Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Church-service missionaries

Elliot's mission to Oklahoma is a typical two-year proselytizing mission, where his primary purpose is to share the message of the gospel with those who are interested. As summarized on a Church website, his typical day might look something like this:
A common morning for a missionary might consist of waking up at 6:30 a.m., studying the scriptures, and meeting new people to share the gospel with. The afternoon might include discussing gospel lessons with people they meet and volunteering for service in the community. A good night has them teaching the gospel to interested individuals and helping them learn and keep God's commandments or attending a baptismal service for someone who's decided to join the Church. They return home around 9:30 p.m. and fall into bed, usually exhausted and happy.
But that's not the only kind of mission that members of the Church serve. Sunday's Deseret News features a story about Church-service missionaries, where the primary purpose of the missionaries is to provide service in one form or another. In April 2011, the Church announced that 20,813 members served Church-service missions in 2010.
"At any given time there are 13,000-14,000 church-service missionaries out in the field serving," [Joel S.] Moriyama [director of the Church-service missionary program] said. "During 2010, those 20,813 missionaries donated more than 8.8 million hours of service. How many employees would we have had to hire, and at what cost to the church, in order to accomplish all that these wonderful missionaries have accomplished during the course of a year?"
Unlike Elliot, whose mission took him to Oklahoma, most of these Church-service missionaries stay home for the duration of their service, which can range from six to 24 months. They volunteer for a wide variety of assignments, ranging from service in Bishops' storehouses and at Church recreational properties to serving at mission offices or on humanitarian projects. As shown in the pictures, Church-service missionaries can help build a visitor's center along the Mormon Handcart Trail or help care for the grounds at Church headquarters.
"There is no such thing as a 'typical' church-service missionary," Moriyama said. "They come to us from all walks of life, young and old, single and married. Many aren't able to serve a full-time mission for one reason or another, and so they volunteer for a church-service assignment." 
The Church has a page on its website dedicated to Church-service missions, including videos of service missionaries, current opportunities, role descriptions, and answers to frequently asked questions.

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