Coronavirus: Missionaries in 10 missionary training centers will soon leave for mission field or return home to self isolate

Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walk between buildings at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — All missionaries in the 10 Latter-day Saint missionary training centers around the world will either leave to travel to their mission or return home to self-isolate this week or soon after, a church spokesman said Sunday night.

That means every MTC will be empty in short order.

Any missionary at an MTC who had a calling to serve in a foreign country will be reassigned to his or her home nation. Those in a foreign MTC will travel home to self-isolate before going to their new, domestic assignment.

“All impacted missionaries and their families are receiving information regarding travel dates and other logistics, including details of their new assignments if they were originally planning to serve outside their home country,” said Daniel Woodruff, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For example, an American training at the MTC in Provo for a mission call to Spain will be reassigned to a mission in the United States and leave immediately to travel to his or her new mission.

An American training at the Brazil MTC for a mission call in Brazil will return to his home in the United States to self-isolate for two weeks, then be reassigned to a Stateside mission.

The decision built on announcements made Friday, when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a letter that said all new missionaries would be sent to their assigned missions as soon as possible rather than train at one of the MTCs.

They also said in the letter that “substantial numbers” of missionaries would be sent to their home nations for reassignment. At that time, they also noted that mission lengths may be reduced.

More than 67,000 missionaries were serving when the pandemic began.

The church has 10 operating MTCs. They are in Provo, Utah; Chorley, England; Bogotá, Colombia; Accra, Ghana; Manila, Philippines; Auckland, New Zealand, Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; São Paolo, Brazil; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

It is unknown how many missionaries are housed in the MTCs now, but the number in Provo alone was above 1,000 on March 11. However, the Provo and England MTCs have not received any new missionaries since that day, when church leaders announced many new missionaries would be trained by video conferencing.

Those receiving new mission calls were instructed that they would train six hours a day by remote video conference. They still would be set apart as missionaries before their assigned start date, and their training would begin on that start date, but they will train from home or another suitable location.

On March 16, church leaders made additional announcements. They said some missionaries with 24-month assignments who were nearing the end of their missions would be released after 21 months. They also said young missionaries with health issues and many senior missionaries would be released from service.

Missionaries have begun to return to their home nations from around the world because of the pandemic. On Sunday, 1,600 missionaries arrived in Utah from the Philippines, where they had been serving in 23 missions in that island nation. Many of those missionaries will be reassigned and many others released from missionary service.

Meanwhile, some missionaries were returning home Sunday from Ghana, where the church has missions. The church previously announced that nonnative missionaries would leave 26 of 34 Latter-day Saint missions in Africa.

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