LDS church changes missionary recommendation process
SALT LAKE CITY – Prospective missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unable to serve a traditional mission for various health reasons, and those missionaries who’ve returned home because of similar situations now have the chance to serve and continue their missions as service missionaries from home starting January 2, 2019.
The Church made the announcement Friday and reported that changes to the missionary recommend process are also being changed.
“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. 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,” said the Church in a press release.
According to a Church press release, there are 407 missions in the world.
“Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ will always be the primary purpose of missionary service,” said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “So the Lord, through His leaders, will call most young people to find, teach and baptize converts.”
Those called to service missions live at home but serve at various Church organizations and nonprofit, charitable community organizations or other assignments approved by local Church leaders, said the Church.
Community organizations served by missionaries have remarked that they have proved a huge boon for their groups.
“Every single program in our agency that has had the opportunity to work with these missionaries sings praises about their reliability, their willingness to do whatever you ask them to do with a smile and with warmth,” said Dr. Robert Moser, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego.
The Church reported that the service missionary program has been available in various locations for the past four years, but is now expanding to the entire United States and Canada.
“They make a huge difference,” said Elder Renlund. “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 Church reported that all potential missionaries would first be considered for full-time proselyting missions.
“Those unable to be called as proselyting missionaries for physical, mental or emotional reasons may be called as service missionaries. In some cases, candidates will be honorably excused from any formal missionary service,” it said.
Those full-time missionaries returning home due to accidents, illness or other health issues may be reassigned as service missionaries for the remainder of their missions.
Such was the case for Elder Gavin Zierden now a service missionary in the California State Parks in San Diego.
“I came home on a Thursday, and then that Sunday I was a missionary again,” he said. “I went from a proselyting missionary to service missionary in a matter of days.”
Elder Joseph Horne, 21, from Holladay, Utah, also returned home early from his mission in California San Fernando. Now he serves in the Church’s Publishing Services Department where he provides technical and user support for the Gospel Library app.
“It’s the service to the Lord that matters,” he said.
Sister missionary Carmen Juarez of Provo, Utah was recently called to a service mission because of health challenges.
“In addition to supporting the Gospel Library app, Sister Juarez provides leadership and training to new service missionaries and has grown tremendously from the experience,” reported the Church.
South Jordan, Utah’s Sister Emily Watson, currently serves in the LDS Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City. She reports that, while her service is different from a proselyting mission, it is a vital part of God’s work.
“I’ve grown to love this mission as much as I would have loved a proselyting mission,” said Sister Watson. “You’re still a missionary. You wear the badge. You are called ‘elder’ or ‘sister’, and the Lord loves what you’re doing. I feel that every day.”
Elder Renlund says that service missionaries are helping bring to pass God’s work.
“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,” he said.