After six months of closure for renovation and remodeling, the Church's visitors center in Independence was formally reopened July 9 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring area government and religious leaders.
Church leaders at the ceremony were Elder Graham W. Doxey of the Seventy, second counselor in the area presidency; President Thomas R. Murray of the Missouri Independence Mission; Gerald Harris, former president of the Independence Missouri Stake; Elder Clemont Bishop, visitors center director; and Elder Dee Horton, a missionary serving at the visitors center.Also taking part in the ceremony were Mayor William Carpenter of Independence; Roger Yarrington, assistant to the First Presidency of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and Apostle William A. Sheldon of the Church of Christ, Temple Lot.
The renovation included installation of an elevator and other changes, making it more accessible for the physically impaired. A theater was added to the first floor, making a total of four theaters that are used to acquaint visitors with the beliefs of the Church, particularly as they relate to the Savior and the Plan of Salvation.
A resource room with exhibits on the first floor includes interactive video screens that teach basic Church doctrines and concepts, such as "The Purpose of Life," "Our Heavenly Father's Plan," and "Strengthen Your Families."
A museum of Church history on the lower level features displays of the Mormon experience in Missouri. The displays include a multi-media theater that presents the story of LDS settlements of the 1800s. Authentic artifacts dating back to the 1830s are on display, and many historical items have been painstakingly recreated to give visitors a first-hand view of family life in frontier Missouri.
Music was provided by a string trio comprised of Dr. A. Harold Goodman, a former Music Department chairman at BYU, and his granddaughters Arian and Natalie Goodman of Blue Springs, Mo. Leslie Goodman, accompanied by Yvonne Bishop, sang a vocal solo. A reception was held after the program.
The visitors center in Independence is open each day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.