"For those [youth honorably excused from full-time missionary labors] . . . , bishops may . . . identify appropriate local opportunities for Church or community service for a specified period of time (usually 6 to 24 months)." First Presidency letter, Jan. 30, 2004
For one reason or another, some young men or young women who desire to serve a mission may not be able to serve a full-time mission. For these young people, or others with a desire to serve, Church-Service missions give them the opportunity to serve without the complications of leaving home.
When my son was born and then diagnosed with Down syndrome, something that bothered me was the idea that he might have the opportunity to serve a mission. After all, in the LDS Church, we want our sons to serve missions and spend a great deal of time preparing our sons to serve. My youngest son may or may not be able to serve a full-time mission. He is still young enough that we don’t know what his particular challenges may or may not be. I am absolutely certain, though, that no matter what the world may see as his limitations, if Heavenly Father wants him to serve a full-time mission, then my son will do just that.
For those who cannot serve in the mission field, the Church offers other options. A young man with Down syndrome in a neighboring state served in the family history library. Other young men I know have served as stake missionaries and sometimes even had the opportunity to work with the full-time missionaries.
Those who serve while remaining at home generally work 8-32 hours each week and normally serve 6-24 months. Church-Service missionaries accomplish work-related services as a volunteer thus limiting paid positions and allowing the Church to use funds for programs.
A list of opportunities is available at www.lds.org. One opportunity now available includes answering questions from patrons about family history work and/or software, either on the phone or through email. Another opportunity includes supplementing the efforts of MTC tutors by allowing mission presidents and their wives and senior missionaries to practice language skills over the phone.
Those who are interested in serving a Church-Service mission will need to fill out an application and submit it to their bishop indicating how long they can serve and in what capacities. Generally, the duties of Church-Service missionaries are performed during the week and allow the missionaries to still fulfill ward and/or stake callings.
Opportunities available for service can be found at www.lds.org, through bulletins, bishops, and stake presidents.
I’m thankful there are plenty of ways to serve in the Church. I still hope my son will be able to serve a full-time mission, but if that’s not the case, I’m confident he will find a place where he can still serve and feel good that he’s helping increase the kingdom of God. Truly, it doesn’t matter where we serve, only how we serve.
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