PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The waiting list to take a missionary preparation class at Brigham Young University in Provo is about 2,000 students long and most of the students on this list are women.
This is a stark contrast to missionary preparation classes at BYU before President Thomas S. Monson lowered the age of missionary service from 19 to 18-years-old for men and from 21 to 19-years-old for women.
Missionary preparation enrollment jumped from about 700 students during the 2012 fall semester to about 2,000 students with another 2,000 in the waiting line for a class.
“We were totally and completely caught off guard by this. I think it is incredible, but for three or four months I was scrambling to find teachers and classrooms,” said Department Chair for Church History and Doctrine Department, Brent Top.
The influx is primarily due to Monson lowering the missionary age of service for women from 21 to 19-years-old. Women who would have otherwise married by the age of 21 are now able to serve.
Ninety-percent of BYU’s missionary preparation students were men, now 70 to 80 percent are women.
“The announcement was made one month before I turned 19 so it’s super exciting in my life. I’d never thought about a mission before,” said Kendall Whittaker.
The students taking the missionary preparation classes will be some of the first men and women to serve in the Church’s growing mission field.
On Friday Church leaders announced 58 new missions bringing the total number of mission’s 405.