The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formed in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr. in New York. Since its beginnings over 1.1 million Latter-day Saint men and women have served full-time missions in countries throughout the world.
In an effort to expand the opportunities for young members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in full-time missions, church officials lowered the age of men and women serving in the mission field.
On Oct. 6, 2012, President Thomas S. Monson, who has served as the 16th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since Feb. 3, 2008, announced a lower age requirement for missionary service.
According to President Monson, the age requirement for men has been lowered from 19 to 18.
“I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19,” Monson said. “I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.”
However, it is not just young men that see a decrease in age when it comes to serving in the church’s mission field. Women are also being able to serve in missions younger.
“As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve,” Monson said. “Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”
However, the lowering of the age does not mean that all missionaries should serve the church at an earlier age.
“No young man or woman should begin his or her service as a missionary before they are ready,” a church official said. “Over the past decade permission has been given for young men from 48 countries to serve at age 18. This experience has been very positive. We’ve found that these missionaries are capable and qualified to serve.”
Since the lowering age announcement, church officials have seen a huge increase in the number of people who have begun the missionary application process.
According to church officials, they typically saw approximately 700 new applications each week. However, within two weeks of the October announcement they saw an increase of 4,000 new applications each week. A little more than half of the applicants were women.
Three area young men are just a few of the young men eager to jump into the mission fields. Quin Volpe, James Greco and Zac Winsor, all 19 years old, are not impacted by the lowering of the age, but they are eager to serve and actively preparing to serve in the mission field. However, the call to serve may be a little difficult for them. The three young men have literally known each other since birth.
Winsor and Greco were born two days apart in the same hospital. Volpe was born a month later in the same hospital. The three men said they do not ever remember not being together. The calling into missions will have the three boys worlds apart. The three boys will be serving in the missions fields in the Philippines, Brazil and in California.
“They are my brothers and I am going to miss them,” Volpe said.
Although the boys will not be together for two years, all three said they are ready to serve. Each of the three area young men have had siblings serving in the mission field and each teen have been busy preparing for their missions work.
Winsor encourages others to remember the important things when prioritizing your life. “Put church things first,” Winsor said.
Volpe said although he know the mission field will be extremely hard, he is excited to serve.
“I have had years of waiting for this moment,” Volpe said. “I am looking forward to it.”