On February 22nd, the LDS Church announced that 58 new missions have been organized to accommodate the newbies. In most cases, a Church presence already exists in the specified areas, so what the Church has done is to create the additional missions so the areas can be covered more closely and efficiently, and that mission presidents will have compact areas to supervise more effectively. The Church acknowledges that most of the new missions are being created by dividing existing missions, and that no new countries or territories are opening to missionary work. But the increased missionary coverage is expected to lead to an increase in the number of people contacted by missionaries, with a corresponding increase in conversions. These creations will bring the total number of Church missions to 405.
“The enthusiastic response to the change in missionary age requirements has given thousands of young people more options to serve and they have responded with incredible faith,” said Elder Russell M. Nelson, Chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. Now the next challenge will be to find 58 additional couples to serve in the new mission presidencies.
Some are wondering if this is "a sign of the times". As Latter-day Saints, we believe that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ must be carried to all nations before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ can take place. Simply transmitting the Gospel via the airwaves and the Internet is insufficient; the Gospel must be physically carried unto every nation, kindred and tongue the way the Savior Himself did it. This reorganization does not carry the Gospel to denied areas like China, North Korea, and the Islamic Middle East, but it does ensure that more people in existing areas will get an offer of salvation from the missionaries. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will happen soon, but it is not immediately imminent.
Reaction: Some insightful comments appended to the various media stories (after the jump):
JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT 2:00 p.m. Feb. 22, 2013 (Deseret News):
How many of these new missions actually opened up new areas for missionary work vs just split a single mission into two, or two into three?
If I were a missionary now, I would not necessarily like this announcement if it is just splitting missions. It just means that each mission is squeezed into a smaller geographical area and therefore giving less opportunities to work in a variety of places. If I were called to Germany, I would want it to cover the whole country instead of spending my whole mission in just the city of Berlin.
Brigham's Brother Cottonwood Heights, UT 2:05 p.m. Feb. 22, 2013 (Deseret News):
I had heard visa limitations limited the amount of new missionaries we could send abroad. That certainly doesn't appear to be the case with the creation of so many foreign missions.
Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA 2:19 p.m. Feb. 22, 2013 (Deseret News):
Don't forget that many of these missions will be manned by missionaries from countries other than the U.S., so any visa issues unique to the U.S. aren't a factor.
When I was a missionary way back when, American missionaries were not allowed into Colombia for political reasons. The Colombian missions were staffed entirely with missionaries from other Latin American countries.
teeth posted 26 minutes ago (KSL Channel 5):
...I cant speak first hand for any other part of the world but having served as a zone leader in posadas for 8 months I can honestly say they could have 4 or 5 missions alone just in the posadas region. We would travel for miles 20 and 30 miles just to get to some of the edges of our area(not zone). And these were densely populated areas. To me this is long overdue!!! Just needed the man-power, now it looks as though we've got it!
TrythisName posted 1 hour ago (KSL Channel 5):
The number of missions is largely determined by how many missionaries can be properly supervised by a mission president and his counselors. If the number of missionaries contracts over the next few years, missions can simply be recombined....or mission presidents' callings get a little easier as they have fewer missionaries.