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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experienced steady growth in 1988, and by the end of 1989 church membership should be approaching 7 million.

Official year-end statistics for 1988 will not be announced until the church's annual general conference in April. However, growth over the past few years has averaged about 250,000 members a year, according to a church press release.If trends continued in 1988, membership will have increased from 6.4 million at the beginning of the year to somewhere between 6.6 and 6.7 million at the end of 1988.

Meanwhile, the church has grown from 1,666 stakes a year ago to 1,707 at the close of 1988, and there are now some 16,500 congregations in the world, up more than 500 during the year.

The number of full-time missionaries increased from 34,750 a year ago to just over 36,000 today. The number of missions grew from 205 to 221.

Other church milestones in 1988:

- The German Democratic Republic announced that it will allow LDS missionaries in that country and will allow members in that country to serve missions outside the DDR.

- The Hungarian People's Republic granted legal recognition to the church.

- The first all-black stake of the church was organized in Nigeria.

- President Marion G. Romney of the Council of the Twelve Apostles died at age 90 and was replaced on the council by Elder Richard G. Scott.

- Michaelene P. Grassli was called to be general president of the primary.

- Temple Square recorded a record number of visitors for one year, surpassing the 4 million mark in mid-December.

- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir represented the United States at Australia's bicentennial observance.