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.


L. Chris Jones said...

Where does most of Cuba's growth come from? What drives it? We don't have a mission there as far as I understand. I wonder how it would be if we did. I am sure we could send missionaries from other nations who have good or strong diplomatic ties with the island country. I don't know exactly the laws governing religious freedom or practice in Cuba. But it seems it is not as sensitive as other countries like China or a few others we are allowed operate in with restrictions.

Eduardo said...

Nice report. Encouraging to see. One of the last bastions of non-church areas in the Western Hemisphere.
Cubans should find a lot of common beliefs in the Church of Jesus Christ.

Espero que crezca fuerte.

Bryansb1984 said...

In a few years or so we might see the district upgrade to a stake. Maybe a Temple in a decade or two

James G. Stokes said...

Site location revealed and rendering released for the Helena Montana Temple:

The Church Temples site notes that a groundbreaking could be announced in the very near future if there are no delays in the approvals process. It's my understanding that most (if not all) of the 20 temples announced by President Nelson earlier this month could be around the same size and a similar design as the Helena Montana Temple. If that proves to be correct, approvals could be expedited. And all temples of a similar size could see construction occur and be completed within two years or less from their groundbreakings. If that also proves correct, that in turn means that more than two temples could be dedicated roughly each month, begining in 2023 and continuing into the immediate and more distant future.

And if all of that proves to be correct as well, then that will be a very swift way for the Church to get to the ten-fold increase in the total number of temples that has been mentioned so frequently. For any of you interested in my personal analysis of this development, you can find that in the following blog post:

My thanks once again to you all, and especially to you, Matt, for not only allowing us to discuss such developmnts here, but also for continuing to allow me to share all such reports from my blog here. Keep up the great work, Matt. Hope all is well with all of you.

Cory said...

The Church presented the plans of the Syracuse Temple to the City today. Indeed it does have two baptistries. Rather than just two fonts, they are completely separate with their own dressing rooms.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@L. Chris Jones

One area of growth in Cuba that I'm aware of is Cuban expatriates or descendants who live in the US and who've joined the Church will tell their relatives back in Cuba about it. So member-referrals. This happened on my mission in Kentucky with Cubans we'd baptized. My guess is it also happens in areas like Miami.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


I think you're right about the Helena design being the new standard for small/midsize temples. I just had a discussion with another commenter on a previous post about this - guessing whether this would be the style (or at least one of the styles) they would use for the new wave of smaller or remote temples. It's similar to Tallahassee, Bentonville, Brasilia, McAllen, Cambodia, etc. It seems like the size is variable though, from 10,000 to 17,000 to 33,000.

It'll be interesting to see the variations they take on this theme. I'm very pleased with the Helena design though (surprised at the speed of the rendering announcement, too). I'm glad that, although petite in size, the design is still elegant and ornate.

James G. Stokes said...

Johnathan Reese Whiting, I think that the announced design for Helena could be the next major step towards President Nelson's expressed goal of a ten-fold increase in the total number of temples worldwide. We saw that process begin 2 years ago, with the quick turnaround time between the announcement of the Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde and San Juan Puerto Rico Temples, followed not long after by the release of the official site locations and those temples having groundbreakings within a few short months of their original announcements.

The next phase of that process seemed to occur last year, where 21 temples had a groundbreaking, many of which were on the smaller side of the spectrum, including designs specifically made for swift approval both within the United States and outside of it. Given the fact that the Church was able to move many of these new smaller temples along as quickly as they did, President Nelson must have reasoned that, with a goal to utilize new standard designs for smaller temples in the future, a double-digit number of temples could be announced. If the Church can succeed in clearing the queue of the smaller announced temples more quickly, that opens up the prospect that the announcement of even more smaller temples might be coming down the pike.

Plus, having a bunch of smaller temples easily getting through the approvals process means that more of the Church's focus can be on the temples for which getting construction started may be more complicated and involve a lot more out-of-the-box thinking. With that in mind, I'm thinking we might see higher numbers of temples announced in each General Conference for the near future, while at the same time more will be done between each conference to continue to clear that queue as quickly as possible. And if that happens, then the number of opertemples could very well rise very quickly. And I could see a scenario beginning in 2023 or 2024 where 2 or more apostles or apostolic groups are sent out to preside at the dedication(s) of more than 2 temples every month.

Hopefully that's where the Church may be heading. I think it will be interesting to see it all unfold.

Anonymous said...

Can you give me a source for a ten fold increase?

James G. Stokes said...

There is not necessarily any specific sources for the ten-fold increase. That information is more anecdotal than official, with several reports in various sources from those who heard it from apostles in various settings, or from second- or third-hand accounts from those who heard it from someone who heard it from someone. Such reports have been recounted previously several times on the threads of this blog alone. I do want to clarify, however, that those reports are mainly anecdotal in nature.

That being said, we have never before seen a Church president announce 69 new temples in his first 7 General Conferences. President Nelson has also not once put any hiatus on announcing new temples.

When President Nelson became the prophet, there were 159 temples dedicated. As of the April 2021 General Conference, there are now 251 temples in any phase. That means that, within the last 3 years alone, the total number of temples in any phase has increased by almost 100. In 3 years, that's absolutely unprecedented. And given the high importance he's placed on temples, and on the fact that, by all reports, President Nelson is acting and moving with the stamina, vigor, and energy of one 20-30 years younger than his 96 years of age (which has also been confirmed by his wife and all of his apostolic colleagues, it's not too far-fetched to believe their statements that he could easily be around for the next decade or two.

And with 100 temples either completed, under construction, or announced on President Nelson's watch within the last 3 years, in a decade or two where similar progress is made or exceeded every 3-year period within that time, a ten-fold increase is not nearly as far-fetched as it might seem. Until President Nelson himself offers more insight about his specific intentions, we are largely reliant on those first- second- or third-hand reports of what the apostles or other general leaders have noted on that subject.

But we are now far beyond the point where such accounts are isolated or solitary in nature, and the sheer volume and repetition of those reports certainly also lends credibility to that idea. A diligent search of any sites that have covered major Church News or temple updates will yield confirmation of the unofficial reports of these kinds of statements. I have a feeling that we've just scratched the surface on temple construction. Hope that helps.

Jim Anderson said...

We have something else with the Helena design, compare it to the Bentonville design, used also elsewhere. Helena will be half the size of Bentonville, and it may well be that several other of these from this batch share a similar plan.

Elko is the most likely, Casper will be slightly larger, Eugene more a 25k plan, and it will depend on populations around a given site.

Gary C Williams said...

Just out of sincere curiosity....where can I find a quote from President Nelson about the need for a ten-fold increase in the number of temples worldwide? Thank you!

James G. Stokes said...

Gary C. Williams, I addressed that question already in my comment on the thread above that was posted on April 23 @ 2:25 PM. That should give you all the details you need. But for the record, there has never been any mention of a specific "need" for a ten-fold increase. Rather, that's his expressed goal for the temple construction program of the Church under his watch. And there are plenty of isolated areas around the world for which the "need" for a temple is profoundly significant. I also mentioned in that prior comment that President Nelson has announced 69 new temples in his first 7 General Conferences as prophet, which works out to almost 10 temples per each set of announcements. If he keeps up that rate, or accelerates it (either or both of which seem likely), then the fulfillment of a ten-fold increase does not seem far fetched at all. The mentions of the anticipated ten-fold increase in the total number of temples are out there and easily found. But I encourage everyone curious on this matter to do their own research. The number of reports on this are far too numreous and regular to not be taken seriously. And if President Nelson is arund for the next decade or two (which also seems more likely than not), achieving a ten-fold increase may happen sooner than any of us can imagine for the time being.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@ James & Gary C. Williams:

So, I've searched for the term "ten-fold increase in the number of temples worldwide," and it appears to be hearsay or rumor. James, I'm sorry, but the only place the quote "ten-fold increase in LDS temples" (or any number of similar search terms) shows up is on your personal blog as quoted by you, or your personal comments here on this blog.

While I appreciate your enthusiasm for President Nelson's current boom in temple building (and I'm sure many others here do as well), quoting the Prophet as saying something we can't prove he did say is misleading. Yes, he may have said something like this in private, which someone heard, which another person heard, which another person is spreading around as if it's official. But that's not really an official statement. It's the telephone game. Also known as a rumor or hearsay.

The Church is really good about publishing the actual words of the Prophets and Apostles firsthand. We have to be careful with the idea of "I heard this person say such and such somewhere behind closed doors" because there's no way to prove it's veracity to others, and it leads to spreading misinformation around. It may be true that President Nelson thinks this, but until he says it for himself (and we can actually quote it or cite it from official Church sources), I say let the Prophet speak for himself, or use his actual quotes that can be proven to come from official sources.

Just so we're clear, I am just as happy as you are with the current wave of new temple announcements, and I'm eager to see what comes next (and would be glad if indeed, the Prophet one day announces an actual ten-fold increase from the pulpit or from one of the Church magazines or websites). Until then, here's an official quote I like (an old one, but still a good one) regarding an increase of temple building, that also seems to be more in line with the idea you're trying to convey:

“To accomplish this work there will have to be not only one temple, but thousands of them, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal.” — Brigham Young, June 22, 1856 Journal of Discourses, 3:372

Jim Anderson said...

Much of the tenfold increase idea is yet future, but could not be too distant

Elder Andersen said that at some future point there would be multiple temples in Kinshasa DRC, and there is evidence that if the growth in the new areas opened equals what we have seen elsewhere there, that there within ten years could be four or five there, ditto for much of Africa.

Eight large temples at once, all new, along with the renovations, will be the most ever for Utah, with more likely as the report of baptistry slots in phase 2-B temples has not only Jordan River, but Provo City Center filled up 3 months out. There are likely others I have no information on. The temples have completely operated on member submissions since 2016, and the pandemic has allowed the backlog to mushroom, so there is no shortage of names in any ordinance area, and plans are set but will not be implemented that will allow for any shared name to be done at any temple first in first out after all are Phase 4, fully reopened.

Temple locations most likely in Utah:

Heber City
Washington County 3
Cottonwood Heights
North Lehi

All but Cottonwood Heights are needed due to explosive growth, and Cottonwood Heights would relieve future pressure on Draper like Taylorsville apparently will do for Jordan River.

1k homes a year are being built in Daybreak alone, not to mention Bluffdale, Herriman, and the west part of Riverton and some south of Bangerter.

Lehi is very explosive according to a mission president. Lots of development near the river and northeast of I-15. When UDOT opened Pioneer Crossing, the statement of eventual population in that far northwest and north Utah County would exceed 300k was made, nearly 100k in the three cities alone there already.

Washington County, no figures but it is one of the fastest growing areas in the US according to a magazine.

Heber City is also a top-5 growth area in the nation according to another publication.

No order is known as there are other factors, including the church finding a site, the only one that might be out there is the long rumored 48th West site in Herriman, the others I have no idea what will happen.

The building of temples will also be governed by growth in any area elsewhere, and to some degree either transportation issues and/or geopolitical issues. Utilization of any nearby current temple, sacrament meeting attendance, and even tithe-payer faithfulness also factor in, and some other matter.

James G. Stokes said...

Jonathan Reese Whiting, first of all, thanks for doing the research and keeping me honest. I know that second- or third-hand reports can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, or misrepresented. And if anything I have said in the past has done anything similar, then I appreciate being called out on that. But to clarify, the reports I've heard don't mention a "ten-fold increase" either. That's just the way I choose to express what I've heard. Some of the reports that engrained the possibility of such an icnrease in my mind were second- or third-hand reports that were specifically along the lines of someone hearing from someone else that a certain apostle or other leader mentioned taking the current number of temples and adding a "0" to that.

So "ten-fold increase" is the term I use personally when mentioning my analysis of the planned increase. The earnest seeker might have better luck finding similar reports outside of my blog if different terminology is used in the search. I think that one thing I can gladly and immediately agree on is that nothing is official unless and until it's be made so by specific explanation from the Brethren. What we have seen under President Nelson is highly unusual, if nothign else, in terms of a prophet annnouncing 69 temples in his first 7 General Conferences as Church President. That's almost an average of 10 temples per announcement. And not only has our prophet not currently put a hiatus on temple announcements, but what we saw starting to occur in October 2018 (where the first Nelsonian smaller temples were first announced), and what continues to occur (a wide variety and range of temple designs and sizes that can easily be approved in specific areas of the world) does suggest that the temple program is on a trajectory to head into unprecedented territory, if the Church is not already there now.

Several people said they could see a double-digit number of new temples announced, but didn't see as many as 20 being announced earlier this month. And not only has that announcement been made, but we already have a verified rendering and location for one of those 20 temples. Anyway that's considered, it's a tremendous development. At the end of the day, anything not expressly confirmed by the prophet or apostles in official statements or announcements may be open to interpretation. But there were a total of 159 dedicated temples at the end of 2017, and now there are 251 in any phase. To be at a point where the prophet has served for just over 3 years and already has made annoucnements impacting almost 100 temples is tremendous. And based on President Nelson's statement that things are going to be moving at an accelerated pace, I am certain that will continue to be the case for temple construction as well.

In any case, I still think the Church is not quite at the point where meetinghouses or transportation devices will be used as temples. And if temples can go to the people and be quickly approved and built, that may delay the need for anything like that. What matters most to me is that President Nelson is the man who has truly been prepared for this period of time. And I have a feeling we haven't even scratched the surface of what the Lord has planned for temple construction efforts under Preident Nelson. Whatever happens in that regard, I am all in for all of it.

I will also note that I hope that President Nelson might at some point release official information about the extent and timing of his plans, but if providing those details comes at the expense of moving ahead with those plans, then observing the current trajectory and official announcemnets may have to be sufficient for now. Thanks.

James G. Stokes said...

Jonathan Reese Whiting, I wanted to follow up on my comment from yesterday. It turns out that I was correct about the fact that I originated the usage of the term "ten-fold increase" in relation to President Nelson's plans. But I am not the one from whom information first was provided about President Nelson's plans. In those references by other individuals on the threads of my blog, the key phrase is "take the current number of temples and add a zero to it." You can find more on that in the following posted comments from the threads of my blog:

The links as written will take anyone copying and pasting them in their web browser not just to the exact post on which the comments in question were made, but to the very specific comment on that issue. I also have some correspondence from someone who at one time (if not through until today as well whose construction company was contracted to several temples. I'm just not sure how much of that feedback I can share again here. But I will have as much of the information from him submitted to the comments of this blog as soon as I can make that happen. In the meantime, although the links above lead to very specific comments that are germaine to President Nelson's plans, those following the links might also find the comments immediately above and below the ones in question to which I am sharing the web addresses, any of which may also have relevant bearing on this subject.

In summary, I'm sorry if my coining the concept of a "ten-fold increase" was misleading in this case. I found ample evidence in both the threads of my blog and in the e-mails from the temple contractor to support the concept of adding a zero to the current number of temples. But describing it as a "ten-fold increase" is generally an easier and shorter term to use, when it's properly understood in context. My apologies if I misled anyone in my previous comments, and I thank you again, Johnathan, for keeping me honest.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Jim Anderson

I would add a second Weber County Temple to that list. Syracuse will relieve some pressure, but Ogden is still one of the busiest in the Church (especially the baptistry). My guess is in North Ogden/Pleasant View area, or possibly across the freeway in West Weber County. Others have suggested in Eden (Ogden Valley).

I hope they eventually build one in Price, also (even if it's smaller or midsize, like the one they're planning for Ephraim). I have some family connections in Helper.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


Thanks for the clarification and your honesty. I checked out the links you gave. Looks like (if I'm not mistaken) the origin of the quote you mentioned of "take the current number of temples and add a zero to it," comes from Eric S. (in 2018), who heard it from a relative and his wife, who heard it from a firsthand question and answer session with Elder Cook, who was purportedly quoting President Nelson.

I saw that other people were talking about the purported quote from Elder Cook in the other comments you linked to, though it was unclear to me whether the commenters had heard Elder Cook's quote themselves personally or if they were just referring back to that original comment.

Sounds a little telephone-gamey for my tastes, but to each his own. I appreciate you showing me where you got your information.

Like you, I hope it ends up being true. We've been waiting for the fulfillment of the prophecy of "thousands of temples" in the last days ever since that Brigham Young quote I cited previously (if not before). It would be amazing if we saw the literal fulfillment of that promise sooner rather than later (if not within the next few years).

On that note, here's a fun math exercise:

Let's assume, for sake of argument, that President Nelson announces an average of 20 Temples going forward during each subsequent General Conference.

That would be 40 per year. As of today (with Ephraim just announced), we have a total of 252. So, we need about 750 more to reach 1,000. At 40 per year, that would take 18 & 3/4 years to fulfill.

If, however, The Prophet started announcing 50 per General Conference (100 per year), then it would only take 7 & 1/2 years to reach 1,000.

That would be a huge uptick and would be feasible if The Prophet lives to be 103 (he's currently 96).

Personally, I think it will probably take one or two of President Nelson's successors to accomplish the 1,000 Temple goal, unless he significantly ramps up the announcements (which of course, is possible). And he certainly is getting the ball rolling on that front (following in the footsteps of President's Hinckley and Kimball, who had their own respective "temple booms" in their eras).

A couple of milestones I believe are very likely he will accomplish, though:

Within two years, he'll pass both President Hinckley and David B. Haight as the oldest Prophet and Apostle of our dispensation.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Additionally, I believe he'll easily pass the number of temples President Hinckley announced (79) while prophet.

President Hinckley dedicated or rededicated 92 temples during his tenure as a Prophet and Apostle, so Pres. Nelson could reasonably announce that many (total) within the next couple of conferences.

I did the math about a year ago, but since the Prophet has added 27 more temples since then, I'm going to update my projections as to when President Nelson could feasibly surpass all temples announced during this dispensation (including ones never built, like White Plains New York and Far West).

All temples announced before Russell M. Nelson? 189

He's announced 70 in the last 7 conferences (including one outside of conference), so that's 10 per conference, or 20 per year on average. That would take him 9 & 1/2 years at the current average to surpass (So, by 2030, the 200 year anniversary of the Church).

However, if 20 Temples (or more) per conference becomes the new norm, then he'll surpass it in about five years.

We shall definitely see.