The LDS Church has changed some policies regarding its "senior missionaries" in a push to attract more retired couples into full-time missionary service.
As of Sept. 1, these couples may serve for six, 12, 18 or 23 months, rather than the previously required 18 months. On top of that, the Utah-based faith has set a monthly cap of $1,400 for housing costs the couples would have to pay.
In the past, those serving outside their own countries were expected to commit to an 18-month stint. Now they can stay for a shorter time if they pay for their own transportation to and from the area where they have been assigned.
The housing cost was also somewhat of a deterrent in the past, but now the church will help pick up some of the tab.
Missionaries from the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan and Australia will be expected "to reimburse the cost of housing up to the cap," the LDS First Presidency said in a June 2 news release, "while those from all other countries will be expected to reimburse the costs up to their individual ability to pay (but not to exceed $1,400 a month)."
The church made the policy changes, the release said, "to encourage more couples to serve full-time missions and to improve their missionary experience."
The church currently has about 3,000 retired members serving full-time missions.
But, LDS President Thomas S. Monson said at the October 2010 LDS General Conference, "we need many, many more."
Peggy Fletcher Stack
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