LDS retirees’ hobbies include relaxing, doting on their grandchildren, fishing and serving as senior missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Senior missionaries currently make up 8 percent of the missionaries serving around the world in various capacities, according to Mormon Newsroom. There has been an increase in the number of senior missionaries serving in the LDS Church over the last two years in service missions, leadership missions, stay-at-home missions or proselytizing missions.
“I think the Church, the leaders have emphasized this hastening of the work, that the Lord is hastening his work. There’s opportunities — many, many opportunities — for older people to serve,” said Elder Richard Phelps, who is currently serving in the Utah-Provo mission. “I think people feel an urgency now that they may not have felt 20 years ago. Everybody wants to be a part of it; it’s exciting.”
Elder Phelps and his wife are stay-at-home missionaries who, instead of going out to knock on doors, seek to reactivate members and part-member families in their ward and stake. “We just have more time to devote and to ease those burdens of reaching out,” Sister Virginia Phelps said.
Terry Grimley, who was released four months ago from his senior mission at Heber Valley Camp, said, “Senior couples are very well prepared, usually, to take care of problems, to help people, to inspire people into the gospel through not only teaching them the concepts and the principles, but also using personal experience to testify of the blessings that people receive by obedience to the gospel laws.”
Senior missionaries in the field are used in various ways, and with the recent changes in the requirements to be a senior missionary, many more are able to serve who previously were not able to. “Senior couples do a lot of good,” Grimley said.
The Phelps, along with Grimley, attribute the effectiveness of their proselyting to the fact that since they are older, they are more experienced and relate more easily to investigators or those who are less active than the younger missionaries. “We’ve lived experienced lives … we feel a comfort level because we’ve experienced it,” Sister Phelps said.