Surge in missionaries causes Church to open new MTC in Mexico

Details here.

Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, both members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presided at a Tuesday night meeting during which the establishment of what will be the church’s second-largest MTC was announced. The meeting was held on the campus of the church’s privately owned high school, Benemerito de las Americas, which will be closed and its facilities used for the new MTC.

“Church leaders made the decision after considering every immediate alternative that could alleviate the demand at the church’s other missionary training centers around the world, including the MTC in Provo, Utah,” church spokesman Michael Purdy said Wednesday morning, adding that “the change will occur following the end of the current school year in June.”

An email from the Mexico Area Presidency indicated the new MTC will begin operation in July.

Elder Nelson referred to the recent reduction in age requirements for full-time LDS missionaries, which has inspired the recent surge of missionary applications. He said the success of 18-year-old missionaries called from Mexico since 1999 was a significant consideration in the decision to make the change worldwide.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

15 thoughts on “Surge in missionaries causes Church to open new MTC in Mexico

  1. So this would seem to be a direct result of the small but vocal (I assume) Provo MTC expansion quasi-opposition? Immigration (and related expenses) would be another major factor I suppose.

    That is to say, I’d assume if the church went a head and broke ground in and planned to double the size of the Provo MTC they wouldn’t be adding a new one so soon.

    In any case, I think it’s great for Mexico. The only people missing out are the lost opportunity of improvements to the local economy in Provo.

  2. I was in Mexico when the Benemerito primary school was formed. The High School came along later. The idea behind the school was wonderful as it allowed the children of Church members to attend a school when it had not been possible for them to do before. Many of the kids were from very poor families. The Mexican government reluctantly approved the school and were later very impressed with the quality of the education the children received there. What will happen now to the school?

  3. I am sad that the Benemerito is closing. In many ways, the Benemerito for many in Mexico was like BYU was for US Mormons–at least it was that way almost 40 years ago when I was a missionary in Mexico. A great portion of the US missionaries had attended BYU or Ricks before entering our mission, and roughly the same portion of the Mexican missionaries had attended the Benemerito, which also was a boarding school. It was a huge source of strength, at least for encouraging young people to serve missions–i.e., going to a place where going on a mission is the norm (as it is at the BYUs in the US). Frankly, I had hoped that perhaps one day the Benemerito would turn into a BYU-Mexico City. Of course, it has been almost 40 years. The role of the Benemerito may well have diminished. Certainly, its closing is in line with the recent closing of the Church College of New Zealand. And it portends the closing, eventually, of the remainder of the very few non-US Church educational institutions. Eventually, the BYUs and LDS Business College may become the only remaining Church owned institutions that combine secular and religious learning. At some point, I imagine, as the active church membership outside the US grows and strengthens, perhaps a decision will be made either to spin off the BYUs and LDS Business College (as the hospitals were a long time ago) as not part of the core mission of the Church. Or if it is determined the some level of Church sponsored secular/religious universities is part of the core mission, to open campuses elsewhere in the world. My two cents anyway.

  4. My fear is what are we going to do with all these missionaries when they go serve? People are becoming less and not more interested in religion. There is going to be a glutton of sellers among a handful of buyers so to speak.

  5. How many MTCs are there already in Mexico?
    Are there any state-side MTCs other than Provo?
    How many MTCs are there outside of the 50 states?

    DavidH, my guess would be that the church opens more BYUs overseas. If the church needs to cut back on expenditures at the BYU campuses, they could do that without spinning them off, and maintain control, by reducing subsidies, and a combination of increasing fund-raising (alumni giving, and maybe a line on the tithing slip), and/or increasing tuition, and/or using the PEF as a student loan source for more member-students.

    Interest free church loans to member-students for BYU tuition could still pay back financially for the church in the long run in the form of increased tithing, if going to a BYU increases member retention, and by the tithing on a larger salary if the student would not otherwise have gone to a university.

  6. Jettperson, my opinion is that eventually a number of new missions will open in places that haven’t had missionaries, like India. We could plop down another 50,000 missionaries in India, and still not have anywhere near the population-to-missionary ratio we have in the US.

    The “glut” of missionaries in the states will be temporary due to the surge of both 18 and 19 year old elders going out at the same time, then in two years it will even out, probably back to previous levels, since the same percentage of young men will serve missions. (Though I think there will be a slight increase of elders since _some_ who would otherwise have gone inactive beween 18th and 19th birthdays will now serve missions.)

    Same with sisters, as 19, 20, and 21 year olds are now all going out together. The surge in sisters will even out, but after the surge, it will still be a marked increase over previously, because the new age rule will allow a much larger percentage of sistes to now serve.

    In terms of logistics, you wouldn’t want to put the “surge” missionaries in brand new areas that haven’t seen missionaries before, because you would have to close those areas as soon as the surge is over. And the new members and new branches there would be left without missionary support.

    Therefore, as I understand it, established missions are getting a lot of “surge” missionaries, perhaps temporarily oversaturating an area until the surge is over.

    The Indianapolis Mission is one of those receiving a big surge of sisters. The numbers for the next few months have been announced. New missionary apartments, with furniture, beds, cars, bikes, pots and pans, etc, will need to be obtained quickly, and then disposed of in 18 months to two years as those surge missionaries go home together.

    Likely, the brethren don’t have enough data yet to estimate the number of elders and sisters who will be serving _after_ the surge levels out, and church members adapt to this paradigm shift in age. IE, what will be the new percentage of young men going? What will be the new percentage of young women going?

    But, the Brethren will have data for good estimates for longer term numbers in about a year to two years.

    At that point, I’m guessing they will re-assess whether they want to have missions with more missionaries, or whether, and where, to create more missions.

    BTW, India is open to missionary work. There are only two missions, and one stake there. There are hundreds of cities in India with no missionary presence at all. That is two missions for a country three times the population of the US!

    I’m guessing that there will be a net increase of women serving, more than the increase in elders, and that since over-seas missions are generally physically harder, a greater percentage of elders will be sent overseas; and that US based missions will end up having a greater percentage of sisters than they do now.

  7. Bookslinger, I wonder if India will be the next Africa. Not that I have any idea what the current success rate of baptisms and retention might be currently.

  8. If every alternative to closing Benemerito was considered, then I guess they mulled over expanding the Provo MTC by shutting down some portion of BYU.

  9. Interesting how the Mormon blog world turns a positive story (many more missionaries) into a negative story. Our default position should be that the Church leaders generally know what they are doing and that they have carefully considered all of the alternatives. In the Mormon blog world, the default position seems to be the opposite, which is really quite sad indeed.

  10. Hi folks

    I have just finished reading a fascinating book “The Rise of the Mormons: Latter-day Saint Growth in the 21st Century”, by Mark-Koltko-Rivera. It discusses:

    - how the Mormons grew from a tiny group in 1830s New York to being the fourth-largest church in America as of 2012

    - why Mormon growth slowed after 1990–and why it will soon explode, both in the United States and throughout the world

    -why Mormon beliefs resonate with society’s hopes, fears, aspirations–even obsessions–in ways that can make the LDS faith especially attractive to many people in today’s world

    For those of you who may be interested, see: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/061571031X/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00

    I thought it was sort of “on-topic” and worth sharing.

    Keep well

  11. SilverRain, do you mean the mission you live in now, or the mission in which you served as a fulltime missionary? just curious, which mission is/was it? I don’t think jettboy or any other commenters on the thread were being pessimistic. I took JB’s comment as a question on how the additional missionaries would be allocated, and I speculated on it, based on how I perceive the logistics.

    I think its important to realize and discuss that this temporary surge is not a permanent increase of the same magnitude, because I hope people are not shocked when the numbers shrink when the surge is over. It’s a numbers/logistics matter, also dealing a bit with “queue theory”.

    Yes, there will be some sort of permanent increase, due to a significantly greater percentage of sisters who will now serve missions. But this current surge is indeed temporary, because of multiple cohorts going out together, meaning that for a while we have 18 and 19 year old elders going out together, and 19/20/21 year old sisters going out together. And after they come back together, they will be replaced, generally speaking, mainly with 18 year old elders and 19 year old sisters.

    So… around June/July 2014, the missionary force will contract somewhat due to three “cohorts” of sisters going home, but only one “cohort” replacing them. Then, another contraction will be seen in Dec 2014/Jan 2015, when two cohorts of elders go home, and one cohort replaces them. (I see the number relationships in my mind, but I don’t know if I’m explaining it well enough for others who are not math geeks like I am.)

    Whatever the challenges this sharp increase or surge has created, they are good ones!

    As far as this new MTC going into the Benemerito campus, one might logically infer that a significant portion of the “surge” missionaries (and possibly a portion of whatever permanent increase comes after the temporary surge) are going to go to missions in Mexico and points further South.

  12. To answer Jettboy’s question about where will we put everyone, it made me think of my own mission in Bugaria. When I served there were too many missionaries for the areas opened and members. I think it was a ridiculous ration of 3 missionaries to one member. Everyone was crammed into Sofia, and companionships were allocated, litteraly a few apartment blocks as their area. It was hard, because in a country where we mostly trackted, you tracked out your area really quickly. It forced you and your companion to be creative with how you workd, it required A LOT of faith to find people and to challenge the members, but it worked. And it will work for this new surge of missionaries as well. There will be growing pains, but that’s what missionary service is about — growing in the gospel, sharing the gospel and making the most of missonary service, sometimes that’s hard, but the Lord requries us to work hard and he will provide the way.. I have hoped since the age change that this influx of new missionaries will help with reactivation efforts at the least. When I was a missionary, I always felt that was more important than finding new people to teach, at least for me.

  13. I meant the mission I served in. It was one of the German missions that no longer exists the way it was. By pessimistic, I was referring to Jettboy’s fear that people are becoming less interested in religion.

    I think people are becoming less interested in being sold to, but not to religion.

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