‘Mormon Land’: All about LDS growth — where it’s up, down and how many are actually ‘active’

For starters, Africa is soaring, Russia is tanking and Utah is slumping.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Latter-day Saints in the Democratic Republic of Congo celebrate their new temple in the capital of Kinshasa. The African nation is one of the leaders in growth in the Utah-based faith.

With the COVID-19 pandemic increasingly in the rearview mirror, worldwide membership for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints topped 17 million by the end of 2022, a 1.17% increase from the previous year.

But that growth was hardly wall to wall. Some places grew much faster, some much slower, and some saw their rolls shrink.

There were encouraging signs. Africa, for instance, led the way — again — boasting eight of the 10 nations with the fastest rates of membership growth.

There were troubling stats, too. Ukraine, not surprisingly, saw its Latter-day Saint totals fall as members fled the war-scarred nation, and Russia’s ranks — reported for the first time in years — cratered, plunging by nearly 80% since 2017.

In the United States, Southern states enjoyed the quickest gains, while the Northwest’s numbers continued to slide. And Utah, home to the faith’s headquarters, experienced stunningly anemic growth.

On this week’s show, we dig into these figures — the whats, whys and wherefores — with Matt Martinich, an independent researcher who tracks church movements for the websites cumorah.com and ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com. We also discuss post-pandemic expansion, how church growth aligns with temple building, and just how many members can be considered “active.”

(Photo courtesy of Matt Martinich) Independent Latter-day Saint demographer Matt Martinich, who tracks church growth at ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com.

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