Senior Missionaries

From MormonWiki
Revision as of 11:21, 25 January 2024 by Phicken (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

"Let's Lengthen Our Shuffle!"

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 14
Mormon Senior Couple Missionaries
When most people think of Latter-day Saint missionaries they picture young, clean-cut men dressed in suits and ties riding bikes. However, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually sends out several thousand senior or couple missionaries every year. For these senior missionaries, the work is generally more varied than the missions undertaken by the young missionaries, and while they can include proselyting missions, they also include humanitarian, leadership training, and genealogy missions.

Senior missionaries, who are generally retired couples, pay their own expenses, though they may receive some assistance from family. They have more choice in the placement, duration, and purpose of their mission, particularly if they have unique skills such as medical expertise or knowledge of foreign languages. Many serve humanitarian missions in which they are sent to specific regions where they help with agriculture, food procurement, medical missions, or clean water initiatives. These missions are managed through the Humanitarian Services arm of LDS Philanthropies, first begun in 1955. The Church has immunization projects and a wheelchair initiative with much of the volunteer work being performed by senior missionaries. Some senior missionary couples serve as leaders in areas of the world where there are few experienced Church leaders. Part of their responsibility includes training local members to be effective leaders.

Senior missionaries represent a good percentage of the total full-time missionary force of the Church of Jesus Christ. As of 2022, there were approximately 27,000 senior missionaries in the Church. Senior missionaries form a large part of the Church’s part-time missionary force. Many seniors serve local missions for selected periods of time by performing valuable service for their Church and their community. Thousands of others continue to go abroad into every region of the world.

In the last couple of decades, the Church of Jesus Christ has stepped up its call for senior couple missionaries. Leaders have encouraged this both as a universal responsibility to help our fellow men and as a cure to loneliness and depression, which often afflicts the elderly. In 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley said,

Caring for the elderly has become one of the great social problems of our time. Of course they reach an age when they cannot do very much. I can testify of that. But there are years between retirement and that age when they can play around doing things that really lead nowhere or they can give their great talents, the fruits of many years of marvelous experience, to lift and help people. They become concerned with others less fortunate and work to meet their needs. And they say, “What a great time we are having!” I know of one couple now on their eighth such mission (Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, 2:520).

All retired couples and elderly members of the Church of Jesus Christ who are able both physically and financially are encouraged to go on missions. For those with health or financial limitations, many other opportunities of service in their home congregations are available. These faithful couples are fulfilling the Book of Mormon teaching which says “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

In the April 2022 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson spoke about missionary service and included senior missionaries:

Dear young friends, you are each vital to the Lord. He has held you in reserve until now to help gather Israel. Your decision to serve a mission, whether a proselyting or a service mission, will bless you and many others. We also welcome senior couples to serve when their circumstances permit. Their efforts are simply irreplaceable.
All missionaries teach and testify of the Savior. The spiritual darkness in the world makes the light of Jesus Christ needed more than ever. Everyone deserves the chance to know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Every person deserves to know where they can find the hope and peace that “[pass] all understanding.”

Specifically to senior missionaries he urged, "couples might get on their knees and ask Heavenly Father if the time is right for them to serve a mission together. Of all the qualifications, a desire to serve may be the most important (see D&C 4:3).

As I extol the work of senior missionaries, I realize that there are many who would like to serve but are not able to do so. Limitations imposed by age or poor health deserve realistic appraisal, as do the important needs of family members. When desire burns within yet such limitations exist, others can be your arms and legs, and you can provide needed funds.
Senior couples, no matter who you are or where you are, please pray about this opportunity to create great senior missionary moments together. Heavenly Father will help you know what you can do.[1]