SALT LAKE CITY — With the recent surge in the number of young Latter-day Saints choosing to serve as full-time missionaries, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced to general and area church leaders during conference meetings Friday the creation of a new Mission Leadership Council within each of the church’s 405 missions that will include an enhanced role for the mission president’s wife and a new leadership position involving sister missionaries.

According to a release posted on the church’s Newsroom website late Friday afternoon, the old Zone Leader Council in each mission will be discontinued and replaced by the Mission Leadership Council, which will consist of the mission president and his wife, the assistants to the mission president, the zone leaders, and sister missionaries holding a newly created leadership position called sister training leaders.

“The role of sister training leader has been created as more female missionaries serve in missions around the world,” said the release. Last October, when LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced the reduction in the minimum age for missionary service for both young men and women, sister missionaries comprised 14 percent of the church’s total missionary force. Since Jan. 1, new mission calls have been extended at a rate of about 1,400 per week, with 36 percent of the calls going to sister missionaries.

Sisters will continue to participate in missionary districts and zones, which will still be led by district and zone leaders. The sister training leaders will be assigned to a certain number of sister missionaries and will be responsible for their training and welfare in addition to participating in the Mission Leadership Council. They will continue to proselyte in their respective areas, but they will also spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of the female missionaries assigned to them.

The sister training missionaries will report directly to the mission president on sister missionary needs, the release noted. They will work closely with the mission president’s wife, who is now being asked to play a bigger role — depending on individual and family circumstances — in training and caring for sister missionaries.

“We are very excited about the new Mission Leadership Council and this role for sister missionaries,” said Elder David F. Evans, executive director of the church’s Missionary Department. “It will be a blessing to both missions and missionaries throughout the world, and better employ the remarkable faith, talents and abilities of all missionaries.”

The new Mission Leadership Council will function like other church councils on the ward, stake and general church level. “In councils, assigned members meet to discuss individual, family and organizational needs and work together to determine how to respond to those needs effectively,” the release said. “Full expression from all participants is invited in council settings, unifying the efforts of both male and female council members.”

Instructions regarding the changes will be mailed to mission presidents soon. The changes will be implemented in each mission as soon as possible.