Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Districts of the United States and Canada

Although 1,498 of the Church's 2,865 stakes (52%) are in the United States and Canada, only 17 of the approximately 615 districts worldwide (3%) are in these two countries. This is due to overall strong activity in larger cities and towns which can support the establishment of stakes even in rural areas. Membership has spread throughout the cities and smaller towns of both nations and can be found in strong numbers even in some rural areas, especially those colonized by Church pioneers. A large proportion of the population live in urban areas in the United States (82%) and Canada (80%), further contributing to the large number of stakes and few districts. The few districts in these two nations function in areas where membership is scattered over a large geographical area far away from functioning stakes or where poor member activity and low membership growth occurs.

Here is a list of the 12 districts in the United States provided with year of creation and the number of branches.
  • Anchorage Alaska Bush (1979): 7
  • Traverse City Michigan (1994): 9
  • Paterson New Jersey (1999): 3
  • Brooklyn New York North (1998): 5
  • Lynbrook New York (1999): 5
  • Potsdam New York (2000): 6
  • Brookville Pennsylvania (1981): 7
  • Pierre South Dakota (1979): 9
  • Eagle Pass Texas (1997): 5
  • Fort Stockton Texas (2003): 4
  • Laredo Texas (1995): 4
  • Wendover Utah (1998): 4
Here is a list of the five districts in Canada provided with year of creation and the number of branches.
  • Fort Frances Ontario (1970): 5
  • Kingston Ontario (1996): 8
  • New Glasgow Nova Scotia (1989): 9
  • Saguenay Qu├ębec (1978): 3
  • Terrace British Columbia (1980): 4
The number of districts in the United States has continued to gradually decline. There were 16 districts in 2000. Several districts have been absorbed into surrounding stakes, especially in the Eastern U.S. such as the discontinued districts in Washington DC, Baltimore, and several additional districts in New York City which were combined to create the Queens New York Stake in 2004. The Alamogordo New Mexico was recently discontinued and combined with nearby stakes. The Eastern Kansas District was made into the Garden City Kansas Stake in early 2003. A former district in northern Wisconsin was used to create part of the Green Bay Wisconsin Stake in the late 1990s.

The creation of new districts in the United States appears unlikely as Church leaders desire members in remote locations or in areas with few members to benefit from all the blessings that stakes offer members that districts do not, such as patriarchs, high priests, greater responsibilities with temple and missionary work, and larger numbers of active members for fellowshipping. It is interesting to note that with two exceptions all the districts in the United States were created between 1994 and 2003. With the exception of the Anchorage Alaska Bush District, the United States may in the coming years not have any other districts as some districts turn into stakes or are divided among surrounding stakes.

Outlying branches in some areas of Canada may be gathered into additional districts as these areas are very long distances away from stakes or currently do not have enough active members to form districts. These locations include Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.


Ryan said...

Yeah, the Alaska Bush District will most likely split into much, smaller districts, once branches continue to grow.
I figure, that if there are additional branches added in areas, then the district might split up. These are possible places.

Nome and Kotzebue Area: Teller, Gambell, Point Hope, Noatak, Deering, Elim, Koyukuk, Unalakleet, and Saint Michael. Shishmaref whould be included, but the village is looking to relocate due to climate change.

Bethel Area: Nunam Iqua, Anvik, McGrath, Red Devil, Aniak, Mountain Village, Hooper Bay, Mekoryuk, and Nightmute. Newtok would be included, but the village is being relocated due to flooding.

Dillingham and Naknek Areas: Goodnews Bay, Togiak, Levelock, Newhalen, King Salmon, Pilot Point, and Chignik.

Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) Area: Sand Point, King Cove, Akutan, Saint Paul or Saint George, Nikolski, Atka, and Adak.

That is an estimated three splits before any of these places would be small enough geographically, and the need of lots of members can gain stakehood. All of these areas are very remote, and sometimes the only way to travel is by Bush plane.

Also, some of these areas are experiencing population loss, so some of these vilages might become ghost towns. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough; comprising mainly of Wailla, Palmer, Willow, and Talkeetna,;is experiencing the highest population growth in the state. Anchorage used to make up of half the state's population, but now it isn't unless you are thinking of the Anchorage metro area, which is both the Municipality of Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, then it is still half of the state's population.

Jon 'Cra-Z' Mahoney said...

The 3 Branches on Prince Edward Island are part of the New Glasgow Nova Scotia District.

Congregations in Newfoundland report to the Canada Halifax Mission.

Minchin Web said...

Not mentioned is the branches in Northern Canada. I know there is a branch in Yellowknife, but I think it's dependent on the Edmonton mission. I've heard rumour there's a branch in Iqaluit, Nunavut that's part of the Montreal mission. It would be an exciting day if they decide to organize a distinct, but I imagine it will be a long time coming, just because of the size of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and their low population (~60,000 total).

Ryan said...

With the dissolving of the Bush District, there is now 11 districts in the U.S. now. It will be nice if growth got to a point where there will no longer be a need for districts in the U.S. or Canada.

John Pack Lambert said...

Other districts absorbed into surrounding stakes are the Detroit District (existed about 1997-2007), the district in Philadelphia (although I think that was connected with the formation of the Valley Forge Stake), the short-lived district in Camden, the Bronx district in about 1998 with the Westchester Suburbs that had been part of the New York new York Stake (which after this was just Manhattan) to form the Westchester New York stake, and about a year earlier the Brooklyn Stake had been formed from one or more districts in Brooklyn.

John Pack Lambert said...

At times though high growth causes a need for districts. That was the case with those in Detroit, Philly, New York City, DC, Baltimore, Camden and those extant in the New York City area. All these districts were organized because there was fast growth creating a new membership in the cities that for various reasons (economic, racial, pure result of membership time, socio-economic) had little in common with the suburban membership. Also, with few experienced priesthood holders many branches were organized as opposed to wards.
At times baptizing adult males was very difficult, and with low numbers of members having cars smaller area branches were neccesary.
The end of these districts was in some cases preparation for the branches to become wards. However, in some cases this has involved creating wards that straddle the line between city and suburb, which at least in Metro-Detroit still at times poses some difficulty.
On the other hand, the line between city and suburb has been blurred by various other movements recently as well. Some of the inner-core suburban wards now have converts who are in essentially the same social-economic class as many of the converts in the urban branches two decades ago. Also some of the converts who were baptized in the city two-decades ago have moved to the suburbs.
In the case of Detroit the whole situation is made all the more tense by the legacy of disturst over the policy ended by the 1978 revelation. This is in what at least through 2000 was the most black/white divided urban area in the nation. St. Louis, DC, Baltimore and Philly also have some of this factor, but even before Katrina Detroit was the most African-American of the US's 100 largest cities, with New Orleans being second, while just barely not touching Detroit was Livonia with the distinction of being the most White city in the US with over 100,000 people.

At times Detroit also had a Hmong-speaking branch, and it does have a branch that is partly Spanish-speaking, mainly because it includes Mexican Town in its boundaries. That branch does bi-lingual services, and at least for a time had an African-American president. The Hmong branch was part of the district but discontinued when the branch president moved north across 8 mile and thus out of the district.