Church Grows Rapidly
Worldwide Church membership continues to grow, reaching 12,560,869 in 2005. According to the 2005 Church statistical report, the Church has 2,701 stakes, and 52,060 missionaries. There are now 123 temples in operation. In 2005 more than 240,000 converts joined the Church. Currently 341 missions are established throughout the world.
Although 5.5 million members reside within the United States—where the Church is ranked as the second-fastest-growing religion, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches—more than half the Church’s members (6.6 million) live outside the United States in more than 160 countries worldwide. During the last five years, Church membership has grown 17.2 percent outside the U.S. and Canada, at almost double the growth rate within the U.S. and Canada (9.2 percent).
But it’s not percentages that are important. “The numbers don’t tell the real story,” stated Bruce Olsen, managing director of the Church Public Affairs Department, in an April 2005 news release. “The real measure of Latter-day Saints is the depth of their faith and how it changes people’s lives.” And lives are changing for the better all over the world.
Countries with the Highest Church Membership
United States—5,690,672 Mexico—1,043,718 Brazil—928,926 Philippines—553,121 Chile—539,193 Peru—416,060 Argentina—348,396 Guatemala—200,537 Canada—172,433 Ecuador—170,736
Church Membership 1830–2006
Church Works to Meet Members’ Needs
With hundreds of languages spoken by Latter-day Saints, the Church is continually working to make material available to Church members living in more than 160 countries worldwide.
The Church’s Translation Division has the task of translating approved scriptures, the spoken word, and other Church materials. The division is actively working in 105 languages. The purpose of the division is to ensure that the meaning of Church doctrines and policies is accurately preserved in translations.
The April 2006 general conference marked a milestone in the language capabilities of the Church with at least one session of conference available in 85 languages. Twenty-three languages were interpreted remotely; that is, the audio feeds were simultaneously sent to the Conference Center from the language areas, mixed with a video signal, and then broadcast back to the language areas over the satellite system.
The Church currently has full translations of the Book of Mormon printed in 77 languages. Book of Mormon selections are published in 28 additional languages. New scripture translations are requested by Area Presidencies and approved by the First Presidency. The most recent new full translation of the Book of Mormon was published in Twi (Ghana) in 2005.
A limited amount of translated material has been available on the Church Web site LDS.org in 43 languages. But this year, as an ongoing process, the Church is working to provide the full content of LDS.org in several languages: Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The Church will continue to work to make additional online material, including scriptures, available in more languages on its Web site.
Church satellite system broadcasts are also available in many languages. Archives of general conference satellite broadcasts are available on the Internet in 44 languages.
The Church has 16 missionary training centers around the world where missionaries learn languages. Teachers at the Provo Utah MTC in the United States teach 49 languages.
The Church magazines are another resource for members around the world. The Liahona is distributed in every area of the Church. It contains material for adults, youth, and children and is available in 50 languages. (Frequency of publication varies by language.) The Ensign is available to English-speaking Church members throughout the world. The purpose of the Church magazines is to help Latter-day Saints fully understand and live the gospel of Jesus Christ and draw nearer to the Savior.
Top 10 Languages Spoken by Church Members*
World Organizations Grateful for Church’s Humanitarian Efforts
Whether for immediate emergency response, such as the medical supplies provided to victims of the May 2006 earthquake in Indonesia, or for ongoing major initiatives, such as the distribution of 40,000 wheelchairs each year in 70 countries, Church Welfare and Humanitarian Services responds to human need more now than ever before.
“The Savior asks us to ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees’ (D&C 81:5),” Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church, said in April 2006 general conference. “I have witnessed firsthand the commitment of Latter-day Saints and others not of our faith who have tender hearts and helping hands, who ‘bear … one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2). I have been deeply sorrowed as I have seen massive devastation and visited victims who are without hope” (“Tender Hearts and Helping Hands,” Ensign and Liahona, May 2006, 8).
The Church often teams with service organizations across the world in emergency and humanitarian efforts.
“Over the years, the Church has developed wonderful associations with government and nongovernment organizations that share many of the same values and goals,” said Dennis Lifferth, managing director of Welfare Services. “The humanitarian efforts of the Church truly bless many families,” he told Church magazines. “Of course, the goal of the Church is more than just helping with immediate needs. The goal is to help families help themselves and, in the process, become self-reliant. For this reason, the humanitarian efforts of the Church focus on the traditional, basic elements of self-reliance including food production, clean water and sanitation, health, and education.”
In 2006 the Church distributed wheelchairs in Vietnam, funded relief for Romanian flood victims, provided long-term aid to the Asian tsunami-hit areas, provided medical supplies to 200 Brazilian hospitals, and joined with Islamic Relief Worldwide in helping victims of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia in May, killing thousands and leaving tens of thousands injured and homeless.
“It’s a tremendous relationship,” said Mokhtar Shawky, a member of the board of directors of Islamic Relief Worldwide, at a press conference where eight semitrucks of supplies were to be loaded on a 747 cargo plane and shipped to Indonesia. “We really appreciate what the Church is doing. We feel like we complement each other. … The end result is helping more people in more parts of the world.”
The Indonesian quake was a recent example of emergencies in which these two humanitarian relief agencies combined efforts. Another was the 7.6-magnitude South Asia earthquake that struck in 2005, killing more than 50,000, injuring thousands, and leaving millions homeless.
“I do believe that the LDS Church has helped a great deal in easing the pain and suffering of a lot of victims of natural disasters and manmade disasters,” Islamic Relief executive director Ahmad El-Bendary told the Church magazines in 2005. “It has been a great help and support and strength for humanitarian causes that we have worked with the Muslim community on.”
The Church also provided major disaster assistance during the 2005 hurricane season, especially following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana and other southern states. Verdie Culpepper, donations coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the Church donated numerous supplies for the cleanup efforts that furnished invaluable aid for the state of Louisiana.
Similarly, Marsha Kelly, executive director for the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, praised the Church’s quick response to requests following the hurricanes.
“Every interaction that I’ve had [with the Church] has been immediate. … What more could someone want than to have somebody say, ‘This is what I am going to do,’ and it happened,” she said. “And they do it with such love.”
Alex Amparo, director of emergency management for the Governor’s Committee on Volunteerism in Florida, told the Church magazines that the emergency relief given by the Church and its hundreds of volunteers was tremendous during the eight hurricanes that hit Florida in an 18-month period from 2004 to 2005.
“The LDS Church’s volunteer program is one of the most structured and effective operations that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve worked with a host of agencies before,” he said.
In 2005 alone the Church contributed 157,000 days of labor for disaster relief, with a total of 581,821 days of labor donated to Church welfare facilities.
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Stan and Wilma, Church members overcame mudslides, washed-out bridges, and blocked roads to deliver supplies to Guatemala, El Salvador, and southern Mexico. The Saints in Mexico organized quickly and provided thousands of volunteer hours, and Church buildings became command centers to provide relief.
“In one case, the stake center became a refuge and emergency meal center, open 24 hours a day, for anyone in need,” Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy, Mexico South Area President, said. “A team of Relief Society sisters worked for six days straight providing food and relief for thousands of victims and volunteers.”
Government officials also commended the Saints’ efforts.
“[The Church’s] invaluable aid has contributed in a remarkable way to help us face the emergency and recover, in a short period of time, to our normal activities,” said Fidel Herrera, governor of the state of Veracruz.
In addition to initial emergency response, the Church helps communities rebuild and provides ongoing humanitarian efforts throughout the world.
In February 2005 the American Red Cross presented the Church with the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians Award after the Church contributed $3 million to the Africa measles vaccination campaign in 2004 and 2005.
Since 1985 the Church has contributed a substantial amount of material assistance to 163 countries around the world. The Church has distributed more than 51,000 tons (46,000 tonnes) of food, 7,600 tons (6,900 tonnes) of medical equipment, 68,000 tons (61,000 tonnes) of surplus clothing, and 5,700 tons (5,100 tonnes) of educational supplies.
Yet all of this help is only one aspect of the Church’s welfare program. Another, more long-term effort is to help families become self-reliant and self-sustaining.
“It is our hope that by helping families become self-reliant, they will gain greater confidence not only in their own abilities but also in their fellowmen and especially in the sustaining strength of a loving Father in Heaven,” Brother Lifferth said.
Church Helps Provide Blessings of Employment
When Claudio Gonzalez of Chile first lost his job, he wasn’t worried about finding another that would support his wife and children. But after three months of unsuccessful searching, he became concerned.
Claudio was aware of the Church’s employment resource center in Vitacura, not far from his home. The manager, Valentín Nuñez, was an old friend. But Claudio didn’t want to go.
“I thought I could find a job myself,” said Claudio, a member of the Ñuñoa Second Ward, Santiago Chile Ñuñoa Stake. “I was trying to find work through my own network of friends, but I soon realized I needed a bigger network.”
Unemployment in Chile at the time was around 8 percent, and competition for jobs was stiff. After someone talked about the center during a Church meeting, Claudio decided to give it a chance.
“When I walked in, I could tell right away it was very professional,” he said. “But I could also feel the warmth. It gave me confidence.”
If the day Claudio entered the LDS Employment Resource Center in Vitacura was an average day, he was one of about 25 people to visit the center looking for the free help provided. Each month the center gets about 500 people looking for work.
Brother Nuñez says everyone who comes in is first evaluated in order for the workers at the center to understand his or her needs. The Church’s employment resource centers aim to serve five primary audiences: the unemployed, the underemployed, the self-employed, the unskilled, and students involved with the Perpetual Education Fund, a resource which helps qualifying members pay for needed education. Based on the person’s needs, center staff will try to help the person get a job, some education, or self-employment help.
“We encourage everyone who comes in to start with the Career Workshop,” said Brother Nuñez. The Career Workshop is a combination of self-exploration, goal setting, and practical training.
“We help people understand from their own experiences what their gifts and talents are and how to package that,” said Timothy Q. Sloan, director of LDS Employment Resource Services. “We help them set goals, discover local resources that could help them, and learn how to interact with those resources with confidence.”
Brother Nuñez says the Career Workshop helps participants understand the job search process and teaches them how to introduce themselves, how to “cold call” companies to find out if they have openings, how to prepare a résumé, and how to handle interviews.
“I thought I was ready for interviews and the whole job search process,” said Claudio. “I had no idea there were techniques involved. I took the course. It was nice. The whole place is nice.”
“We also teach them what we call ‘continued success,’” said Brother Sloan. “It’s about taking ownership of their lives. What do you do after you’ve got your job? What do you owe your employer? How do you take the next step to even better employment?”
For those lacking the proper skills or education, the centers’ staff members can help the applicant find information on what education is needed for certain work, where the education can be obtained, and how much it will cost. Sometimes the centers can even get students placed in courses or classes at discounted costs.
The centers also offer self-employment workshops that help people start small businesses or improve their existing small businesses. And many centers in urban areas are now offering the Professional Placement Program. “More and more, people are realizing our employment resource centers are not just for people looking for entry-level positions,” said Brother Sloan.
Each center is equipped with computers and Internet connections, allowing job seekers to search for job leads or review job search information.
LDS Employment Resource Centers also work closely with the Perpetual Education Fund, explains Brother Sloan. “PEF student applicants are required to enroll in the Career Workshop, where they can explore career and school options. LDS Employment Resource Services helps PEF students find part-time jobs and identify supplemental funding such as grants, scholarships, or loans. After students graduate, LDS Employment Resource Services helps them find full-time work that will support them and their families.”
Worldwide, 286 centers currently operate in more than 50 countries. Of these centers, 71 are staffed with full-time employees; the other 215 are staffed with volunteers. Those full-time employees are expected not only to assist those who come looking for work or to start a business but also to spend time building links with local business, education, and government leaders. Thousands of jobs, educational grants, and scholarships have been identified as a result of this networking.
In 2005 the centers helped more than 222,000 people discover new avenues of education, employment, and self-employment. Claudio Gonzalez was one of them. A position opened at a company housed in the same building as the employment resource center, and Claudio applied.
“I felt very comfortable and prepared,” he said. “The questions they asked were exactly what we had practiced. I felt like I was right at home.”
Thanks to the center and what he learned there, Claudio is already looking ahead to a little extra education with the money he’s earning now so that he can get a better job in the future.
“Now I tell everyone to go to the center,” he says. “It’s incredible.”
For information on LDS Employment Resource Services, contact an LDS Employment Resources Center or ward or branch leaders.
BYU Education Week to Be Broadcast
Thousands gathered in Provo, Utah, from August 21 through 25, to listen to more than 200 presenters teach more than 1,000 classes at BYU Campus Education Week.
Now thousands more around the world will have an opportunity to participate in gospel learning through BYU Campus Education Week broadcasts over the Church satellite system. Selected presentations will be broadcast to areas in the United States, Asia, the Pacific, Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, and South Africa.
Rebroadcasts are scheduled October 10–13 in the United States and October 13–14 and 20–21 in other areas. For a complete schedule of broadcasts visit educationweek.byu.edu.
Members can contact their stake or district for Church satellite locations and for local broadcast times.
The following are BYU Education Week presentations scheduled for broadcast in the United States. (The presentations will be broadcast from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. mountain daylight time and rebroadcast from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.)
4:00 p.m. Brent A. Barlow, “For LDS Single Adults: Choosing a Marriage Partner”
5:00 p.m. A. Lynn Scoresby, “Family Attachments: The Practical Eternity”
6:00 p.m. Randal A. Wright, “To the Parents of Teenagers: Avoiding Five Oft-Made Mistakes”
4:00 p.m. Ronald E. Bartholomew, “Follow the Prophet: He Knows the Way” (Youth Presentation)
5:00 p.m. John G. Bytheway, “Righteous Warriors: Lessons from the War Chapters in the Book of Mormon” (Youth Presentation)
6:00 p.m. Clyde J. Williams, “Joseph of Egypt: Forgiveness and Dealing with Injustices”
4:00 p.m. Victor L. Ludlow, “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Twenty Questions and Answers”
5:00 p.m. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, “A Witness to the New Testament: The ‘Good News’ Is Still the Good News!”
6:00 p.m. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Truth Restored”
4:00 p.m. Dennis D. Ashton, “Learning to Cope with Adversity: When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
5:00 p.m. Jay A. Parry, “Receiving the Marvelous Grace of God: Precious Gifts for Daily Living”
6:00 p.m. Joseph F. McConkie, “The ‘How’ of Scripture Study”
Hope through Others’ Experiences
Thank you for the article “My Husband’s Addiction” (August 2006). As a wife with this struggle in my life, I’m grateful for the hope I can see in others’ experiences and triumphs. I have learned that I have to help with his recovery, and that has helped us grow together. Hopefully one day, it will help us overcome the addiction. Name Withheld
Thank you for giving us the devotional address by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the July 2006 Ensign. It lifts and inspires the spirit the whole way through. Indeed, he took us through the clouds into “that endless blue sky, feeling free, safe, and home.”
Thank you also for that fine artwork, which is a delight to the eye and enhances the written word most beautifully. Jean M. Schönnberg, United Kingdom
Comfort via the Mail
A couple of days ago we found out that the pregnancy with our conjoined twins had ended in miscarriage. The day we went to the hospital, our Ensign came in the mail. While waiting in the hospital, we pulled it out and noticed an article titled “Bending My Will to His” (August 2006). Even though the article did not apply to us directly, it gave comfort to our souls. We appreciate the time and effort put into making the Ensign and the Liahona. Mark and M’Linda Holmgren, Washington
Call for Articles
If you have had experience with the following situation, we invite you to share your suggestions for an upcoming Questions and Answers feature.
The holidays are often a difficult and lonely time for me. How can I feel more joy and peace during this season?
Please send your submission (up to 500 words) by November 16, 2006, to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Ensign Editorial, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3220, USA. Clearly mark your submission “Holidays,” and at the top of your submission, write your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and ward and stake (or branch and district).
While we cannot acknowledge receipt of individual responses, authors whose submissions are selected for publication will be notified. If you would like your manuscript returned, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.