Latest from Mormon Land: Church membership shrinks in 21 U.S. states. See which lost the most.

Also: LDS real estate wealth tops $128M in Idaho.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The faith's Oakland Temple. The Utah-based faith saw its membership in California fall by nearly 3% in the past two years.

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Church growth: The state of the states

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

While the church enjoyed small gains in membership growth the past two years globally (up 0.8%) and nationally (up 0.6%) amid a worldwide pandemic, more than 40% of U.S. states (21 plus the District of Columbia) saw their numbers decrease during that time frame.

California (down 2.84%), North Dakota (off 2.28%) and Washington (minus 2.03%) were the biggest percentage losers between the start of 2020 and the end of 2021, independent demographer Matt Martinich reports at ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com, while New Jersey (down 0.03%), Louisiana (off 0.13%) and Nebraska (minus 0.17%) had the tiniest declines.

The largest percentage winners were South Dakota (up 6.48%), Arkansas (plus 5.32%) and Tennessee (up 4.79%).

Utah, home to the faith’s headquarters and the most Latter-day Saints of any state, saw its membership grow by 1.66% (the 14th highest nationally) to 2,161,526.

California (734,989) and Idaho (471,241) had the next most Latter-day Saints, according to Martinich’s blog, while the District of Columbia (3,136), Rhode Island (4,283) and Vermont (4,655) had the fewest.

How much the church owns in Idaho

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Pocatello Idaho Temple, one of six existing Latter-day Saints temples in Idaho. Three more are planned.

The Gem State is a pretty profitable jewel in the church’s real estate portfolio.

The Idaho Statesman — tapping a national database from the Truth & Transparency Foundation and published in The Salt Lake Tribune — found that the Utah-based faith owns nearly 60,000 acres in Idaho worth at least $128 million.

The church’s 1,050 Idaho properties include meetinghouses, temples, farmland and industrial sites, the Statesman discovered, with nearly half valued at nearly $45 million but exempt from taxes.

The Gem State’s six existing temples have no value attached.

The church’s total parcels in Idaho rank third among the states, behind only Utah and California, and its 58,000-plus acres rank eighth.

Nationally, The Tribune reported, the church and its affiliated operations own nearly 16,000 parcels, totaling 1.7 million acres and worth nearly $16 billion. That makes the denomination the country’s fifth largest private landowner, according to the database (which falls short of covering all the faith’s U.S. holdings).

General Conference live from Africa?

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Latter-day Saints in the Democratic Republic of Congo at their temple in the capital of Kinshasa.

If the church continues to boom in parts of Africa at the current rate — a big if, of course — when might it boast more Latter-day Saint congregations than North America?

Data scientist Stephen Cranney wondered and did some basic calculations. He discovered this “highly speculative” shift would happen in about 30 years.

“Maybe at some point in the next half-century we’ll be broadcasting General Conference from Accra [Ghana’s capital],” he wrote in a Times and Seasons blog post. “...Whatever the exact numbers, it’s hard to see a situation where Africa does not become a significant part of church culture and institutions in the long run.”

From The Tribune

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