ST. GEORGE — Young people wishing to become missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have expanded opportunities to serve starting next year, according to an announcement Friday from the church.
“Beginning January 2, 2019, all young men and women in the United States and Canada — including those who may not be able to serve a proselyting mission due to health reasons — will use the same online recommendation process,” a press release from the LDS church states.
“They will complete recommendation forms, participate in interviews with their local Church leaders and undergo evaluations by medical professionals. Candidates will then receive a call from the president of the Church to serve either a proselyting or service mission.”
More specifically, missionary candidates – ages 18-25 for men and 19-25 for women – who may not be able to serve a traditional proselyting mission due to physical, mental or emotional reasons will be able to take part in service missions that include church operations of working with nonprofit charities and other organizations approved by local church leaders.
“They make a huge difference,” Elder Dale G. Renlund of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in reference to service missionaries. “They’re dependable, they show up, they do the work. They’re cheerful, they’re positive, they’re enthusiastic. They bring life and energy.”
The LDS church has piloted this program in other locations since 2014.
Proselyting missionaries who return home early due to accident, illness or health conditions can be reassigned to finish their term of service through a service mission.
Joseph Horne, 21, from Holladay, Utah, returned from the California San Fernando Mission earlier this year because of a health issue, according to the church’s press release. He now serves as a missionary in the church’s publishing services department, providing technical and user support for the Gospel Library app.
“The only difference between a service mission and a teaching mission is your perspective on them,” Horne said. “It’s the service to the Lord that matters.”
While filling out the same paperwork online, perspective missionaries will also be interviewed by local church leaders. Prior to the announced change, service mission applicants underwent a different process. All missionary candidates will initially be considered for proselyting missions and assigned accordingly as individuals’ capabilities to serve are reviewed.
According to a letter sent to church leaders Friday, missionary candidates who leaders are not entirely certain may be able to handle a full-time proselyting mission may consider what is referred to as a “two-transfer mission.” That will allow the missionary to be sent on a proselyting mission for a trial period.
If all goes well, the trial period would be extended to the full length of the mission term. If a proselyting mission doesn’t appear to be the best course for the missionary, they are able to transfer to a service mission instead.
Service missionaries are to adhere to similar standards as their proselyting counterparts, according to the letter. They are also required to wear name tags while in engaged in their assignment and during church meetings but not outside of that.
The letter also states that service missionaries and their families will be responsible for the expenses related to missionary service and will not receive financial support from the church’s general missionary fund.
“This is serving the Lord as a missionary and bringing to pass God’s work,” Renlund said. “Service missionaries bring great blessings to themselves, but more importantly, as they are doing this work, they’re blessing Heavenly Father’s children in unique ways.”
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