Mormons' approach to missions markedly different from SBC's
5/26/1998RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Both Mormons and Southern Baptists consider
all missionaries full-time. IMB journeymen and most International
Service Corps workers as well as most Mormon missionaries serve
for two years. Two-year Mormon missionaries and journeymen, and
many ISC workers are single. Single women comprise about 20
percent of the Mormon missionary force. Three middle-aged married
Mormon missionary couples supervise each Mormon "mission" in the
region, and other couples supervise various zones. Consequently,
the number of married Mormon missionaries in the area totals
about the same as the IMB's married career and associate
missionaries in the region.
One major difference between the two missionary forces
is the use of nationals as missionaries. National Baptist
conventions in the region have begun appointing home and foreign
missionaries, but the trend is in its infancy. The IMB does not
count nationals as part of its missionary force.
Mormons integrate U.S. and national missionaries into
one unit and weave their strategy around that. William Bradford,
Mormon area president for Central America, estimates that 40
percent of the Mormon missionaries come from the region itself
and 60 percent come from outside of it, mostly the United States.
This means approximately 3,180 of the 5,300 Mormon missionaries
in Middle America come from the United States, roughly ten times
the number of IMB missionaries who work there.
Mormons also have a rule that even if a region is able
to supply all the missionaries it needs (this is occurring
currently only in Brazil and the Philippines), it must fill 25
percent of its requests with U.S. Mormons and send its own
surplus to other regions.
How Mormons support missionaries also differs markedly
from Southern Baptists. Mormon missionaries are expected to pay
for their own expenses or to raise money from others to cover the
costs. Each individual is expected to raise $375 per month to
cover his or her costs, according to John Peterson, a Mormon
missionary in Mexico. Those funds go into a church fund, from
which all the expenses for missionaries are paid. The missionary
may solicit funds from his or her family and local Mormon
congregation to pay the $375 monthly fee, Peterson says. The
$375 is an average worldwide cost. The contribution allows
missionaries to serve wherever the church requires.
Southern Baptists, on the other hand, pay costs for all
international missionaries through the Cooperative Program and
the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
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