Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nepali Translation of the Book of Mormon Completed

The Church has published its Nepali translation of the Book of Mormon. Translation work in Nepali began in May 2010. Currently, there are only two Nepali-speaking branches worldwide, including one branch in Nepal and one branch in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are hundreds of Nepali-speaking Latter-day Saints worldwide who primarily in the United States, Nepal, Europe, and Hong Kong. There are approximately 21 million native speakers of Nepali worldwide. To view the translation, click here. For more information about a recent celebration about the new translation, click here.

First LDS District created in Cuba

Last Sunday the Church created its first district in Cuba. The Havana Cuba District includes two branches that meet in the Havana area. The Church has slowly grown in Cuba during the past decade and currently appears to have approximately 100 members. Cuba is currently assigned to the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. No full-time missionaries have ever served in Cuba.

Monday, June 19, 2017

First LDS Branch Created in Guinea

Yesterday, the Church organized its first official branch in the West African country of Guinea. The Conakry Branch was created and the new branch was assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. The entire country of Guinea has also appeared to have been assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission - the first time that Guinea has ever been assigned to an official mission. Prior to this time, church activities were overseen by the Africa West Area Presidency through the Africa West Area Branch. The organization of the Conakry Branch has occurred less than a month after the first LDS apostle to visit Guinea, Elder David A. Bednar, met with church leaders in Guinea.

Guinea is inhabited by more than 12 million people. The population is 87% Muslim, 9% Christian, and 4% followers of other faiths. The percentage of Christians in Guinea is comparable to the percentage of Christians in Sierra Leone (e.g. 10%). Other nontraditional Christian faiths such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists report slow growth in Guinea. French is the official language although most speak their official ethnic languages such as Fulani, Malinke, and Susu. For more information about prospects for future LDS growth in Guinea, click here to access a case study I wrote three yeas ago about prospective LDS outreach in Guinea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Significant LDS Developments in Mali

Local members in Mali report several significant LDS developments in Mali. The Church has appeared to obtain official government registration in Mali. The first branch in Mali will be organized in the capital city, Bamako, on June 26th under the direction of the Africa West Area Presidency. The first proselytizing missionaries will also be assigned to Mali in July and one of the missions in Cote d'Ivoire will oversee church activities in the country. Local members anticipate perhaps several cities opening to proselytism within the near future once missionaries begin to serve in Bamako. Most of these cities will likely be opened in areas with significant numbers of Christians. Significant numbers of prospective members have been preparing for baptism and will likely be baptized once missionaries arrive in the country. These developments have occurred quickly after Elder David A. Bednar's visit to Mali in late May when he met with a congregation of approximately 250 prospective members. Recently, a handful of Malians have traveled to other nations such as Ghana to be baptized. Malians have joined the Church for several decades in other nations and only a couple have served full-time missions.

There are 17.5 million people who reside in Mali and the population is 95% Muslim according to CIA World Factbook estimates from 2009. Receptivity to LDS teachings appears high based upon initial reports - a surprising finding considering the prominence of Islam in society and the lack of growth of other nontraditional proselyting Christian faiths such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. For more information about prospects for future LDS growth in Mali, click here to access a previous case study I wrote for

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Internet and LDS Growth

Five years ago, I wrote a case study for regarding the influence of the internet on LDS growth trends worldwide. This case study identifies arguments that the internet may foster or deter LDS growth, and analyzes membership growth trends among the countries with the highest and lowest rates of internet usage. This case study examines these trends using data between 2000 and 2010. I want to reaffirm that internet usage continues to appear to have no significant influence on overall LDS growth rates within the past decade based upon the research I have conducted, namely pouring over thousands of member and return missionary surveys, and the examination of internet usage rates and LDS growth rates. Rather, socioeconomic conditions (e.g. GDP per capita, standard of living, etc.), secularism, and other cultural factors appear to most strongly affect the receptivity of specific populations to LDS teachings. Furthermore, church policies regarding missionary work, proselytism approaches, and member involvement in missionary work also appear to significantly influence LDS growth trends.

Below is the conclusion of this case study:

Factors identified that favor or deter LDS growth ... indicate that the positive and negative influences of the internet on LDS growth are nearly equal in strength resulting in little to no fluctuation in membership and congregational growth trends from the recent past in most countries around the world. Rather, fluctuations in membership and congregational growth rates appear caused by changes in convert baptismal standards, mission and area policies, initiatives in mission outreach expansion, and the level of religiosity and receptivity to nontraditional Christian denominations in individual countries. Countries in which internet usage is widespread have generally exhibited linear membership growth trends before and after the advent of the internet, suggesting that the internet has a limited influence on the number of convert baptisms if there is any relationship at all. Congregational growth rates have remained stagnant or have declined in the past decade in many of the countries with the highest rates of internet usage, but this has been largely the result of other factors [(e.g. effective meetinghouse utilization programs, emphasis on the establishment of congregations with larger numbers of active members to provide more diverse socialization opportunities, closure of smaller congregations to avoid member burnout, lack of missionary resources to provide member and leadership support)] . 

Click here to access the case study. Additional insights and feedback regarding this topic would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

LDS Branch Organized in Upper West Region of Ghana - All Regions of Ghana Reached by the Church

The Church organized its first official branch in the Upper West Region of Ghana on June 4th. The new branch is located in the administrative capital city of Wa and is called the Wa Branch. Inhabited by approximately 800,000 people, the Upper West Region was the last administrative region in Ghana without an official LDS presence. Thus, all 10 administrative regions of Ghana now have at least one official ward or branch. Furthermore, Wa was previously the most populous city in Ghana without an LDS presence and the only city in Ghana with more than 100,000 inhabitants without a ward or branch. Missionaries serving in the Ghana Kumasi Mission reported earlier this year that there were approximately one dozen active members who had moved to Wa and petitioned church leaders to organize a member group or branch. The new Wa Branch reports directly to the Ghana Kumasi Mission. It is unclear whether full-time missionaries currently serve in Wa, or whether there are plans to open Wa to formal proselytism efforts in the near future.

Ghana is the first country in West Africa or Central Africa inhabited by over 10 million people to have an LDS presence established in every administrative division. Most recently, the Church in Ghana organized its first ward or branch in Upper East Region (Bolgatanga) in 2016, Northern Region (Tamale) in 2014, Brong Ahafo (Sunyani) in 2011, and Volta Region (Ho) in 2005. Despite this progress, the Church reports an official presence in only one city in three of the 10 administrative regions of Ghana, namely all three most recently opened regions of the country (e.g. Northern, Upper East, Upper West).

Given potential for growth and recent growth trends, prospects appear favorable for the organization of a second mission in Kumasi or elsewhere in central or northern Ghana within the near future.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Newsletter

Click here to access our monthly newsletter for detailing recent church growth developments and new/updated resources on our website.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LDS Apostle Visits Guinea, Mali, and Senegal

Elder David A. Bednar became the first LDS apostle to visit the West African nations of Guinea, Mali, and Senegal on a recent trip to the region between May 21st-23rd. A recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site reported that Elder Bednar met with members of the Dakar Branch in Senegal and offered a special prayer in which he appeared to dedicate the country for missionary work. Elder Bednar also visited with a group of 17 Latter-day Saints and 250 prospective members in the rural village of Tabakoro, Mali. There are now two member groups that operate in Mali at present, including another group that has functioned for several years in Ouélessébougou. Unfortunately, the article does not give any information regarding the Church or Elder Bednar's visit to Guinea. This visit may signal plans in the near future to officially establish LDS congregations in Mali and Guinea, and begin formal missionary activity in Senegal. Currently there are seven West African nations without an official LDS presence, including Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Russia Vladivostok Mission to Close This Summer

The Church announced on May 20th that the Russia Vladivostok Mission will close and that volunteers (missionaries) and branches within the mission will be reassigned to the Russia Novosibirsk Mission. Although the official announcement indicates that this mission consolidation will occur on July 1st, the mission president and his wife have already appeared to have been released. This decision appears primarily influenced by fewer volunteers called to serve in Russia due to visa problems and increasing government restrictions on religious freedom.

The decision to close the Russia Vladivostok Mission has appear long overdue. It is likely that additional mission consolidations in Russia will occur as the Church has for many years operated missions with a minimal number of missionaries. Furthermore, Russian missions baptize few converts and administer an average of 14 congregations. To contrast, most missions in the Church service between 50 and 150 congregations within their geographical boundaries. Russia's enormous geographical size, large population, and lack of church leaders have all appeared to play a significant roll in the significant LDS missionary presence in the country despite the small size of the Church.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Temple Construction Costs

The Church used to report the construction costs for temples around the world prior to 1982 in the Deseret News Church Almanac. See below for a list of temple construction costs as indicated in the Deseret News 1981 Church Almanac. I have also calculated what these previous costs would be for temples build since 1919 in current United States Dollars given inflation using the CPI Inflation Calculator which can be accessed here. For temples built before 1919, I used another inflation calculator website that allows for calculations to be made prior to this time. These data provide insights into current construction costs for temples built by the Church. Click on the table below if you have trouble reading it.

Financial self-sufficiency of the Church as a whole and in individual countries is an important aspect of church growth. These funds are necessary for meetinghouse construction, temple construction, missionary work, printing and media costs, and so forth. The Church originally requested members to donate or fund raise temple construction costs in order to meet these purposes. However, this practice is infrequent at present for the worldwide Church since tithing funds appear to primarily fund these needs. Unfortunately, the Church appears to lack financial self-sufficiency in most countries of the world due to lower member incomes in comparison to other nations such as the United States. Greater long-term health and growth in the Church, particularly in regards to temple construction, will likely be achieved once the Church develops greater self-sufficiency in meeting its financial needs in individual countries around the world, particularly in developing nations such as in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.