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‘Mormon Land’: The surprising news about LDS Church growth

Expert looks at where the faith’s membership is surging and shrinking across the globe from Africa to Arkansas, including its status in California and Utah.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Angel Moroni statue sits atop the Layton Temple. The latest membership statistics reveal surprising strength in growth for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is much to celebrate in its latest statistical report: The worldwide growth rate in the 17.2 million-member faith is growing. The expansion of congregations is expanding. And the number of U.S. states with declining membership is, well, declining.

East Africa, meanwhile, is booming, the U.S. is rebounding, and many growth measures have met or surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Still, there are causes for concern: West Africa, unlike the continent’s eastern and central regions, has seen its Latter-day Saint growth slow. While the U.S. enjoyed an increase in net membership, it once again had the largest net decrease in wards and branches. California continues to bleed Latter-day Saints and growth rates in Utah, home to the global faith’s headquarters, remain near historic lows.

On this week’s show, Matt Martinich, an independent researcher who tracks church movements for the websites cumorah.com and ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com, dissects all this data and deciphers what the numbers say about the state of the church.

Listen to the podcast: