Signed, sealed, delivered? A contract designed to keep returning Mormon missionaries in the fold

The Salt Lake Tribune/August 11, 2016

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Some local Mormon leaders in Utah landed on a novel approach for keeping their young people — including those who have served two-year or 18-month full-time missions — committed to the faith: Get it in writing.

The Hillcrest LDS Stake, a group of congregations in American Fork, had their returning missionaries sign an actual "Goal Planning and Personal Performance Contract," complete with signatures from their parents and local lay leaders as well.

Among other things, the RMs agreed to:

• Enroll in an LDS Institute of Religion class.

• Attend weekly Sunday worship services and read Mormon scriptures.

• Continue to dress modestly and act like a missionary.

• Maintain a current LDS temple recommend — a permit that allows faithful Mormons to perform sacred rites in these edifices — and attend the temple regularly.

• Live with integrity and nurture spirituality.

• Associate with and date "only people who share a similar commitment to live the principles of the gospel."

Participants also outlined their career, education, marital and financial goals (including debt avoidance).

Thereafter, the signed document resided with the local leaders, with the hope being that if the RMs stayed true to the form, they would stay true to the faith.

The Hillcrest stake president declined to be interviewed, but a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed that the contract was legitimate.

"We, of course, want to see returning missionaries succeed and remain faithful. To that end, mission presidents, stake presidents, bishops and parents all provide counsel and direction," Eric Hawkins said in a statement. "In this case, a local stake had developed this form some time ago to meet those goals."

Apparently, however, new leaders there have set upon a new course.

"The current stake president has re-evaluated the form," Hawkins said, "and determined not to use it any longer."

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