‘My age it means nothing’

If anyone has ever doubted the awesome institutional power of BCC, then the last few days have brushed all doubters aside.

Barely five months have passed since Ronan suggested that young men from the UK should be allowed to serve LDS missions at the age of 18. As from today, young men will have that right without any special permission.

It seems appropriate to join in expressing our appreciation to Ronan.

However, after the festivities subside, there are still a few curious questions that remain. Why does this policy change only apply to specific countries, namely Germany, the United Kingdom, Albania, Cape Verde, Spain and Italy?

Why change this now, and does this shift apply to any other areas of the Church?

Lastly, do we think there will be an attendant change regarding women?


  1. esodhiambo says:

    Cool. I doubt there will be any change for women–they are suppressing the number of sisters serving by leaving the age higher–it is by design. No such intention for men.

    I wonder if other countries will agitate to be included? People certainly envy the ability for British Saints to have civil and temple weddings in one day!

  2. Where is the news link to that?

  3. I should note that other countries are not specifically exclude but they need to seek permission. It is still possible to leave early in these other countries.

    It might be the education system in these countries are similar to Britain.

    esodniambo, I think your right about women but I think that is a shame.

  4. There is no news link yet, as far as I am aware, but it comes from a letter sent to Bishops, Stake Presidents and other Area and Mission level leaders.

  5. I thought that the UK already had this rule. As a missionary in Toronto Canada 89-91, I had a companion from England that came on his mission at 18, and he mentioned it was because they finished schooling earlier. Maybe it’s the fog-of-war, but I really think this was true…

  6. John, as noted, there have been exceptions in the past, but this is a new policy change. Moreover, I am under the impression – but willing to be corrected – that this has been the policy for quite sometime.

  7. its always bugged me that if your dad was a MP you could serve at 18.. goofy.. nice to see a little moderating of this policy..

    bigger question is will some moderating also occur for north american guys who graduate high school at a younger age… can they go at 18.5? and an even bigger question is what will this sort of a adjustment mean in terms of retention of these ym?

  8. Now I’m going to have that song in my head all day. Not that that’s a bad thing…

  9. Great news.

  10. John Taber says:

    me (you) #7:

    My father wanted me to pursue this when I was an 18-year-old freshman at BYU, but I didn’t feel to. I guess I didn’t feel ready to serve just yet.

  11. Left Field says:

    “its always bugged me that if your dad was a MP you could serve at 18”

    What? Why? Isn’t there like only one LDS MP in the UK?

  12. Peter LLC says:

    Aristocratic privilege, Left Field; the peasants resent it no matter how rare it is.

  13. Left Field says:

    I got that part, but I just couldn’t figure out why they would make a rule for the children of just one person. According to his Wikipedia article, Terry Rooney has three children, so they’d be the only ones affected. Even if it also applies to MPs in Canada and elsewhere, that still can’t be many people. Does Canada have the same issues with regard to serving at 19 as the UK? Does it apply to members of congress in the US?

  14. reed russell says:

    My son, currently serving in Latvia, has an 18-year old companion from Scotland. He was told at the MTC that he was – at that time – the youngest missionary in the church.

  15. MP= Mission President, no?

  16. I had several British companions who went out at 18, back in the early 90’s. It was allowed because of their school schedule.

  17. Paula, exactly. Although MP does refer to Members of Parliament I am fairly confident that in the context of me’s (#7) comment MP is referring to Mission President.

  18. Left Field, as long ago as when I was out (circa 30 years ago), the sons of current mission presidents could serve at 18. The son of the Paris MP was a then-current example.

  19. Ardis, do you have a sense for how long the 19 year old age limit has been in force?

  20. University in the UK, at least, not sure about the other countries, must be done consecutively. None of this take two years off business like you can do here. So I figure they think it’s best to get boys out there while they can rather than loose them while they are at University. It’s a two-year Gap Year.

  21. Chris Gordon says:

    As of at least 12 years ago, there were latin american missionaries serving at age 18 due to some countries’ military/public service requirement at age 20. Would have made it hard to serve missions until after that and the church figured better before than after. I wouldn’t say there were high numbers doing so, but it was a regular thing.

  22. No idea, Aaron; if I’ve run across anything, I haven’t paid attention.

  23. Claire, although that is mostly true, the Church does not usually lose people who go to University because those that go (in general) are not planning to serve. Those that do not go (until now at least) stayed at home and worked before serving. So although University is a factor I am not sure it works in quite the way you described.

  24. Left Field says:

    Ah–Mission President. I’d never heard of that rule, but it actually does make more sense than giving a general exception to the children of British MPs. In the context of the current discussion (granting exemptions to British missionaries), Member of Parliament is what came to mind, rather than military police. But it did seem like a very odd rule, aristocratic privilege or no. I didn’t even think of mission president.

  25. I don’t know anything about the schooling system, how is it different? (I’m only asking because it appears through the comments you all know what you’re talking about; and since I don’t know squat, I wouldn’t feel comfortable looking at Wiki until the basics are understood) Do students graduate from high school at 16-17 regularly? Is the university system different making it harder to return after a two year gap?

  26. Anyone who writes “graduate [school]” without including the word “from” in between should be barred from BCC for life. And should not be permitted to serve a mission anytime between 18 and 81.

  27. 37 years ago when I was a missionary in Mexico, I was present when President Kimball announced at a meeting there that, because of schooling/university rules in Mexico, that those from Mexico could serve at 18 and could serve anywhere from one year to two years. And after that we have a few younger shorter term missionaries in that mission. We also had some sister missionaries from Mexico who were younger than 21–I don’t recall any announcement about that. And I do not know what became of the policy President Kimball announced in 1974 there.

  28. Kendrick K says:

    I think this is an interesting policy change, I raised the question about whether the age for women’s eligibility would change and in the group I was in at least the verdict was no, the “priority” for women us to get married.

    I think it is a great idea in principle however there is a huge amount of maturing that happens in that year of work & preparation you entre elders quorum experience the blessing and responsibilities of the higher priesthood. I wonder what this will do to the edict of Raising the Bar?

  29. I’d love if they’d change the 19 y/o rule. When I graduated from high school, I still had 15 months until I turned 19. That was the longest 15 months of my life. I went to farewell after farewell, got in a full year of college, and two summers of work before I left. There were guys I graduated with who were over halfway done with their mission before I even entered the MTC. I would have loved to have been able to go a few months earlier.

    It’s all arbitrary, and I can see how the MTC itself probably has a need to stagger when elders come into their facility, but I would like to see one of these rule changes generally:

    1) Be able to go 3 months after you graduate high school
    2) Move it down to 18.5
    3) Be able to go once you’ve been 1 year out of high school
    4) Once you’re out of high school, you can go

    There would have to be provisions for the handful of Doogie Howsers in our church, but generally I don’t see the need to make guys wait around until fully 19. I’m not sure that waiting until 19 accomplished. I was still immature anyway. I started liking college life way too much. By the time I actually left on my mission, I was already excited for post-mission life. I had tasted the nectar, and it was good.

  30. All hail Ronan. Long live the King!

  31. Kendrick, although I agree that people do mature I suspect that most maturing is done in the mission field itself. Moreover, with high unemployment among this age group at the moment this is probably a good move.

    Alan, are you speaking about the US? In the UK, we finish compulsory education (i.e. high school) at 16 and that would certainly be too early to leave, IMO.

  32. My niece, who is now serving a mission, was able to go when she was 20. Prior to her mission, she went to the Air Force Academy for 2 years. If she had waited until she was 21, she would not have been able to go on a mission because of Academy rules.

    (My understanding is that, prior to third year of the Academy, a cadet has to make a commitment to the military, and can’t take 2 years off after making that commitment. Even now, she still has to reapply to get back in, but I believe that the readmission process is somewhat pro forma unless there were some problems during the first 2 years.)

  33. #31, Aaron R., yes, I’m speaking strictly of U.S. I agree 16 is a little green to be taking on the world. Then again, so is 19. I sort of think the “young and bright eyed” angle is half the point; just old enough to feed yourself, just young enough to be innocent and malleable.

  34. Great__now RMs can marry at 20 instead of 21.

  35. Jenny in NC says:

    I had a female friend in high school whose parents were called as mission presidents in Portugal right around the time of her graduation. She left immediately after graduation, at age 18, for missionary service. I’m not sure about the specifics. She received a mission call, but I think she might have lived with her parents.

  36. self-assigned missions are the way to go.. grab a map, find somewhere that could benefit from your unique gospel knowledge and perspective and go! no age requirements, no set duration, no pesky DL, ZL, AP types riding your case, and you only have to sit through long meetings on your terms. You will be unquestionably rewarded in heaven for your desire to serve and willingness to do so. win win!

  37. Aaron R #23, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the church mission office and see what kind of research they do about that. My husband, who is English, went at 18 (22 years ago) because he had a fall birthday and would have returned part way through the school year and would have had to wait ANOTHER year after he got back to start University. I have an assortment of brothers-in-laws and nephews that went at various times; worked a year, went, never ended up in university. Went to university, then served. Worked a year, served, came back and is in University (he had the strongest academic record). I’m guessing they had enough requests to alter the rule that they decided it was worth just permanently offering the option. Kids get in a lot of “trouble” that year after high school (‘college’ in UK) – they year they are 18 and adults (remember, drinking age is lower in most countries) and not at home as much.

  38. Claire, the number of requests might be a pretty strong reason. In fact, it might explain the slightly unusual sample of countries were this is being allowed (assuming of course that those countries have high request rates compared to others). Also, just to clarify, I am British; and to be honest if kids drink here they start doing so way before they are 18 – I am sure that is the same in the US as well. In fact, in my experience, and this is purely anecdotal, many of them have settled down a little by then.

  39. It seems a review of the age cap for elders be evaluated as well, especially for Japanese and Korean YM, whose schooling is not as easily postponed.

  40. My Taiwanese companion started service at 18 because otherwise he couldn’t get permission to leave Taiwan until after his compulsory military service. I had the impression it had “always been like that.”

    Also, I’ve always been under the understanding that Latin Americans could leave at 18 because missionaries serving around me, in my own mission, or that I’ve otherwise come in contact with from Mexico all left when they were 18.

    Although I can’t quite identify why, exactly, I’m a little surprised that this is treated as some new policy. Is it just now that UK missionaries officially *all* can do this without an exception (as was suggested above)?

  41. nice; keep up the good work.

  42. StillConfused says:

    #34 LOVE IT

    The women one is interesting.. not sure why they picked 21 for the women. My daughter graduated college at 19 and it was still two more years before she was eligible to go. Seems like they could make exceptions to their strict rules. (She ended up not going anyway because she was specifically told she was too attractive to be given a proselyting mission)

  43. #42 WHAT??????? I find that very disturbing.

  44. @43: Yes it happens. She would likely be assigned to give Temple tours.

  45. When I got my call to France my mom told me it was because I was so attractive. Unfortunately, “oo la la” did not prove to be an effective contacting approach with either men or women.

  46. When I served a mission I had a US roomate at the MTC who was 19. Because her Dad was an MP she was serving. She did not serve in the same mission as her parents, but was in the same general region.

  47. Oh, that was 14 years ago.

  48. #31..Call the men when they are 16. That way you get them when they still know everything and their mothers don’t cry when they leave.

  49. And the Salt Lake Tribune picks up the story the day after BCC breaks it:


  50. And naturally, PFS cited Ronan in the post.

  51. I think this is really interesting policy change. I think it reflects the churches current stanch on change in that it was not announced over the stand but filters slowly through leaders. I suspect that this is because it is not a reduction in the age a person can go on a mission, but rather that to go early does not require special permission. If it was announced over the stand it would result in misunderstanding in what it actually means by the membership.

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