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Missionary work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go on and calls will continue to go out, despite the coronavirus pandemic, but an increasing number of proselytizers will come home early from their tours.
“Missionary recommendations will continue to be received, and missionary assignments for worldwide service will continue to be made,” church leaders said this week in a news release. But some new missionaries may start out temporarily in other places, and some existing missionaries may be — and have been — shifted as well.
In addition, some missionaries will be released from their service early (young men, starting at age 18, typically serve two years, and young women, at age 19, go for 1½ years). Those include young missionaries with health issues, senior missionaries (usually older married couples), and young elders serving in the United States and Canada who are due to complete their missions on or before Sept. 1 and who have served for 21 months.
The Utah-based church already has ordered senior missionaries and those with “serious or chronic medical conditions” across Europe to return home, regardless of how long they have been serving. The same may occur for such missionaries elsewhere.
Nonnative missionaries in the Philippines, Korea and Mongolia will do — or have done — the same. Most nonnative missionaries in Africa will return home to self-quarantine, and then serve in their home countries “based on capacity and need.”
For many who remain in the field, they are teaching with technology without leaving their apartments, the church has said. Missionaries in the U.S. and Canada, along with those in much of the world, have been instructed “not to go door to door or contact people on the street.”
Missionaries are advised to keep in touch with their families, and go outside occasionally for exercise and fresh air — while still following guidelines against personal contact.
The flagship Missionary Training Center in Provo and MTC in Preston, England, also have stopped admitting new missionaries. Those prospective proselytizers instead will remain home and be “trained remotely by videoconference" before departing for their permanent or temporary fields of service.
Other MTCs — there are 10 around the globe — will “continue to function as usual,” but missionaries from “regions where government officials are restricting activity” will also be trained via video.