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The Missionary Training Center: a timeline

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent out more than 1 million missionaries dating back to its first missionary, Samuel Smith in 1830. Key dates in the training of Mormon missionaries include the following:

1925 — A new Church Missionary Home and Preparatory Training School — simply known as the Salt Lake Mission Home opens to accommodate up to 99 missionaries at a time for a week-long training. Missionaries learning a new language continue to learn it in the assigned mission field, staying up to six months longer than native-speaking missionaries to develop their language skills.

Late 1950s — Missionaries called to Mexico are having difficulty obtaining permits to enter the country, with arrivals sometimes delayed by as much as three months. The delays prompt consideration of a language-training facility at Brigham Young University.

October 1961 — Elder Marion G. Romney of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presents a proposed language-training program to the First Presidency, with the inaugural Missionary Language Institute to be established on the BYU campus.

Dec. 4, 1961 — A group of missionaries — 14 going to Argentina and 16 to Mexico — arrive from the Salt Lake Mission Home and report to the BYU Alumni Building as the language-training program's inaugural class.

March 1963 – Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve recommends that all missionaries requiring foreign language training be provided a preparation period before entering the mission field.

June 16, 1963 – The First Presidency changes the name of the Missionary Language Institute to the Language Training Mission, adding training in Portuguese and German. BYU's Knight-Mangum Hall serves as LTM headquarters for the next 13 years. English-speaking missionaries still attend the Salt Lake Mission Home, which remains in use until 1978.

1968 — The LDS Church offers training in all 16 languages being used. Separate LTMs are opened at Ricks College (for Dutch and Scandinavian languages) and the Church College of Hawaii (for Polynesian and Oriental languages).

1971 — More than 2,500 are trained this year at the LTM; within two years, the Church Missionary Committee approves plans for a new, separate Provo Language Training Mission complex.

July 18, 1974 — With Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve presiding, ground is broken on the 26 acres set aside for the new Provo Language Training Mission complex.

Aug. 3, 1976 — The first missionaries enter the new Language Training Mission as Phase I is completed. As designed, it is to contain 37 offices, 22 chapels, 290 classrooms, 12 observation rooms and enough housing for 2,974 missionaries. Also included is a multipurpose room, cafeteria, kitchen, learning recourse center, teacher's lounge, bookstore and health center — all part of the new complex's total 605,707 square feet.

September 27, 1976 — LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball dedicates the new Language Training Mission. Joining the First Presidency and other LDS general authorities are past LTM presidents and some 1,300 full-time missionaries currently in training.

1977 – The first international missionary training facilities are established in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Hamilton, New Zealand.

October 1978 – Missionaries called to English-speaking missions are added to the Language Training Mission; the facility's name is changed to the Missionary Training Center.

Email: taylor@desnews.com