The first international expansion of the Service Mission Programme was introduced recently in the United Kingdom and Ireland for young women and men.
Worthy young men and women in the United Kingdom and Ireland may now be called as service missionaries for the Church. In addition, teaching missionaries who return home early due to accident, illness or other health concerns and have a desire to continue their service, may also be reassigned to a service mission. Service missionaries serve locally and live at home.
A Customised Experience: “Each service missionary is provided a customised experience to match his or her capabilities. They may serve in a variety of situations, including at community food banks, charity shops, homeless shelters and refugee centres. They can also provide service in Church operations such as Temples and family history work,” announced Elder Martin J. Turvey.
“We are delighted to announce the Service Missionary Programme for the United Kingdom and Ireland where young men and women offer meaningful and rewarding service as well as learn important life skills for themselves”, said Elder Martin J. Turvey.
Like a teaching missionary, a service missionary is called by the Lord through His prophet to serve locally with a customised mission schedule. A service missionary candidate utilises the missionary online recommendation process. The online process for all missionaries includes recommendations by the Bishop, the Stake President and medical professionals. Under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, prospective service
The missionary call begins with a desire to serve. “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work (Doctrine and Covenants 4:3).” Now many more worthy young men age 18–25 or young women age 19–25 may use their abilities in the Lord’s service.
Several individuals work together to provide a pattern of successful support. The family plays a vital role in the service mission experience as they encourage their missionary during her or his mission. Bishops teach and prepare all young men and women to serve a mission. Stake Presidents are the service missionary’s ecclesiastical leader. The Service Mission Leaders are the link between the Stake President, the community partner, Church operations assignments and the service missionary. These individuals ensure each service missionary has a meaningful mission experience.
Service Mission Leaders for the United Kingdom and Ireland have been called and set apart by Elder Martin J Turvey, Area Seventy. They work to create an impactful mission schedule for each service missionary for their personal circumstances. These Service Mission Leaders help missionaries meet the expectations of the organizations they serve and promote a rich, spiritual missionary experience.
“We will connect weekly with all service missionaries through face-to-face interaction and/or electronic means. We’ll set regular progress and mentoring interviews with each missionary. We want to understand how they are feeling about their assignment and if they enjoy it,” offered Sister and Elder Bettridge.
“Our responsibility is to provide a fulfilling and transformative mission experience. We both share the service mission leadership responsibility equally. We’ll counsel regularly with each Stake President while encouraging each service missionary in their assignment and fostering their development,” explained Elder and Sister Kimberling.
The Lord’s two great commandments exemplify the service missionary experience.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).
These two commandments have been the driving force for Elder Ronan Mahaffey of Harrogate, England. “I have become closer to God, while a service missionary. I have been fortunate to build fences, walking paths and birdhouses for our community nature centre. I have been able to visit the elderly who needed a friendly, listening ear. I enjoy family history assignments, including indexing and cataloguing the deceased from cemetery memorials. At the end of each day I feel so grateful for the love of God. I appreciate my parents who have been the gears that help me move forward before and during my mission. My testimony of the Gospel has been strengthened by this experience. I always find joy in serving others.”
Sister Isobel Munday of Gillingham, England accepted her call to serve in June: “I am really excited about the opportunity to be a service missionary. I feel so blessed to have the Lord select me for this mission. I know my Heavenly Father loves me and all His children. I will be able to share the Gospel in many ways through acts of service. I am the oldest child, and therefore the first to serve. My family is genuinely enthusiastic for my opportunity.”
Stake President Stefan Rossbach commended Sister Munday for her faithful desire to serve the Lord: “With her gifts and her commitment to the Lord, Sister Munday will be a wonderful service missionary. We have flexible service opportunities that are tailored to her talents. She has caught the vision of what lies ahead and is devoted to serve the Lord in her service to others.”
Missionary service is an exciting time for missionaries and their families as shared by Elder Mahaffey and Sister Munday. Each service missionary has strengths that help others and provide meaningful growth opportunities for the missionary. Parents, family and missionary candidates are invited to learn more by visiting with their Bishop and review more details on-line at www.churchofjesuschrist.org/service-missionary.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has required adjustments for Church proselyting missionaries, including young men and women returning home to the United Kingdom who were serving abroad. These young people may in some cases find a service mission an appropriate option to continue serving, after counselling with their priesthood leaders. This is an expanded opportunity for youth to serve as Jesus Christ exemplified during His mortal ministry,” explained Elder Gary B Sabin, Europe Area President. “The Service Mission Programme has been working effectively in various locations in the United States and Canada and is now available for the first time in Europe.”
Of service missionaries Elder Dale G Renlund, member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “They make a huge difference, They’re dependable, they show up, they do the work. They’re cheerful, they’re positive, they’re enthusiastic. They bring life and energy.” (“Church Announces Changes to Recommendation Process for Young Missionaries”, 16 November 2018 Newsroom, Salt Lake City.)
President Russell M. Nelson declared, “Through a lifetime of service in this Church, I have learned that it really doesn’t matter where one serves. What the Lord cares about is how one serves.” (“Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 68.)
“Service missions complement proselyting missions by allowing others to experience God’s love through receiving Christlike service. Now more than ever, young women and men who have a desire to serve will be given the opportunity to further the work of the Lord as a missionary. This will be a great blessing to the missionaries, to their families, and to those they serve.” (www.churchofjesuschrist.org/service-missionary/candidate-and-parent?lang=eng)
For more on service missions, go to www.churchofjesuschrist.org/service-missionary.
“All Who Have a Desire to Serve”, Sally Palmer, Ensign, January 2019.
Richard Bramwell, Service Mission Leader Advisor, North America West.
Elder William Kimberling, Service Mission Leader, Leads, Manchester and Scotland/Ireland.
Elder Ronan Mahaffey.
President Stefan Rossbach.
Sister Isobel Munday.