Saturday, November 4, 2023

General Analysis on 36 New Missions

This post is a general analysis of the Church's announcement earlier this week to create 36 new missions in July 2024. I will provide an overall assessment of this development and its significance and ramifications rather than go through a mission-by-mission analysis for each of the new missions (which I will put together in the coming weeks in multiple posts similar to recent new temple announcement analyses). 

A Correlation between Children of Record and Number of Full-time Missionaries Serving?

First, I have been informed of claims on social media that attribute the current surge in the number of full-time missionaries serving to a bump in children of record increase from 20 years ago, and that this current increase is therefore unsurprising, predictable, and actually less impressive than what it should be given children of record numbers two decades ago. There are many problems with making this argument in regard to the assumptions made. Children of record are not all retained into adulthood, with a portion who are never baptized at age 8 who are subsequently removed from church membership figures. Moreover, there are many child and youth converts who join the Church at an age when they are not included in the annual children of record increase metric. Additionally, rates of missionary service may vary for those added to church records prior to age 8 and are later baptized versus those who have joined the Church as a youth convert (historically, the Church has done very well with youth converts serving full-time missions). Furthermore, not all members who serve missions serve missions at the same age, and the minimum age for missionary service was revised from 19 to 18 for men and 21 to 19 for women in 2012. Finally, rates of full-time missionary service have also varied over time by gender, with increasing numbers of women serving full-time missions in the past decade. 

Graph 1 below displays annual numbers of full-time missionaries serving from 1977 to 2023 (rounded to 73,000 as Elder Cook reported 72,721 full-time missionaries serving as of November 1st, 2023) as well as increase in children of record (2023 is not included as there are no current estimates available for the year).

                                                            Graph 1

There is general little correlation between the two graphs when comparing these metrics over time, although there are some periods when both metrics increase and decrease together (note the COVID-19 pandemic in the early 2020s, as well as a decline in both the number of missionaries serving and increase in children of record in the late 2010s). However, there would be a lag of approximately two decades for when most of those born into the Church would serve full-time missions. See Graph 2 which illustrates how children of record increase compares to the number of full-time missionaries serving 20 years later.

                                                                Graph 2

Again, there is little correlation between these metrics even when children of record increase is paired with the number of full-time missionaries serving 20 years later. Graph 3 presents the percentage of children of record serving full-time missions 20 years later.

                                                                   Graph 3


This metric, again something to be very cautiously considered given the major assumptions made which have significant problems to make this very useful or accurate, has actually increased over time from approximately 55-60% in the late 1990s/early 2000s to 75-80% in the early 2020s. Therefore, the argument that the current surge in full-time missionaries serving is due to an increase in children of record two decades ago is not supported when considering the data available.

Geostatistical Comparison of the 58 New Missions Announced in 2013 versus the 36 New Missions Announced for 2024

There is only one year that has come remotely close to 2024 for the number of new missions organized in a single year, which was 2013 when 58 new missions were organized to accommodate tens of thousands more full-time missionaries serving that began as a result of the "double cohort" from those planning to serve missions at the previous minimum age for missionary service and those who decided to begin serving a full-time mission earlier because of the announcement. 

In 2013, I published an analysis on regarding the 58 new missions to be created that summer. Church leaders reported that the creation of the 58 new missions was a permanent change, and not a temporary one just to meet demand for the influx in members serving missions. This was supported with the number of missions within the following decade. The Church reported 405 missions as of year-end 2013, and the number of missions fluctuated between 399 and 421 during the next decade. To quote from this analysis, I stated:

Of the 58 missions to be created in July 2013, 17 are in North America (Arizona Gilbert, Arizona Scottsdale, California Bakersfield, California Irvine, California Rancho Cucamonga, Colorado Fort Collins, Georgia Macon, Idaho Nampa, Idaho Twin Falls, Illinois Chicago West, Kansas Wichita, Ohio Cincinnati, Oregon Salem, Utah Salt Lake City East, Virginia Chesapeake, Washington Federal Way, Washington Vancouver), 15 are in South America (Argentina Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina Posadas, Bolivia Santa Cruz North, Brazil Curitiba South, Brazil Fortaleza East, Brazil Juiz de Fora, Brazil Natal, Brazil Piracicaba, Brazil Santos, Brazil Sao Paulo West, Chile Santiago South, Ecuador Guayaquil West, Ecuador Quito North, Peru Huancayo, Peru Iquitos), 11 are in Central America (El Salvador San Salvador East, Guatemala Coban, Honduras San Pedro Sula West, Mexico Cancun, Mexico Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Ciudad Obregon, Mexico Mexico City Chalco, Mexico Pachuca, Mexico Queretaro, Mexico Reynosa, Mexico Saltillo), six are in East Asia (Japan Tokyo South, Korea Seoul South, Philippines Cavite, Philippines Cebu East, Philippines Legaspi, Philippines Urdaneta), five are in Africa (Angola Luanda, Botswana Gaborone, Ghana Accra West, Liberia Monrovia, Nigeria Benin City), three are in Oceania (Australia Sydney North, New Zealand Hamilton, Papua New Guinea Lae), and one is in Europe (Ukraine L'viv).  New missions in North, Central, and South America account for 74% of all new missions to be created in 2013 notwithstanding 83.6% of world church membership and approximately 15% of the world population residing in the Americas.  Three of the 58 missions will be the first missions to be headquartered within a particular country (Angola Luanda, Botswana Gaborone, and Liberia Monrovia).  The four countries with the most new missions to be organized are the United States (17), Mexico (8), Brazil (7), and the Philippines (4).

As for the 36 new missions to be organized in 2024, 10 are in North America (California Modesto, Florida Tallahassee, Montana Missoula, Nevada Henderson, South Carolina Charleston, Texas Dallas South, Texas El Paso, Utah Salt Lake City East, Utah Saratoga Springs, Utah Spanish Fork), nine are in Sub-Saharan Africa (DR Congo Kinshasa South, DR Congo Kolwezi, Ghana Accra North, Ghana Takoradi, Kenya Nairobi East, Madagascar Antananarivo North, Nigeria Calabar, Nigeria Port Harcourt North, Sierra Leone Bo), six are in Asia (Cambodia Phnom Penh East, Japan Sendai, Philippines Dumaguete, Philippines General Santos, Philippines Tuguegarao, Thailand Bangkok East), six are in South America (Argentina Tucumán, Bolivia Cochabamba South, Brazil Manaus South, Chile La Serena, Ecuador Quito West, Perú Lima Northeast), two are in Central America (México Mexicali, México Puebla East), two are in Europe (Germany Hamburg, Portugal Porto), and one is in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic Santo Domingo North). New missions in North, Central, and South America account for 50% of the new missions to be organized in 2024. Six (6) countries will have more than one new mission organized in 2024, including the United States (10), Philippines (3), the DR Congo (2), Ghana (2), Mexico (2), and Nigeria (2). Once these changes go into effect in July 2024, the countries with the most missions will include the United States (120), Brazil (37), Mexico (34), the Philippines (26), Peru (15), Argentina (14), Chile (11), and Nigeria (11).

Noteworthy Characteristics of the 36 New Missions to be Organized in 2024

Here are some characteristics of the 36 new missions to be organized that are noteworthy to mention.

  • New missions to be created in 2024 are more equal geographically distributed than the missions created in 2013.
  • No missions are located in countries that do not already have a mission.
  • Six countries will receive their second mission (Cambodia, Kenya, Madagascar, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Thailand).
  • Six missions will be reinstated missions that previously closed (California Modesto, Florida Tallahassee, Germany Hamburg, Japan Sendai, Portugal Porto, Utah Salt Lake City East).
  • 2024 will be the year with most new missions ever organized in Africa in one year.
  • One new mission is in a city where a mission used to be headquartered but the mission was relocated elsewhere (Nigeria Calabar).
  • No missions are planned to be discontinued.
  • No new missions are planned for Oceania.
  • All of the new missions have at least one stake (indicating plans with these new missions are to expand into lesser-reached areas with a base in active members and not venture into areas with little-to-no Church presence). 
  • Plans for the three new Utah missions call for at least one missionary companionship assigned per stake in Utah - something that has never previous occurred.

Other Reactions to the New Missions Announcement

Finally, here are some other reactions to this announcement. 

  • I was most surprised about the following missions: Cambodia Phnom Penh East, DR Congo Kolwezi, México Mexicali, Philippines Dumaguete, and South Carolina Charleston. The reason why is because they are in locations with a relatively small Church presence and/or have historically experienced slow growth within recent years.
  • The new mission announcements that I believe were the most overdue were Brazil Manaus South, Portugal Porto, Sierra Leone Bo, and Thailand Bangkok East. These missions are located in areas that have missions with a major administrative burden because of large geographical areas, large numbers of congregations, and/or rapid growth.
  • Locations where I was most disappointed that no new missions are planned to be organized include (in order) Togo Lome, Liberia Monrovia (second mission), Burundi Bujumbura, Senegal Dakar, Cuba Havana, Malawi Lilongwe, Brazil São Luís, Spain Granada, and Solomon Islands Honiara. These are locations where there is a major need for missions to be created to take advantage of greater opportunities for growth. 
  • New missions that I foresee as having the greatest likelihood to accelerate growth in the area where the operate include Brazil Manaus South, the two new DR Congo missions, Madagascar Antananarivo North, the two new Nigerian missions, and Sierra Leone Bo.
  • There may be a possibility of additional missions to be organized in 2024 that have not been announced yet pending where missionary numbers are at in early 2024 and evolving opportunities for growth.


James G. Stokes said...

Matt, thanks for this report. I appreciate your insights on this. I heard a report that this trend of a higher concentration of missionaries is not anticipated to change for the near term. So I think we may see an increase in missions every year for at least the next 2-3 years. I was wondering, is there any correlation between a higher concentration of missions and the creation of new Church areas? I ask because we've seen explosive growth in Africa and South America for years. I don't see the Church creating new areas in the US for now, but I did find this announcement intriguing in terms of what it might tell us about prospective changes worldwide that might come to Church areas, stakes and districts, or even individual congregations. I look forward to the rest of your analysis. Keep up the great work, Matt, and thanks again!

Pascal Friedmann said...

I agree that the Church may decide to organize additional missions in the near future if numbers stay constant or continue to increase for a few months. Given that missionary numbers are currently about 20% higher than a few years ago, an increase in the number of missions worldwide of just under 9% is actually rather conservative. As of today, the Church would still have around 160 missionaries per mission, which is a lot given that some of them are always going to be quite small due to lower productivity and smaller target populations.

Matt said...

James - The creation of church areas is extremely difficult to predict. Much of it has to do with a decision to allocate more resources to a particular area of the world, but we have also see that areas are organized and consolidated based on how well local leadership is functioning (note when Mexico and Brazil each had two areas for a time and then they were consolidated).

Pascal - Thank you for mentioning the average number of missionaries per mission - this is something I neglected to delve into with this post (which already covers a lot of material). Yes, I noticed that the number of missions organized is not commensurate with the increase in missionaries serving. I agree that this is probably out of caution to make sure these numbers are indeed sustained. I also wonder if there is some hesitant to organize missions in more lesser-reached areas due to concern about making sure things are sustained in the coming years.

James G. Stokes said...

Matt, thank you for your honest assessment. What you said makes sense. I was also wondering: with the change to the Eurasian Area name, could that indicate that some Asian nations could be transferred to that area? If so, which are most likely? Thanks again.

John Pack Lambert said...

I would not be shocked if a few missions were added by July 2024. However I think more focus will be on 2025.

I was actually trying to work out if a Michigsn Grand Rapids mission is doable the other day. I eventually decided it would most likely work if Fort Wayne and South Bend stakes were taken from Indianopolis Mission, but I am not sure if it is short term likely.

The fact that Detroit continues to loose population makes me doubt such is a short term likelihood.

On the African continent the Church has often taken a slow and deliberate approach. I hope to see more mission growth occurring.

Togo seems a strong candidate for the next move. Malawi I also think is a good one. Burundi I wonder if such a move would work with the Rwanda mission do young.

Liberia getting a second mission would be good. However the Africa West Area overseeing the formation of 5 new missions at once may be felt to be enough. The more your mission president knows the culture the better.

In fact, there are just advantages to even dates in when mission presidents rotate. So there might be plans to create a more sustained rise in mission numbers over a few years so that the number of mission presidents ending each year remains stable.

We shall see.

In dome cases there may be logistical limits to growth in the number of missionaries. There are reasons to assign mission presidents to an area with few missionaries, but especially under President Nelson there seems to have been a decision to have larger multi-nationsl missions as opposed to one's with extremely few missionaries. However a few of those consolidations, such as Hungary and Romania, have been reversed.

James G. Stokes said...

The other part of this announcement has flown somewhat under the radar: the Church is increasing the number of days in advance that missionaries can submit their papers, which should allow more time to resolve any logistical issues.

Eduardo said...

I was surprised and pleased to see the new mission opening up in northern Chile. I know that an upsurge of Haitians and Venezuelans have populated parts of Chile, bringing in immigrants like never before, at least not in modern Chilean history. I am thinking that the Chileans are assimilating in interesting ways with these new populations, and the Church is doing its part. Every country has its own path towards these developments (immigrants and assimilation). Globalization is a constant.

Trying to dissect and analyze the shifts of demographics and socially scientific factors is not an easy fete; slicing the growth of one faith, such as the Church of Jesus Christ, provides part of the picture. Many of us like to see and speculate on the numbers and the changes because of our inherent enthusiasm for a restoration and the culmination of the Fullness of Times, as we know it.

All these missions are reflective of the overall faith, which is doing all right. But most of us admit that it could improve in so many ways. Like any imperfect organization or person. While us adherents claim or profess that the Church is the vehicle of the Lord, and fulfilling God's plan.

The particulars prove fascinating to a few of us.

Many facets make up a movement, including public relations, sports, policies, numbers (like baptisms, temples, units), and external factors like economics, governments and wars. And, science and technology.

It is great to be part of all of it, happy to see and witness this day, and share with those who study and promote and/or celebrate it. Or at least, analyze it a bit.

Last comment. Having known people who go away from the faith, in many places and ways, I think the allegory of Jacob 5 is particularly prescient. Wild and tame branches everywhere.

Even our sports habits and predilections can intervene or interfere with all of the above.

Craig said...

Craig Shuler asks Matt,
Where are the graphs you mention?

James G. Stokes said...

Craig, I'm not Matt, but they are in the post above. All of them are under the section entitled "A Correlation Between Children of Record and Number of Full-time Missionaries Serving?"

Chris D. said...

For those that are interested:

Today is Elder Uchtdorf’s 83rd birthday. Here are 9 of his quotes from the past year

Born Nov. 6, 1940, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has been an Apostle since 2004

Chris D. said...
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James G. Stokes said...

Also, for those who are interested, the VIP/Media tours are underway for the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple:

That article is in Spanish, but translation in English may be available later today in the main Newsroom. Using Google translate, I learned that this temple is referred to in this article as the Los Olivos Temple, with no mention of the city or nation. That may be a change. We'll see.

I'm hoping that the English version of that article isn't the only temple update we'll get today, but we'll have to see.

James G. Stokes said...

Also, did anyone else see this update:

I mentioned previously that, as he was speaking extemporaneously in General Conference, my wife, my mom, and I all had the feeling that he might not be around much longer. Any thoughts on this report?

Chris D. said...

James, I hope this helps answer your question about Pres. Ballard.

"President M. Russell Ballard returns home following short hospital stay

The Latter-day Saint Apostle was dealing with ‘respiratory issues,’ he wrote
By Trent Toone 2 Nov 2023, 5:33 PM MDT "

Chris D. said...

Also, I hope the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple announcement is not the only one today.

Chris D. said...

See first images inside, outside of the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, the Church’s 2nd in the metro area

The temple enters its open-house phase, beginning with Monday’s media briefing and tours
By Scott Taylor 6 Nov 2023, 10:36 AM MST

James G. Stokes said...

To be clear, my question was not about the statement, which was basically duplicated by the Newsroom and the Church News, but rather whether there were any thoughts about the impression I mentioned in view of the report. Sorry if I wasn't specific enough on what I was asking.

James G. Stokes said...

I don't think it will be. Scott Taylor wrote the article you shared below, and I contacted him with questions about the report, also telling him that I wondered whether that would be the only announcement today His answer was oddly cryptic on that.

Religlang said...

It's interesting to me that the baptismal font in this temple is nearly a perfect square, except for it's rounded corners. I'm not aware of any other temple with such a design for the baptistry. Does anyone know if another temple has a square font?

James G. Stokes said...

I don't know about a square font, but I seem to recall somewhere there was an octagonal font. Just not sure where.

James G. Stokes said...

Per a new report courtesy of my "Uncle" David and "Aunt" Stacie, who preside over the Nairobi Kenya Mission, when the Nairobi Kenya East Mission is operative the current mission will be renamed the Nairobi Kenya West Mission. My thanks once again to you all.

Chris D. said...

James, Thanks for the update from the relatives. I suspect it won't be the only name change with at least 36 realignments.

Chris D. said...

6 November 2023 - SALT LAKE CITY
News Release
See the Location of the new Temple in Viña del Mar, Chile
Grand Rapids Michigan Temple rendering also released

Chris D. said...

So, according to the article and in coorelation to the Meetinghouse website, the site chosen for the Viña del Mar Chile Temple is the site of the current Viña del Mar Ward meetinghouse.

Religlang said...

That's wonderful news!

Religlang said...

James - After doing some research, it turns out that the Meridian Idaho temple does indeed have an octagonal font.

James G. Stokes said...

Religlang, thanks for helping me figure that out. I thought I remembered hearing about one. And since the Meridian Idaho Temple is coming up on the seventh-year anniversary of its' dedication, I'm not surprised I forgot specifically which one it was. Thanks again for clearing up that mystery.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have to say the new Grand Rapids Temple looks really nice.

I am very impressed with the Lima Los Olivos Temple. I still think at least one more temple in Lima could be justified without any growth. Lima and Lima Los Olivos Temples combined are still under 60,000 square feet, yet Las Vegas is at 80,000 Square feet and getting a second temple with roughly half the number if stakes Lima has.

I think once all announced temples are completed, more than 48 stakes will remain with the two Lima Temples. I really think we will see at least a 3rd temple announced fir Lima.

I am quite excited that Vina del Mar had an announcement so soon. I still hope we will have more groundbreaking announced soon.

Chris D. said...

With the Mission realignments next July 2024, I wonder what the chances are of the current Utah Salt Lake City Mission (1983784), (which was originally called the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission, until a couple years ago when the then Utah Salt Lake City Mission moved north to become Utah Layton Mission), if this will be renamed for the short lived "Utah Salt Lake City Central Mission" from 2012 that was consolidated in July 2015. We have a Utah Salt Lake City East (2024), West (2012), South (1998) and City (2013) missions. And the Salt Lake City North Mission (1975 to 1989) when it moved north to become the Utah Ogden Mission.

So I believe the current Utah Salt Lake City Mission, could retain the name, or become the Utah SLC Central Mission.

Ryan Searcy said...

A month from announcement to site announcement is pretty quick. I see on Rick's Temples Site the quickest announcement to groundbreaking is the Oaxaca Mexico Temple with just 18 days, the site announcement obviously happening before that, but what temple had the quickest announcement to site announcement? I suppose I remember seeing some Church videos (it's been a VERY long time since I've seen them), where the Salt Lake Temple was depicted as being announced WITH a specific location, which would make it the quickest, but are there others?

James G. Stokes said...

Here's a bit more information: the existing Kenya Nairobi Mission has almost 200 missionaries, 6 mission districts, and 3 mission branches. Based on those numbers, the split is certainly warranted.

James G. Stokes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James G. Stokes said...

Helena Montana was 16 days from announcement to site announcement:

Craig said...

Craig Shuler says:

My prediction is that Utah Salt Lake City Mission will keep that name; it is historic. Chris, the missions did not move, only the mission CDOL numbers.

The 1985 Church Almanac shows Utah Salt Lake City was the name of the only and first Utah mission from 1975 to 1980. In 1980 it was divided to become the UT SLC North and UT SLC South missions. The CDOL number went with the north mission.

In 1989 the third mission was formed. The UT SLC North Mission's number then went to the new UT Ogden Mission. the UT SLC South Mission's number went to the new UT Provo Mission. The UT Salt Lake City Mission name came back but got a new number.

The 4th mission was UT SLC Temple Square Mission in 1995.

The 5th was UT Salt Lake City South Mission in 1998. I'll add ome more history on the Utah missions in my next post and my predictions on 2024 mission boundary shifts in my next post.

Chris D. said...

Also a little under the radar, dyring 9 day ministry tour to Mexico, Elder Bednar attended a Stake Conference in the city of Toluca Mexico. Personally I think he may have had time to visit different locations in Toluca or meet with leaders about prospective sites.

Chris D. said...

He also held meetings in Acapulco after the Hurricane.

James G. Stokes said...

The groundbreaking for that temple occurred just over two months later.

John said...

Thinking back, a former president of Utah Salt Lake City Mission from about ten years ago is in my ward. He said the total was about a companionship per stake, plus foreign language missionaries. He didn't indicate (because I didn't ask him) how the Tongan-speaking stakes factored in to that.

David McFadden said...

Arkansas was the fastest growing state in the US for church membership in 2022. That being said, it wasn't equally grown, with the Northwestern part of the state seeing substantial growth and Southern half of the state not seeing only a net decline in units since the late 1980's.

I'm pleased to announce that the Magnolia Branch was created last Sunday and I believe is the first unit to be organized in the Little Rock Stake since the 1980's.

Religlang said...
The final vote on the Heber Valley temple is tonight at 6 p.m. MST. Hopefully we'll all have much more clarity by the end of today.
The utah government page also has links provided to listen in remotedly, if that suits anyone's fancy.

John Pack Lambert said...

In 1998 and 1999 most temples had sites announced when they were announced. For example President Hinckley announced plans fir 32 temples in April 1998, but no sites at that time (although he did let slip one would be in Fiji). I believe in April 1980 when they announced 7 temples they announced sites and even sizes all at the same time.

The Laie Hawai'i Temple site was dedicated by President Joseph F. Smith with only Elder Smoot of the 12 and Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley having approved it.

It is hard to say the Salt Lake Temple was even announced before Brigham Young designated the site in July 1847.

So for Detrout when it was announced in August 1998 its site was designated then. Even if we say it was quasi announced in April 1999, when it was clearly on President Hinckley's list, which I think was over 32 long, it still was completed in less than a full 19 months. From official announcement to dedication was just over 14 months. I know President Hinckley did not know where a Detroit Temple would be in April 1998, which is why he reached out that month to President Bithel of the Bloomfield Hills Michigan stake to identify a site.

An article published in the Church News I believe about a year ago suggested that it is only after a temple site has,been identified that a temple is announced. That makes it hard to determine why it takes so long. For the Grand Rapids Temple site I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began the purchase process before the temple was announced but I am not sure the sale fully closed before the temple announcement. So that is one hold up that would make them hesitant to name the site, if the sale has not closed. There may also be some early approvals sought. Not often the full apptlroval though, although the levels of who needs to provide input on the request process might make it so some level of approval can be gained before the site is,publicly announced.

John Pack Lambert said...

Hopefully some of the districts in the Kenya Nairobi Mission will soon become stakes. Kenya has a,population of 53 million. California only has 39 million people. Ghana has 32 million people and will have 6 missions. Brazil has 214 million people and Nigeria 213 million. Cambodia has 16 million people, Madagascar 28 million and Sierra Leone has 8.4 million people. Of course India has 1408 million people, and it's 2 missions also cover Nepal and Sri Lanka and maybe Bangladesh, so there are lots of factors in mission size. Uganda's 45 million people and Tqnzania's 62 million could also easily justify another mission. I would not be surprised if Uganda gets a second mission soon, Tanzania is less clear. Angola at 35 million people could easily have more missions, but it might be not the best course for long term stability to create another mission now.

A big question is should missions balance current members, potential members, available missionaries in the region or some other factor. I think in reality factors of current success, ability to assign missionaries, member population, areas that need direct ecclesiastical leadership by a mission president, and potential population to reach are all considered.

John Pack Lambert said...

To be fair overall population growth in Arkansas has been mainly concentrated in the Northwest of the state. Much of the Church growth there has been fueled by move-ins from elsewhere, especially the Western US. Church growth us helped by both the higher percentage of members there than in other parts of the state and also by the fact that many Americans in their own minds do not belong to a denomination but to a specific congregation. So they are often the most open to conversion after moving.

Daniel Moretti said...

Your source is mistaken. In the last census, Brazil registered 203 million inhabitants, so that it has already been surpassed by Nigeria

Eduardo said...

Nigeria is projected to have more people than the U.S. in the span of many of our lifetimes. If things go as they are... Many things can change that. Plagues, migration, wars, birthrates, disasters. Brazil fell behind Pakistan for number five a few years ago.

Mexico surpassed Japan to get into the top 10. I wonder if the Philippines or Vietnam could pass up Nippon soon?

Great to see Japan getting another mission, again. Such a proud and rich heritage and culture. I am amazed how different the Korean, Chinese languages, and Japanese languages are. The Tower of Babel and evolution really did a number on us.

I would like to know what the current status of Mongolia, Vietnam, Malaysia are. When will update the country profiles?

The Gospel means good news, and I see a lot of it.

Thanks for the analysis and reporting.

Craig said...

Craig Shuler says:

Continuing from my Nov. 6, 10:10 p.m. post above . . .

6. The Utah Salt Lake City West Mission was created in 2012 from the UT Salt Lake City Mission.

7. The Utah Salt Lake City Central Mission was also created in 2012 from the UT Salt Lake City and UT Salt Lake City South mission. I'm guessing the Central mission was discontinued in 2015.

8. The Utah Orem Mission was created in 2015 from the Utah Provo Mission and at the same time central Utah was transferred from the UT Prov to UT St. George.

9. The Utah Logan Mission existed only from 2015 to 2018. It was divided from the UT Ogden Mission and back to the Ogden Mission.

9. The Utah Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission was created Jan. 2017, to formalize what had formerly been the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission. All headquarters departments' missionaries were formally added.

10. The Utah Layton Mission name was used starting in 2018, taking the northern part of Davis County from the UT Ogden Mission and southern Davis County from Utah Salt Lake City Mission. It took the CDOL number from UT Salt Lake City.

At the same time, in 2018, the Salt Lake City East Mission name was discontinued. There have been 3 proselytizing mssions in Salt Lake County since then--UT SLC, UT SLC West and UT SLC South.

11. The Utah Salt Lake City East Mission will be created in July 2024. I expect it will mostly be what is now the Utah Salt Lake City Mission--east Salt Lake City, Millcreek, Holladay, Park City, and southwest Wyomong from Evanston to Rock Springs. And maybe picking up the Uintah Basin from Utah Provo Mission or Cottonwood Heights from UT SLC South Mission?

My guess is that the Utah Salt Lake City Mission will really be the new mission, keeping perhaps thedowntown, the Avenues, (and the University area), and taking south Davis County back from UT Layton along with the growing part of west part of Salt Lake City from the UT SLC West Mission.
I expect the UT SLC West Mission will lose some of its north parts to UT SLC and pick up some parts of the ithe UT SLC South.

I expect the UT SLC South Mission to lose some of its west areas to UT SLC West.

12. Utah Saratoga Springs Mission is the 2nd mission to be created in July 2024. I expect it will be the simple split of the Utah Orem Mission.

13. Utah Spanish Fork Mission, the 3rd new Utah mission for July 2024 will basically be a split of UT Provo Mission, but I expect Sanpete and Sevier Counties will be moved from UT St. George Mission.

I'm looking for the maps to come out.

Craig said...

Craig Shuler says,

I guess that if any new area is created in the next few years, it would only be Nigeria as a division of the Africa West Area.

Why Nigeria? Because of the member and non-member population reasons others have mentioned and Nigeria's training needs. Nigeria appears to have many many training needs, based on number of stakes, missions, and temples; more than Africa Central and Africa South Areas.

Nigeria is also by far the biggest Church country without its own area. Brazil, Mexico and Philippines already have one. When Brazil and Mexico had two areas it didn't work very well.

Chris D. said...

James Stokes, Upon further personal refection on your comment from the 5th of this month about Church area realignments that may be coming down the pike later. And the significance of the above mentioned Area name change both politically and geographically from Europe East, which geographically references a region basically between the eastern border of Poland to the Urals Mountains in central Russian federation, to the new more inclusive Eurasian Area, which encompasses a region in eastern portion of Europe to the Urals and the northern part of the Asian continent. Or more generally the supercontinent of Eurasia. And the significance of the Apostle Elder Quentin Cook's visit to the Almaaty Branch in the Central Eurasia republic of Kazakhstan and also in Uzhhorod Ukraine.

With all this said, I wonder if the Brethren are considering moving the old Europe East Area offices out of Moscow, Russian Federation in a conflict zone now close to 2 years and no ending in site, to a more neutral Central Eurasian country like Kazakhstan, like Astana or Almaty where Ukraine can be incorporated again and the Ukraine leadership can have guidance and visits to and from Astana Area offices and resources outside of the Russian Federation.

I could also see the possible Area realignment of the current Russia Moscow Mission, which pretty much covers all of the Russian Federation west of the Urals mountains, and all 3 current Stakes in the country to be realigned to Europe North or Europe Central Areas and the part of the Federation east of the Urals and the Central Eurasian Republics of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and/or the "stans" like Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. to the newly renamed Eurasian Area.

But this is just personal conjecture, not reflective of any decision at Church Headquarters. Any other scenario is possible.

Pascal Friedmann said...

Getting from Almaty to Ukraine is much harder than you would expect without air travel. Kazakhstan also has very limited Church infrastructure and while conditions on religious freedom are getting better, it is far from perfect. My guess is actually that area HQ will move to Frankfurt, where the Church has a significant amount of office real estate, and then relocate to Kyiv when the war is over.

James G. Stokes said...

Chris, thanks for your thoughts. I'm not convinced that the Church would move the Eurasian Area headquarters to the Middle East. And I still think it's possible that some Asian nations could be transferred to the Eurasian Area. It occurred to me to wonder if the Church would call any of the current Eurasian Area presidency members as GA Seventies in the near term, but I don't know if something prohibits the Church from calling native Russians as GA Seventies. Pascal, I don't think the Church would relocate the Eurasian area headquarters to Frankfurt. Frankfurt is already home to the Europe North Area HQ. I think the more likely scenario would be, as I indicated earlier, for several Asian nations to be relocated to the Eurasian Area, and for one of those nations to serve as the new area HQ.

As far as future area splits go, growth in Africa is booming. As Matt has previously indicated, Nigeria is likely to be its' own area soon. That seems most likely now with the number of missions added to that nation with this announcement. But I also see a prospective situation where parts of the other two African areas could be reassigned to a split Africa West Area into Northwest and Southwest areas. Not quite sure how that would work, but it occurred to me to wonder if that would be possible.

While I agree to a certain extent that the Church is unlikely to reinstate areas in South America that were previously operational (Brazil North and Brazil South, for example), I could see South America also potentially getting another area. Later on, I think additional changes could come to the current Asia areas. The main question on all of this is the timing. I wouldn't be shocked if Nigeria becomes its' own area in 2024 or 2025. Anything else would probably be postponed until after 2030. But these are just my own predictions and conjectures.

miro said...

A church area needs staff. I do not know how many but propably at leas a 100. Every church employee needs to be a current temple recomend holder. You cannot have an area in a place where you have hardly any members. So i think Kazakhstan with about a 100 active members in total is very unlikly. The only Eurasian Area Country remotly possible would be Armenia. If Mongolia would be addes that might work. But I think the Area Headquarters will stay in Russia.

James G. Stokes said...

For the record, I never said that I believed the area headquarters would shift to the Middle East. My verbatim statement was "I'm not convinced that the Church would move the Eurasian Area headquarters to the Middle East." Unless a major Asian nation were transferred to the Eurasian Area, I don't see area HQ moving at all.

The current Asia Area is the largest in the Church, so it's possible that a realignment of the Asia, Asia North, and Eurasian Areas is coming down the pike. But I'd think, based on what Matt has indicated, that that might only happen after Nigeria splits off into its' own area.

James G. Stokes said...

Here is a new report on the Heber Valley Utah Temple:

My thanks once again to you all.

James said...

Super glad there is some significant compromise on lighting that happened in Heber!

I'm a little concerned the church seems to be treating it as a concession instead of the right thing to do in all places. Light pollution is a serious issue, not just in Heber. The juxtaposition with the Saratoga Springs temple is interesting, but merely highlights a question: why aren't all temples like the Heber temple when it comes to lighting practices, particularly new ones being built?

OC Surfer said...

@James. Symbolically, temples are to be a light unto the world.

Chris D. said...

"9 November 2023 - SALT LAKE CITY News Release

Ivory Coast Ambassador Meets Church Leaders"

David McFadden said...

New/Consolidation of areas are very difficult to predict as it's very difficult to predict, partly because they have so diverse demographics.

Middle East/North Africa Area is a quarter of one percent the size of the Utah Area.

Three areas cross continental boundaries to join culturally similar areas. Yet the Asia Area is quite diverse and with its two largest countries, China and India practically at war with each other.

Outside of the creation of the now called Eurasian Mission and some realignments in Europe as a result of that, areas haven't changed much recently. This may indicate the brethren is currently comfortable with its current alignment, but it can also change and change quickly as it's done in the past.

With the comment of adding countries to the Eurasian Area, if China becomes one of those, would it also include Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, and Taiwan which is claimed by the mainland but has at least some autonomy? It's unclear and may depend on geopolitics, but if the rift continues, I could see countries aligned with China and Russia (Central Asia China and Mongolia) becoming part of the Eurasian Area; Japan, Taiwan, (maybe Hong Kong and Macau) joining what's remaining of the Asia area; Micronesian countries going to Pacific; effectively dissolving the North Asia Area. Maybe allow another area elsewhere.

For those thinking Nigeria to become its own area, any reason why? Peru, Argentina, and Chili has more members, more missions, more... than Nigeria.

James G. Stokes said...

David, Matt has indicated that Nigeria being its' own area is likely, and he cited data and projected growth in the coming years as the reasons for it. That was several threads ago.

James G. Stokes said...

I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities that the 3 South American Areas could be divided to include a fourth or fifth area, but based on what Matt said, Nigeria would be first, and then perhaps South America, and then a split of the current Asia Area, which is the largest in the Church.

Religlang said...

OC Surfer - that is true, but I would argue that the Church has a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment where they build temples and other infrastructure - including dark skies in rural areas. After all, Bishop Gérald Caussé explicitly taught this last year in the October 2023 general conference.

David Todd said...

It makes sense for the temples to be lit in the early evening when patrons are still using it, but the lighting should be turned off as soon as the last sessions end in my opinion. Most temples that I've seen stay lit until about 1am or so. It doesn't always seem consistent.

Ryan Searcy said...

Spotted this just now (it was posted 7 hours ago). It's from Elder Bednar's official Facebook page talking about him meeting with members, the community, and the governor of Hidalgo state. It seems there is excitement about the announcement of the temples in Pachuca and Tula. I wonder (hope) if this means a site announcement of one or both will happen soon.

David McFadden said...

FYI: It appears Linares Chile Stake was organized on October 29 and not October 28 as it says in "Stakes and Districts Organized" on the main page sidebar. It's not that big of an issue to me, but I figured you might want to know.

James G. Stokes said...

For anyone interested, here's an update on President Nelson:

That's great news. With a 99-year-old Church President who keeps setting new records for the oldest living apostle every day, we are truly in uncharted territory. My thanks once again to you all.

Chris D. said...

Also of note Elder Soares gave a devotional this week from a meeting in St. John's in Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Area.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually I believe Peru has more members than Nigeria. It does not have its own area. The same may be true of Chile. At least I think Chile still has more stakes than Nigeria.

James G. Stokes said...

JPL, the material point is that Matt said Nigeria would be its' own area first. There's more to the creation of an area than simply the number of stakes. Matt has the data and knowledge to back his opinion, so I'd defer to him on this.

Pascal Friedmann said...

Chile is a lot like other countries in the South America area. I believe that homogeneity is a consideration. So is future growth. Depending on how the Church plays its cards in Nigeria, I believe it is very feasible that membership (especially active) may be as large in Nigeria as in Chile in 10 years.

Joella92 said...

david todd no we dont need to turn off the lights they are beauiful and really we need to stop bowing down to the haters. and the people in heber will just find something else it rich people who hate mormons plain and simple

Pascal Friedmann said...

That's great news! I am not sure about the context of the statement and whether it will be the Hamburg Stake that splits again. If no other stakes are involved in the realignment, I would actually be surprised if it was Hamburg. None of the nine wards are sizable enough (based on my info) to split. The cost of living in Hamburg is outrageously high and the wards closer to the city (Hamburg, Wilhelmsburg, Bergedorf, and Pinneberg especially) are likely all struggling to keep families around because of it. In the last 20 years, countless members I know have moved south from Hamburg area wards. I struggle to see how more wards could be formed there. The six branches in the stake are all quite small. Perhaps the only way for Hamburg to split within the next year would be to absorb Bremen from the Hannover Stake. That would, however, speak more in favor of a second stake in Hamburg proper than a reinstatement in Neumünster.

I find the following more likely, in descending order of likelihood:

1) Düsseldorf and Dortmund have some serious realignments to create a third stake in North-Rhine Westphalia
2) Dresden and Leipzig split down the middle to create a stake in a place like Freiberg or Chemnitz
3) Hamburg splits
4) Berlin takes Cottbus and Forst, creates one additional ward (perhaps by splitting Dahlem and Spandau to create a third ward in the west side of the city), and then splits outright. This is relatively unlikely because it is mutually exclusive for now) with option 2.
5) Zurich and St. Gallen shed their German congregations to form a stake in Freiburg

Those are the theoretically viable options in my opinion, although 4 and 5 are some real stretches; as you can see, I think I am feeling not particularly confident about Hamburg. Unless, of course, I am misinterpreting what you wrote and the speaker said that specifically Hamburg will have another stake by next summer.

On a different note, we had our stake conference this weekend. The Friedrichsdorf 2nd Ward (Spanish/Portuguese) was created but - to my surprise - no other new units for now. My best guess here is that we're simply going to take it slow and that some of the other new congregations that most people know are coming will do so in the next months or years. Attendance at the conference was significantly higher than six months ago; the chapel had "standing room only" about 20 minutes before the start of the meeting, and more than 400 households watched online. By that logic, we had about 1500-2000 people in combined online and offline attendance, which is in the same general ballpark as active stake membership.

Ray said...

Pascal, good news. Thanks for your detailed reporting.

Ray said...
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Ray said...
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James G. Stokes said...

The Okinawa Japan Temple was dedicated as scheduled today:

With no other temple open houses starting on a Monday for the remainder of this year, I assume we may see 1-2 dedications announced, along with the final groundbreakings for 2023, 1-2 exterior renderings, and at least 1-2 site confirmations tomorrow at 2:00 PM MST. My thanks once again to you all.

Eduardo said...

Has anyone heard of new growth in northern Chile, like maybe new stakes? I am thinking that economically there are factors that get some Haitians and Venezuelans (besides traditional Peruanos and Bolivianos) to go to the desert region and work and live there. Obvious mining sectors, then the fishing on the coast. The farthest north I have been is La Serena/Coquimbo, so I know the top three regional districts less than 4-10, where I have been and lived.
The new mission for the Fourth Region, Coquimbo, is exciting as the country that once seemed so promising for Church of Jesus Christ growth in the 1970s through the 1990s seems to be re-grouping and getting into 5th and 6th generations of membership.
Is that possible? 1950, 1970 second generation, 1990 third, 2010 fourth generation...

Okay, maybe some fifth-generation members. Anyway, converts are always key to real growth.

As always, I wish we had databases of where missionaries come from and where they go, not just one-off anecdotes. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear evidence of individual growth, but we love the bigger scale metrics that tell the greater or more complete story.

! Viva Chile! Good news for all.

Eduardo said...

Those three new stakes, thanks for the new post. Chile has so much potential, a land where hundreds of thousands have been baptized. We just need closer to a thirty or so percent activity rate, and it would be amazing.

Breckenfeld said...

Activity rate is a chalenge in South Americs. In Brazil, for example, is very unusual a unit with more than 20 percent of activity.

miro said...

I see some of my comments where deleted. Did I disregard a blog policy? Could you tell me why?