Release dates & early releases

Release dates — which allow for the 24-month period of service for elders and 18 months for sisters — are predetermined by the Missionary Department. Release dates are not set by the mission president, nor are they determined by the missionary himself or herself.

The release date is not an exact 24- or 18-month anniversary from when the missionary entered the Missionary Training Center. But it is generally within a couple of days — or a week or two — of that starting date. And the release date coincides with the arrival of replacement missionaries from the Missionary Training Center.

The Mission President's Handbook states: Early releases or extensions should be rare exceptions.

The Three-Fold Factors of Early Releases of a Missionary

  • How the release affects the family
  • How the release affects the missionary
  • How the release affects the mission

The Family

Parents are anxious to have the missionary home and quickly resume education or work or participate in planned family vacations, reunions or other events. Please be cautious these plans don't encroach on the missionary's tenure of service as well as the "return and report" experiences - the release by the stake president, reporting to the stake high council and speaking in sacrament meeting.

Primary consideration currently given for an early release in the Arizona Phoenix Mission is to begin/resume one's college education. It shouldn't be more than a week or two before the scheduled release date, with the missionary returning home for just a couple of days before the start of classes. Depending on home/college locations and required travel, there may not be time for a report to the high council or in a sacrament meeting, which could be scheduled later during a break or vacation.

The Missionary

The missionary is anxious to complete a full-term mission. The missionary thrives on the "exit experiences" at the mission's end with his or her own group that were together in the Missionary Training Center and arrived together here in the Arizona Phoenix Mission.

They enjoy the closure and conclusion together — the exit interviews, the departure dinner and spiritual meeting with the mission presidency, the family time with the Griffins, the last night together at the mission home before going to the airport the next morning, saying a final farewell before departing for different destinations. This is a very powerful, multi-day exit experience, and it's something we really can't replicate for one or a few missionaries leaving early to return for college classes.

The Mission

The impact of a missionary's early release on the mission often isn't understood. A missionary leaving before the scheduled transfer date means a companion is left alone in the proselyting area. That in turn means temporary companionships must be formed - often in the more-awkward trios — with areas either combined or left vacant until adjustments and replacements come at the regular transfer time.

Early departing missionaries miss out on the aforementioned exit experiences of their returning group. Meeting the mission and overseeing over 160 missionaries while trying also to maintain our family residence means we can't turn the mission home into a makeshift hotel, constantly welcoming, meeting, feeding, housing and shuttle small groups of arriving and departing missionaries on much more than the regularly scheduled basis.

Scheduled release dates through 2017

31 January 2017
14 March 2017
30 May 2017
11 July 2017
22 August 2017
3 October 2017
14 November 2017
26 December 2017

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