At the start of the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others), President and Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, announced the reduction in age requirements for those worthy young men and young women who desire to labor in the Lord’s vineyard by serving a full –time mission. Eligible young men may now serve a mission beginning at age 18, and eligible young women may serve beginning at 19 years of age. Young men will still serve a two-year mission, and young women will still serve an 18-month mission.
As a result of that church wide announcement “the Church reported that missionary applications had increased dramatically (from 700 applications per week to 4,000), with women comprising more than half of the applicants. While the number of post-announcement applications is still double what it has been in the past, the total number of men and women who have applied since October is now about equal.”  It is of noteworthy interest that prior to President Monson’s announcement, the missionary force of The Church of Jesus Christ was comprised of about 15 percent of young women.
The Missionary Program of The Church of Jesus Christ
They can be seen on the streets of major cities of the world, as well as in many of the smaller, rural communities. Their purpose and their mission is to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to bring believers into the fold by baptizing them in His name. With nearly 60,000 missionaries serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at any one time, most of whom are under the age of 25, serving in nearly 350 missions around the world, The LDS Church’s missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics.
It should be noted that the decision of a young man or a young woman to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ is a personal choice. Serving a mission is strongly encouraged by Church leaders and parents, but it is not something that is commanded or demanded of young people. There are some young people who decide not to serve a mission for various reasons, and there are others who face the challenge of whether to attend college first, or to pursue a career prior to serving a mission. For some, the decision is easy, for they have been preparing to serve a mission from their youth, and so there is no question as to whether they will serve their mission first. For others, that decision is not necessarily an easy one.
President Monson, in the course of his remarks, regarding the new missionary service age requirements, stated, “I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age. Rather, the option is now available based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by local Church leaders.” 
It should also be pointed out that unlike some other Christian missionary programs, young men and young women of The Church of Jesus Christ who are called to serve a mission do not get to pick and choose where they wish to serve. But rather, “Missionaries receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent only to countries where governments allow the Church to operate. Missionaries do not request their area of assignment and do not know beforehand whether they will be required to learn a language.” 
The decision to serve a mission is based on faith and trust in the Lord, and those who serve, willingly go wherever the Lord needs them to go. Some may serve in missions not far from home, while some may serve in missions in lands far away. No matter where they are called to serve, they know that they are on the Lord’s errand.
Also, unlike some other Christian missionary programs, the Church of Jesus Christ does not fund the cost of an individual’s mission. Those wishing to serve a mission are expected to work and earn monies that will be used to help support them on their mission. Family members are also encouraged to lend monetary support in whatever way they can. The Church of Jesus Christ does, however, have a missionary fund which members can generously donate to, to help support those members who are called to serve a mission, but do not necessarily have the funds to support a mission.
How Mormon Youth Compare to Other Christian Youth
Needless to say the life of a Mormon teen though similar to other teens in some ways, is significantly different in other ways. For example, Mormon teens in many areas arise early each morning to attend a religion class prior to the start of the normal school day. This class, known as seminary, is where they are taught principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In an article in Christianity Today magazine, titled What Can Christians Learn from the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries? Greg Stier, founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, and author of Firing Jesus commented:
Mormonism pushes its kids harder and takes them farther than even the most ardent Protestant youth ministry. Can you imagine a youth group that challenged each of its teenagers to meet at 6 a.m. every day of the school year to learn about Christianity? That’s exactly what Mormons do with their high-school students. We get excited if our teens gather around a pole at 7:15 a.m. to pray once a year. 
Stier also makes mention of the fact that a Mormon young man is ordained to the work of the ministry at the young age of 12. In comparison to other Christian teens, he notes, “When typical Christians graduate from high school, they grab their books and go off to a college dorm. When typical Mormons graduate from high school, they grab a bike pump and go on mission.” . In a further observation he states:
Those high expectations pay off. Young Mormons know what they believe and why they believe it. They’ve hammered out their theology on evangelical doorsteps. Their hearts and minds have been steeled and sealed into Mormon orthodoxy through their intense commitment.
Maybe that’s why Mormons give more and work harder than their Christian peers. Maybe that’s why the religion is expanding while a majority of former Christian youth-group attendees are fleeing the church. 
Steir believes that Protestants should have higher spiritual expectations for their teens. He further believes that the Great Commission should be presented to them as the ultimate cause; that they should be encouraged to spread the message of the gospel at their schools on a daily basis; and that grace and love should be the motivating factors, not religious duty or pressure. He also believes that the Mormon perspective should be adopted, and that Protestant teens should be challenged with greater opportunities of service, outreach, and training to enable them to catch Christ’s vision and mission of building up His Kingdom here on earth. He urges fellow Protestants to “learn from Mormons and instill in our young people a passion for Christ and his cause—making disciples who make disciples.” 
Putting Christ First is the Key
Also in the Christianity Today article titled What Can Christians Learn from the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries?, John Divito a former Mormon, a graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and administrator for the Midwest Center for Theological Studies in Owensboro, Kentucky contends that Mormon culture is founded on a worldview requiring works in order to gain eternal life. He quotes from a verse of scripture found in the Book of Mormon, which Latter-day Saints testify is ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ’ and is comparable to the Holy Bible, in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” His defense is that this verse contradicts what is taught in the Holy Bible in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
His supposition, therefore, is:
“Mormon missionary work is critical to one’s eternal future. In light of this, we should not be surprised at the flood of applications that followed the LDS First Presidency’s announcement that it was lowering the minimum age requirement for missionaries. These young people are eager to serve so they can earn God’s favor through their faithfulness.” 
He does assert, however, that there is at a least a “cautionary” lesson that can be learned from the recent increase in the number of Mormon young men and young women answering the call to serve a mission. He states:
We call our children to be obedient, but don’t point them to Christ, who was obedient for us. We call them to godly living, but don’t direct them to Christ as the substitute for our ungodliness. So when we urge our young men and women to serve sacrificially at home and abroad, the call is too often separated from the gospel. We’ve functionally taught them that the Christian life depends on what they do rather than who they are in Christ. This leads either to pride (“I can do it!”) or to despair (“I can’t do it!”).
In Christ, we have the security and the strength to faithfully serve Him in love. May our youth go into the world and make disciples of all nations, having been reconciled to God and entrusted with the message of reconciliation. 
Be Motivated by His Grace
Kara Powell who is executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, and teaches youth and family ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, also commented in the Christianity Today article titled What Can Christians Learn from the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries? Her comments put the capstone on this topic of discussion. She stated:
Adolescence opens the curtain on a new season of questions for teenagers and emerging adults. Often standing at center stage among the questions that captivate young people is, “What can I do to make a difference?”
The Mormon Church’s missions program gives young people a vibrant stage on which to wrestle with that question and pin down answers. There is a God-given spark embedded in humankind that burns especially bright in adolescents’ developmental hunger to impact others. By lowering the age of eligibility for service, Mormon leaders have fanned the flame for teenagers eager to change the world around them.
The Mormon Church has found a powerful outlet for a young person’s desire to experience purpose and connection. If we as Christians can combine that desire with a sense of God’s extravagant grace, we may experience a similar surge of missions involvement among Christ followers of all ages. 
Additional Resources:Read More
Bringing your attention, friends, loved ones, of all faiths, to the UCAP Coalition Against Pornography’s upcoming conference in Salt Lake City, May 18th, 2013, 9 AM – 1 PM.
Since 2000, UCAP has worked to deliver training, instruction, and bring people together to combat the ills of pornography and its effects on individuals and families. If you are struggling, or engaged in the desires to reduce the avalanche of pornography in your sphere, this conference may provide solutions, perspective, hope, and direction. Visit utahcoalition.org for more information.Read More
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others) is the second fastest growing Church in the United States according to a report by the National Council of Churches. One of the primary focuses of the Church of Jesus Christ is its youth membership. At the end of December 2012, the First Presidency of the LDS Church issued a report stating that the total Church membership at that time was 14,782,473. Of that number, 391,680 youth, ages 14-18 were reported as being enrolled in seminary classes (religious education program for secondary students that is taught in conjunction with their daily educational curriculum.) Of those 391,680 youth, many are members of the Boy Scouts of America.
The LDS Church, Boy Scouts of America, and Same-Gender Attraction
In February 2013, after much discussion, it was decided that a resolution on the current policy of excluding gay members and leaders would not be voted on by the approximate 1,400 voting members of the national council until the annual meeting which will be held during the week of 20 May 2013 in Grapevine, Texas.Read More
Saturday, April 27, 2013, is California’s statewide service day, in which thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints (nicknamed ”Mormons”) coalesce with friends of other faiths in efforts to improve California’s communities. To become involved and find a project, visit mhhcalifornia.org.
View these comments and suggestions for participating:
Here are some of the California participants’ comments regarding “Mormon Helping Hands”–a global outreach of caring and community service, alleviating stress, assisting one another in times of need and emergency.
Pablo Paniagua ·
Coordinator/Director at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We in the Santa Ana South Stake have a major project at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. We will begin at 7am and conclude at 1:30pm we expect to have 180 people. We will paint, pour concrete, repair a wooden 150 covered walk way and many more. April 20, it’s our day. We are looking forward to an amazing experience.
Carmela Gonzalez ·
Owner-Operator at Social Media Services Santa Barbara, CA Stake-Carpenteria Ward, Santa Barbara Ward and El Camino (Spanish) Branch will be working together at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. They will be planting, landscaping, and outdoor maintenace of the Gardens. The address there is 115 East Micheltorena St. in Santa Barbara and will go from 9-12am. Mesa Vista Ward will be working at San Marcos High School doing landscaping, and maintanence from 9-12am their contact is Lawrence Stehmeier at 570-4046 or firstname.lastname@example.org. El Camino (University) Ward will be at the Santa Barbara Zoo participating in the Zoo-to-Do work day from 8:30am to 1pm doing maintenance and upkeep at the zoo. Their Contact is Michael Gunson at email@example.com. Goleta Valley Ward is working at the Stow House Property (the old train depot and museum) at 304 North Los Caneros Rd. Gole…See More
Blythe Boozer Passanando ·
This is something for the ENTIRE community— If you have found yourself looking at this and thinking, “I’m not Mormon!” It’s okay, you can still participate! This is an event to beautify our community and create unity. Come and help to clean grave markers, garden the grounds, and paint the necessary items at the East Lawn Memorial Park – Sacramento! Please come at 8:30a (or sooner) to sign up for your duty of choice…first come, first serve. **There will be a BBQ lunch served following the event**. Please invite family, friends, neighbors, and strangers to participate as we gather together to serve!Read More
Most people know that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, sponsors family history research worldwide. Mormons avidly search out their roots, and freely give of their time to help others do the same. The church-sponsored website, FamilySearch.org, hosts billions of records that anyone may search. Volunteers, both Mormon and friends of other faiths (or no faith) spend time on their computers copying hand-written documents into designated fields, so records can be digitized and shared. Some who participate in “indexing” call the experience a satisfactory substitute for online gaming, and it’s a far better use of their time.
Over 585,000 people have volunteered their time so far. In April 2013 The Church of Jesus Christ announced through Mormon Newsroom that one billion searchable records have been added in the last seven years. Volunteers reside in 164 countries and territories.Read More
Alert: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs your push-back, your voice to stop the flood of profanity and nudity on prime time “family?” television. The FCC recently announced it is considering dropping current broadcast decency standards that ban explicit profanity and “non-sexual” nudity.Please see the Action Item below this post to take action.
Children are watching an average of 28 hours of television nationally. Since many TVs and computers streaming TV programming are in their bedrooms (2/3), much viewing is unsupervised.
What’s the net, net?: By age 18, a U.S. youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence, according to the American Psychiatric Association–an increase of vulgarity (72 obscenities in 117 hours of ‘prime time’ TV, 8-9 PM), as if the muck isn’t deep enough already, and now, more nudity than ever.
Extra-marital, pre-marital and homosexual sexual relations are depicted in 8:1 ratio over marital relations (none of which should appear). The content as well as the deceptive ratings are unacceptable. (Parents TV; No Place For Your Kids, 2).Read More
Elder Harold Burke Peterson was a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 6 April 1972 until the time of his death on Sunday, 14 April 2013.
Eagle Scout, Seabee, Educator, Family Man
Peterson was born on 19 September 1923 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he eventually became an Eagle Scout. In 1940 he began attending Phoenix College, and in 1942 he joined the United States Navy. Having finished a course in civil engineering at the University of Oklahoma, he became a Seabee and worked on projects in the Pacific Ocean theater during World War II.
Following the war, he earned a Bachelor Degree from the University of Arizona and taught at the Utah State Agricultural College where he eventually earned his Masters Degree. Upon graduation, he worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in Phoenix, Arizona. And in 1955, he and two other Latter-day Saints founded a civil engineering firm, the Engineering Corporation of America.
He was married for time and eternity to Brookie Cardon in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1947. Together they had five daughters.
Church Callings and Responsibilities
Before he was ever called to be a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Peterson served as both a Bishop and a Stake President in Phoenix, Arizona and later served as a regional representative for the Arizona Temple regions of Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe.
From 6 April 1972 until 6 April 1985 he served as the First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ to Victor L. Brown, the Presiding Bishop. He served in this capacity until 1985 when Brown was succeeded by Robert D. Hales. In April 1985, he was called by President Spencer W. Kimball to serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and served from 6 April 1985 until 2 October 1993 when he was granted General Authority Emeritus status by President Ezra Taft Benson. From 1985 until 1987, he served as the Temple President of the Jordan River Utah Temple. His wife, Brookie, served with him in the Jordan River Utah Temple as matron.Read More