Blog: What does the rest of the world have to say about our “missionary moment”?

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The jaw-dropping announcement in General Conference about the age change for LDS missionaries is having an impact more than just in our little bubble of Utah.  The news is being heard all around the nation, and there is now a greater number of LDS youth preparing to “bring the world His truth.”  Take a look at how the Church is gaining recognition in the media:

1. The Deseret News reports that missionary application numbers are five times higher than normal — an increase of 471 percent. “700 new applications are normal each week, but during the last two weeks that number has increased to approximately 4,000 per week.  Also, slightly more than half of the applicants are women,” said Church spokesperson Michael Purdy.

[AP] Missionaries Sister Khanitta Puttapong, center left, and Sister Christina Wong, center right, talk to Casey Ahlstrom, left, and Jason Mondon in Temple Square during the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct, 7, 2012.
2.  The New York Times wrote an article in April following the day-to-day activities of an LDS missionary in Uganda.  The Times said, “Missionary work is not just a fundamental tenet of the faith; it is also a well-oiled operation. In modern-day Mormon culture, men are expected to take up evangelism on their 19th birthday and serve for two years; less commonly, women enlist when they turn 21. Missionary work is not mandatory, but it is popular.”

3. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the change in missionary age influencing the number of converts to the Church.  They reported that “All (missionaries) skip education, employment and other pursuits while serving, often overseas. Many pay their own expenses or receive help from parents or other church members.”

4. PRI’s The World has a name for the attention the Church is receiving right now. “Some call it the Mormon moment, even the Mitt Romney Effect. Whatever you call it, Mormons around the United States say they have never been asked so many questions about their faith, and especially about their experiences serving missions.”

5. The Seattle Pi said, “The new age requirements will take effect immediately and replace limits that had been in effect for decades. Mormon men serve full-time, two-year missions, while women serve 18-month missions.”

6. The Chicago Tribune opened up about the Church’s beliefs:

“The policy of delaying missionary work had allowed individuals to time their missionary service around plans for school, marriage, careers and military service.  The church’s beliefs center on the Book of Mormon, a text Smith proclaimed he had translated from a set of golden plates that he said contained a record of Jesus Christ’s appearance in the ancient Americas.”

7. The Washington Post had an interesting take on how the age change will affect the future: “This change in policy may also promote equality between Mormon men and women. Men and women will serve together as peers and will return home at around the same age. If more LDS women have the opportunity to devote their lives to gospel study and proselytizing on a mission, men and women may increasingly see each other as spiritual equals.”

 

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