Less than a month ago Kaylee Daines, 20, of Spokane Valley, couldn’t have applied to become a Mormon missionary.
She was too young.
But on Oct. 6 LDS President President Thomas S. Monson announced the church would lower the age for missionary work from 19 to 18 years old for men and 21 to 19 for women.
“The timing was everything,” Daines said. “I was trying to figure out what to do next with my life.”
She’s already applied for the missionary program, along with thousands of other young adults who are eager to serve their church.
According to Mormon officials the church typically receives about 700 missionary applications a week. Since the announcement, however, that number has risen to 4,000 applications a week — a 471 percent increase. Slightly half of those applications are from females.
Spokane Valley Stake President Brian Pitcher said by young Mormons now having the option to serve on a mission before going to college, it could help them get on the career and family track earlier.
“I think the opportunity they see is that they can meet their goals for education and marriage and church service all in a timely way,” he said.
Pitcher noted the age only drops by one year for men, but said it makes a big difference because many male high school graduates in the past may have spent the year between graduation and missionary work “wandering.” Now, he said, they can serve right away.
“It (mission work) is a profound transformational experience for their faith and their perspectives on serving human kind and to further their interest in their education, careers, citizenship and service in the church,” Pitcher said. “This is exciting for them.”
He said he’s expecting missionary applications from his stake to double in the next year.
Currently there are approximately 58,000 LDS missionaries serving globally. Matt Martinich, who tracks LDS growth, wrote in a report at ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com that the missionary age adjustment could generate as many as 15,000 more young adult male missionaries and 7,500 more females missionaries in the first year.