Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Stakes in Victoria, Australia

I am guessing there will be a few people making similar entries to mine today (Sunday 20th January 2013), with a new stake being organized today for the norther outer suburbs of Melbourne. The creation of this stake (and last week the creation of the Gippsland Stake in the states east) has affected many other wards in the surrounding stakes.

Let's backtrack to 1981 when I was baptized in the Geelong Ward (along with my young friend Lisa Wade) on the 8th November. Around that time the Fairfield West Stake was created in Melbourne and I am pretty sure that Ted Anderson was the first president of that stake, and Geelong Ward was a part of it. Prior to that time there was just two stakes in Melbourne - Fairfield and Moorabin.

So with the creation of the two new stakes, last weekend and today, there are now eight stakes in Victoria, covering most of the state. I think the only exception would be the branches of the Church to the north, like Wangaratta, Shepparton and Albury, which along with some branches in southern New South Wales, are part of a mission district. That shows that significant growth has taken place in the Chruch in Victoria over the last 30 years. How has that growth taken place?

One could look at this growth in three ways -
1. Organic growth - members of the Church maturing, getting married and having children.
2. Convert baptisms - new members over  8 years of age and usually not part of an existing LDS family.
3. Move-ins - members of the Church from other parts of Australia or from overseas who have come to live here.

I suspect with the way that the Church records are kept, it may actually be pretty difficult to actually work out whether the growth has come from 1, 2, or 3 above, and as I don't have access to the detailed Church records I am going to take a bit of an observers guess as to where I think most of the growth has come from.

My money is on 3. Move-ins. One just needs to attend almost any ward in Melbourne to see a sea of brown faces who are quite obviously not Anglo-Saxon or European in origin. My guess is that if we took all the Polynesians (and I include the Maoris in that racial group) out of Victoria and sent them back to their home countries we would have nowhere near eight stakes in Victoria.

There are a few country wards and branches that are still predominantly Anglo-Saxon but that is not the case in the city units. Now don't get me wrong - there is no way I am saying this is a bad thing, but it's jst the way things are. If anything it shows how week the Church  growth is in the number of convert baptisms in Melbourne. But as I said, this is all supposition and observation on my part - no figures to back it up at all.

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