Last night I shared that there were rumors flooding the LDS corners of the internet that in the past week there had been 7,000 new applications for full-time missionaries.
This evening church spokesman Michael Purdy gave the following statement as reported by KSL Television in Salt Lake City:
“As Church leaders had anticipated when the change was announced, the number of individuals who have begun the missionary application process has increased significantly. Typically approximately 700 new applications are started each week. The last two weeks that number has increased to approximately 4,000 per week. Slightly more than half of the applicants are women.”
For clarification purposes, those are not submitted applications, but merely applications that have been started via the Church’s online application process.
When Elder Jeffrey R. Holland predicted that lowering the age limits for missionaries would trigger a “dramatic” increase in numbers, “dramatic” was an understatement. Instead there has been approximately a 471% jump in new applications in just the past two weeks. Worth noting is the ratio of men to women who have began the application process.
Of note personally were the few emails I personally received from this blog. A couple of church members blasted me for helping spread such an unfounded rumor. A couple of church members lauded my sharing of the news. And a couple of members emailed me to share what they had heard from General Authorities and their own local church leaders over the weekend at church meetings, essentially saying the rumor was “almost” accurate.
My intent in writing last night’s post wasn’t to spread rumor. In fact, I thought I had made that very clear when writing it. Rather, it was to simply take joy in the fact that obviously a terrific event was occurring within our unique and peculiar culture. It is wonderful to hear of such a flood of young Latter-day Saints desiring to serve the Lord! Nothing should take away from that joy.
To the two thoughtful Saints who felt I was in error (and all the others who didn’t take the time to personally email me about it), I sincerely apologize. I did not intend to stir up falsehoods. I was simply trying to share my views of the rumor/news as an LDS observer of social media.
The most popular Tweet which led to yesterday’s social media blitz was shared by Dale Cressman, a journalism professor at BYU. It said, “On average LDS Church had received 600 missionary applications per week. Last week it received 7,000.” When pressed by a doubter of the numbers as to the veracity of his tweet, Cressman tweeted in response, “Not in the habit of fact checking my stake president.”
According to the press release from the Church indicating the lowering of ages for missionaries to serve, currently “58,000 missionaries are serving, and that number has been increasing in recent years and will likely rise significantly with this change.”
In any case, thanks to the technology with which we are blessed we can now see missionaries apply faster, and the news of their applications spread just as quickly.
Here’s to hoping our testimonies are Tweeted and our faith is as Facebooked as much as a rumor we all may have heard yesterday.