Sunday, July 23, 2023

New Stakes Created in Brazil (3), Utah, and Nigeria; New Districts Created in Ghana, Tanzania, and Turkey; Stakes Discontinued in England (2) and Utah


Three new stakes were recently created in Brazil.

The Ponta Grossa Brazil North Stake was created on July 2nd from a division of the Ponta Grossa Brazil Stake (created in 1980) and the Ponta Grossa Brazil Campos Gerais Stake (created in 1997). Two branches formerly assigned to the Brazil Curitiba Mission were also assigned to the new stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the América, Campus, Castro, Esplanada, and Ponta Grossa 2nd Wards and the Telêmaco Borba and Tibagi Branches. The new stake is the Church's third stake in Ponta Grossa which has a population of approximately 351,000 people.

The Curitiba Brazil Campo Comprido Stake was organized on July 16th from a division of the Curitiba Brazil Iguaçu Stake (created in 1984) and the Curitiba Brazil Novo Mundo Stake (created in 1994). The new stake includes the following five wards: the Campo Comprido, Campo Largo, Ferraria, Jardim Gabineto, and the Solene Wards. The new stake is the Church's 14th stake in the Curitiba metropolitan area. The Church most recently crated a new stake in the Curitiba area in 2018.

The Jaraguá do Sul Brazil Stake was organized on July 16th from a division of the Joinville Brazil South Stake (created in 2014) and the Navegantes Brazil Stake (created in 2020). Currently, only the following three wards and one branch are assigned to the new stake per the Church's meetinghouse locator website, namely the Baependi, Jaraguá do Sul 1st, and Jaraguá do Sul 2nd Wards and the Barra Velha Branch, suggesting that the creation of additional congregations in the new stake is probably imminent or other units from nearby stakes will be reassigned to the new stake. This has been a similar trend in the Church recently to create a new stake and later have branches advance into wards or create new wards to have the stake had more units (such as recently in Nairobi, Kenya and in Lomé, Togo). 

There are now 284 stakes and 40 districts in Brazil.


Two new stakes were created in Utah on June 11th. The Saratoga Springs Utah Quailhill was organized from the Saratoga Springs Utah Mount Saratoga Stake (organized in 2016) and includes the following six wards: the Lexington Green, Quailhill 1st, Quailhill 2nd, Quailhill 3rd, Quailhill 4th, and the Talus Ridge 1st Wards. The Saratoga Springs Utah Riverside Stake was created from the Saratoga Springs Utah Mount Saratoga Stake, the Saratoga Springs Utah Saratoga Hills Stake (organized in 2017), and the Saratoga Springs Utah Springside Stake (organized in 2020) and includes the following seven wards: the Neptune Park, Riverside 1st, Riverside 2nd, Saratoga Springs 10th, Sunset Haven, Thunder Ridge, and the Wander Wards. This marks a rare instance when one stake was divided as part of creating two additional stakes (although there are a couple instances in Church history in modern times when one stake was divided to create two new stakes without any other stakes being involved in the process). 

One stake was discontinued in Utah. The Salt Lake Jordan Stake (organized in 1977) was discontinued. Of the five wards in the former stake, only the Jordan 8th Ward (Spanish) was discontinued. The remaining wards were renamed and reassigned to the Salt Lake Jordan North Stake, the Taylorsville Utah North Central Stake, and the Taylorsville Utah South Stake. 

With these changes, there are now 629 stakes and 2 districts in Utah.


The Church organized a new stake in Nigeria. The Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake was created from a division of the Ukat Aran Nigeria Stake (organized in 1999 and previously called the Nsit Ubium Nigeria Stake until renamed the Ukat Aran Nigeria Stake years later) and the Uyo Nigeria South Stake (organized in 2016). The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Ekpene Ukim, Ikot Ekwere, Ikot Esen, Ikot Eyo 1st, Ikot Eyo 2nd, Ikot Eyo 3rd, Ikot Ubo, and the Ndikpo Atang Wards. The new stake operates within one of the first areas in Nigeria where an official Church presence was established, with many villages and small towns having branches organized in 1979. Rapid growth has occurred for the Church in this area of Nigeria in recent years, particularly to the north in Uyo during the past 2-4 years, with the division of both remaining Uyo stakes appearing imminent (the Uyo Nigeria Stake currently has 12 wards, whereas the Uyo Nigeria Ibiono Stake currently has 11 wards and 2 branches). 

There are now 69 stakes and 15 districts in Nigeria. Currently, there are approximately 14 stakes that appear likely to divide in the immediate future due to large numbers of wards. Thus, the number of stakes in Nigeria appears likely to surpass 80 within the next 1-2 years.


A new district was created in Ghana on the border with Togo. The Dzodze Ghana District was created from four mission branches in the Ghana Accra West Mission. The new district includes the Aflao, Akatsi, Dzodze, and Penyi Branches - all of which have been organized since 2015. This area of Ghana on the border with Togo and in the southern Volta Region has long been a lesser-reached area of the country by the Church notwithstanding relatively close proximity to Accra.


A new district was created in Tanzania, marking the third new district created in Tanzania during the past 12 months. The Mwanza Tanzania District was created from three mission branches located in the Mwanza area, including the Buhongwa, Mwanza, and the Nyegezi Branches. There are now four districts in Tanzania.


The Church recently unassigned Turkey from what was previously known as the Central Eurasian/Bulgaria Mission to the Europe Central Area. Branches in Turkey are now organized into a district called the Europe Central Area District. The district includes the following seven non-sensitive branches: the Adana Military (English), Ankara, Antalya, Isparta (Persian), Istanbul 1st, Istanbul 2nd (English), and Izmir Branches. The Church previously operated a branch in Gaziantep which closed in early 2023 and appears now to function as a group. Reports from local members indicate that no full-time missionaries have been permitted to serve in the country for multiple consecutive years, and that Turkish-speaking missionaries in Germany now teach and prepare prospective converts via online teaching. This appears to mark the first time a district has ever been organized in Turkey. There were 658 members in Turkey as of year-end 2022. Some of Turkey outside of the new district is assigned to the Europe Central Area Branch.


Two stakes were discontinued in the London area in June, namely the London England Wandsworth Stake (organized in 1978) and the Maidstone England Stake (organized in 1978). One ward in the Maidstone England Stake (Selsdon) was reassigned to the Crawley England Stake, whereas the remainder of the wards in the former Maidstone England Stake were reassigned to the Canterbury England Stake (which now has 11 wards). However, three of the wards in the former London England Wandsworth Stake were discontinued. 

There are now 41 stakes in the United Kingdom.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Missionary Developments From Recent 2023 New Mission Presidents Training Seminar

The Church News recently published articles regarding comments Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made during the recent 2023 New Mission President seminar in regard to recent missionary developments in the global Church. These included:

  • The number of full-time, proselytizing missionaries serving worldwide increasing from 57,000 in April 2022 to 67,800 in early June 2023 (click here for article). This time frame was provided because President Nelson reemphasized the need for young men to serve full-time missions in April 2022 in General Conference. The last time the Church had this many members serving full-time missions was in 2016 when there were 70,946 full-time missionaries serving at the end of the year (which was at the tail-end of the double-cohort of full-time missionaries caused by the lowering of the minimum age for missionary service). There were approximately 67,000 or fewer full-time missionaries serving between 2017 and 2022.
  • The number of full-time, proselytizing missionaries serving worldwide is anticipated to reach as high as 72,000 by the end of 2023 (click here for article). This increase has occurred even though there is a smaller demographic of mission-aged young adults in the Church (which is supported by historical children-of-record annual increase numbers, which did not surpass 100,000 until 2008), suggesting an increasing percentage of young single adults serving full-time missions. Although it is unclear what the current percentage of young men serving full-time missions is, "Researchers found that in the early 1940s approximately five percent of young men served missions and that this statistic increased to 20% in the late 1940s and 30% in the early 1960s. Between the early 1960s and early 1980s the percentage of young men serving missions varied from 25-35% and was 32% in 1981 (click here for reference). 
  • Recently, the number of weekly mission applications received that require processing by apostles for mission assignment has increased from approximately 150-200 to up to 300. Typically, two apostles complete the weekly processing and assignment of mission applications. However, as many as four apostles have been required to complete this weekly task due to the influx in applications (click here for article).
  • Convert baptisms for the worldwide Church were up 25% during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2022 (click here for article). If this rate continues for the rest of the year (i.e., if there are 25% more convert baptisms in 2023 compared to 2022), there would be 265,215 convert baptisms for the year - the highest reported by the Church since 2014 when there were 296,803 convert baptisms.

It is unclear what particular age/gender demographics or world regions are driving recent increases in full-time missionaries serving and higher numbers of convert baptisms than what has been seen in recent years. It will likely take years before we begin to see congregational growth rates and the creation of new stakes accelerating if these recent trends are continued. The increase in convert baptisms is unsurprising given missions have returned to "business as usual" with strategies that often result in the greatest growth of the Church, especially with the opening of previously unreached cities to proselytism and creating new congregations in these locations (which primarily occurs in Africa, the Philippines, and Latin America). Moreover, increases in full-time missionaries serving should produce higher numbers of convert baptisms. However, the most interesting and positive development with these few statistics shared by Elder Cook is that the percentage of young single adults serving full-time missions appears to be increasing - something that could have some major long-term impacts on general church growth trends, particularly those in regard to natural increase. Moreover, if these trends are sustained, we will likely see many new missions organized in 2024 to help accommodate this increase, and it appears most likely that these mission resources will be allocated to more productive areas rather than creation new missions in less productive areas with greater preexisting Church infrastructure (which occurred in many areas of the world in 2013 when huge increases in the numbers of full-time missionaries serving required a fast solution to find a place to put them all).