News Release

Church Lowers Age Requirement for Missionary Service

In a move to expand the opportunities for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve full-time missions, Church President Thomas S. Monson announced at the just concluded 182nd Semiannual General Conference of the Church that, effective immediately, men may now begin serving at age 18 and women at age 19.

The previous age for beginning missionary service was 19 years of age for young men and 21 for young women.
The announcement was made during the opening session of the Conference, broadcast worldwide from Salt Lake City, Utah.

For young Nigerian Latter-day Saints, the lowering of the age requirement for missionary service is an answer to many prayers.

The new policy requires, among other things that, those willing to serve a mission must have graduated from high school. The typical age for the completion of high school in Nigeria is 17. Before now, faced with the prospect of waiting two years before proceeding on missionary service, a great many have opted to go to college and never serve a mission. This is because by the time they finish college and the associated mandatory National Youth Service, most would have passed the upper age limit for missionary service. In Nigeria, it is not possible to take an absence from college, leave to serve a mission and return to continue college education, unlike some western countries.

Following the announcement, a member of the Church in Abeokuta, Nigeria, said, "My first reaction when I first read the email from Church Public Affairs about the “Reduction in Age Requirement for Missionary Service,” was “Whao!” followed by a silent prayer of to Heavenly Father for a living Church, led and guided by the Lord Jesus Christ, through revelation to His Prophet.  I am a father of three children: two boys and a girl; and they have been trained from the cradle, and they also personally desire, to serve a mission. When my first son will leave high school next year, he would have had to wait two years before he can serve a mission.  But two years of doing what?  That has been my dilemma until the announcement of this change of policy.  I had decided that, rather than wait two years, he would go on to a university first for four years; suspended his National Youth Service, and then proceed on a full-time mission when 21years old.  But now – praise be to God! – with the reduction in age requirement, he can now proceed at 18years and my daughter also can proceed at 19.  Thus they can fulfill this heart desire of theirs, early before proceeding to other aspects of their lives such as their . . . (do not use "only true Church."

Latter-day Saints believe this announcement is a fulfillment of one of the prophesies of prophet Joseph Smith, founder and first president of the Church, that, “We believe that He" meaning God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

The Church anticipates that lowering the age requirement will significantly increase the number of missionaries who will serve by expanding the options for when they may begin their service.
“I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age,” President Monson said. Rather, he said, the option is now available based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by local Church leaders. (Read President Monson's full remarks.)

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