'Are we keeping pace?'

On this 24th of July, now 163 years since the Mormon Pioneers first entered the harsh Salt Lake Valley, it's appropriate to pause for a moment, freeze time for just a second, drive a stake in the ground and look over our shoulder at all that has happened in a relatively brief span of time, historically speaking.

Church records show that in 1847 — the same year that Brigham Young rose from his wooden bed in the wagon to gaze upon the Salt Lake Valley in vision — there were almost 35,000 Latter-day Saints, an impressive number for a fledgling Church just 17 years in existence, but barely visible as an encampment in the vast bowl of the Salt Lake Valley.

This year began with 13,824,854 members. On average, that's an increase of 84,600 per year since 1847.

Notable areas of growth in the past year include the two areas in Africa where the Africa Southeast Area grew by almost 11,000 members from 126,000 in 2009 to 137,500 in 2010; while the Africa West Area grew from 154,000 to 163,800 for an increase of 9,800 members.

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