Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Birthday President Monson!

President Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints turned 86 on Wednesday.  I know I'm a little late to the party.  I hope he won't mind that I wrote this a couple days late.
He's been a good looking guy for all 86 years.
You probably think I'm going to write something about the wisdom he has shared over the years.  That would be a good thing to do.  He has taught many great things.  Unfortunately, I'm too geeky for that.  Maybe next year.

It turns out I was thinking about his age and I just got to thinking about how much the church has grown in his lifetime.  I was curious, and you all know how much I like numbers.  I thought I'd look some up.  And since I was already compiling some numbers, I thought I'd share them with all of you.  Personally, I think these numbers are fascinating, but if you don't, you are welcome to skip this post and come back at a later time.  (Just promise to come back, okay?)

President Monson was born August 21, 1927.  There weren't any statistics published on that day, but there were some a month and a half later at General Conference.  So, don't be offended that these numbers don't reflect 100% of the church growth in his lifetime.  Any new growth between August 21, 1927 and October 7, 1927 totally won't be reflected here.  My apologies.

My main sources for this data were the statistical information given at the October 1927 General Conference, the statistical information given at the April 2013 General Conference and Wikipedia (naturally).

1927: 6
2013: 141
My wife and I at the Manti Temple, one of the 6 temples that would have been standing in 1927.
At the time of the October 1927 General Conference, there were 6 temples in operation: 4 in Utah, 1 in Hawaii and 1 in Alberta, Canada.  There was one set to be dedicated later that month in Mesa, Arizona for a total of 7.  It's funny to read the talks given at that conference.  I noticed several references to the "Canada temple."  Canada is a big place that currently has 8 temples with a 9th under construction, so it's funny to see them reference the singular Canada temple.

1927:  644,745
2013:  14,782,473

Little baby Tommy Monson could count himself among the first million to join the church.  At 644 thousand, the church had already come a long way from the original 6 members when it was formally organized on April 6, 1830.  In President Monson's lifetime, another 14 million made the decision to join as well.

Wards and branches
1927: 1,005
2013: 29,014
A ward building in Hawaii that my Grandpa helped build.
Wards and branches are congregations within our faith.  Wards usually have their own church building to meet in and are generally a few hundred people.  Branches are smaller congregations located in more remote areas.  They may or may not have their own building to meet in.  In 1927, there were 930 wards and 75 branches, but the current statistical data lumps them together, so I lumped both numbers together as well.  Interestingly, they actually announced at the October 1927 General Conference what new wards had been formed since the previous conference.  That would make for a long meeting today.

1927: 27
2013: 347
Me with my grandparents, when I was a missionary and they were too.
When members of the LDS Church choose to serve a proselyting mission, they are assigned to a geographical area (also called a mission).  This area is presided over by a Mission President who will give individual missionaries assignments to serve in a particular city.  Today there are 81,951 missionaries serving in 347 missions.  I couldn't find any data on how many individuals there were serving in 1927, but if we assume the same number of missionaries per mission, there would have been 6,372 missionaries in the 27 world wide missions.

It's amazing to think that in 86 years the church membership has grown by 2200%.  It's almost like it's some sort of stone cut out of a mountain without hands filling the whole earth.

I'm sure President Monson is thrilled to realize how many people have come to Christ in his lifetime.  I can't imagine a better birthday present than that.  Happy Birthday President Monson!


  1. I'll have to talk to you about the chapel that your grandparents helped build in hawaii. My grandparents were also part of building a chapel in hawaii - in 1940 or 41.

    1. I think this one was later, probably in the 50s. I'm not sure, though. I'll have to ask him.

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