The First Presidency has announced the creation of 13 new missions, 10 of them in North and South America, to take effect about the first of July. When the new missions are formed, there will be 331 missions worldwide.
Four of the new missions are in the United States and three are in Brazil.In the United States, the new missions are California Long Beach, Florida Orlando, Ohio Cincinnati and Utah Salt Lake City South. The three new missions in Brazil are Brazil Goiania, Brazil Joao Pessoa and Brazil Santa Maria. Elsewhere, the new missions are Canada Edmonton, Australia Melbourne West, Bolivia Santa Cruz, Paraguay Asuncion North, Taiwan Kaohsiung and Madagascar Antananarivo.
With the new missions, the total number of missions in the United States will reach 100 and the total in Brazil, 26. California, which will gain one new mission, will have 17 missions.
California Long Beach
Three missions - the Los Angeles, Arcadia and Anaheim missions - will be divided to create the California Long Beach Mission. The new mission, centered in the harbor and naval city of Long Beach, will have a population of 1.5 million and a Church membership of 24,000 in seven stakes. Within its boundaries will be the Long Beach, Long Beach East, Cerritos, Cypress, Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach North, and Whittier stakes.
After this division, the Los Angeles Mission will have a population of 2.6 million, with 25,000 members in eight stakes: Downey, Huntington Park West (Spanish), Inglewood, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Santa Monica, Palos Verdes, Torrance and Torrance North. The Arcadia Mission will have a population of 2.1 million and 34,000 members in the Arcadia, Chino, Covina, East Los Angeles (Spanish), Glendale, Glendora, Hacienda Heights, La Crescenta, La Verne, Pasadena and Walnut stakes. The Anaheim Mission will have 2.1 million people and 26,000 members in the Anaheim, Anaheim East, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia and Santa Ana South (Spanish) stakes.
Elder David E. Sorensen of the Seventy and president of the North America West Area said the new mission reflects a sense of optimism prevalent throughout California and particularly in the Long Beach area.
"These are exciting times," he said. "These are times of a resurgence of energy and enthusiasm. This is particularly evident in Long Beach because of the tremendous renaissance the city is enjoying due to trade with the Pacific Rim. Long Beach has one of the foremost harbors of the world. The harbor has undergone significant retrofitting with high tech equipment so a ship can dock there and be loaded very quickly. That, among other activities on the part of the local and city officials, has really brought a renewal of activity."
Elder Sorensen said missionary work is progressing well among the population that includes many languages. Many people are "responsive to the invitation of the Church."
He said that although the mission would not be a large one in size, "we expect it to be fruitful and prosperous. There is tremendous enthusiasm from stake presidents throughout California. We have some solid growth opportunities, wonderful members who are mature in the gospel, good priesthood strength, and priesthood and auxiliary leaders who are active in the retention program where they can nurture new converts."
A division of the Canada Calgary Mission will give the new Edmonton mission a population of 1.6 million with 22,000 members in seven stakes: Calgary East, Calgary North, Calgary West, Edmonton Bonnie Doon, Edmonton Millwoods, Edmonton Riverbend and Red Deer stakes. It will also include the Grand Prairie district and Yellowknife Branch.
The realigned Calgary mission will have a population of 850,000 with 33,000 members and 12 stakes: Calgary, Calgary South, Cardston, Cardston West, Cranbrook, Fort Macleod, Lethbridge, Lethbridge East, Magrath, Medicine Hat, Raymond and Taber.
"The mission is naturally divided into three marvelous areas - Edmonton, Calgary, and the Lethbridge, Alberta, areas," said Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and president of the North America Central Area. "The Lethbridge and Calgary areas will remain together while Edmonton and other stakes will make up the new mission.
"We love and appreciate the dedication of our people there. We are looking forward to even greater retention and conversion after the division," he said.
"We appreciate the marvelous work that has been accomplished by the priesthood leaders, mission leaders and mission presidents of the past. We are all building on the foundation of those who marched before us."
Two missions - the Florida Ft. Lauderdale and Florida Tampa - will be divided to create the Florida Orlando Mission. The new mission will have a population of 2.5 million, with 15,500 members in the Cocoa, Orlando, Orlando South, Stuart and Winter Haven stakes.
The division will leave the Ft. Lauderdale mission with 3.5 million people, including 12,500 members in the Fort Lauderdale, Homestead, Miami (Spanish) and Pompano Beach stakes. The Tampa mission will have 2.5 million members, with 11,000 members in the Brandon, Fort Myers, St. Petersburg and Tampa stakes, and the Nassau and Soldier Road branches in the Bahamas. The Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission was created in 1960 as the Florida Mission, while the Tampa mission was created in 1976.
Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy and president of the North America Southeast Area said the creation of the Orlando mission will not only create a better situation for missionary work locally, but also lighten the load of the presidents of the Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale missions.
"Taking one stake from the Ft. Lauderdale mission will help reduce the travel of that mission president. Orlando is a very natural place for a mission. The Church is very strong in Orlando, where the temple stands. Orlando is a very busy city with industrial and recreational growth."
He said that creating a mission in Orlando not only will strengthen the work in Orlando, but it will also help the other missions."
The Kentucky Louisville Mission will be divided to create the new Ohio Cincinnati Mission. The new mission will have 9,700 members within its boundaries among a total population of 2.5 million people. The Cincinnati and the Cincinnati North stakes in Ohio and the Owingsville stake in Kentucky will be within the boundaries of the new mission.
The Kentucky Louisville Mission will retain 2.7 million people and 12,000 members in the Lexington and Louisville stakes in Kentucky and the Evansville and New Albany stakes in Indiana.
Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area said that Cincinnati is one of the last large cities in the Northeast to have a mission headquartered within its boundaries.
"Cincinnati is definitely a growth area. They have two strong stakes in Cincinnati, and together with the Owingsville Kentucky Stake will make up this new mission. It seems like a very logical place to have a mission headquarters and expand the growth of the Church.
"I know the local leaders will be thrilled. They've waited for this day and there is excellent support of the missionary effort in those three stakes, and it will make a much more managable situation for the mission presidents, because the Louisville mission has been very far-flung geographically.
"Cincinnati serves as a hub for Delta Airlines, and it makes a very logical spot now to have a mission headquarters."
Utah Salt Lake City South
Utah will gain its fourth mission as the Utah Salt Lake City Mission, with a relatively small population and a large number of stakes, will be divided to create the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission. The new mission will have a population of 410,000 people, with 298,000 members in 87 stakes, mostly located in the southern part of metropolitan Salt Lake County and the eastern mountain regions of Coalville and Kamas in Summit County. The new mission will include stakes in Bennion, Bluffdale, Coalville, Draper, Kamas, Kearns, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, Park City, Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan and the Jordan stake in West Valley City. In addition, all the Salt Lake Cottonwood stakes and the Salt Lake Brighton and Salt Lake Butler stakes will be in the new mission.
The realigned Salt Lake City Mission will will have a population of 415,000 people and 218,000 members in 67 stakes. It will retain stakes in Salt Lake City, all but one stake in West Valley City, and in Magna, Grantsville and Tooele stakes. In addition, it will extend to the west Utah desert area to Wendover, Nev., and its surrounding perimeter in Nevada.
Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy and president of the Utah North Area said "We are having wonderful success in Utah. It is one of the highest baptizing areas in all of the Church in North America. We tend to do well where the Church is well-established, and where our infrastructures are in place and where there are large numbers of faithful people. That certainly applies in Salt Lake," he said.
A "significant economic expansion into this valley" has created a "propitious time for people to move into Utah," said Elder Morrison. "Non-members are continuing to move in. We are one of the most rapidly growing states in the country."
He said the new mission "is a small mission both geographically and in terms of population, but the chances for reaping a major harvest are very significant indeed.
"We are getting very good retention as you might expect," explained Elder Morrison. People from all walks of life are being baptized. They are young and old, some from part-member families, some youth where one parent is a member, where neither parents are members. Students, people of every age, and every occupation and every background" are being baptized.
"There's plenty of work to do. Large numbers of people of other religious faiths are moving in and that is likely to increase. We want to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to them."
The South Africa Durban and South Africa Johannesburg missions will be divided to create the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission, which will consist of the island nation of Madagascar and the island of Reunion.
The new mission, where missionary work began a scant nine years ago, will have a population of 15 million and about 1,400 members. Some 800 of the members live in Madagascar in 12 branches of the Antananarivo District and the rest in the St. Denis district of Reunion.
Elder James O. Mason of the Seventy and president of the Africa Area said that it has been difficult to administer the three islands with French-speaking people in the Indian Ocean, Madagasgar, Mauritius and Reunion, from Durbanwhere English is spoken. Those in Madagascar also speak Malagassy.
"The president of the Durban mission most often has to fly to Johannesburg to get flights out to the islands," he said. "With the increasing growth of the Church, particularly in Antananarivo, it just becomes much easier to establish a mission office and headquarters right there. That will nurture the very vigorous growth that is occurring among some very faithful, very capable members.
"The missionaries don't have any trouble finding excellent families to teach and we are baptizing people who have great leadership potential. There was a goal established to have a stake in Madagascar by late 1998 or early 1999, and it looks like they are right on target."
He said the translation of the Book of Mormon into Malagassy is underway and is expected to be complete within two years. At present, the scriptures in French are used.
Two missions now operating in Taiwan, the Taipei and T'aichnug missions, will be divided to create the Kaohsiung mission. A mission with that name existed previously from 1976 to 1983. The new Kaohsiung mission, with headquarters on the southern end of the island of Taiwan, will have a population of 6 million and a membership of 4,700 in the Kaohsiung and Tainan stakes and the P'ingtung district.
The realigned Taiwan Taipei Mission will have 6 million people and 6,100 members in the Taipei East and Taipei West stakes and the Hua Lien and Tao Yuan districts.
The T'aichung mission will have 6 million people and 3,400 members in the T'aichung stake, Hsin Chu district and the Makung Branch.
Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy and president of the Asia Area said the new Kaohsiung mission will naturally suit Taiwan because a mission is now headquartered in each of the three large cities in Taiwan.
"Kaohsiung is the main shipping port of Taiwan, with mountains and seashore. It is a beautiful place, and a bustling, progressive city."
While Taiwan is a typical, traditional Asian society, "there is no question that the work will increase by concentrating on a smaller area. This is a large island, and distance is a factor. We feel very good about the new mission, and there is no question that the work will go forward.
"We have two stakes and a district in Kaohsiung, and two districts, and they are good strong units. We have excellent leadership and excellent members. They are good people. All the missionaries love the work there, they love the people and the mission presidents are enthused.
"We really appreciate the confidence of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve because we really do feel the work is expanding in all of Asia," he said. "This is a vote of confidence."
Australia Melbourne West
The Australia Melbourne Mission, created in 1955 as the South Australia Mission, will be divided to create the Australia Melbourne West Mission. The new mission, which will include the western half of the existing mission and the island of Tasmania, will have a population of 2.2 million with 7,800 members in the Devonport and Hobart stakes in Tasmania, and the Melbourne Deer Park and Melbourne Heidelberg stakes.
The Melbourne mission will retain 2.4 million people, of whom 7,600 are members. They reside in the Melbourne Braeside, Melbourne Marondah, and Melbourne Pakenham stakes.
Elder Vaughn J Featherstone, president of the Pacific Area and his counselor, Elder P. Bruce Mitchell, a former president of the Melbourne mission, both of the Seventy, expressed optimism about the progress expected by the new mission.
They described Melbourne as an elegant city of 4 million that formerly served as the seat of government for Australia.
"Members are getting better in member-missionary work," said Elder Featherstone. "With President Hinckley's thrust of providing for each new convert a friend, a responsibility and nurturing with the good word, the work of retention is really moving forward."
He said Melbourne, and all of Australia, have long traditions of strong mission presidents who have helped develop strong local leaders. "They just are splendid, wonderful leaders," said Elder Featherstone. "I think that the Australia stake presidents and priesthood leaders are equally as strong as anywhere I have ever served in the Church.
"I think the whole pitch of activity of missionary work has increased since President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve came to our area. It takes a while for the water to get to the end of the furrow, but it is there."
"Melbourne was once the strength of the Church in Australia," said Elder Mitchell. "The membership is quite mature and has been for many years. The original Australian mission was based in Melbourne, so it has a great history in the Church.
"Members in Melbourne make a tremendous contribution to the Sydney temple, and they have since 1984. They've sent a busload up to the temple every month for all those years."
Although the membership in Tasmania is small, said Elder Mitchell, leadership is strong because the Church has been established there since 1900, and "we have some very strong families come out of there. The stake was divided three years ago, and both stakes are strong."
Bolivia Santa Cruz
The new Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission will be created from a division of the Cochabamba and La Paz missions, giving Bolivia three missions. The new mission, located in the eastern lowlands, will include a population of 2 million, with 21,000 members living in the Montero, Santa Cruz Canoto, Santa Cruz Equipetrol, Santa Cruz Paraiso, and Santa Cruz Piray stakes and the Yucuiba, Guayaramerin and Trinidad districts, plus three branches.
Realigned, the Cochabamba mission will have 2.7 million people with 24,000 members in seven stakes and two districts. The stakes are the Cochabamba Cobija, Cochabamba Jaihuayco, Cochabamba Los Alamos, Cochabamba Universidad, Potosi, Sucre, and Tarija. The districts are Bermejo and Tupiza.
The La Paz mission will have a population of 2.3 million people and 29,000 members in eight stakes and three districts. These are the El Alto, El Alto Satelite, La Paz Alto San Pedro, La Paz Constitucion, La Paz Miraflores, La Paz Sopocachi, Oruro, Oruro Agua De Castilla stakes and the Achacachi, Llallagua, and Titicaca districts.
With a new temple under construction, members in Bolivia are eagerly looking to the future, said Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy, first counselor in the South America North Area.
"The members are excited about the temple, and the fact that the mission is being divided," he said.
"The mission headquarters used to be in Santa Cruz before being moved to Cochabamba," he said. "Santa Cruz is the fastest-growing city in Bolivia, with lots of oil production and farming in the area. You can sense, as the city moves at quite a pace, that it has a growing economy. The Church is growing fast, so it is an exciting place to be," said Elder Maynes. "There are quite a group of missionaries already in Santa Cruz.
"The members have a great love for missionary work, and they are excited about the temple. There is nothing but good news from Bolivia."
The new Goiania mission will be created in the heartland of Brazil from a division of the Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Ribeirao Preto missions, and will have 4.5 million residents of whom 13,000 are members who reside in the Anapolis, Goiania, Goiania East and Uberlandia stakes.
The realigned Belo Horizonte mission will have 6 million people, among them 4,000 members living in the Belo Horizonte West and Contagem stakes and the Montes Claros and Tres Coracoes districts. The Brasilia mission will retain 7 million residents and 15,000 members in the Brasilia, Brasilia Alvorada, Brasilia Taguatinga and Cuiaba stakes and Palmas and Rondonopolis districts. The Ribeirao Preto mission will have 4 million people and 25,000 members in the Aracatuba, Araraquara, Birigui, Franca, Ribeirao Preto, Ribeirao Preto Centro, Ribeirao Preto Ipiranga, Ribeirao Preto Quintino, Sao Carlos, Sao Joao Da Boa Vista and Sao Jose Do Rio Preto stakes.
Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy and president of the Brazil Area, said, "We have three new missions, one is in the south, one is in center - the heart of Brazil - and one in the north part of Brazil.
The new Goiania mission "will allow the Brasilia mission to focus on Brasilia," he said. "The new mission is located in a significant, large city of more than 2 million, with a fine university and good growth. The new mission will allow more concentrated efforts in the central part of Brazil."
Brazil Joao Pessoa
The Brazil Recife and Recife South missions will be divided to create the new Joao Pessoa mission in northern Brazil. The new mission will have a population of 6 million, and of those, 17,000 are members who live in the Campina Grande, Joao Pessoa, Joao Pessoa Rangel, Natal and Santa Rita stakes.
The realigned Recife mission will have a population of 7 million with 28,000 members in the Garanhuns, Jaboatao Dos Guararapes, Jaboatao Litoral, Recife, Recife Boa Viagem, Recife Caxanga, Recife Imbiribeira, Recife Jardim Sao Paulo, Olinda, Olinda Paulista and the Camaragibe stakes.
The Recife South mission will have 5 million people within its boundaries, including 16,000 members in the Aracaju America, Aracaju Bela Vista, Aracaju Cidade Nova, Arapiraca, Maceio, Maceio Litoral and Maceio Pajucara stakes.
Elder Zwick said this mission is also in an area of rapid growth where three new stakes were created in the past year and a half.
"Because of the temple in Recife, we need to focus more efforts in that area," said Elder Zwick. "The area will be much better served by an added mission in Joao Pessoa that will serve the major population centers."
Brazil Santa Maria
The Brazil Porto Alegre North and Porto Alegre South missions, located in the southernmost corner of the country, will be divided to create the Santa Maria mission. The new mission is among the smaller missions in Brazil with 2.5 million people and 17,800 members. The members live in the Alegrete, Bage, Livramento, Santa Maria and Uruguaiana stakes and the Quarai, Ijui, Santo Angelo and Sao Borja districts.
The Porto Alegre North mission, with 3.5 million people and 17,000 members, will include the Canoas, Caxias Do Sul, Gravatai, Novo Hamburgo, Passo Fundo, Porto Alegre North, Porto Alegre Moinhos De Vento and Sao Leopoldo stakes and the Osorio district.
The Porto Alegre South mission will include 3.5 million people and 17,000 members in the Pelotas, Pelotas North, Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre Partenon, Porto Alegre South, Rio Grande and Rosario Do Sul stakes.
Elder Zwick described Santa Maria as "a university town, an influential city, and a wonderful addition to our missionary efforts in that area. The new mission will allow more work in a well-populated part of Brazil, a very important part in the region where the Church was started in this country."
He said that in the past, mission presidents in Porto Alegre have had difficulty traveling to Santa Maria.
"So this will really bring the mission effort, in a much more concentrated way, into some of the significant, large cites in the southern part of Brazil."
Paraguay Asuncion North
With the division of the Paraguay Asuncion Mission, Paraguay becomes the last of the larger South American nations to have two missions. The new mission will have within its boundaries 2.6 million people and 16,000 members. The members live in the Asuncion North, Ciudad Del Este and San Lorenzo stakes and the Caacupe, Concepcion, La Paloma, Nivacle and Pedro Juan Caballero districts, and three branches.
This will leave the Asuncion mission with 2.6 million people and 13,500 members in the Asuncion and Fernando De La Mora stakes, and the Caaguazu, Coronel Oviedo, Encarnacion, Paraguari and Pilar districts.
Elder Carlos H. Amado of the Seventy and president of the South America South Area said the new mission is an important milestone in the history and growth of the Church in Paraguay.
"At first, the Church grew very slowly in Paraguay," said Elder Amado. "But in the past five or six years, the work increased enormously. In 1996, the number of people baptized was double that of the previous five years. It is a work that has increased dramatically. It was difficult for the mission president to continue this pace, and to keep all of the converts active as requested by President Hinckley.
"Creation of a new mission is a blessing because it will allow the mission president the opportunity to work much more closely with the members, and care for them more."
The members understand the need to help with the missionary work, he noted. Elder Amado said when President Hinckley visited Paraguay in August 1997, "he spoke very plainly to the members about the work of retaining these converts.
"I believe that a great part of the progress we will make in the next few years will be because of the visit of President Hinckley.
"The visits of President Hinckley to the other countries of the South America South Area have greatly blessed us," Elder Amado said. "The members now have a strong testimony of the prophet because they have heard him with their own ears, and seen him with their own eyes."