During the last two weeks, nearly five times the typical number of young Latter-day Saints have begun the application process to serve as full-time missionaries.

The leap was precipitated by an announcement earlier this month that reduced the minimum age for missionary service.

In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, church spokesman Michael Purdy said that while about 700 new applications are typically started each week, during the last two weeks “that number has increased to approximately 4,000 per week.”

Further, Purdy noted that “slightly more than half of the applicants are women.” Prior to the announcement, women made up 14 percent of full-time LDS missionaries.

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