Why All Mormon Missionaries are Named “Elder”


For those who are unfamiliar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon church), it can seen strange when they meet the missionaries and find that all of them are named “Elder.”

The word “Elder” in the Mormon church is given to one who holds the Priesthood office of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood.  To show respect for the sacred calling of a missionary, male missionaries are always called “Elder” and their last name (e.g. Elder Nelson, Elder Johnson, Elder Souza, Elder Torres, etc.).  Female missionaries are referred to as “Sister.”  This title is to show respect for all of us as sons and daughters of Heavenly Father.

In the Mormon church, all men are invited to hold the Priesthood and may do so by keeping the commandments and participating in the church.  From a young age, all young men are taught to be the best they can so that they can qualify for missionary service.  Those young men who choose to do so work tirelessly during their teenage years to prepare to serve a mission.

Teenage young men are given some Priesthood duties while they are young to help prepare them for missionary service and to be a good husband and father.  The Priesthood is the authority of God, given to men, to act in God’s name.  From the age of 12, young men can choose to receive the Priesthood and accept some Priesthood duties such as distributing the sacrament (communion) during church meetings.

As the young men grow and graduate high school, they can choose to serve a mission.  The young men save their own money while teenagers to pay for their keep as they serve for two years around the world as a missionary.  As the young men prepare to serve a mission, they become Elders in the Priesthood.

The term “Elder” is usually not used in the church to describe all people who hold this office of the priesthood, but is reserved for use in referring to missionaries.


Jim Harmer

I own an online company where I create websites which are read by millions of people. I'm a non-practicing lawyer, husband and a father of three little kiddos. My faith in Christ is the most important aspect of my life, and this blog is where I get to share my beliefs. The rest of the time, I'm riding dirt bikes or traveling the world taking pictures. I live in St George, Utah where I attend my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each month, over 30,000 people come to this site to learn about the basic beliefs of my religion, and it's my privilege to share about it. The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as this blog is not an official source of church information. However, every effort is put into providing accurate information in support of the church.

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