Church announces early releases for missionaries: American and Canadian elders returning from overseas will go home at 18 months, sisters at 15 months
SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saint leaders will give early releases to thousands of Americans and Canadians serving as missionaries around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A matrix detailing the changes was released Monday afternoon by the Utah Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a letter to Utah stake presidents. It showed that:
• All elders serving in the U.S. and Canada who have served 21 months or more will be released. Men serve for 24 months under normal circumstances.
• All American and Canadian elders returning from serving in other countries due to the pandemic will be released if they have served 18 months.
• All American and Canadian sisters returning from serving in other countries because of the pandemic will be released if they have served 15 months. Women are called to serve for 18 months.
In other news on Monday, a church statement said that all nonnative missionaries serving in Mexico, India and Vietnam would return to their native counties. The church operates 32 missions in Mexico, two in India and one in Vietnam.
The reductions in missionary service time were not a surprise. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced some mission lengths would be reduced in a letter Friday that said “substantial numbers” of missionaries would return to their home countries.
Monday’s additional information revealed that American and Canadian elders and sisters returning from overseas with more time left in their missions will continue to serve after they complete 14 days of isolation. They will be temporarily reassigned to missions in their home countries.
Some missionaries are returning home for health reasons. They will be released from the serving the rest of the time left in mission calls.
The letter included information about what will happen with other missionaries around the world.
It said Africans serving missions in foreign nations are returning to their native countries and will report directly to a mission there for reassignment.
Missionaries from all other countries who are returning to their native land because of the COVID-19 outbreak will remain missionaries, temporarily reassigned after a 14-day self-isolation.
Some missionaries are unable to return now due to travel restrictions or other reasons. For example, missionaries from Samoa cannot return because the country has issued strict restrictions. Those missionaries will remain in their original mission or be reassigned temporarily, as necessary.
All other missionaries, specifically those who have not been assigned to go home because of the pandemic, will complete their missions as scheduled.
Monday’s news about Mexico, India and Vietnam means the church has confirmed that all nonnative missionaries are returning to their home countries from at least 89 of the faith’s 399 missions around the world. The list of missions includes 32 missions in Mexico, 26 in Africa, 23 in the Philippines, four in South Korea, two in India and the Vietnam and Mongolia.