In 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mentioned the common practice of hosting a missionary “farewell” on a Sunday prior to the departure of a full-time missionary. These often included talks and special musical numbers from members of the missionary’s family and concluded with an open house reception at the missionary’s home immediately after sacrament meeting.
Though these types of sacrament meeting farewells were once encouraged, they were minimizedin 2002 when President Hinckley said that the “departing missionary will be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. But parents and siblings will not be invited to do so.” He continued, “We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionary speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.”
However, that doesn’t mean families and friends can’t get together to send off the missionary they love. Here are a few unique ideas for celebrating your departing missionary without the Sunday open house.
1. Celebrate the mission call (and that’s all)
Many missionaries choose to invite family and friends to watch them open their mission calls. Because many of the missionary’s loved ones are present, why not combine this with the farewell celebration? Families can invite friends, neighbors and extended family members to be there for the mission call opening, have some food and share their love for the missionary. You might even consider inviting guests to bring a letter for the missionary that can then be compiled into a book of advice and encouragement.