Growth of Mormon Church in India expands two districts into five
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Growth of the Church in southern India was indicated by the formation of three new districts in the India Bangalore Mission on Sunday, Oct. 11. They bring to five the total number of India districts in the Mormon mission, which also has a district on the island nation of Sri Lanka.
India Bangalore Mission President Melvin R. Nichols conducted the organizing meeting that was broadcast via the Internet for viewing by members gathered in 14 meetinghouses in India and Sri Lanka. Elder Kent W. Watson of the Seventy, first counselor in the Asia Area presidency, oversaw the meeting linked by the Internet from Hong Kong. The meeting was attended by approximately 1,978 members, believed to be the largest gathering of Latter-day Saints in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in India.
The three new districts are located in the cities of Coimbatore, Chennai and Vishakhapatnam, key cities in the region. There are two branches in the Chennai District, four in the Coimbatore District and six in the Vishakhapatnam District. The two original districts — Bangalore and Hyderabad — were organized in the early 1990s and have four branches each. Total membership in the five districts is slightly more than 5,300.
During the meeting, President Nichols said, "This reorganization will allow local leaders to concentrate on the members located nearby and eliminate a great deal of travel for training and oversight of their branches, thus increasing the effectiveness of these brethren and their ability to bless the lives of the Saints."
He also said, "Now is the time to increase our focus on building stakes. A stake is the gathering place for the Saints of Zion, and Church leadership is focused upon the local members when a stake is created. In order for us to work toward having a temple in India one day, we must first have stakes."
The new districts are seen by the local members as the building blocks for the stakes of the future in south India. The India Bangalore Mission anticipates between 550 and 600 convert baptisms during 2009, a significant growth rate as compared to prior years and, therefore, expects similar reorganizations to occur in the future.
President Nichols concluded by saying, "We are now well positioned to continue the growth of the Church in south India. In addition to this reorganization, we have beautiful new meetinghouses in Coimbatore and Hyderabad that can someday serve as stake centers. We have similar meetinghouses under construction in Chennai and Negombo, Sri Lanka. I call upon each member to use this historic event to recommit to strengthening yourself, your family and the Church."
In northern India, the India New Delhi Mission has the New Delhi India District.
Missionaries were sent to India as early as 1852, according to the Deseret News 2010 Church News Almanac.
The first branches were organized in India in 1980 during a time when the country was administered by the Singapore Mission and the International Mission. The India Bangalore Mission established in 1993 and the India New Delhi Mission in 2007.
There are more than 7,500 members in 28 branches in India which has an estimated population of 1.16 billion, according to the almanac.