This is Scripture Roundtable 183 from The Interpreter Foundation, in which we discuss the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson #39, Behold, My Joy Is Full, focusing on scriptures in 3 Nephi 17-19, bringing in various insights to help us better understand the scriptures. These roundtables will generally follow the 2016 Gospel Doctrine schedule of scriptures, a few weeks ahead of time.
Panelists for this roundtable are Stephen Smoot, Bruce Webster, Martin Tanner, and Cassandra Hedelius.
This roundtable is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below:
Podcast: Download (Duration: 57:17 — 19.7MB)
As usual, the round tables are wonderful.
Cassandra, I think it might have been this podcast where you stated that stakes cover the entire world. I was surprised by that statement, because stakes don’t come close to covering the world.
Right now, all of the world is covered by one of the 25 areas. These are led by general authorities and have a several Presiding Bishopric organizations for the temporal welfare. Stakes and missions report to area leaders.
Missions cover much, but not all, of the earth.
There are well over 3000 stakes but there are large areas and populations not covered by stakes. Stakes have wards and branches that cover all of the area in the stake.
Outside of stakes and inside missions there are thousands of mission branches. Many are organized into several hundred districts that report to the mission presidents. There are still 9 districts in the US or all of the US would be covered by stakes. Many missions (and many districts) have what are called “administrative branches.” These are formally organized branches, with the mission or district president as the “branch leader.” They count as congregations, but don’t have normal congregational meetings. They cover large areas. Any ward or branch can have a group in it. Groups do not require First Presidency approval like branches and wards do. Administrative branches may have several groups that can be formed and disestablished by the mission president or district president without getting approval from areas or the First Presidency. The Church doesn’t publish statistics on the number of groups that function.
Outside of missions, we see about four area branches, which are also administrative branches and the branch leader is usually the area president. They are responsible for all members outside of missions.
The entire world is covered by wards and branches, including these administrative branches. But, stakes still cover only a relatively small part of the world.