For the first time in 16 years, the monthly payment to help cover living costs for full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is increasing, from the current $400 USD a month to $500 USD beginning next summer.
In a letter dated June 27, 2019, the First Presidency announced the increase — the first such monthly increase since 2003 (see full letter below). The increase demonstrates the Church's continued efforts — which started with a 1991 policy — to equalize individual, family, ward and branch donations to cover a missionary’s living costs.
“After careful consideration, missionaries and those who provide financial support will be asked to pay a monthly amount of $500 USD (or the local equivalent) beginning July 1, 2020,” stated the letter, signed by President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.
In addition to General Authorities and general officers, the letters went to Area Seventies; stake, mission and district presidents; bishops; and branch presidents in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“For missionaries from countries not listed above,” the letter read, “the monthly amount will remain the same as determined by each area.”
Thursday’s announcement allows individuals, families and local Church units a year to financially prepare for the start of the new monthly amount. And the increase will affect all missionaries serving as of the July 1, 2020, date.
“We hope that missionaries will use the time provided before this increase takes effect to carefully plan for meeting the expense of serving a mission,” said Daniel Woodruff, a Church spokesman. “They should counsel with their families, ward or branch members, or others who may choose to assist.”
In November 1990, the First Presidency — then President Ezra Taft Benson and his counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson — announced a new policy to equalize contributions required to maintain a missionary.
At the time, missionary costs ranged from as little as $100 per month to as much as $750 a month, depending on location. The cost differential placed a disproportionate financial burden on some families and wards.
The announced policy — which began Jan. 1, 1991 — set a monthly amount of $350 USD or $400 Canadian for a single missionary called from those two North American countries, regardless where the missionary was to serve. Missionaries serving from other countries worldwide were not affected by the change, already under existing financial programs locally.
The 1990 letter said the amount needed may be adjusted in the future as circumstances change and that the procedure did not apply to missionary couples.
The new policy in 1991 was to affect some 31,000 U.S. and Canadian missionaries, which comprised 70% of the 44,000 full-time missionaries serving in 256 missions worldwide at the time.
The Church today has more than 65,000 missionaries serving in 407 missions across the globe.
The June 27, 2019, letter concludes: “We love and are most grateful for the many young men and young women who answer the call to serve the Lord as full-time missionaries and express appreciation for those who support them. We know that many sacrifice greatly to help share our Heavenly Father’s love and the Savior’s restored gospel.”
Below is the First Presidency's Thursday, June 27, 2019, letter:
To: General Authorities and General Officers; Area Seventies and Stake, Mission, and District Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States
Monthly Payment Increase for Missionary Living Costs
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Since 2003, the monthly amount that a missionary, family, ward or branch pays to help cover a missionary's living costs has remained unchanged. This amount has been the equivalent of $400 USD.
After careful consideration, missionaries and those who provide financial support will be asked to pay a monthly contribution of $500 USD (or the local equivalent) beginning July 1, 2020. For missionaries from countries not listed above, the monthly amount will remain the same as determined by each area.
We love and are most grateful for the many young men and young women who answer the call to serve the Lord as full-time missionaries and express appreciation for those who support them. We know that many sacrifice greatly to help share our Heavenly Father's love and the Savior's restored gospel.