News Release

Missionary Work In A Changing World

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well-known for its missionaries, well-dressed and cheerful young men and women, serving the community, often in lands far distant from home.

One of these missionaries is Elder Thomas Holton, born in Dublin, Ireland in 2001, and brought up in County Westmeath. However, because of Covid-19, his story is somewhat different than the previous pattern. Like countless others before him, Thomas had an ambition from his early years to serve a mission. He prepared diligently and faithfully. He was baptised by his father, also Thomas, at age eight and ordained an elder by him in spring of 2019. Not long after, he made his application, endorsed by his local leaders, to the World President of the Church to be considered for full-time missionary service.


So it was that in October he received a response. He was invited to serve in the far-off country of Zimbabwe, starting in March 2020 before which he would spend a few weeks in a Missionary Training Centre. He looked forward to this challenging opportunity with great excitement but the global pandemic meant that things did not pan out as anticipated. For a start, Elder Holton was one of a dozen other young people to attend the first ever virtual “Missionary Training Centre” in the world. In his own words, “this was a great occasion”.

Then when it became apparent that travelling to Zimbabwe was not going to be possible in either the short or medium term, he was initially assigned to the Manchester area. He was excited about this because both of his parents had served their missions in the UK. But that ended up being short-lived.  The answer to this predicament came from an initiative, recently announced by the First Presidency of the Church. This focused on providing volunteer opportunities for young people who are unable, for whatever reason, to serve in what might be termed the “traditional way”. Called “Service Missions”, these allow young women and young men to continue to live at home, and to live a “consecrated life” working in the Church and local community.

According to Elder Dale G Renlund, a member of the Church’s Council of the Twelve Apostles: “Service missions are acceptable offerings to the Lord when a proselyting mission is not possible. … All missionaries represent the Lord and are His agents in the work of salvation. They go about doing good, just like the Saviour did.”

Elder Holton has demonstrated both courage and faith. He has been a pathfinder, ushering in this new generation as the first male service missionary in the whole of Ireland and throughout these islands. He will have a transformative experience as he serves as the Saviour did. He acknowledges the support, example and love of his family and local leaders including Mark Coffey, President of the Church’s Dublin Stake (diocese).

“The range of service prospects is remarkable, and I feel that this is a great opportunity to serve the Lord, help in the Church, cooperate with the community, and develop skills. Above all, serving a mission, of any kind, is a joy, because I get to be ‘on the Lord's errand’. Among other things, I am teaching an online scripture class for teenagers, helping with financial auditing within the Stake and volunteering where I can within the community. We are also implementing what we term the ‘JustServe’ programme’ locally and I’m heavily involved with that. And when the temples of the Church reopen fully after Covid-19, I intend to be working there regularly.”

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