Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Why a Mission Is Good for Women”: The View from 1915

“Why a Mission Is Good for Women”: The View from 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 29, 2013

Why a Mission Is Good for Women

“I believe the missionary movement among the women will be of untold value, causing the young women to realize the position which they hold in this the living Church of Jesus Christ, in the dispensation of the fulness of times. Missionary experiences will make our women of tomorrow better fitted for the duties that devolve upon them, by becoming spiritual aids to their husbands and giving an incentive to their children to understand the glorious gospel and live in sympathy with the great work of the future toward the preparation of this continent for the coming of our Lord and Master.

“Why should not our magazines which represent the women do something to encourage our women in the mission field and show the work that is being accomplished by women missionaries? It is clear to me that they should have a missionary section in their magazines.”

– Sister Edna Crowther, serving in the East Pennsylvania Conference, Eastern States Mission

(A round of applause, please, for Edna’s use of the term “women missionaries” rather than “lady missionaries.”)



  1. Very nice. What was the context of this quote?

    Comment by HokieKate — January 29, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  2. It was published as is — just this statement under the headline shown here, in one of the Church magazines. I don’t know what prompted her to write it, but the editor’s intent in publishing it was undoubtedly to solicit material from current missionaries.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 29, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  3. Love it!

    Comment by britt — January 29, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  4. “Why should not our magazines which represent the women do something to encourage our women in the mission field . . .? It is clear to me that they should have a missionary section in their magazines”

    Hmm. In the year 1915, evidently a Church member could make a suggestion to improve one of the programs/products of the Church without other Church members accusing her of not following the Prophet. In the year 2013, eh, not so much.

    Comment by David Y. — January 29, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  5. I received a lot of encouragement to serve a mission. I was shocked at how few women I met at BYU had received any encouragement to do so; in fact, many of them had been discouraged from it.

    We are wasting 51% of our resources if girls don’t receive equal encouragement. Obviously the age change is tacit encouragement from HQ. Yet the YW manuals are not nearly as “leadership” and “action” focused as are the boys’ manuals. I also believe very strongly that when we continually lower expectations for women, some women will simply take the easy way out and remain childish and dependent rather than growing, progressing, and developing spiritual strength of their own.

    Comment by hawkgrrrl — January 29, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  6. I have a grand-niece who just left on her mission, at age 21, just as her older sister had done. Since the change in age, three of her nineteen-year-old female cousins are in the process of turning their papers in for their missions. This is an exciting time in our family.

    Comment by Maurine — January 29, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

  7. I vaguely know a YW who, until recently, has been completely inactive. I know one of her YW leaders, and have a friend who is good friends with her step mom. The Monday after the announcement at conference, she called her YW leader to see if the change was for real. The YW leaders said it was. This YW then said, “well I guess I better come back to church now since it is only a little over a year until I will be 19. I never really thought I could wait until I was 21 to be a missionary, but 19 I can do.”

    I ran into that same girl when I was waiting to get my blood drawn, about a month later. I don’t know her well, but she approached me and asked me if I was Sister H’s daughter who had the poetry blog. I responded that I was. She then told me that she could start taking the sacrament that next Sunday (I did not ask her why she hasn’t been) and that several blog posts, including one inspired by a Keepa post, were printed out and in her “Mission Prep” binder. She pulled it out of her backpack and showed me conference talks, blog posts and a photoshopped picture of her face on a sister missionary.

    As we talked a little more, I asked her if the age change was really that important to her. She kind of looked at me for a minute to see if I was joking, then she said in an almost whisper, “I knew I would never be able to make it to 21 without having sex. Conference weekend I almost gave in to my boyfriend and had sex with him, but I had a prompting that I could wait one more week. I prayed for the first time in a long time when I got home, and then I slept most of Sunday. When I got to school on Monday one of the girls from (a different ward) was talking about the change in age, and I thought it was a joke. Once I realized it wasn’t, I remembered the promoting to wait a week. I was so glad I did. Now I have six months after I graduate to earn the money to go on my mission. I figure I can pay for almost all of it that way, if my grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents just pay into my mission account instead of giving me presents for my birthday or graduation.”

    I was called to go back for my test. She gave me a quick hug, and I didn’t see her after I was done. I remember her vaguely as a primary child who could never sit still in sharing time. I once had to kick her and a boy out of a stake dance I was chaperoning because they were both 12, and making out in a hallway that was off limits. My interactions before that day in the hospital waiting room would not have put her in the category of kids I would be supporting going on a mission.

    A month ago, I unexpectedly was paid for an article I wrote under a pseudonym. I always get cashier’s checks made out to cash when I sell something that way. I thought the way I sent it to her would leave her with no way of knowing it was me who sent it. I am just honored that I can help. I heard through the grapevine that she got several hundred dollars in the mail from someone who didn’t sign their name, but that each of her grandparents had agreed to match the donation. The note I enclosed simply said; “I never thought I was good enough to go on a mission. I wish someone had told me I was. This is me, telling you that you will be a fantastic missionary! You will be serving for both of us, and everyone else who was a weekend away from never going.”

    If she thinks about it hard she may figure out it is me, or maybe she has already figured it out. Either way, I want her and every YW to know that what the church seems to have know in 1915 is still true. We need sister missionaries, and we need girls to be able to imagine themselves (with or without photoshop) as missionaries.

    Comment by Anonymous today — February 2, 2013 @ 4:19 am

  8. I see so many good things that are coming from the age change.

    Comment by Julia — February 2, 2013 @ 4:24 am

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