“Church Service Missions Offer Many Opportunities,” Liahona, July 2006, N2–N3
Catching Elder Don Ziegler on the phone is difficult.
“Don Ziegler here, wondering if we can burn up some calories here playing phone tag,” he says in a voice mail message. Chuckling follows. But if the Church-service missionary isn’t out burning calories while climbing the stairs of the Church Office Building, he’s busy promoting fruits and vegetables, planning health fairs, or posting the nutritional value of frozen yogurt in the cafeteria.
It’s part of the calling he and his wife, Sharon, share as Church-service missionaries.
There is a wide range of part-time Church-service opportunities available for both young and old. To be recommended as a Church-service missionary, one must be temple worthy, physically and emotionally able to perform required duties, able to support him- or herself financially, and at least 19 years of age. There is no upper age limit.
The Church maintains listings of these needs on LDS.org. The postings, submitted by Church-service missionary coordinators worldwide, are updated regularly and published online at www.lds.org/csm.
Doctors, hosts, grounds crew, even someone to change the tires in the fleet garage—they are all enlisted as volunteers that help the Church run smoothly.
There are nearly 12,000 Church-service missionaries currently serving worldwide today, but Elder Larry L. Whiting and Sister Kaye W. Whiting, director and administrative assistant of the entire Church-service missionary program, feel there would be more positions filled if more people knew about the opportunities available.
Church-service missionaries live at home while serving part-time, anywhere from 8 to 32 hours a week, magnifying their talents in the service of the Lord.
Those who work with Church-service missionaries around the world agree that they bring a special spirit to their work.
Elder and Sister Whiting serve as full-time missionaries while they oversee operations of all Church-service missionaries, but they attest that part-time service missions are divinely inspired, just as full-time missions are.
“In Church-service work, as well as other missionary work, you see the Lord’s hand in placing people,” Elder Whiting said.
However, the call to fulfill a Church-service mission comes a little differently than a call for a full-time mission. Worthy individuals willing to serve are encouraged to select an open position they feel they are qualified for. In addition to being interviewed by their bishop and stake president, they are often interviewed by the given department or job manager to ensure they are up to the tasks required. They are then called by their stake president—not the prophet—and set apart by their bishop.
Elder Whiting emphasized that Church-service missions are a secondary choice to full-time proselyting missions.
“But they are an excellent alternative if full-time service is not an option,” he said. “Many who go on service missions end up serving full-time missions later. It’s excellent preparation.”
Some opportunities are age specific, such as the annual call for 35 young (ages 19–24) performing stage and band missionaries to take part in a summer of musical productions in Nauvoo.
Elder Whiting commented on the blessing of young service missionaries, such as those serving in the Audiovisual Department, who bring with them a “fresh knowledge” of computers. Close to 300 young adults who could not serve full-time missions currently work as Church-service missionaries, but there are still many opportunities for those who wish to serve.
Members of any age over 19 can serve in almost any calling.
In fact, Sister Mary Alice Hansen, who is 102 years old, put in her request to serve for three years as a host in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. She has served as a Church-service missionary for the past 20 years.
“I’ve just loved it,” Sister Hansen said. “It’s been fun meeting all the people.”
“It’s an exciting thing for members to do,” Elder Whiting said. “We have 160 postings currently available right here in this office.”
The list of positions can be found online at LDS.org, and many wards and branches print out the list of opportunities in their area to display in their building.