SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has reported that missionary applications increased dramatically following the announcement that the age requirement for missionaries was being lowered.
In October the Church announced that the age for missionaries would be lowered to 18 years old with a high school diploma for men, and 19 for women.
Applications per week went from 700 to 4,000, with women comprising more than half of the applicants. Since October the number of men and women who have applied is about equal.
The Church operates 347 missions around the world, each with an average of 170 missionaries. To accommodate this new influx of missionaries, capacity for many missions will rise to 250 missionaries.
Adjustments have also been made at each of the Church’s 15 missionary training centers. Training time for same-language and foreign-language missionaries will be reduced by 30 percent. Those not learning a language will be at the training center for two weeks instead of three, and those learning a language will have two weeks cut from their training.
The impact of the missionary age announcement also has a significant impact on enrollment numbers at universities in Utah and elsewhere.
University administrators have taken steps to accommodate young men and women who choose to serve.
At the end of November the University of Utah announced a new enrollment deferment policy that allows students to defer the start of their schooling for up to seven semesters.
In October, Utah State University has appointed a task force that is considering strategies the university can implement to best adapt to those who choose to serve a mission.