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Elder and Sister Vinson Called as Area Service Mission Specialists for the Pacific Area

The new calling helps integrate all young service missionaries into into teaching missions

Elder Terence M. Vinson, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Kay Vinson, have been called to serve as area serve mission specialists in the Pacific Area.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Church News

A Latter-day Saint couple from Sydney, Australia, recently accepted a call to serve as area service mission specialists in the Pacific Area — an important step in helping to integrate all young service missionaries into teaching missions.

And Latter-day Saints will likely recognize their names: Elder Terence M. Vinson and Sister Kay Vinson.

An emeritus General Authority Seventy, Elder Vinson served in West Africa, the United States and the Pacific in leadership assignments for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was the first general authority from the Pacific to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy. He was given emeritus status on August 1, 2021.

"We are looking forward to promoting this very important work,” Sister Vinson told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom about their new call.

Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy sits on the stand with his wife, Sister Kay Vinson, prior him speaking at a BYU campus devotional in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on February 11, 2020. Photo by Alyssa Lyman, BYU, courtesy of Church News.© All rights reserved.

What Are Area Service Mission Specialists?

The Church announced last September that — beginning in January 2024 — service missionaries would be integrated into the traditional mission structure.

Worthy young men ages 18-25 may serve a service mission for six to 24 months, and young women ages 19-29 may serve a service mission for six to 18 months, as close to full time as their capability and circumstances allow. These missionaries live at home and serve locally, and each young man or young woman is provided a customized mission experience tailored to his or her talents, skills and gifts.

A service mission leader couple provide day-to-day supervision to each young service missionary, and they also serve as a link between the mission president, stake presidents, service missionaries, parents and charitable partners.

Elder Vinson explained to the Church’s Pacific Newsroom that as area service mission specialists, he and his wife will be supporting all service mission leaders throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the island nations and territories of the South Pacific.

“Our responsibility is to train, mentor and provide support to all service mission leaders in the Pacific Area,” Elder Vinson said. They will counsel regularly with the area presidency and the Missionary Department at Church Headquarters to ensure that each service mission leader “has a joyful, productive and meaningful experience in their role.”

In the past, some in the Church might have viewed a service mission as somehow less valuable than a teaching mission. “They are wrong,” Elder Vinson said. “A mission is a mission is a mission. … All missions are an acknowledgement to the Savior of our commitment to Him.”

A mission has two purposes, he continued, “to provide each missionary with experiences with the Spirit, and to help others to come closer to Christ. Those who are called to teaching missions and those called to service missions grow equally and bless lives similarly. The Lord has opened this vision to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in recent years and His wisdom in this aspect of the work has become apparent to us all.”

Emeritus Does Not Mean Retired

During his last general conference address in October 2019, Elder Vinson encouraged Latter-day Saints to be “fair dinkum” — or fully committed — to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the years, Elder and Sister Vinson have demonstrated fair dinkum by serving in a variety of callings. Besides his time as a general authority, Elder Vinson has served as a bishop twice, counselor in a stake presidency, regional representative, counselor in a mission presidency, temple ordinance worker, temple sealer, Area Seventy and early-morning seminary teacher.

Sister Vinson has served in ward and stake Primary, Young Women and Relief Society as well as Sunday School and early morning seminary — as a teacher and in presidencies. She graduated with a teaching degree and said she has always enjoyed the opportunity to teach in the Church.

One of her favorite experiences, however, was serving alongside her husband in the Africa West Area. “All previous callings provided me with the skills and experiences to be called on with little notice, to speak to congregations. They were great testimony building opportunities,” she said.

Elder Terence M. Vinson and Sister Kay Vinson greet young single adults alongside Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a devotional in West Africa in May 2019.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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In 2021 at age 70, Elder Vinson was released as a general authority. At a time when many couples would be focusing on improving their golf swings or traveling to see their growing family, the two instead have continued to serve, including the past year as service mission leaders in Australia.

Now with their new call as area specialists, the two will be dedicating their time to growing the service missionary effort in the Pacific and overseeing other service mission leaders.

Of this new opportunity, Sister Vinson said, “We have loved being service missionary leaders for the young service missionaries in New South Wales. These fine young people are giving great service in many ways. We’ve seen wonderful individual growth in testimony, skills and courage. We hope to see the program expand throughout the Pacific Area.”

Sister Vinson said she feels both sad and excited about this new assignment. “Sad because we will be handing our wonderful young service missionaries over to whomever is called to take our place. These past 12 months we have come to know and love them as we have seen them serve and grow in confidence. We will miss them.”

At the same time, they are also looking forward to this important work, she said. “We hope to see a gradual and significant increase in the number of service missionaries in the Pacific Area, who are serving as the Savior did with heart and hands.”

Elder Vinson added, “We have been blessed ourselves to personally witness the growth and strength that service missionaries receive through their missions. And we are seeing a continuing increase in the numbers of missionaries, both teaching and service. The Lord’s hand is clearly in this work.”

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