Gender and missionary work

Authored by: David Golding

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351181600-16

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Abstract

Missionary work remains a major feature of the Latter-day Saint experience and particularly affects the transition from adolescence to adulthood as young people dedicate months and years to proselytizing their faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fashioned an intricate program for assigning, training, dispatching, and supporting missionaries who by 2018 numbered more than 67,000, or around 15 percent of the worldwide Christian missionary force. In executing mission, Latter-day Saint administrators and missionaries followed and negotiated different conventions of behavior for women and men. As women joined in official missionary capacities throughout the twentieth century, the mission field frequently nurtured roles and agency of “elders” and “sisters” that evolved on perceptions of prior effectiveness. History informs the mentality and pragmatism of this missionary work and provides the immediate contexts in which processes of masculinization and feminization have been inculcated in missionary service. This chapter reviews this history with special attention to gender.

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