Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces new tool to help missionaries

(Photo courtesy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

SALT LAKE CITY − The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making it easier for missionaries to call home.

“The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced an update to guidelines regarding communication between full-time missionaries and their families,” according to the Mormon Newsroom news release. “Effective immediately, missionaries may communicate with their families on their weekly preparation day via text messages, online messaging, phone calls and video chat in addition to letters and emails. Previously, missionaries relied primarily on email and letters for communication. See the official notice to Church leaders.”

According to the release, the first presidency hopes that these changes will get families more involved with the missionary experience.

“Regular communication with their families is an important part of a missionary’s service,” said the First Presidency in a statement. “One of the major purposes of this adjustment is to encourage families to be more involved in their missionary’s efforts and experiences.”

According to the release, there are still some guidelines for contacting families.

The release says that missionaries are asked to “use judgment in determining the length of phone calls and video chats and to be considerate of their companions.” Also the church is asking families to not contact missionaries first and to wait to be called by the missionary.

“Additionally, to avoid disruption to missionary schedules, family members are asked not to initiate calls or chats but instead should wait for the missionary to contact them on his or her weekly preparation day,” according to the release. “If a missionary’s parents live in different locations, he or she may contact each parent separately.”

According to the release, the additional communication should be a relatively low cost to the church.

“With so many advances in technology, this communication should take place at little or no cost. In those locations where families or missionaries do not have access to computers or phones, missionaries will be encouraged to continue using their current means of communication,” the release read.

Missionaries will also be allowed to not only call home on weekly but on holidays as well.

“We encourage missionaries to communicate with their families each week using whatever approved method missionaries decide,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the church and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. “This may vary based on their circumstances, locations and schedules for that week. It is not expected that all missionaries will call or video chat with their parents every week. The precise manner of communication is left up to the missionary as he or she decides what will best meet their needs.”

According to the release, there are more than 65,000 missionaries world-wide. Men serve for 24 months and can leave for their mission at 18. Women serve for 18 months and can leave for their mission at 19.

“We love the missionaries and know the Lord values their selfless service,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “We continue to try to find the best ways to support and help them and their families while they serve.”