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Church Lowers Age For Missionary Service

The recent announcement made by President Thomas Monson during the 182nd Semiannual Conference in October 2012, will allow young men to begin serving as missionaries at age 18 and young women at age 19. The upper age for young men will remain at 25 with no upper limit for young women.

It is given as an option, not as an edict. It will expand the opportunities for young members of the Church to serve full-time missions sooner, allowing them more flexibility in their future education and career planning. In the past, missionaries like David Archuleta had to interrupt  careers or education to serve, creating difficult adjustments for pending college and athletic scholarships as well as for musical, business or medical careers.

There are currently 17 missions in the Philippines with an average of 180 missionaries in each one. Four new missions will be created and the average number of missionaries per mission will increase. With this increase in missionary service in the Philippines, membership will undoubtedly increase as well. A new temple has been announced for Urdaneta and many more meetinghouses will also be needed in the future.

mtc bldg

The Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Temple Drive has recently been expanded to serve up to 216 missionaries from the Asia Area. It is one of 16 Missionary Training Centers located throughout the world.  Missionaries begin training at a young age by participating in youth programs which supplement parent training in the home. High school students receive religious teachings by attending seminary classes. The youth in the Church are encouraged to prepare themselves physically, spiritually and temporally, not only to serve as missionaries, but also to prepare for marriage and to become better fathers and mothers and contributing members of society and their communities.

Most missionaries serve at their own expense from their own or their family’s savings, which requires careful budgeting and the practice of thrift by all. Young men serve for 2 years and young women serve for 18 months. Serving a mission is one of the most successful ways in which our young people are able to transition into adulthood.

Missionaries on bikes in Ghana

Missionaries are often called to serve in their own country and language, but with 347 current missions throughout the world, they may be called to any of them. Some leave areas of affluence and serve in a place of poverty, while many others have the opposite experience. They all mature considerably through exposure to challenging situations. They have learned to talk to people, and especially how to listen.  They are required to learn the language of the mission in which they serve and will experience a new culture. As a result many returning missionaries are bilingual and with the experience they have had, may find new careers and opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

All missionaries are reminded that a mission is not about them, but “about the sweet message they are being asked to bear.” The message is about “the light and the truth, and the hope and the salvation that come through Jesus Christ”. The purpose of the Church is to help us all to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ and to “come unto to Him”.



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