SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Mormon church president Thomas S. Monson announced Saturday that the faith will lower its minimum age requirement for missionaries from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women.
Monson says the historic change is expected to significantly increase the missionary force of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - currently more than 55,000 worldwide.
The previous age requirements had been in effect for decades. Mormon men serve full-time, two-year missions, while women serve 18-month missions.
Monson stresses young people won't be required to serve at the earlier ages, but it's an option now available to them.
In another announcement at the faith's 182nd Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Monson said the church will build temples in Tucson, Ariz., and Arequipa, Peru.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.