(Re)Conceptualizing our Gendered Missionary Image

First and foremost, let me say that I am absolutely thrilled with today’s announcement lowering the age for prospective missionaries, for many of the reasons that have (and will be) written here and elsewhere: the transforming popular image of sister missionaries, the increase in scriptural knowledge and service opportunities amongst female members, the growing possibilities for female leadership, the adjusted goals of the young women’s program, the larger amount of young adults being tethered to the gospel (and humanity), and many other examples of the slow, uneven steps toward gender equality. All of these are important results that I fervently celebrate; I suppose that such things, if proved true, will make today a significant milestone in our ever-growing progression as God’s Kingdom.

But I’m interested in another impact this policy change could have on our culture: the possibility of re-conceptualizing our highly gendered image of missionary work.

Missionary service, while for quite some time open to both genders, has always been closely tethered to the male priesthood. Even in the press conference today adding details to the policy change, Elder Holland emphasized that missionary work continues to be an obligation and duty for priesthood holder as opposed to a personal choice for female members. This rhetoric and focus dates back to the highly-gendered missionary image of the 18th and 19th century itinerant preacher: the tough, thick-skinned, hyper-masculine missionary traveling from town to town without purse or scrip spreading the manly message of Christ. (See chapter 4 here and chapter 3 here, for starters.) Though missionary work was soon opened to females–but never to the scale of some other movements (see here)–the male image reigned supreme within the LDS tradition. When one thinks of “God’s Army,” still a common descriptor of Mormon missionary work, one is either consciously or sub-consciously flexing muscular Christianity’s gendered potential. Missionary hallmarks like an emphasis on brute force and sheer will, a faith in administrative culture and progressive organization (in the classic use of the term), and a vision of diligent (if unfruitful) practices like tracting as the highest virtue, to use only a few examples, are male-centered concepts that dominate the way we frame missionary labor.

I won’t go too much into this gendered critique of Mormon missionary culture. There are certainly elements, of course, that are traditionally delineated as masculine–like diligence, hard work, etc.–that are just as rightfully associated with sister missionaries. But I think it’s rather clear that, in many cases, the LDS mission labor force has been crafted as a very male space, and women’s success within that space has depended on their willingness to appropriate male-centered norms while at the same time suppressing their own gendered inclinations. I am personally aware of several mission presidents who grew sick of sister missionaries because they maintained too many characteristics of young adult females and not enough like the broad-shouldered, Utah-bred elders. This dynamic is further perpetuated with things like the caricature of “Visitors’ Center Sister Missionaries,” an image that grants enough space to act female but still remains separate from the very male mission field. These types of demarkations are almost always in existence within a culture that maintains a minority representation both in numbers and power structure, which is definitely the case with female missionaries.

But with today’s announcement, which I truly believe will cause a spike in sister missionaries, I wonder if the gender dynamics of Mormonism’s missionary image will change. The very fact that women will make up a larger percentage of mission labor will force LDS culture to reconceptualize things that have long been taken for granted. There is historical precedent for such transitions within broader culture. In mid-19th century America, the increase of female participation in religious practice led to what many scholars have termed the feminization of Christianity, mostly meaning a sentimental Jesus that comforted the sinful, an emphasis on emotion as the center of religious life, and the introduction civil reform into the immediate ante- and post-bellum period (see here and here). More recently, and perhaps more significantly, has been the transition numerous churches have made in the last century due to female ordination, a transformation that has fundamentally altered how many understand Christian ministry (see here).

I am honestly curious to see what direction the image of Mormon missionary work may go. It seems it would fall in line with other recent developments like the pluralist (and modern) ideals of the “I’m a Mormon” campaign or even the (exceedingly wise) goodwill decision to slowly eliminate tracting and other cold-turkey, old-fashioned missionary techniques. Will more sister missionaries mean a restructuring of mission organizational apparatuses? Will it result in a new overall framework for missionary training? Will it shift how Mormon culture perceives the mission experience as preparatory to leadership potential? Will it alter the general spirit of camaraderie of fellow missionaries, where most districts are currently made up of a brotherhood of elders and a few outlier sisters? I have no idea, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the following decades.

Of course, tracing these types of transitions within the mission field may very well offer foresight into tensions of later gender incorporation, whether in hierarchical structure or female ordination, but that is for the future to reveal.

Comments

  1. This is an amazing article, and it will certainly be interesting to see what changes occur.

  2. Ben,
    Firstly, while I wouldn’t be surprised if missionary districts became gendered, having more sister leaders and sister meetings (over sisters)–I think in reality the structure would always entail at least one set of elders for the sake of priesthood leadership. But I’m hopeful that more young Elders seeing sisters working side by side with them, doing the same work will develop a culture of mutual respect and a sense of equality.

    Secondly, in my experience leaders routinely say things like, “It will be so nice to have a returned missionary (fill in the blank with XYZ leadership calling here) when extending calls to women who previously served missions. While on one hand sisters have been discouraged from serving missions and encouraged to marry young- it is clearly and repeatedly expressed the you have something that other sisters don’t if you served a mission. Thus, it’s clearly understood already that growing leaders is one result of missionary service, even for sisters. That’s a sad commentary on attitudes toward women in the church, but it’s reality.

    Third, I’m not sure how the missionary apparatus would change. Sisters tracted, and were more effective at it than men, where I served. People will let a woman in the door, a man-less so.

    “I am personally aware of several mission presidents who grew sick of sister missionaries because they maintained too many characteristics of young adult females…”

    While I believe men and women are essentially different in many ways, can you explain what you mean by this a little more? What characteristics?

  3. Mark Brown says:

    A mission iis an odd place which can function with no women at all, except the mission president’s wife, who comes to zone conference and reminds you to eat more vegetables. if the numbers of men and women serving are roughly equal (and I believe they will be, within 18 months), many of the changes you have outlined will occur naturally, as a matter of course.

  4. MMiles. Fantastic points. In turn:

    1. I don’t foresee gender-segregated districts, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more flexibility in structure. Some missions in California, for instance, and now experimenting with female APs and other leader positions. I could see more change in that direction.

    2. I think that’s a very important point, and an expected result when we have a broader base of female members who would have this shared experience of teaching, learning, and service.

    3. The more female voices involved in most committees, the more novel approaches tried. See the recent media transitions, for instance, as well as other systematic developments under the Church umbrella that stem from broader representation in councils. I think church leaders genuinely recognize this trend, as seen in their emphasis in recent worldwide training meetings to include women on major decisions and the examples of doing so in General Conference. As for missionary labor, techniques and approaches of the past–like tracting–have recently come under review and cast aside as an archaic approach ill-fit for today’s society, and I still see tracting as a very gendered activity even in women sometimes have more success with it.

    As for just one experience, I know of a mission president who had a large mission and visitors’ center with 36-40 sister missionaries. At first, the sisters would spend most of their time in the “field” and minimal time in the center. After a year of dealing with what he referred to as “sister problems,” he pulled all sisters out of the field and had them focus on the visitors’ center because he considered that a much more suitable place for women.

  5. .

    DL and ZL aren’t really priesthood callings anyway. Having men report to women would be good for their souls. Unless its the only way to get men to learn responsibility instead of just letting the women take charge.

  6. My stake president in my most recent adult session of stake conference said that he had recently been in two training meetings with Elder Holland where he alluded to important changes that would lead to much increased growth in the church throughout the world. I have wondered what it could be for the past two weeks wonder no more. This change makes me very happy. As far as changing the culture, I got nothing for you there, but it will be interesting to watch.

  7. I missed the session, but were any details shared about the continuing age discrepancy? Seems like we’re now going out of our way to keep it, for whatever reason.

  8. Kyle, Elder Holland briefly touched on that in the press conference afterwards.

  9. Thanks Dovie! Some intriguing comments there…

  10. I think that there is a supressed but very real tension between sending out “traditional” missionaries and sending out feminised teams that include “empowered” sister-missionaries spreading the good news of gay-tolerance. If push comes to shove (and it does) do we prefer the former, and more success in our work in Africa, or the latter, with (given the facts of the world) less success? Let’s not deny the trade-off with Pollyana-ish assumptions.

  11. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the following:

    “Missionary hallmarks like an emphasis on brute force and sheer will”

    “Brute force” seems incredibly out of place in a description of Mormon missionary work, so I’m not sure how it is a hallmark or emphasis.

    I also wonder about how it will affect the culture of the work, but I honestly can’t grasp right now the accuracy of your description of that culture – or the idea that lots of Mission Presidents get sick of sister missionaries for not being more masculine. My experience over multiple decades in multiple locations is exactly the opposite – although there are issues that are fairly unique to sister missionaries and cause gray hair for MP’s.

  12. As Theric points out, ZL and DL are not priesthood callings. I know some missions have sister ZLs. But they are gendered, the women report to her, not Elders. I don’t see that changing.

  13. #10 – ?!

    Sometimes, all that is left is a sigh. I don’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole.

  14. I definitely think we will see a very signficant spike in sister missionaries. Young women have been chomping at the bit to have a place in the church that wasn’t just about marriage and motherhood, especially in the YW/YSA age group. This gives them that in spades. I think it is wonderful.

    In following the orientation of the post I wonder what this is going to mean for the gender gap in converts that is already a huge problem. If they keep the same gender limitations on missionaries in their teaching and tracting this is going to lead to an even more imbalanced conversion rate of women and eventually continue to exacerbate the gender imbalances in the church, especially in more sparsely church populated areas. It was one of the biggest problems in my Paris mission for example. I have always wondered if this is one of the reasons that they have ever so often discouraged women from missions and put a drag on this type of change.

    Personally, I think the thing that really pushed this through is that this is seen as a solution to the absolute crisis we have in retaining youth including the rising rates of defection among YSA women. I think this will be effective from that perspective on a number of levels.

  15. A girl from our ward serving in SAmerica had her mission extended 2 months while she was part of an experiment to try out a female version of an AP…

  16. ” although there are issues that are fairly unique to sister missionaries and cause gray hair for MP’s.”

    Ray, I think you just finely illustrated the problem you were trying to say didn’t exist. While I had a wonderful mission experience and a great president ( the best, actually), I have seen other sisters have not-so-great experiences because of attitudes and policies Ben has described.

  17. @13a-keep not touching it and you will keep seeing inactivity levels rising. I think high inactivity is the central issue and we should address it-you seem to want to put rejecting tradition and embracing secular culture as a hogjer priority.

  18. ThomP,
    I’ve heard people make this claim before (that young men are leaving the church because it is becoming more gender equitable). Do you have any proof behind this assertion or are do you just find the concept of receiving an assignment in the church from a woman personally distasteful and are extrapolating?

  19. “Ray, I think you just finely illustrated the problem you were trying to say didn’t exist.”

    “you seem to want to put rejecting tradition and embracing secular culture as a hogjer (higher) priority.”

    mmiles and ThomP, I never said or implied what your charges state. Seriously, those things are not in my comment. I never said cultural problems don’t exist, and I didn’t even come close to ThomP’s ridiculous charge.

    Let me repeat what I said in clearer words:

    I don’t understand the use of “brute force” to describe missionary culture, and I think the idea of summarizing increased sister missionaries as equaling “spreading the good news of gay-tolerance” is absurd.

    If either of you wants to address those opinions, please do so. Otherwise, addressing things I didn’t say and don’t believe isn’t helpful in the slightest.

  20. I would look at the experience of the mainline Protestant churches. As they have assimilated to the secular culture they have suffered massively in terms of membership, while the more traditional (along social and cultural lines) evangelical churches have grown in numbers. You see the same thing on a more subtle scale (and the numbers are les self-evident) in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian domains. We need to at least pay attention to this. Not let it determine our path, but to ignore it seems arrogant and inthe long-run foolhardy.

  21. Do you believe that this one factor explains the experience of (non-proselytizing) mainline Protestant churches? That seems like a correlation =/= causation issue to me, but who knows.

  22. Yes. It is not a point made in isolation. Look at the Sikhs. They were organized as an anti-Muslim invader warrior group. One of their religious proscriptions was they could eat meat as lonfpg as it eas not halal. Obviously, this was intended to prevent socialization between Muslims and Sikhs even during times of peace so that the Sikhs would (again) protect the Hindus during tomes of war. This expectation is why Hindu families would raise one son as a Sikh. Yet today you see young Sikhs in the West trying to “reinterpret” that dietary restrction. But to do. that is to lose the defining essence of Sihki. Similarly, if we embrace today’s faddish notions of feminism we repudiate and lose what is essential amd timeless to our own faith.

  23. sorry for typos my first languague os not english and ia am all thumbs too

  24. ThomP, Serious questions:

    Are you saying we need to return to having married men leave their families and serve three-year or longer missions?

    Are you saying young women should not serve missions – or that 21 is a traditional, inspired age?

    Frankly, we simply disagree strongly about this general issue if your answers are “Yes” to either of those questions.

  25. ThomasP,

    Whatever the current issues we face with our boys and men, they should not be remedied on the backs of our women. Suppressing women for the sake of men is beyond lame. If men require priesthood or leadership to the exclusion of women to make them behave it is only because they have been socialized to be so in ways that are fundamentally in opposition to the most basic principles of morality and gospel.

    Let women serve. Let women lead. They should not have to pay for Adam’s (or his sons) transgressions.

  26. I’m not sure what the exact split should be, but I am saying equality between elders and sisters in terms of our important missionary work is a short-term sell-out to secular norms, not LDS norms, and is as silly as West-toxified Sikhs trying to reinterpret their ban on eating any meat as long as its not halal as somehow congruent with faddish multi-cultural norms. I favour a more long-term, non-faddish practice of our faith.

  27. rah,
    seious question-are our women more oppressed by LDS norms or by moving towards secularism? See rooshv.com. It’s a more popular site than BCC.

  28. ThomP, as a woman, I’m very disappointed that you think that my desires to serve my God are “silly” and a “sell-out to secular norms.” How is it “faddish” to consider women as being equally capable of serving the Lord as men are and having valuable contributions to make to building the kingdom?

  29. So, ThomP, your short answer is that the FP and Q12 are selling out to what you believe are fads and secular philosophies.

    As I said, we simply disagree about this, so let’s drop it and move on.

  30. Ray,
    I accept what the FP and Q12 do. No question. I am objecting to the feminist over-interpretation of those moves (which also involves gripes).
    Elle, not sure I ever called you silly and surely don’t. Do want to distinguish between successful patriarchal religions/societies and failed (there were some, historically) matriachal or egalitarian ones. Let’s not give up,what we have on the altar of political correctness/short term fads. Most Europeans in the 20’s gave up on liberalism and went for fascism or communism. They were wrong. So, too, I resist modern popular trends and believe in the traditional family. Feminism is ahistorical and causing a lot of harms if you look at itmobjectively.

  31. Similarly, if we embrace today’s faddish notions of feminism we repudiate and lose what is essential amd timeless to our own faith.

    Yeah, we’re ruining the church with all these faddish notions of equality and such. Let’s bring back the timeless and essential priesthood ban while we’re at it. [eyeroll]

  32. No, let’s be pragmatic, where an end goal is Zion not cavorting with our “progressive” friends in Sodom.

  33. I’m pretty sure the Yearning for Zion ranch will take you if you’re looking for a place where you can keep women in their place. No need to commiserate with the mainstream sodomites.

  34. @ThomP: How in the world is letting women serve as full-time missionaries beginning at age 19 a “sell-out to secular norms”? Seriously, you asserted it, but i haven’t seen an explanation, and the connection quite honestly escapes me.

    (And relatedly, why the unstated assumption that secular norms—which is actually a most amazingly disparate set, not anything monolithic at all—are inherently wrong?)

  35. ThomP, I’ll grant you that you never called me silly personally, but your wholesale dismissal of women’s equality within the church is very disheartening. There are many, many Mormon women who struggle to find a place in the church when their contributions and talents are given little institutional recognition outside of the limited role of motherhood (which, to be clear, is not an insignificant role at all, it’s just that many women struggle with having motherhood be the sole defining aspect of their gospel lives).

    There is certainly a place for women to take a more active role in gospel leadership within the bounds of what you call the traditional family. Allowing women more opportunities to serve missions is one way to achieve this, and I for one am thrilled to see this change. There are many women who are pouring out their hearts in thanks to the Lord tonight and many young women whose lives will be blessed immensely because of their missionary service.

  36. Look, I’m just taking a broad,view and saying it’s self-evident that Orthodox Jews are doing well, Reform Jews are in trouble in terms of numbers; same for Mainstream Protestants vs. Evangelicals. Sign up with a movement that is going to disappear during your children’s life if you mean to, so you feel more,comfortable in the short-run, with your secular academic colleagues. Good on you!

  37. I’m having trouble understanding what is so inherently great about patriarchal societies, which tend to strike me as the natural man run amok (and I live and was raised in one). Not that a matriarchal one wouldn’t be, of course. In the meantime, our religion’s ability to appeal to and retain “natural men” strikes me as an unimportant consideration in God’s eyes. Or rather, I think the purpose of the Gospel is to take individuals and make them more divine than natural. Sure, God speaks to us according to our language and understanding, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have to evolve to become like him.

  38. Right, ThomP, the road to better membership statistics (a self-evident sign of divine approbation, apparently) is through ensuring our daughters’ oppression in perpetuity. Better if we just stop letting them go to college altogether.

    Better if we all stop, I suppose. Then we wouldn’t be so weak when faced with fads like suffrage, monogamy, and civil rights.

  39. I don’t see sister missionary numbers (and missionary numbers in general) increasing that much over the long term. I do think it’s an exciting development, but I don’t know of that many young women who had planned on serving a mission but got married instead. In my experience, those young women who did plan on serving in their late teens were pretty unlikely to be swayed by a 21-22 year old boy when they were under 21 themselves.. Sure, we all heard the stories of young women who struggled with the decision to serve or marry, but how common is that, really? Does anyone know what the actual ratio of Elders to Sisters is? My district in the MTC had zero sisters, and the ratio in my mission was something like 10 to 1 (and this was when the number of missionaries was at its height,)

    If there is a significant increase, there will definitely need to be some gender re-alignment. I’m particularly intrigued to see how it works in those areas outside the US and Western Europe that are significantly more misogynistic.

  40. Just so everyone is aware, the site ThomP is pimping (and I use that word intentionally) is one that is in direct and obvious conflict with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the LDS Church. It’s not an anti-Mormon site, but it’s revolting,

    ThomP obviously is not LDS, and I respectfully ask that the web address he is giving to try to get people to check it out be deleted from his comments. It’s incredibly sexist and appalling. He is a troll trying to drive traffic to his hedonistic site.

  41. Although I have to say that the following from #38 is an incredible typo:

    “Some thongs have problems where feminism is not the answer.”

  42. ThomP: you have (attempted to) make your point, so I suggest moving on from this discussion. I recommend others dropping their attempts to reason with him, and especially not click on his website.

    Ray: You bring up fair points, but I don’t know what to say but that I do think “brute force” isn’t too far fetched to describe to dominant male space of Mormon missionary work. It’s comes from my own and others’ experience as well as from lots of historical research and analysis. (Look at David Knowlton’s excellent work, for example, as well as other sociologists of Mormonism.) I sincerely hope the alternate experience you describe is becoming more prevalent, and that this transition will help that move.

  43. I’m just hoping that it means fewer sisters missionaries will be greeted by a branch president looking over their heads and past them and saying “I thought they said they were going to give us missionaries. Are you just here to drop them off?” I don’t know if you can prevent non members in traditional societies asking things like…I know why I should listen to a man…but why should I listen to a woman?

    I wish I was kidding. Some religions take Paul and the whole women shouldn’t speak thing rather seriously.

    I’m hoping an increased number of sister missionaries would help more young men feel comfortable councilng with sisters. I’m hoping it would help more young women hold their own and speak well and listen in councils as well. I’m also hoping it would increase respect among local areas with traditional cultures for what women can do.

    i’d love to see an increased number of sister missionaries serving and perhaps if the MP doesn’t know what to do with them he can make MUCH GREATER use of his wife! Why can’t she council the sisters and work with them if it’s so difficult for the MP? That said my MP was great…I would have loved to get to know his wife more though.

  44. Ben–
    Really enjoyed your post. Like mmiles, I have found that RM sisters are sometimes (often?) treated as something special, particularly by men who married an RM (although there are always some who retain that idea that sisters are trouble). Your post made me wonder, though, if we could see a change in the regard for missionary work if it does become significantly feminized. Historically speaking, once an activity becomes open to women, it’s value to society is drastically reduced. See teaching for a secular example. I’d be fascinated to hear of any in the church. What do you think? Might we reach a point where so many women served, or that the service itself was so touchy-feely that it would no longer be an attractive option to men?

  45. Ray, I think the unfortunate railroading of new converts that I’ve seen done as a missionary and as a member is aptly described as brute force.

  46. #45 – I can see that, KLC, and hadn’t thought of it as brute force. I saw it as more an example of “sheer will”. The difference I see in those two phrases is the physicality involved – and, in that light, I see little brute force and way too much sheer will.

  47. We watched the between-sessions press conference with my oldest two (all my children are female), and my oldest was puzzled by the statement that female full-time missionaries can’t be sent to some areas of the world. We explained that there are some places in the world where women’s opinions are routinely dismissed as unimportant (more so than we’ve occasionally seen in this thread, i mean), and even where physical and sexual violence against women and girls is so accepted as to be unremarkable. She was shocked, to put it mildly, but glad she wouldn’t be assigned to a place like that.

    It’s sad that she has to learn that there’s ugliness in the world already, but it’s good that it got to come in a controlled setting, i suppose.

  48. Sharee Hughes says:

    Loved this post. You should submit it to the Ensign for publication. I applaud the church for lowering the age for sister missionaries, although I think it should have been lowered to 18. Women mature more quickly than men, and 18-year-old women would likely make better missionaries than 18-year-old boys. I think a lot of young women will want to serve. Quite a number of the women in my ward are returned missionaries–and they aren’t the “unattractive” ones. I think the lowering of the age for women will result in a lot more women serving. There is nothing wrong with having lots of female soldiers in God’s army.

  49. I am pretty sure that the brethren will experiment with the 19 yr age limit for the women for a while, then might lower the age to 18. The same would go with the 18 month mission period for the women. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the change(at least one of them) in next several years.

    I was one of those missionaries who has experienced the change from 2 yr mission to 1.5 yr mission back in early 1980s while I was on my mission. A few years later, the brethren changed it back fro 1.5 yr to 2 yr.

  50. “Quite a number of the women in my ward are returned missionaries–and they aren’t the “unattractive” ones.”

    I’m relieved to learn that the minor work work of saving souls by bringing them to Christ has at last been validated for women by the hotness of the participants therein.

  51. esodhiambo: that is a fascinating point, re: the increase in female participation the general decrease of respect given by predominantly patriarchal societies. I hadn’t considered that before, but it is worth some thought.

  52. Curt Conklin says:

    There has been slight mention about how allowing YW to serve at age 19 may be an effort on the part of the 1P and Q12 to curb the growing numbers of YW who are going inactive. I think this is a major reason for the change. YW just aren’t into RS, with its emphasis on marriage and child-rearing. Here’s hoping it works. I served in Australia in the late 60’s. We only had a relatively few sisters, but they really outworked the Elders. Sometimes after S&D’s we’d do 2 or 3 hour splits in the district with the lowest stats, and invariably one of the sister splits would come back with the best stats. But they were never given cars, never allowed to teach people out of their area. They were a valuable resource yet VERY underutilized. I was able to do a split with sisters in my district one afternoon as a Greenie and a DL’s comp. We split to door-knock, one companionship on each side of the street. I noticed a HUGE difference in how people received us, albeit, most people on the other side of the door were women, as this was during the day. If the LDS church is truly interested in increasing its number of converts, they’ll continue to expand the number of sisters missionaries. This notion of not officially encouraging them to serve is bass ackwards, IMHO. Both my daughters served, on in the Philippines and one in France. I’m glad they did, and so are they. They’ll also stop sending out retired military officers as mission presidents, those guys tend to be male chauvinist pigs!

  53. I have a feeling that within a week or two I will feel like even more of a broken record, but only talking about the age change, without talking about the YM/YW curriculum change, is missing the larger point.

    Whether a young person goes on a mission or not, whether they live in an area with seminary or not, they will now spend six years learning the core principles of Teach My Gospel. They will be taught it in a way that their leaders will choose based on the actual needs of the students. In many ways, this is the biggest news since correlation! Younger, better prepared missionaries will be ready to serve. In they had kept women to missions at 21, they still would have gone in much higher numbers. Waiting 3 years, after learning and dreaming of something for 6, wouldn’t have been too long for the women to wait, but it would have changed church demographics, by significantly delaying marriage.

  54. Julia: I fully agree that a shift in YW curriculum would be a huge change, and hinted as much in my opening paragraph. I just figured others will focus on that monumental development, so I looked at another issue.

    Also, everyone should go read Andrea RM’s fantastic historical overview of sister missionaries in the 20th century: http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/pragmatism-and-progress-an-overview-of-lds-sister-missionary-service-in-the-twentieth-century/

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    I’m relieved to learn that the minor work work of saving souls by bringing them to Christ has at last been validated for women by the hotness of the participants therein.

    Comments like these are why BCC really, really needs a “like” button.

  56. Ben,

    I think you may have missed the most important part of the curriculum shift which is that it is NOT just a shift for YW. All YW and YM will now use the same curriculum, with the same focus, and the ability of their leaders to tailor lesson to meet the needs of the students in their classes.

    This is a church wide change for everyone between the ages of 12 and 18/19!

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