50 years ago today - Jul 31, 1971

The Church News reports that registered nurses Marilyn Lyons and Dr. Blair L. Bybee, the church's first medical missionaries, are departing for assignments in Tonga and Samoa by direction of the Welfare Services Missionary Program. A First Presidency letter of 22 Jan. 1973 solicits missionaries from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Latin America. Redefined as "welfare missionaries," 768 Mormons without medical degrees are giving humanitarian aid and instruction throughout the world by 1980. A decade later more than 350 "health missionaries" with medical or health degrees are also serving in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Pacific islands, and Eastern Europe.

[The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database (http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase)]]

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