I attended my nephew’s missionary farewell this weekend, and it got me thinking about missionary farewells in general. It used to be that a missionary family would invite his family to speak, there would be special musical numbers, often advice from an older brother, and bishop’s remarks about the missionary. While some meetings went long because the family asked too many people to speak, had too many musical numbers (or both), these meetings were generally a treat to attend. They were interesting. But in 2002, President Hinckley announced in General Conference,
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. There might be two or more departing missionaries who speak in the same service. The meeting will be entirely in the hands of the bishop and will not be arranged by the family. There will not be special music or anything of that kind.
We know this will be a great disappointment to many families. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends have participated in the past. We ask that you accept this decision. Where a farewell has already been arranged, it may go forward. But none in the traditional sense should be planned for the future. We are convinced that when all aspects of the situation are considered, this is a wise decision. Please accept it, my dear brethren. I extend this plea also to the sisters, particularly the mothers.
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.
Now missionary farewells are just as boring as other church meetings. (I miss the old format.) Sometimes the missionaries are asked to speak about generic topics. I’ve long complained (the following posts were clear back in 2008) about boring church meetings, causing some to ask me Why I go to Church. The Church has boring Easter services, and Christmas services are often less than desired. While I know some families did have excessive celebrations, I just don’t understand the desire of church leaders that services be as uninspired and unmotivational as possible. Why can’t we have interesting missionary farewells, Christmas services, and Easter services? (I know some wards have good services, but in my experience, more wards are boring than are good.)