PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – For the first time in 15 months, a group of missionaries attended in-person training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
A total of 248 missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived for training in Provo on Wednesday. The Church says a similar number of missionaries will be trained at the facility each Wednesday in the coming weeks.
This return to form comes after over a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and long with it comes a new change. Beginning Wednesday, missionaries will now receive online instruction at home for a week before heading to the MTC for completion, according to Church officials.
After that, missionaries will train in-person for two weeks before heading out to their area of assignment, leaders say.
“It’s wonderful to see missionaries with such faith, and that they can be here. And it’s such a historic time,” said Sister Kerry Porter, the president of the Provo MTC’s companion, who helped to personally greet the missionaries as they arrived Wednesday. “To be able to utilize this sacred space and be able to really charge themselves before they head out to teach and serve.”
The Church clarifies that not all missionaries will be receiving in-person training, and missionaries will not receive in-person language training.
“Invitations for missionaries to receive training at the Provo MTC will expand as conditions continue to improve,” the Church said in a news release.
As a precaution for COVID-19, the Church says the training center will operate a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 tests will also be administered to anybody who shows symptoms of the virus during their training.
Missionary training centers outside of the United States are expected to gradually resume in-person training, as the training center in Ghana will welcome back missionaries this week and the training center in New Zealand will welcome back missionaries next week.
“This is huge day for us to have missionaries at the MTC again, but this isn’t just us going back to how things used to be. This is us moving forward,” said Kelly Mills, the Missionary Department’s administrative director of MTCs. “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. We’re moving forward. This is a new day for missionary training,” he added.
During the 15-month period where in-person training was no provided at the Provo center, 32,000 missionaries were trained online, starting back in March 2019.
There are currently 2,766 missionaries receiving training, according to the Church.