2021 include:

    • Buenos Aires North, Argentina (less likely)
    • Canberra, Australia (less likely) 
    • Chiclayo, Peru (less likely) 
    • Chimbote, Peru (less likely)
    • Farmington, Utah (less likely)
    • Fort Worth, Texas (less likely)
    • Fortaleza South, Brazil (less likely)
    • Ha'apai, Tonga (less likely)
    • Jacksonville, Florida (less likely)
    • Kimbanseke, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (less likely) 
    • Las Vegas, Nevada (2nd temple) (less likely) 
    • Lehi, Utah (less likely)
    • Lima South, Peru (less likely)
    • Lower Hutt, New Zealand (less likely) 
    • Mexico City, Mexico (2nd temple) (less likely)
    • Milan, Italy (less likely) 
    • Morelia, Mexico (less likely)
    • Nuku'alofa City or Malapo, Tonga (less likely)
    • Palmas, Brazil (less likely)
    • Queen Creek, Arizona (less likely)
    • San Pablo City, Philippines (less likely)
    • Santa Ana, El Salvador (less likely)
    • Santiago South, Chile (less likely) 
    • Savannah, Georgia (less likely)
    • Sioux Falls, South Dakota (less likely)
    • Smithfield or North Logan, Utah (more likely)
    • Toulouse, France (less likely)
    • Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (less likely)
    • Yopougon, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (less likely)

    The following prospective temple was transferred from the less likely category to the more likely category:

    • Austin, Texas

    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. Smithfield or North Logan, Utah
    3. Angeles or Olongapo, Philippines
    4. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 
    5. Missoula, Montana
    6. Colorado Springs, Colorado 
    7. La Paz, Bolivia
    8. Charlotte, North Carolina
    9. Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    10. Austin, Texas

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

    Friday, March 19, 2021

    March 2021 Temple Predictions List and Map

    This Sunday, I will be posting my updated list of likely temple announcements for the upcoming General Conference during the first weekend of April 2021. This is later than usual given I have had little time in recent weeks to review recent developments and make new predictions.

    Sunday, March 14, 2021

    National Outreach Expansion Underway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    There are reports that many additional cities will have an official Latter-day Saint presence established in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). The Church in the DR Congo operates official branches in 21 cities in this major African country of 105 million people. Recent reports indicate that as many as six additional cities will have branches organized in the immediate future, including:

    • Bukavu
    • Goma
    • Kabinda
    • Kikwit
    • Luiza
    • Tshikapa

    The Church in the DR Congo has taken an extremely cautious approach to expanding outreach given concerns with low levels of economic development, transportation challenges, political instability, and illiteracy. However, the Church in the DR Congo boasts some of its greatest growth in regards to high member activity and convert retention rates. For example, it has been historically common for attendance at stake or district conferences to meet or exceed the total number of members on Church records for the specific stake or district. The creation of the new Africa Central Area has appeared to have been an important catalyst in these developments. See below for a map of the status of the Church in each of the major cities in the DR Congo.

    February 2021 Newsletter

    Click here to access the February 2021 newsletter for The newsletter has been posted on the website for almost two weeks, and I had forgotten to post the announcement on the blog. A list of the monthly newsletters going back to October 2012 can be found here.

    Saturday, March 13, 2021

    Second Baptistry Announced for Salt Lake Temple

    In an unprecedented move, the Church announced yesterday that the renovated Salt Lake Temple will include a second baptistry in order to provide "greater capacity and more temple ordinances." This is a major development as the Church has never had two baptistries within the same temple. Significant increases in youth engaging in temple ordinance work, combined with unprecedented numbers of family-file names for temple work, appear likely contributors for this major announcement. This decision may play a role in the decision to include two baptistries in temples perceived as highly utilized by local membership, specifically in the Wasatch Front in Utah or other major urban areas with significant Latter-day Saint populations in the Inter-mountain West. The original article that details the announcement can be found here.