Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mission Organization and Interviews

A Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is a geographical administrative area to which church missionaries are assigned.  Almost all areas of the world are within the boundaries of an LDS Church mission, whether or not Mormon missionaries live or proselyte in the area.  In 2010, the LDS Church had 340 missions worldwide (see allso www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_(LDS_Church).


All Missionaries serve in a mission under the direction of a Mission President, who, like individual missionaries, is assigned by the President of the Church.  The Mission President's wife is asked to serve alongside him.  President Manuel Madrigal is the Mission President over the Panama Panama City Mission, and his wife Esperanza serves alongside him.  Mission Presidents are typically in their forties or oder, and usually have the financial means to devote and sustain themselves full-time for three consecutive years.  The Mission President has at least two counselors, who are Latter-day Saints usually from the local area, who keep their regular employment, but serve actively in the mission.  The role of counselors varies by mission, but they typically serve as liaisons betweent the mission and the local membership of the church.


Missions are organized in two parallel structures.  The first is the organizaiton of the missionaries.  There are two or more missionaries who serve as the Assistants to the President (APs), and are separate from the Counselors to the Mission President.  The APs carry out the direction of the Mission President in the organization of the mission, the assigning of companionships and proselyting areas, and oversee the welfare and training of the missionaries. 

The missionaries are divided into zones, each led by one or two missionaries assigned as Zone Leaders (ZL).  The number of missionaries assigned to a zone varies in size, usually depending on the size of the LDS population or amount of missionary activity in the area.  Each zone is further divided into Districts, which are led by a single missionary who serves as the District Leader (DL).  Zone Leaders and District Leaders train the missionaries within their respective areas, see after their welfare, conduct interviews, proselyte togtether, and share successes.  As an example, a Zone may have 12 missionaries assigned and may be divided into 3 Districts of 4 missionaries per district.


Periodically, missionaries are interviewed by their District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Mission Presidents.  Interview requirements may vary by mission, but are typically conducted quarterly at the District Leader level; semi-annually at the Zone Leader level; and annually at the Mission President level, or as often as the leadership deems is necessary.  The purpose of the interviews are dual purpose in that it gives DLs, ZLs, and the Mission President an opportunity to verify the morale and welfare of each missionary, while allowing each missionary to speak candidly, discuss personal issues or concerns, and seek personal guidance as needed.

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