Sunday, November 27, 2022

Six New Missions to be Created in July 2023: Analysis

As promised, see below for an analysis of the six new missions to be organized in July 2023. The Church announced plans to organize these new missions on November 23rd, 2022. It is important to note that all but one of the new missions announced are in Africa. This decision likely reflects increasing numbers of African members serving full-time missions as well as good opportunities to expand missionary outreach in nations with populations that have exhibited strong receptivity to the Latter-day Saint gospel message. No missions have been announced to close in 2023.

Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan North Mission

The new Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission will be the Church's third mission headquartered in Abidjan and the fourth mission in Cote d'Ivoire. The new mission will be organized primarily from a division of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission (organized in 1993), although some areas of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission (organized in 2014) will be included in the mission boundary realignment. It is likely that the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission will include the six stakes in the Yopougon area of Abidjan, whereas the nine stakes in the eastern half of Abidjan will probably be fairly evenly divided between the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan North Mission and the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission. There are also six districts located in the current boundaries in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission - most of which will probably be assigned to the new mission. The Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan East Mission also currently includes the Bamako Branch in Mali. It is unclear what mission will administer Mali after the new mission is organized. A member group in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso has also been administered by the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission, although Burkina Faso is assigned directly to the Africa West Area per the Church's meetinghouse locator. The boundaries of the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission (organized in 2018) are not reportedly affected by the creation of the new mission. The Church in Cote d'Ivoire has reported some of its most rapid growth in the world during the past decade, with the number of cities/towns with an official ward or branch increasing tenfold, the number of stakes increasing from 5 to 18, the number of districts increasing from 1 to 15, the number of congregations increasing from 42 to 257, and the number of Latter-day Saints increasing from 16,248 to 56,804. In another historical milestone, the creation of the Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire North Mission will mark the first time that the Church has ever organized three missions within the same metropolitan area on the African continent. The Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Temple has been under construction for more than four years and appears to be nearing completion. It is suspected that the temple construction has taken so long due to difficulties with local work teams meeting the high standards for temple construction. There are nearly 29 million people who live in Cote d'Ivoire.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) Kananga Mission

The creation of the new DR Congo Kananga Mission will increase the number of missions headquartered in the DR Congo to five. The new mission will be created from a division of the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission (organized in 2016). Senior missionaries have reported that the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission has baptized as many as 1,000 converts in a single month during 2022. Convert retention remains among the highest in the worldwide Church. It is not uncommon for many congregations in the DR Congo to have a larger number of people in attendance than there are members on the records for the particular congregation, although sacrament meeting attendance is generally about 80% nationwide. The new mission in Kananga will likely include just the three stakes in Kananga where the first stake in the city was organized in 2011. Reports from senior missionaries indicate that two new stakes will likely be organized in Kananga in 2023. The new mission will likely play a pivotal role in the expansion of the Church's presence into unreached cities where groups of members reside such as Tshikapa and Lodja. Moreover, the realigned DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission will likely include four stakes and one district. The creation of new stakes in the DR Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission also appears imminent considering the Mbuji-Mayi DR Congo Stake has 13 wards, the Mwene-Ditu DR Congo Stake has nine wards, and the Ngandajika DR Congo District has seven branches. The Church announced a temple for Kananga in 2021. The other missions headquartered in the DR Congo include the DR Congo Kinshasa West Mission (organized in 1987), the DR Congo Lubumbashi Mission (organized in 2010), and the DR Congo Kinshasa East Mission (organized in 2019). Also, the recently organized Rwanda Kigali Mission (organized in 2022) includes branches and member groups in the eastern DR Congo near the borders of Burundi and Rwanda. The Church in the DR Congo reported its most rapid membership growth in the world during the past two years as membership increased from 68,871 to 89,136 - a 29.4% increase. During the past 10 years, the Church in the DR Congo has grown from 30,435 members to 89,136 members, 9 stakes to 25 stakes, and 107 congregations to 255 congregations. The DR Congo is now the world's 14th most populous nation with 108 million people.

Nigeria Aba Mission

The Nigeria Aba Mission will be the Church's eighth mission in Nigeria following the creation of the Nigeria Lagos Mission (organized in 1980 as the West Africa Mission and renamed in 1985), the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission (originally organized in 1988 as the Nigeria Aba Mission, relocated to Port Harcourt and renamed in 1995), the Nigeria Enugu Mission (organized in 1992 as the Nigeria Jos Mission and relocated to Enugu and renamed in 1993), the Nigeria Uyo Mission (organized in 2002, relocated and renamed the Nigeria Calabar Mission in 2008, relocated back to Uyo and renamed in 2019), the Nigeria Benin City Mission (organized in 2013), the Nigeria Owerri Mission (organized in 2016), and the Nigeria Ibadan Mission (organized in 2002, relocated to Lagos and renamed the Nigeria Lagos East Mission in 2007, discontinued in 2009, reinstated in 2018). The Church's first and only operating temple in Nigeria is located in Aba where there are now five stakes. The new mission in Aba will be organized primarily by a division of the Nigeria Owerri Mission, albeit the Church announced that other missions (Nigeria Benin City Mission, Nigeria Enugu Mission) will be realigned as part of the creation of the new mission. The Church in Nigeria has discontinued one mission that was never reinstated: the Nigeria Ilorin Mission (1992-1993). 

Nigeria Abuja Mission

The Nigeria Abuja Mission will be the Church's ninth mission in Nigeria. The new mission will be created from a division of the Nigeria Lagos Mission. The Church realigned its missions in Nigeria in 2019 and transferred northern Nigeria from the Nigeria Enugu Mission to the Nigeria Lagos Mission. The new mission will likely include the three stakes in Abuja (all of which have been organized in the past decade) and one district in Jos. The new mission will likely include half of the population of Nigeria - more than 100 million people - although most the population lives in states with Sharia law with predominantly Muslim populations and significant conflict between Muslims and Christians. Kano is the second most populous metropolitan area in Nigeria (4.9 million people) and remains without an official ward or branch of the Church. 

The Church has reported significant growth in Nigeria during the past decade, growing from 103,898 members to 211,219 members, 21 stakes to 68 stakes, and 315 congregations to 758 congregations. However, the number of districts has decreased in the past decade from 20 to 16. Three additional temples are planned for Nigeria in Lagos (announced in 2018), Benin City (announced in 2020), and Eket (announced in 2022). Nigeria is now the sixth most populous country in the world with 225 million people.

South Africa Pretoria Mission

The new South Africa Pretoria Mission will be the Church's fourth mission headquartered in South Africa (assuming that the Botswana/Namibia Mission will be relocated to Gaborone, Botswana from Pretoria, South Africa. It is possible that this mission may continue to be headquartered in South Africa, and thus, Johannesburg, South Africa will together with Abidjan become the first metropolitan areas to have three missions). The new mission will be organized from a division of the Botswana/Namibia Mission (organized in 2013), although the boundaries of the South Africa Johannesburg (organized in 1903) and South Africa Durban Mission (organized in 1991) will also be realigned. There is one more mission headquartered in South Africa: the Cape Town South African Mission (organized in 1984). The new mission will likely assist with greater focus on missionary efforts in Botswana and Namibia. The Church has reported moderate growth rates in South Africa during the past decade. During the past decade, Church membership has increased from 57,546 to 69,438, the number of congregations has increased from 151 to 195, the number of stakes has increased from 12 to 17, and the number of districts has increased from 4 to 10. There are 57.5 million people who live in South Africa.

Romania Bucharest Mission

The Church will reinstate the Romania Bucharest Mission which operated in Romania from 1993 until 2018 when it was consolidated with the neighboring Hungary Budapest Mission. I previously wrote about this decision to close the Romania Bucharest Mission here. Church growth trends have been stagnant in Romania for many years, and receptivity to Latter-day Saint proselytism has been poor for more than a decade. The decision to reinstate the Romania Bucharest Mission may be partially explained by difficulties with a single mission effectively servicing both Hungarian and Romanian speaking populations as well as efforts to provide greater mission leader oversight over members in both Romania and Hungary. As of 2021, there were 3,087 members, 15 branches, and 3 districts in Romania, whereas there were 5,278 members, 21 congregations, one stake, two districts, and one announced temple in Hungary. The current population of Romania is 18.5 million, whereas the current population of Hungary is 9.7 million.


Eduardo said...

Great introductions and breakdowns, thanks. I believe part of the scriptures testifying that the desert will blossom like a rose is embodied in nations and cultures where there is paucity or problems, yet the Savior's Gospel opens up doors and blessings to those people, and they become God's. It is great to see and observe.
Romania and other eastern European nations have been tough nuts to crack. I wonder if the anti-Christian nature of Russia influences or will influence people to reconsider some "Western" Christian faiths. I wonder how the Christians there see the whole thing. Perhaps some devout Orthodox or others actually think that the Ukrainians are fascist.
Hopefully the NATO countries at least can see that an "American" faith is not a bad option, or optimal to their old ways. So many variables. Factors.

I work with a guy whose family were missionaries in Romania many years. Traditional or evangelical Christian. He himself seems lapsed from much formal faith, but he is a good person. The work is growing, we should take courage.

Chris D. said...

Sites released for 6 temples worldwide
The First Presidency has released the locations of six temples — three in Brazil, one each in Bolivia, New Zealand, Taiwan

By Scott Taylor 28 Nov 2022, 2:17 PM MST

Pascal Friedmann said...

Frankly, most of eastern Europe is (especially today) quite westward-focused and anti-Russian. Missionary work would likely be much harder there if our Church was headquartered in Russia.

I have been wondering about the two countries in eastern and southeastern Europe that have managed to build a respectable Church presence, namely Ukraine and Albania, and what makes them different from their neighbors. Even as someone who knows this part of the world quite well, it is not easy to tell, although my theory is that the dominant religion in the country (orthodox Christianity and Islam, respectively) is practiced in a relatively liberal, tolerant manner in both countries, with generally lower rates of religious participation and identity than in other orthodox Christian (e.g., Russia, Greece, Ethiopia) or Islamic (e.g., Middle East and North Africa) nations. That certainly helps missionary work, but may complicate conveying the need for consistent, lifelong participation in Church after baptism.

Ukraine, once the war ends, will be in a strong position for missionary outreach in my opinion, with cultural preferences having shifted due to the impact of the war even in areas east of the Dnipro. Interestingly, during this whole war, there were (and still are) only three operating branches in territory Russia has seized since 2014, namely in Lugansk and Donetsk (both captured in 2014) and in Mariupol (captured this spring). There is obviously a district in Crimea but the nature of that territory is a bit more transient as viewed by the Church per my understanding. The remainder of units in Ukraine, 39 of them or 93%, is on territory that was never captured and controlled by Russia. Several large cities, including many we all know now from media coverage (such as Kherson and Melitopol) do not have a church presence although isolated members most likely reside there or at least used to before the war. I would hope that the Church returns stronger and sends missionaries back to Ukraine in significant numbers once conditions allow, rather than missing the crucial window of opportunity not only to proselyte but to serve the Ukrainian community.

Finally, awesome breakdown on the missions! The DR Congo really needs more of them (of course, this will be a gradual process). I would not be surprised to see 10 to 15 missions in the DRC by the end of the decade, including three or four in greater Kinshasa. The place is massive.

miro said...


A big problem for the church in eatern europe is, that many of the stronger members are leaving there country for the US or Western Europe.

Some reasons that the church is stornger in Albania than many other Estern European countries are:
1. Albania is quite pro American.
2. The people are open about talking about religion.
3. If the missionyries find somene it is verly likly he will refer his friends and likly that they are interested themself.
4. Most moslems in Albania are just moslems by name and birth but not practising. The christians Catlic and ortodox are very strict and strong in there faith.

John Pack Lambert said...

Back in 2018 when the Cleveland Mission was discontinued, it was not until June of 2018 that it was decided to put Cleveland and Toldedo stakes into the Michigan Detroit Mission. So whatever initial reports on the realignment of the missions in Ivory Coast may be, nothing is completed until it is done, and the reassignment of a group (not even a branch), might be doable without being reflected in very early reports.

John Pack Lambert said...

With mission realignments in DR Congo I wonder if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will finally be able to sending missionaries to some of the very isolated groups that have been waiting so long in some parts of DR Congo.