Missionaries will soon be headed back to the Provo Missionary Training Center in small, vaccinated groups at a time.
As COVID-19 conditions continue to improve in some locations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is looking ahead to resume on-site training for new missionaries in a phased and cautious approach, according to a church statement released Monday.
Over the past 14 months, more than 30,000 missionaries have received training in advance of their full-time missions through online training originating from the church’s 10 missionary training centers (MTCs).
Beginning in late June 2021, the Provo, Ghana and New Zealand Missionary Training Centers are scheduled to invite a small number of missionaries to train on location, according to the statement.
These opening dates will be evaluated weekly and may be adjusted based on local circumstances and guidelines from local health officials.
As on-site MTC training resumes, the following guidelines will apply to missionaries invited to train on-site:
- A negative COVID-19 test will be required prior to arriving at an MTC, and COVID tests will be administered to any missionary who exhibits symptoms during their MTC training.
- Initially, only missionaries from the United States who will not be learning a new language will receive their training on-site at the Provo MTC. As conditions continue to improve, invitations for missionaries to receive training at the Provo MTC will expand.
- As a temporary precaution, only missionaries who are fully vaccinated will be eligible to train at the Provo MTC, starting with approximately 150 to 250 new missionaries each week.
- MTCs outside the United States will welcome only local missionaries and will operate at a capacity of approximately 50 missionaries in each location. For a time, missionaries from the United States will not train at these MTCs.
- Missionaries and local leaders will be contacted directly if they will be invited to have an on-site MTC experience. Unless otherwise contacted, new missionaries will continue with online training.
- All missionary training centers have remained operational during the pandemic by providing online training. MTCs in other areas of the world will resume on-site training as conditions allow.
- The numbers of on-site missionaries will expand gradually as COVID-19 conditions continue to improve.
“As MTCs resume on-site training, most new missionaries will begin their training at home and then move to an MTC for the remainder of their training,” according to the church statement. “This will allow missionaries to continue to experience many of the positive elements of online training.”
The online portion of training will move to a Monday start.
These plans for on-site MTC training have been carefully considered, and protocols will be in place to ensure a safe environment and experience for new missionaries before they leave to their assigned area of service.
When at full normal levels, the Provo MTC teaches more than 50 languages. There are also 10 international MTCs that teach various languages.
Each instructor who teaches a language is either a native speaker or is fluent thanks to his or her own missionary service. In addition to language instruction, teachers provide cultural training to help missionaries make a smoother transition into their assigned foreign country, according to church information.
Missionaries in the MTC also learn how to live on their own. For many of these 18- and 19-year-old men and women, the MTC is their first experience living away from home.
Young missionaries across the world returned home from their international assignments in waves this past spring, when church leaders became concerned for their health and safety when the pandemic hit.
“We have moved about 26,000 missionaries, all of them to their home countries,” said Elder Brent Nielson, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department, in a report released on June 11, 2020.”
“Church travel employees around the globe spent sleepless nights in their offices booking flights and chartering planes to bring the elders and sisters home,” Nielson added. “Many missionaries were not given much notice before having to pack their belongings and head to the nearest airport. Some left their missions without their luggage.”
Those missionaries who had just a few months left to serve were released. Those with more time on their missions were given two options: depart for new assignments as soon as possible or delay for 12 to 18 months. Most missionaries opted to leave right away.