Saturday, November 18, 2017

New Stakes Created in Sierra Leone (2), Arizona, India, Kentucky, and Montana

Sierra Leone
Last Sunday, the Church in Sierra Leone organized its first two stakes in the second most populous city of Bo. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake was created from the Bo Sierra Leone North District, and the Bo Sierra Leone West Stake was created from the Bo Sierra Leone West District. The two stakes were created in a combined stake conference that was attended by 1,945 people. Local members in the Bo Sierra Leone North Stake report that all seven branches in the district became wards when the stake was organized. Thus, the new stake contains the following seven wards:  Batiama, Bo, Gbonda Town, Kortugbuma, Nduvuibu, Njaie Town, and Yemo Town. Information which of the seven branches in the Bo Sierra Leone West District became wards in the new stake remains unavailable. 

The Church in Bo has experienced some of the most rapid LDS growth ever reported in the worldwide Church. The Bo Sierra Leone District originally serviced all branches in the city of Bo until the district divided to create the Bo Sierra Leone East District in 2014. The two Bo districts divided to create a third district, the Bo Sierra Leone North District, in late November 2016. Four of the seven congregations in the Bo Sierra Leone North Stake have been organized since 2015, whereas four of the seven congregations in the Bo Sierra Leone West Stake have been organized since 2014, and two of the five branches in the Bo Sierra Leone East District have been organized since 2015. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake was created less than one year after the original Bo Sierra Leone North District was organized. Never in the history of the Church has a district so quickly been organized into a stake. To make this feat even more impressive, one of the districts that the Bo Sierra Leone North District was created from also became a stake at the same time. The Bo Sierra Leone North Stake is also the first predominantly Mende-speaking stake in the Church. Of the seven wards in the new stake, five wards are designated as Mende speaking. No LDS materials have appeared to have been translated into Mende.

There are now four stakes and four districts in Sierra Leone.

Arizona
The Church organized a new stake in Gilbert, Arizona on November 12th. The Gilbert Arizona Superstition Springs Stake was organized from a division of the Mesa Arizona Boulder Creek Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Elliot Groves, Highland Groves, Highland Ranch, Highland, Meadows, Monterey Park, Redfield, and Towne Meadows Wards.

There are now 114 stakes in Arizona.

India
The Church organized its first predominantly Hindi-speaking stake in the worldwide Church on November 12th. The New Delhi India Stake was organized from the New Delhi India District. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Dwarka, New Delhi 1st, New Delhi 2nd, New Delhi 3rd, and New Delhi 4th Wards, and the Noida and Pitampura Branches. The new stake is the Church's first stake to be organized in northern India and within the boundaries of the India New Delhi Mission.

There are now four stakes and three districts in India. The Church has previous organized stakes in India in Hyderabad (2012), Bengaluru (2015), and Rajahmundry (2016).

Kentucky
The Church organized a new stake in Kentucky on November 5th. The Elizabethtown Kentucky Stake was organized from a division of the New Albany Indiana Stake, Crestwood Kentucky Stake, and Louisville Kentucky Stake. The new stake includes the following five ward and five branches: the Brandenburg, Elizabethtown, Glasgow, Radcliff, and Sulphur Well Wards, and the Bardstown, Campbellsville, Lebanon, Leitchfield, and Shepherdsville Branches.

There are now eight stakes in Kentucky.

Montana
The Church organized a new stake in Montana. The Billings Montana South Stake was organized from a division of the Billings Montana Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and one branch: the Blue Creek, Canyon Creek, Laurel, Monad, Red Lodge, and Shiloh Wards, and the Absarokee Branch.

There are now 13 stakes in Montana.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Persian (Farsi) Speaking Branch Organized in California

Last Sunday, the Church organized a Persian (Farsi) speaking branch in Del Mar, California. The new branch is the Church's only Persian-speaking branch in the worldwide Church and may be the first branch to ever conduct meetings solely in the Persian language. The Church established several branches in Iran during the 1970s and operated the Iran Tehran Mission to service members in Iran between 1975 and 1979.

Iranians have been uniquely receptive to the LDS Gospel message among peoples in the Middle East. Thousands of Iranian members have joined the Church worldwide during the past four decades and rates of convert baptisms among Iranians have appeared to increase during the past decade. Comparatively few Arabs have joined the Church. Today, Persian-speaking members have joined the Church in sizable numbers in the United States, Canada, Turkey, Sweden, Germany, and several additional European countries. The creation of a Persian-speaking branch is a significant milestone as there appear to be sufficient leadership for Persian members to maintain their own congregation. Prospects appear favorable for the organization of additional Persian-speaking branches, member groups, and Sunday School classes in several countries and locations, especially in Los Angeles, California and Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017 Monthly Newsletter

Click here to view our October 2017 monthly newsletter that provides news updates regarding church growth and missionary developments around the world.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Stakes Created in Utah (2), Colorado, Cote d'Ivoire, the DR Congo, Ghana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nigeria, and Togo; New Districts Created in Mexico and Mozambique; Stakes Discontineud in Mexico (2) and California

Utah
The Church in Utah recently organized two new stakes.

The Midway Utah West Stake was organized on October 15th. The new stake was created from a division of the Midway Utah Stake. The Midway Utah West Stake includes the following seven wards: the Deer Creek, Fort Midway, Homestead, Swiss Alpine, Wallsburg 1st, Wallsburg 2nd, and Wasatch Mountain Wards

The Saratoga Springs Utah Saratoga Hills Stake was organized on October 8th. The new stake was created from a division of the Saratoga Springs Utah Stake. The new stake includes the following eight wards: the Legacy Farms, Saratoga Hills 1st, Saratoga Hills 2nd, Saratoga Hills 3rd, Saratoga Hills 4th, Saratoga Hills 5th, Saratoga Springs 1st, and Saratoga Springs 2nd Wards.

There are now 591 stakes and one district in Utah.

Colorado
The Craig Colorado Stake was organized on October 15th. The new stake was created from a division of the original Meeker Colorado Stake (renamed the Rifle Colorado Stake) and the Golden Colorado Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and two branches: the Craig 1st, Craig 2nd, Meeker, Rangely 1st, Rangely 2nd, and Steamboat Springs Wards, and the Baggs and Granby Branches.

There are now 36 stakes in Colorado.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new stake in Cote d'Ivoire on October 22nd. The Daloa Cote d'Ivoire Stake was organized from the Daloa Cote d'Ivoire District. Information on which of the eight branches in the former district that became wards remains unavailable. The Church organized its first six branches in Daloa in a single weekend in February 2014 - the most branches ever organized in a single weekend in a city where no official wards or branches previously operated. The Church organized branches in Daloa into their own district in April 2015 when the Yamoussoukro Cote d'Ivoire District became a stake. The period between the organization of the first official branch and the creation of the first stake in Daloa appears to be the shortest ever reported by the Church with the exception of the creation of stakes during the Mormon colonialism period in the Intermountain West during the 1800s.

There are now 13 stakes and 12 districts in Cote d'Ivoire. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first stake created in Cote d'Ivoire. At least two more stakes in Cote d'Ivoire may be organized before the end of 2017. An article on this milestone can be found here.

DR Congo
The Church organized a new stake in Lubumbashi on October 22nd. The Ruashi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake appeared to be organized from a division of the Lubumbashi Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake. Information on which wards are assigned to the new stake remain unavailable.

There are now four stakes in Lubumbashi, and 17 stakes and three districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ghana
The Church organized a new stake in Ghana on October 22nd. The Abomosu Ghana Stake was organized from the Abomosu Ghana District. Information on which of the seven retained branches in the district became wards remains unavailable. Local missionaries reported that approximately 1,400 attended the special conference to organize the new stake. This is an impressive feat, especially for the Church's first stake in Ghana that entirely services rural communities.

There are now 21 stakes and 10 districts in Ghana.

Louisiana
The Church reinstated a stake in Louisiana. The Slidell Louisiana Stake was reinstated on October 15th. The Church originally organized the Slidell Louisiana Stake in 1985, but discontinued the stake in 2007 after many active members left the area due to destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. The new stake was organized from a division of the Denham Springs Louisiana Stake, New Orleans Louisiana Stake, Gulfport Mississippi Stake, and Hattiesburg Mississippi Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Covington, Hammond, Picayune, Slidell, and Waveland Wards, and the Amite and Bogalusa Branches.

There are now seven stakes in Louisiana.

Massachusetts
The Blackstone Valley Massachusetts Stake was organized on October 22nd. The new stake was created from a division of the Hingham Massachusetts Stake and the Boston Massachusetts Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Foxboro, Framingham 1st, Franklin 1st, Marlborough, Worcester 1st, and Worcester 2nd Wards, and the Framingham 2nd (Spanish), Franklin 2nd, and Worcester 3rd (Spanish) Branches. The new stake is the Church's second new stake created in Massachusetts within the past year.

There are now six stakes in Massachusetts.

Nigeria
A new stake was organized in Akwa Ibom State on October 15th. The Etinan Nigeria North Stake was organized from the Etinan Nigeria North District. Information on which of the seven branches in the district became wards remains unavailable. The Church now reports 11 stakes and one district in Akwa Ibom State - a larger number of stakes than in nearly all other individual African countries except Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, and Cote d'Ivoire. Furthermore, the Etinan Nigeria North Stake was initially organized as a district from the Etinan Nigeria Stake in March 2016. Thus, the Etinan Nigeria North Stake may hold the record for the shortest period of time in which the Church has organized a stake from when a district was first organized.

There are now 44 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria.

Togo
The Church organized its second stake in the West African nation of Togo. The Lomé Togo Tokoin Stake was organized on October 22nd from a division of the original Lomé Togo Stake. Information on which of the 14 wards and three branches of the original Lomé Togo Stake are included in the new stake remain unavailable. The Church organized its first district in Togo in December 2009 and created its stake in Togo in December 2013.

Mozambique
The Church organized its first district in northern Mozambique on October 22nd. The Nampula Mozambique District was created from three branches that operate in the city of Nampula. Two of these branches (Murrapaniua and Mutauanha) were organized at the same time that the new district was created. Moreover, a couple new member groups were also recently organized in northern Mozambique in Maratane and Nacala.

There are now three stakes and one district in Mozambique.

Mexico
A new district was created in Oaxaca State. The Matías Romero México District was organized on October 8th. The organization of the new district occurred in conjunction with congregation consolidations in stakes within the Juchitán area. The new district includes the following four branches: Matías Romero 1st, Matías Romero 2nd, Mogoñe, and San Juan Guichicovi.

The Church recently discontinued the Ciudad Obregón México Yaqui Stake. Originally organized in 1984, the stake was discontinued and retained congregations were reassigned to the two remaining stakes in Ciudad Obregón. There were four wards and two branches in the stake before it was discontinued.

The Church recently discontinued the Mazatlán México West Stake. Originally organized in 2002, retained wards were reassigned to the sole remaining stake in Mazatlán. There were five wards in the stake before it was discontinued.

There are now 229 stakes and 42 districts in Mexico.

California
The Church recently discontinued the Garden Grove California Stake. Originally organized in 1961, there were only four wards and two branches in the stake before its discontinuation. Additional congregations closed when the stake was discontinued and retained congregations were reassigned to the Anaheim California Stake, Cypress California Stake, and the Huntington Beach California Stake.

There are now 154 stakes in California.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mission Realignments and Consolidations to Come

The Church reported yesterday that there will be many missions closing in the near future due to fewer members serving full-time missions. The Church previously reported approximately 58,000 full-time missionaries prior to the 2012 announcement that lowered the minimum age for full-time missionary service for men and women. Due to a subsequent double cohort of missionaries (i.e. members who entered the missionary force as anticipated prior to the age change announcement plus members who entered the missionary force earlier than expected due to the age change announcement), as well as an increased percentage of missionary service among some demographic groups such as women, the number of full-time missionaries increased to a high of 88,000 in 2014, but has since decreased to approximately 70,000 at present. Furthermore, the number of missions in the Church substantially increased from 347 in 2012 to 421 at present to accommodate larger numbers of missionaries serving.

I predict that there will be dozens of missions that will close/consolidate within the next two years given a decrease of approximately 18,000 full-time missionaries serving, and a lower-than-expected number of members serving full-time missions following the end to the double missionary cohort. During the "surge" of missionaries serving that lasted from 2013-2015, church leaders initially predicted that the number of full-time missionaries would stabilize in the high 70,000s and then slowly increase after that point. However, the number of full-time missionaries serving has stabilized nearly 10,000 less than anticipated. Given the Church's previous historical average of 163 members per mission prior to the age change announcement in 2012, this would indicate that there would need to be approximately 60 fewer missions to accommodate the current size of the worldwide full-time missionary force in comparison to what church leaders originally anticipated. Nevertheless, the Church reported an average of 168 missionaries per mission in 2016 - very close to the historical average for the Church prior to the minimal age change in 2012. The Church reported an average of 200 missionaries per mission in 2014 as missions accommodated larger numbers of missionaries than previously. Thus, it appears most likely that the Church will discontinue between 15-30 missions in the next couple years as part of these realignments given that missions are not understaffed in comparison to historical averages and a recent emphasis on larger numbers of missionaries serving in most missions.

Below is a list of locations where I believe missions will most likely be closed and consolidate with neighboring missions given church growth trends, the number of stakes/districts serviced by missions, and populations targeted by missionary efforts. It is likely that many of these countries will have several missions discontinued.
  • Argentina
  • Australia 
  • Bolivia
  • Chile 
  • Japan
  • Russia 
  • Mexico 
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • Ukraine
  • United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington)
It also appears likely that many new missions may be organized in the next couple years given rapid growth in some areas of the world, expanding opportunities for missionary work, populations that exhibit good receptivity to LDS outreach, minimally reached populations, and/or good stability of the local/regional full-time missionary force. Below is a list of prospective new missions that appear likely to be organize in the foreseeable future:
  • Australia Brisbane (2nd mission)
  • Brazil Porto Velho
  • Brazil Sao Luis
  • Cameroon Yaounde
  • Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Abobo
  • Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa (2nd mission)
  • Ethiopia Addis Ababa
  • Ghana Kumasi (2nd mission)
  • Malawi Lilongwe
  • Myanmar Yangon
  • Nigeria Abuja
  • Nigeria Ibadan
  • Nigeria Uyo
  • Philippines Bacolod (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Cabanatuan
  • Philippines Davao (2nd mission)
  • Philippines Dumaguete
  • Philippines Lucena
  • Philippines Ormoc
  • Philippines Santiago
  • Rwanda Kigali 
  • Sierra Leone Bo
  • Solomon Islands Honiara
  • Tanzania Dar Es Salaam
  • Texas Austin
  • Texas Plano
  • Thailand Bangkok (2nd mission)
  • Togo Lome
  • Zimbabwe Bulawayo

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

First Stake in Northern India to be Organized in November

Full-time missionaries report that the first stake in the India New Delhi Mission will be organized on November 5th. The New Delhi India Stake will be created from the New Delhi India District. Currently, the district has seven branches. The first branch in New Delhi (New Delhi 1st Branch) was organized in 1981. A second branch, the New Delhi 2nd Branch, opened in 1985 and the two branches were organized into the New Delhi India District in 1986. Additional branches in the New Delhi metropolitan area later opened, including the New Delhi 3rd Branch (1995), Dwarka (2008), Noida (2008), Pitampura (2009), and New Delhi 4th Branch (2010). Three of these branches - the Dwarka, Noida, and Pitampura Branches - were originally organized as member groups to help reduce travel times to the nearest LDS meetinghouse and to spur greater growth. Without this effort to organize these branches initially as member groups, it is unlikely that the Church in New Delhi would be currently able to meet the minimum criteria for a stake to be organized.

The New Delhi India Stake will be the fourth stake in India. Previously organized stakes in India currently operate in Hyderabad (2012), Bengaluru (2015), and Rajahmundry (2016). Missionaries anticipate that the fifth stake in India may be organized within the foreseeable future in Visakhapatnam; however, only four branches currently operate in the Visakhapatnam India District at present. The organization of the first stake in Pakistan also appears likely in the foreseeable future in either Islamabad or Lahore.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Congregation Consolidations Accelerate in Mexico

The Church in Mexico has recently consolidated dozens of wards and branches in several major cities during the past four months. As a result, there has been a net decrease of approximately 30 wards and branches during this time - the largest net decrease in congregations in Mexico ever reported by the Church. Although this may sound like a large number, this decrease constitutes only a 1.5% decline in the number of wards and branches in Mexico during this period.

Local members report that the primary reason that these congregation consolidations have occurred has been due to efforts by the Mexico Area to better utilize meetinghouses (e.g. church attendance filling 80% or more of available seating). Members indicate that the Church has many meetinghouses that are not fully utilized by congregations due to a lack of active members. The number of active members in the Church in Mexico has not appeared to noticeably increase or decrease within the past five years based upon hundreds of reports I have received from returned missionaries and local members in Mexico. However, the Church in several areas of the world has recently placed an increased emphasis on the organization of wards with larger numbers of active members in order to better staff leadership positions and meet member socialization needs. Thus, these recent changes appear to reflect a movement to have the size and functionality of international LDS congregations to become more comparable to those in the United States (e.g. 150-300 active members per ward). In the past, the Church has generally maintained significantly smaller congregations outside of North America (e.g. 50-125 active members per ward).

These congregational consolidations in Mexico indicate significant, ongoing concerns in regards to member activity, convert attrition, and leadership development. Unlike many other Latin American countries, the Church in Mexico has appeared unable to postpone the creation of new wards until congregations increase in the number of active members to the point that meetinghouses are better utilized. These developments are even more considering when considering that the Church in Mexico operates 34 missions and has not yet reported any noticeable improvements within the past five years in regards to growth. The Church in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador has appeared capable of postponing the creation of new units, and usually avoiding the consolidation of smaller or weaker units, until membership maximizes meetinghouse space so that congregations become more analogous in size and functionality to those in the United States and Canada. For example, reports from members in Peru note that most wards currently have 100-250 active members, whereas in the past most wards had significantly fewer active members (e.g. usually 50-125 active members). These recent growth trends in Mexico will likely significantly affect worldwide LDS growth trends, especially considering that the Church operates 6.5% of its worldwide congregations and claims 9.0% of its worldwide membership in Mexico.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Translations of the Book of Mormon and Triple Combinations

The Church announced in a letter from the First Presidency dated October 9th that the Book of Mormon and the Triple Combination (e.g. Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) will be translated into 34 additional languages. Languages in which the Book of Mormon will be translated include:
  • Burmese
  • Efik (select passages already available)
  • Georgian
  • Navajo (select passages already available)
  • Pohnpeian (select passages already available)
  • Sesotho
  • Tshiluba
The letter noted that the Georgian translation of the Book of Mormon is nearing completion.

Languages into which the Church will translate the Triple Combination include:
  • American Sign Language
  • Afrikaans
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Bislama
  • Burmese
  • Efik
  • Georgian
  • Greek
  • Hiligaynon 
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Lao
  • Lingala
  • Malay
  • Navajo
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Pohnpeian
  • Polish
  • Serbian
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • Sinhala
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Tahitian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Tok Pisin
  • Turkish
  • Twi
  • Urdu
  • Yoruba 
 The following languages are nearing completion for Triple Combinations:
  • Afrikaans
  • Hmong
  • Lao
  • Malay
  • Polish
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenia
  • Tamil
Several of these languages have previously had the Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price translated. However, none of these languages have appeared to have had these scriptures translated into a single Triple Combination book.

With these new translations, the Church will have translated select passages or the entire Book of Mormon into 115 languages.

Monday, October 9, 2017

First Full-time Missionaries to Serve from Senegal

Senior missionaries who serve in Accra, Ghana report that the first Senegalese full-time missionaries recently began their training at the new Ghana Missionary Training Center (MTC). Two male missionaries were called at the same time from Senegal and constitute the first known members from Senegal to have ever served a full-time mission. The Church organized its first official branch in Senegal in May 2016. Currently the Dakar Branch pertains to the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission. There are four members in the branch presidency and all appear to be native Black African members. No official membership statistics for the Church in Senegal are available. No young, full-time missionaries have ever appeared to have been assigned to serve in Senegal.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our September 2017 monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.