Mormon Church Membership Nears 13 Million
When the statistical report is read during the upcoming general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as “the Mormon Church“) in April 2008, the number of the general membership of the Church will top 13 million for the first time. Church membership is growing steadily, both through convert baptisms and through the births of children into Latter-day Saint families. It is estimated that the Mormon Church is growing at approximately 1 million members every 3 years, according to the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That rate of growth, like the rate of growth of world population, has not always held true. For example, as I remember, in the mid-1980’s LDS Church membership reached 5 million members. And there were only 6 official members of the entire Mormon church at the initial organizational meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conducted by Joseph Smith in 1830. (“Chapter Two: Establishing the Foundations of the Church,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5). It took over 150 years for Mormon Church membership to go from a handful of members to 5 million worldwide, but that number has more than doubled in approximately 20 years. The rate of growth is enormous.
Something that the Mormon Church does that most other churches do not is keep track of and count individual members. When an individual is baptized, a “membership record” is created for them. These records are kept track of centrally at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and individual wards (local congregations) receive membership records for each member in their congregation. When an individual or family moves out of one ward and into another, the new ward will receive their records.
But counting individual members is not the only way to observe the growth of the Church. Mormon Church chapels, or local meetinghouses, are constantly being built worldwide. The rate of increase is about 10 percent over the past 5 years. According to www.lds.org, there are currently 6,361 chapels in the United States and 8,254 chapels throughout the rest of the world. Church statistics show that growth varies throughout the world but is highest in areas such as Africa. Nigeria has been experiencing a growth of 8.1 percent annually; from 2000 to 2006, membership grew there from over 29,500 to almost 79,500.
The Church announces its current statistics at each general conference. An interesting article about the international growth of the Church can be found at www.mormonwiki.com.