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


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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

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.