“We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.” (A of F 1:5.)
There is no better demonstration of the above Article of Faith than when the Lord calls a young man or woman in the Church to a full-time mission.
For the past five years I have had the opportunity of sitting in the weekly meeting where missionaries are recommended, subject to the final approval of the president of the Church. There are instances, too numerous to mention, that clearly demonstrate that these young prospective missionaries are called of God by inspiration.
Before a calling is extended to a young man or woman, he or she must be recommended by the local priesthood leaders. The earliest this can happen is generally at the age of nineteen for a boy and twenty-one for a girl.
The process is as follows:
The bishop calls the prospective missionary in for an interview. This normally would be a continuation of the interviews the bishop has held regularly with this person over the years. This is a searching interview to determine the desire of the young man or woman for missionary service and also to determine moral worthiness as well as any other matters that might have a bearing on whether the individual should be recommended for missionary service. If the bishop feels that everything is in order, he will fill out a Missionary Recommendation form. This is a confidential form that is signed by the prospective missionary. On the back of this form the bishop gives his confidential appraisal of this young man or woman.
The prospective missionary is then given a Missionary Medical form, part of which he fills out while the remainder is filled out by his family physician after a medical examination. Good physical and emotional health is an important prerequisite to a successful mission.
The doctor then sends his confidential information to the bishop who evaluates the medical report and sends it along with the Missionary Recommendation to the stake president.
The stake president reviews the information and then invites the prospective missionary to a private interview. If all is well, he adds his confidential recommendation and sends the information to the Church Missionary Department.
The Missionary Recommendation is reviewed for completeness by the Missionary Department and is then placed with from one hundred to three hundred other recommendations to be considered at the weekly Missionary Committee meeting each Tuesday morning. The Missionary Committee of the Church is the Quorum of the Twelve. Of this number, four have been called as the Missionary Executive Committee. They are President Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie. The First Council of the Seventy, under the direction of the Missionary Executive Committee, administers the Church’s missionary program.
Those in attendance at the Tuesday morning Missionary Committee meeting are the four members of the Twelve mentioned above and two members of the First Council of the Seventy. In this meeting each missionary recommendation is prayerfully considered, with President Kimball usually making the specific recommendation as to where each missionary might go. The meeting lasts as long as it takes to give each missionary recommendation personal consideration.
The recommendations are then sent to the President of the Church for whatever action he wishes to take. When president Harold B. Lee makes the final determination, he sends out a letter of call over his signature to the missionary.
Among other things this sacred letter calls the missionary to his particular mission and tells him when to report to the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City. Missionaries living in foreign lands may be asked to report directly to their missions because of the time and expense involved in coming to Salt Lake City. These missionaries will receive their missionary training and orientation in the mission field directly from their respective mission presidents.
In addition other materials are sent to the missionary to help him in his preparation. For instance, if he is being called to a foreign country, he will receive information on what immunization shots to obtain and how to apply for a passport.
Enclosed with the call is an acceptance form. On this form, the missionary, in his own words, accepts his call. The acceptance is countersigned by his bishop and returned to the Church.
Usually a missionary will be asked to report to the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City some six weeks to two months from the time he receives his call. This allows time for all necessary preparation.
A few days prior to the time the missionary enters the Missionary Home the stake president calls the prospective missionary and his family in and, acting under the authorization of the president of the Church, sets the missionary apart to serve in the mission to which he has been called and gives him a blessing pertaining to that service.
Immediately before leaving for the Missionary Home the missionary should again be interviewed by the stake president to make sure all is in order.
The Missionary Home is a five-day experience of inspiration and training. Afterwards those going to English-speaking missions are sent directly to their missions, while those going on non-English-speaking missions are sent to one of the three language training missions for eight weeks of special training before going to their mission fields.
The mission begins for a missionary called to an English-speaking mission when he arrives in his respective mission field. For those called to non-English missions, their missions begin upon arrival at the language training missions.
The calling of a missionary in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is carefully designed to allow for the inspiration of the Lord and to provide the help and assistance necessary so each missionary can succeed in his calling.
Each missionary, then, is “called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority. …” (A of F 1:5.)
“… whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)