Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

» Peggy Fletcher Stack E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)

Out of Africa: Visions of a 30% jump in Mormon missionaries

Attention Mormon missionary candidates: Get ready to go to Africa.

West African LDS leaders are reporting that the number of missionaries assigned to their area "will increase by 30 percent within the coming months," says LDS blogger Matt Martinich, who charts Mormon growth figures.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

This expected rise in West African missionaries is being triggered by the Oct. 6 announcement that the Utah-based faith was lowering the age of its proselytizing force to 18 for young men (down from 19) and 19 for young women (down from 21).

Since then, the LDS Church has received about 4,000 new applications for missionary service a week, making it nearly 12,000 since the change, Martinich says in an email. That’s a 471 percent jump.

On the day of the historic announcement, LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said the church did expect a flood of new applicants and would likely expand the number of missions, but wasn’t sure where or by how much.

It now seems West Africa may be high on the list.

At the same time, Martinich has received "reports from missionaries and mission presidents that many, if not most, North American missions will increase their missionary complements to 250," he notes, up from an average of mission size of 150 to 200.

The change seems to be most exciting and pronounced for young LDS women, but may have a negative effect on young Mormon men seeking athletic scholarships to college, writes NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

Hagerty interviews 17-year-old Brendon Holland, a high school senior in Springfield, Mass., who was hoping to land a college rowing scholarship but now will leave for a Mormon mission instead.

"When I come back, my form would be off, and I wouldn’t be in as good shape," he told Hagerty "And I probably wouldn’t be able to be accepted into a Division I program."

The would-be missionary is trusting in God to provide, Hagerty reports.

"I know that if I go and do this thing, I will be blessed," he told NPR, "and that I’ll be able to find a different way to pay for college."

Maybe he’ll go to Africa and, during his limited downtime, be able to do some jogging or weight training there.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.