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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Missionaries walk to a devotional Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Provo. One segment of Sunday's PBS show "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" is titled "Mormon Missionary Expansion" and includes LDS Missionary Department Managing Director Steve Allen saying the church now has "almost 82,000 missionaries today."

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church now has nearly 82,000 missionaries.

That tidbit comes from a segment titled "Mormon Missionary Expansion" that will air Sunday morning on the PBS show "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly."

PBS.org posted the eight-minute segment Friday. It includes Steve Allen, managing director of the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saying the number of missionaries has risen from 58,500 in October 2012 to nearly 82,000.

That's up from the 80,333 reported by church President Thomas. S. Monson at the faith's general conference on Oct. 5.

"God is hastening his work," Allen told Lucky Severson, a contributing correspondent to "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly." "He's speeding it up. We have a sense that there's an urgency about spreading the message of the gospel across the world."

Severson interviewed Allen, Elder Carl Pratt, president of the Mexico City Missionary Training Center, and Dana Call, president of the Mexico City North Mission and a number of missionaries for the piece.

Severson reports that the number of baptisms per missionary has dropped recently, and that Allen gives two reasons: First, the new emphasis for missionaries on member retention — "shoring up the wayward is now part of the missionaries' job," Severson says. Second, the world is increasingly secular.

In Utah, "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" runs Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on KUED.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com