For the first time in 15 months, a group of more than 280 missionaries arrived Wednesday at the Provo Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for in-person training.
The church also launched a new era of online instruction at home for a week before entering the MTC, according to a news release.
Provo MTC President Benson L. Porter, and his wife, Sister Kerry Porter, personally greeted the missionaries as they arrived.
“I think that we’ve noticed that relationships have already been built, because they’re seeing the members of their district here,” President Porter said in the release. “I think some of the anxiety that they may have felt before where everything was new, is gone. Now they have some friends, they have a district.”
Kelly Mills, the church’s Missionary Department’s administrative director of MTCs, said this is a “huge day for us to have missionaries at the MTC again,” although things will be different going forward.
“The fact is that missionaries now will have a piece of their training at home, and then an experience here with more personalization and experiential learning,” Mills said. “We’re moving forward. This is a new day for missionary training.”
How will the Provo MTC function going forward?
The Porters welcomed 284 missionaries Wednesday and similar numbers are scheduled to arrive on the same day in the coming weeks. The missionaries will spend two weeks training in person before traveling to their assigned area of labor.
The Provo MTC will operate at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future as a precaution, and invitations for missionaries to receive training at the Provo MTC will expand as conditions continue to improve.
Sister Addison Harward, of Highland, Utah, who is going to serve in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission, said she was glad to get both the home and in-person MTC experience.
“Even though we were on Zoom, I felt so connected with my teachers in my district and my companion, so it was a really good experience,” she said.
Elder Jacob Taylor, of Tucson, Arizona, said the home MTC taught him how to be responsible for his own personal study.
“I think those were really important lessons that I needed to learn and they’re definitely going to help me in the next two years,” said Taylor, who is going to the New York Syracuse Mission.
What missionaries should know about MTC in-person training
Missionary training centers have remained operational during the pandemic by providing virtual training to new missionaries.
A total of 32,000 missionaries have received online training since March 2019. More than 2,750 missionaries are currently involved in online MTC training.
Not all missionaries who currently have a mission call will train in person.
Missionaries will not receive in-person language training at this time, the news release said.
Missionaries and local leaders will be contacted directly if they are invited to an on-site MTC experience. New missionaries will continue with online training at home unless otherwise contacted.
How will the MTC monitor COVID-19?
Only missionaries who are fully vaccinated will be eligible to train in person at the Provo MTC.
The MTC will administer COVID-19 tests to any missionary who exhibits symptoms during their training.
Substantial numbers of Latter-day Saint missionaries returned home and stopped entering the church’s 11 missionary training centers in March 2020 due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When will MTCs outside the United States open?
The church will gradually start to welcome missionaries to MTCs outside the United States for on-site training, beginning with only local missionaries. They will operate at a capacity of approximately 50 missionaries in each location. Missionaries from the United States will not train at these MTCs for a time.
The Ghana MTC will open this week and the New Zealand MTC will welcome missionaries the following week. Missionary training centers in the Philippines, Mexico and England are also expected to reopen for in-person training in late July and August. Others will follow as local COVID-19 conditions improve.