Latest from Mormon Land: Missionary baptism rates decline; the church plans a new London presence

Also: Tabernacle Choir announces its next overseas tour; Henry Eyring’s wife dies; BYU hosts some unlikely speakers; Latter-day Saints shrug off climate change; and Utah greets two new temples.

(Lefteris Pitarakis | AP) London, shown in 2013, will be getting a new Latter-day Saint chapel in the city's historic financial district. It will be built in an office building the Utah-based faith owns.

The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.

On the move in London

The church bought an office building in London’s historic financial district several years ago. Soon the complex will have a new occupant: the church itself.

Yes, a new Latter-day Saint chapel is expected to open by next spring, the Evening Standard reports, after a current business tenant moves out of the Alder Castle property near the London Wall.

Covent Garden IP, the Utah-based faith’s registered charity, purchased the complex in 2019, the newspaper notes, for more than $120 million in U.S. currency. The building’s value plunged amid the pandemic (when remote work soared) to about $105 million.

The Evening Standard points out the charity, for its part, didn’t make any monetary donations last year — despite showing a cash surplus above $3.7 million — citing that property’s diminished price tag.

Earlier this year, the church plunked down about $90 million (U.S.) for an Amazon warehouse, where the e-commerce giant continues to operate, in the London suburb of Wembley.

The United Kingdom is home to nearly 187,000 Latter-day Saints, more than 300 congregations and two operating temples (London and Preston) with plans for a third (Birmingham).

How many converts do missionaries baptize?

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A Latter-day Saint baptism in Africa. The average number of converts baptized per missionary has been declining for decades in the faith.

Although convert baptisms shot up by 25% in the first quarter of 2023 — putting the church on pace for more than 265,000 for the year, the highest total in nearly a decade — independent researcher Matt Martinich notes a downside remains in those proselytizing gains.

If 72,000 full-time missionaries are in the field at year’s end, Martinich reports at lds church growth.blogspot.com, that would translate to an average of 3.68 converts per missionary, far below the 8.03 in 1989, and continuing a decadeslong downward trend, but above the 2.43 in COVID-crimped 2020.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: War in the Holy Land

(Abed Khaled | AP) Palestinians wounded at Ahli Arab hospital sit on the floor at al-Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says an Israeli airstrike caused an explosion that killed hundreds at the Ahli Arab hospital, but the Israeli military says it was a misfired Palestinian rocket.

Author-scholar Sahar Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian Christian who was born near Bethlehem and later converted to Mormonism, discusses the war in Israel and Gaza — the tensions that led to it, and what Americans, particularly Latter-day Saints, should know when discussing it. Listen to the podcast.

Tabernacle Choir’s next tour

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will make its first-ever visit to the Philippines next February.

This Sunday, meanwhile, the choir will perform with the Morehouse College and Spelman College glee clubs during the weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast.

Earlier this year, Morehouse, a historically Black college in Atlanta, awarded church President Russell Nelson the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize.

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Henry B. Eyring and his wife, Kathleen Eyring, arrive at the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in 2009 in South Jordan. Kathleen Eyring died Sunday at age 82.

Kathleen Johnson Eyring, wife of Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the governing First Presidency, died Sunday. She was 82. Her funeral is Saturday.

• A church webpage is devoted to environmental stewardship and top leaders have urged members from the pulpit to care for the Earth. So why are only 10% of Latter-day Saints fretting about climate change?

• The First Presidency is “devastated” by the fighting and dying taking place in the Middle East, saying such violence is “abhorrent to us and is not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” BYU also has evacuated its Jerusalem Center.

Sports Illustrated swimsuit models — yes, you read that correctly — took part in a “women’s empowerment” event at BYU.

• In its second year, Faith Matters’ “Restore” gathering doubled in size, drawing 3,500 attendees intent on celebrating Mormonism’s elevating elements, without ignoring controversial questions.

New Utah temples

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Orem Temple, left, and St. George's Red Cliffs Temple.

Open houses are set for two new Utah temples. The Orem Temple will welcome the general public starting Oct. 27, while St. George’s Red Cliffs Temple will do so Feb. 1. They are two of 28 existing or planned temples in the Beehive State.