Thursday, April 12, 2018

UPDATED: List of the Countries with the Most Members without a Stake - 2018 Edition

Below is an updated list of the countries with the most Latter-day Saints without a stake. Membership totals are as of 2017 and congregational and district totals are current. Estimated membership for mainland China and Pakistan is provided as official statistics are unavailable. The number of branches and districts in mainland China is not provided due to the sensitive nature of the Church in that country. Previous lists of the countries with the most members without a stake can be found here.

  1. China - 11,500 members?
  2. Malaysia - 10,224 members - 32 branches - 6 districts
  3. Guyana - 5,840 members - 11 branches - 2 districts
  4. Belize - 5,374 members - 12 branches - 2 districts
  5. Pakistan - 4,400 members? - 14 branches - 3 districts
  6. Armenia - 3,570 members - 11 branches - 1 district
  7. Romania - 3,052 members - 15 branches - 2 districts
  8. Malawi - 2,745 members - 8 branches - 2 districts
  9. Angola - 2,458 members - 14 branches - 2 districts
  10. Bulgaria - 2,418 members - 9 branches - 0 districts
  11. Swaziland - 1,994 members - 6 branches - 1 district
  12. Poland - 1,983 members - 12 branches - 3 districts
  13. Cameroon - 1,943 members - 13 branches - 2 districts
  14. Ethiopia - 1,923 members - 4 branches - 1 district
  15. Cook Islands - 1,843 members - 5 branches - 1 district
  16. Tanzania - 1,642 members - 6 branches - 1 district
  17. Suriname - 1,578 members - 5 branches - 1 district
  18. Sri Lanka - 1,511 members - 4 branches - 1 district
  19. Macau - 1,449 members - 3 branches - 1 district
Prospects appear most favorable for the formation of stakes within the next few years in mainland China, Malaysia, Guyana, Belize, Pakistan, Swaziland, Angola, and Cameroon as all of these countries have at least one district that is close to reaching the minimum qualifications for a stake to operate.  Low member activity rates, an insufficient number of branches in individual member districts, slow or stagnant LDS growth, and few full-tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders will likely continue to delay the organization of stakes in other countries for several more years to come

UPDATED: The 10 Countries/Dependencies with the Most Members without a Temple Announced, Under Construction, or in Operation

I have updated the list of the countries and dependencies with the most members without a temple with year-end 2017 membership totals. Temples that service stakes, districts, and mission branches in each country are identified. Previous lists are also available for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, mid-2011, late 2008, and late 2007.

1. Papua New Guinea
  • 27,163 members
  • 2 stakes, 12 districts
  • 80 congregations
  • Sydney Australia Temple
2. Puerto Rico
  • 23,234 members
  • 5 stakes, 0 districts
  • 41 congregations
  • Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple
3. Kiribati
  • 19,690 members
  • 2 stakes, 2 districts
  • 31 congregations
  • Suva Fiji Temple, Laie Hawaii Temple
4. Sierra Leone
  • 19,443 members
  • 5 stakes, 4 districts
  • 67 congregations
  • Accra Ghana Temple
5. American Samoa
  • 16,339 members
  • 5 stakes
  • 42 congregations
  • Apia Samoa Temple
6. Uganda
  • 15,979 members
  • 3 stakes, 0 districts
  • 31 congregations
  • Johannesburg South Africa Temple
7. Cambodia
  • 14,256 members
  • 2 stakes, 4 districts
  • 29 congregations
  • Hong Kong China Temple
8. Cape Verde
  • 14,205 members
  • 3 stakes, 2 districts
  • 42 congregations
  • Madrid Spain Temple
9. Liberia
  • 12,157 members
  • 4 stakes, 0 districts
  • 37 congregations 
  • Accra Ghana Temple
10. Madagascar
  • 11,881 members
  • 2 stakes, 3 districts
  • 40 congregations
  • Johannesburg South Africa Temple

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Congregational Growth by Country: 2017

Below is a list of the countries where the Church reported a net increase of four or more units for the year 2017. The annual percentage increase for the number of wards and branches for each country is also provided:

  1. Nigeria +101 (20.2% increase)
  2. Brazil +34 (1.7% increase)
  3. Cote d'Ivoire +28 (15.4% increase) 
  4. Ghana +26 (9.4% increase)
  5. Democratic Republic of the Congo +12 (7.1% increase)
  6. Sierra Leone +12 (21.8% increase) 
  7. Guatemala +10 (2.3% increase) 
  8. Bolivia +7 (2.8% increase)
  9. Philippines +7 (0.6% increase)
  10. South Africa +6 (3.4% increase)
  11. Vietnam +6 (150% increase) 
  12. Costa Rica +5 (6.7% increase)
  13. Liberia +5 (16.7% increase)
  14. Papua New Guinea +4 (5.3% increase)
  15. Samoa +4 (2.6% increase)
  16. Zimbabwe +4 (5.3% increase)
The net increase in the number of wards and branches in these 17 countries totals 271; a larger number than the net increase in the number of wards and branches for the entire Church for the year 2017 (202). Ten countries experienced a net decrease of four or more units during 2017.
  1. Mexico -29 (1.4% decrease) 
  2. South Korea -12 (10.0% decrease) 
  3. Netherlands -7 (21.2% decrease) 
  4. United Kingdom -6 (1.8% decrease)
  5. Colombia -6 (2.3% decrease)
  6. Argentina -6 (0.8% decrease)
  7. Germany -5 (3.0% decrease)
  8. Belgium -5 (31.3% decrease)
  9. Portugal -4 (5.6% decrease)
  10. Japan  -4 (1.5% decrease)
Previous lists for annual congregational growth by country are available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Country-by-Country Membership Statistics Released for 2017

The Church has released 2017 membership and congregation totals for most nations with a reported LDS presence. These statistics can be accessed on Church's official website at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics. However, the international site has had some bugs in it and the data continues to revert back to 2016 when I search various countries. Country-specific Mormon Newsroom sites do not appear to have this issue, such as the Kenya Mormon Newsroom site which I used to obtain year-end 2017 country-by-country data.

Countries with the highest annual membership growth rates in 2017 (10% or greater) are listed below. Lists for nations with the most rapid membership growth rates are also available for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The percentage next to the country name is the annual growth rate percentage, which is followed by the country's LDS membership at year-end 2017. Countries in bold experienced an annual membership increase greater than 200 during 2017. 

  1. Rwanda - 52.8% - 596
  2. Cameroon - 19.3% - 1,943
  3. Benin - 17.7% - 3,105
  4. Angola - 15.8% - 2,458
  5. Solomon Islands - 15.4% - 1,099
  6. Mozambique - 15.2% - 10,835
  7. Burundi - 14.6% - 692
  8. Tuvalu - 12.2% - 257
  9. Israel - 11.6% - 288
  10. Vanuatu - 11.1% - 8,786
  11. Cote d'Ivoire - 10.9% - 43,895
  12. Malawi - 10.4% - 2,745
  13. Sierra Leone - 10.0% - 19,443
Below is a list of the top ten countries by numerical membership increase for the year 2017. Each country is provided with the numerical national increase in membership. Additionally, the percentage of total church membership increase is provided for each country. Lists are also available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. 68.8% of the 2017 net increase in LDS membership can be attributed to the following 10 nations - the lowest it has been in at least 10 years. 
  1. United States - 49,691 - 21.1%
  2. Brazil - 29,672 - 12.6%
  3. Philippines - 19,434 - 8.2%
  4. Mexico - 18,372 - 7.8%
  5. Peru - 11,595 - 4.9%
  6. Nigeria - 10,842 - 4.6%
  7. Argentina - 7,201 - 3.1%
  8. Ghana - 5,530 - 2.1%
  9. Guatemala - 4,979 - 2.1%
  10. DR Congo - 4,845 - 2.1%
Here are a few observations with these country-by-country membership growth numbers:
  • The Church continues to report decelerating membership growth rates in several countries that support the largest church memberships. For example, the Church reported a significant slowdown in membership growth in the United States during 2017 as church membership increased by only 0.75% - the lowest annual membership growth rate for the Church in the United States in perhaps as long as a century. The Church in Mexico also reported the slowest membership growth in 35 years of a mere 1.30% during 2017. As a result, membership growth in these countries has contributed less and less to world membership growth rates. Moreover, growth rates in these countries strongly affect world membership growth rates. For example, LDS membership in the six countries with the most members (the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, Chile, and Peru) constitutes 71% of total church membership worldwide. Thus, even small changes in growth rates in these six nations significantly influence world membership growth rates. Lack of member-missionary participation, ineffective proselytism approaches, and the increasing influence of secularism on society appear primarily responsible for these trends.
  • Most countries in most regions of the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa, experienced slow membership growth (less than 3.0%) during 2017. Of the 157 countries/territories with year-end 2017 membership reported by the Church on the Mormon Newsroom website, 99 reported annual membership growth rates of less than 3.0% during 2017.
  • Not all countries with the most members reported slowing LDS membership growth in 2017. Annual membership growth rates slightly increased from 2016 to 2017 in several nations with large church memberships such as the Philippines (2.4% versus 2.6%), Peru (1.8% versus 2.0%), and Brazil (2.1% versus 2.2%). 
  • The most rapid membership growth continues to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 13 countries with the most rapid membership growth in 2017, nine are located in Africa and three are located in Oceania.
  • The Church in Rwanda has experienced significant membership growth. Within five years, the Church in Rwanda has grown from 121 members to 596 members. Also, the vast majority of these members, perhaps as high as 80%, regularly attend church based upon recent reports I have received from mission leadership and missionaries in the country.
  • After a four-year period of approximately 20% annual membership growth in Cote d'Ivoire, membership growth rates decreased to 10.9% in 2017. There has not appeared to have been any significant development to cause this slowdown in growth, but rather this may be better accounted by perhaps a slower-than-average year. There has not appeared to have been any indication that receptivity among the Ivorian population has waned. For example, missionaries in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission recently reported that the mission is poised to baptize 2,000 converts within just the first five months of 2018. 
  • A net decrease in church membership occurred in 25 countries during 2017. Most of these countries are located in Europe or the Caribbean, have fewer than 1,000 members, and reported a net membership decrease of less than five percent during the year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Changes and Announcements during President Nelson's Presidency

President Nelson has made an unusually large number of announcements and changes since he became President of the Church. See below for a list of announcements or changes that are significant or alter previous policies, traditions, or organizational structure in the Church:
Some themes I have noticed with these changes/announcements include:
  • Emphasis on the internationalization of the Church
  • Redistribution of church resources from less productive areas for growth to more productive areas for growth
  • Simplification of organizational structure
  • Efforts to revitalize and strengthen a sense of community in the Church
  • Methods to reverse slowing LDS growth trends while conserving resources
I predict that we will see more announcements and changes in the coming months, especially given that the frequency of these announcements/changes has shown no recent signs of slowing down. See below for some potential changes/announcements that I believe are likely. These predictions are solely based on my own opinion and analysis of the data, and were not obtained from any unauthorized sources. I take full responsibility for these predictions.
  • Revision of the Church Handbook of Instructions (both volumes)
  • Change to the missionary program in regards to the missionary lessons, proselytism tactics, prebaptismal preparation, and post-baptismal fellowship
  • Change in the structure of the missionary program organization to help reconcile disconnect between mission leadership and local leadership
  • Women playing more of an administrative role in the Church outside of the Relief Society, Young Women's, and Primary organizations such as in regards to missionary work and temple/family history work
  • Additional temple announcements
  • Continued redistribution of mission resources from the global north to the global south (i.e. additional mission closures and new missions being created)
  • Expansion of the LDS canon to include official proclamations
  • Revision of the LDS hymnal

Sunday, April 8, 2018

CORRECTION: Missionaries Assigned to Senegal; Senegal, Mali, and Guinea Update

I wanted to correct an inaccurate post from last February regarding the assignment of full-time missionaries to Senegal. Church leaders confirmed that the first young, proselytizing missionaries were assigned to Senegal within the past week from the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. Furthermore, the Dakar Branch was divided today to organize a second branch in Dakar called the Parcelles Branch which appears to meet in the Parcelles neighborhood of Dakar. Please refer to my previous post from last February regarding additional information about the Church in Senegal.

The Church also continues to experience progress in other West African countries where an LDS presence was recently established. As noted last February, the first convert baptisms occurred in February in Mali. Local members are optimistic that full-time missionaries from the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission will soon be assigned to serve in Mali within the near future pending government approval. I have not received any new information regarding the status of assigning full-time missionaries to Guinea where the first branch was organized last year. However, the Conakry Branch had 30 members at year-end 2017. Local members reported that there were 23 adults who attended church meetings at the time and that there were seven investigators.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Seven New Temples Announced - Analysis

Earlier today, LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson announced seven new temples in Salta, Argentina; Bengaluru, India; Managua Nicaragua; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Layton, Utah; Richmond, Virginia; and a major city yet to be determined in Russia.

Salta Argentina Temple
The Salta Argentina Temple will be the third temple to be built in Argentina as temples have been previously constructed in Buenos Aires (1986) and Cordoba (2015). The new temple will likely service Latter-day Saints who live in Jujuy, Salta, Santiago del Estero, and Tucumán Provices where there are seven stakes and four districts. Slow growth has occurred in northern Argentina as the last new stake to be created in the region was organized in 1995 (Salta West). The Church in Argentina currently reports approximately 450,000 members, 1 missionary training center, 14 missions, 76 stakes, 28 districts, and 760 congregations (485 wards, 275 branches). Northern Argentina is currently assigned to the Argentina Cordoba Temple District. Access more statistical information on the Church in Argentina here.

Bengaluru India Temple
The Bengaluru India Temple will be the first temple in South Asia. The new temple will likely service members who live in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan - countries located within the two Indian missions headquartered in Bengaluru and New Delhi. There are four stakes, seven districts, 64 congregations (21 wards, 43 branches), and approximately 20,000 members who live within these six countries. The Church in India has particularly experienced significant progress with the organization of its first four stakes since 2012 in Hyderabad (2012), Bengaluru (2015), Rajahmundry (2016), and New Delhi (2017). The creation of these stakes has appeared pivotal for the temple announcement in Bengaluru. President Oaks noted during his visit to Hyderabad in 2012 to create the first stake in the country that the creation of each new stake marks a step closer towards the possibility of a temple announcement for a particular country or area. The Church in Pakistan is also close to creating its first stake in the country from the Lahore Pakistan District where four of the five branches appear large enough to become wards. The primary factor that has limited growth in Pakistan in recent years, albeit many branches report steady numbers of new converts, has been few Pakistani members serving full-time missions as only Pakistani natives are permitted to serve in Pakistan. The Church in Sri Lanka experienced rapid growth in the mid-2000s followed by stagnant growth for a decade until full-time missionaries returned in the past couple years. The Church in Bangladesh and Nepal remains extremely small with only one branch in each nation and no young, full-time missionaries assigned. Given differences in culture with the remainder of the Asian area and the enormous size of the population, prospects appear favorable for the creation of a South Asia Area. Currently South Asia is administered by the China Hong Kong Temple. Access more statistical data on the Church in India here.

Managua Nicaragua Temple
Nicaragua was previously the country with the most Latter-day Saints without a temple prior to the announcement of the Managua Nicaragua Temple. President Nelson publicly proposed a temple for Managua in 2013 when he visited members in Managua. The Church currently reports nearly 100,000 members in this country where the Church experiences its most rapid membership growth rates in Latin America at approximately 4% per year. Nicaragua is the last Spanish-speaking country in Central American and South America to have a temple announced. Cuba is the last Spanish-speaking country in the Americas without a temple announced, under construction, or in operation. Nicaragua is currently serviced by the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple, which was dedicated in 2013. Currently there are 12 stakes, 4 districts, 2 missions, and 112 congregations (73 wards, 39 branches) in Nicaragua. Access more LDS statistical data on the Church in Nicaragua here.

Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple
The Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple is the Church's fifth temple to be announced in the Philippines after temples in Manila (1984), Cebu City (2010), Urdaneta (announced in 2010), and Greater Manila Philippines [to be built in Muntinlupa] (announced in 2017). Cagayan de Oro will be the first temple to be built on the island of Mindanao where there are 12 stakes, 17 districts, 3 missions, and possibly as many as 100,000 Latter-day Saints. The Church in Mindanao has reported slow growth for many years primarily due to concerns with political instability with Muslim insurgents and the assignment of only native Filipino members to serve missions for at least the past 15 years. Nevertheless, the number of active members per congregation has appeared to significantly increase during this time and several cities have opened to missionaries for the first time. Currently members in Mindanao are assigned to the Cebu City Philippines Temple District.

There are approximately 750,000 members, 101 stakes, 74 districts, 1,220 congregations (646 wards, 574 branches), 21 missions (soon to be 22 missions in July), and one missionary training center in the Philippines. Access more statistical data on the Church in the Philippines here.

Layton Utah Temple
The Layton Utah Temple brings the total number of temples in Utah to 19. The new temple will likely include 35-40 stakes in Layton and communities between Bountiful and Ogden. The Church in Utah reports 2.1 million members, 593 stakes, 1 district, 5,123 congregations (4,799 wards, 324 branches), 11 missions, and one missionary training center. Access more statistical data on the Church in Utah here.

Richmond Virginia Temple
With nearly 100,000 Latter-day Saints, Virginia was previously the state in the United States with the most members without a temple prior to today's announcement of the Richmond Virginia Temple. Currently members in Richmond travel to the Washington DC Temple to participate in temple ordinances. The new temple will likely service 11 stakes in southern and central Virginia. There are currently 23 stakes, 3 missions, and 199 congregations (172 wards, 29 branches) in Virginia. Access more statistical data on the Church in Virginia here.

Russia Temple
The Church announced its first temple in Russia although the exact major city where the new temple will be built has not yet been determined. Russia was previously the country with the third most members without a temple (fourth if Puerto Rico is considered). Similar to recent developments in India, the Church in Russia has reported good progress with the advancement of districts into stakes during the 2010s as the Church's first three stakes in the country were organized in Moscow (2011), St Petersburg (2012), and Saratov (2015). Moscow and Saratov are the most likely cities where the Church will build the new temple as both of these cities have a stake and are more centrally located in regards to the geographic distribution of LDS membership in the country. The Church has reported slow membership growth for more than a decade and many branches have closed in order to create larger ones if there is more than one branch in a single city. Furthermore, the Church in Russia refers to full-time missionaries as "volunteers" since open proselytism by the Church was recently prohibited by the government. The number of missions used to total eight from 1999-2011 and after this summer there will be only five missions in Russia. There are currently more than 23,000 members, 3 stakes, 9 districts, 6 missions, and 98 congregations (17 wards, 81 branches) in Russia. Access more statistical data on the Church in Russia here.

Seven New Temples

This afternoon President Nelson announced seven new temples to be built in the following locations:

  • Bengaluru, India
  • Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
  • Layton, Utah
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Russia (major city to be determined)
  • Salta, Argentina
Analysis regarding this announcement to follow. More information available at: https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/new-temples-april-2018-general-conference.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 2018 Newsletter

Click here to access our March 2018 newsletter for cumorah.com.

2017 Statistical Report

This afternoon, the Church reported the following statistics as of December 31st, 2017.
  • Membership: 16,118,169 (increase of 235,752 from 2016; a 1.48% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 30,506 (increase of 202 from 2016; a 0.67% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,341 (increase of 75 from 2016; a 2.3% annual increase)
  • Districts: 553 (decrease of 3 from 2016; a 0.54% annual decrease)
  • Missions: 421 (decrease of 1 from 2016; a 0.24% annual decrease)
  • Convert Baptisms: 233,729 (decrease of 6,402 from 2016; a 2.74% annual decrease)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 106,771 (decrease of 2,475 from 2016; a 2.27% annual decrease)
  • Full-time missionaries: 67,049 (decrease of 3,897 from 2016; a 5.49% annual decrease)
  • Church service missionaries: 36,172 (increase of 2,207 from 2016; a 6.50% annual increase)
Stake growth during 2017 constituted the primary positive development in the statistical report as stake growth rates during the year continued to be sustained at a more rapid rate than during the 17-year period between 1999 and 2015. Stake growth is often considered one of the most robust indicators of "real growth" in the Church has stakes must meet certain member activity requirements to operate. Although it may seem counter-intuitive for stake growth rates to outpace congregational growth rates by more than 3 to 1, many stakes organized during 2017, a well as during 2016, were created from member districts advancing into stakes. When a district is organized into a stake, usually no new congregations are organized as individual branches are upgraded into wards in the new stake. As a result, many new stakes may be organized without any increases in the total number of official congregations.

There were many negative developments contained in the 2017 statistical report. Most alarming, LDS membership growth rates have decelerated to their lowest levels since 1937 at a mere 1.48% during 2017. Annual membership growth rates have steadily decelerated for more than 40 years from an average of 4-6% in the 1970s to approximately 4% in the 1980s, 3% in the 1990s, 2.5% in the 2000s, and 1.5-2.0% in the 2010s. However, this is primarily attributed to membership growth rates in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Chile, and Peru during these decades. Global membership growth rates primarily reflect the Church's membership growth in the United States and the nine countries with the most church-reported members as the Church has historically reported approximately 70% of its annual membership increase in these 10 nations.

Slowing annual membership growth rates appear primarily a function of slightly decreasing numbers of converts baptized a year and slightly decreasing numbers of new unbaptized children added to church records. The number of convert baptisms in 2017 was the lowest reported by the Church since 1987 when there were 227,000 converts baptized. The all-time high for annual convert baptisms was set in 1990 at approximately 331,000 - 100,000 more converts baptized than in 2017 even though there were only 44,000 missionaries serving in 1990. Increase in children of record has remained above 100,000 since 2008 and has typically vacillated between 110,000 and 120,000. To contrast, annual increase in children of record was less than 100,000 between 1984 and 2007. Few convert baptisms has appeared primarily due to a lack of member-missionary participation, allocation of most full-time missionaries to countries with low or modest receptivity, a conservative implementation of the centers-of-strength policy, local leadership development problems, and quick-baptism tactics (e.g. cursory teaching that rushes prospective converts to membership) that sacrifice quality preparation and conversion in order to meet arbitrary baptismal goals on paper.

The difference between the summation of converts baptized and increase in children of record (e.g. converts baptized plus increase in children of record), and church-reported total membership between 2016 and 2017 (e.g. actual membership increase for the year) was 104,748 for 2017. This indicates that there were approximately 100,000 members who were removed from church records during 2017 due to death, children of record who were never baptized at baptismal age, excommunication, or resignation. This statistic has exceeded 100,000 for four years in a row but is lower than the all-time high set back in 2014 (122,903).

Congregational growth rates during 2017 also decelerated compared to 2016 to their lowest levels since 2011. However, worldwide congregational growth rates were primarily affected by scores of congregations closed in California during 2017, along with a slower-than-normal year for new ward/branch creations elsewhere in the United States. As a result, there was no noticeable change in the number of wards/branches in the United States during 2017, whereas there was an increase of approximately 200 congregations outside of the United States during the year. The Church has generally reported an annual increase of 200-250 congregations outside of the United States for the past four years, whereas it reported an annual increase of 100-150 congregations for most years between 2004 and 2013. Historically, the Church in the United States has reported an increase of approximately 100-200 congregations a year until 2016 when there was a net increase of 65 congregations for the year.