PROVO — The Provo Missionary Training Center for missionaries belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints resumed in-person training in small groups for the first time in 15 months on Wednesday.
The first wave consisted of 248 missionaries who arrived in Provo on Wednesday, according to a news release from the church. A similar number of missionaries are scheduled to arrive every Wednesday over the coming weeks.
Missionaries who arrive to train at the Provo MTC before traveling to the area of their assignment are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Provo MTC will operate at reduced capacity and administer COVID-19 tests to any missionary who may exhibit symptoms during training, said the release. The release indicated that the vaccination requirement was a temporary precaution.
Invitations to train at the Provo MTC are expected to expand as COVID-19 conditions improve.
Missionary training centers outside the United States are expected to begin to welcome missionaries on site as well. Centers outside of the United States will also face a limited capacity of approximately 50 missionaries at each location and will begin with local missionaries, said the release. Missionaries from the United States will not train at centers abroad for some time.
According to the release:
- The Ghana MTC will begin welcoming missionaries in-person this week (June 20 to June 26)
- The New Zealand MTC will begin welcoming missionaries next week (June 27 to July 3)
- MTCs located in the Phillippines, Mexico and England are expected to begin in-person training in late July and August
Missionaries and local leaders will be contacted directly if they are invited to an in-person training at the MTC, said the release. Missionaries who currently have a mission call will not all train in person nor receive in-person language training. Unless invited missionaries will continue to receive online training at home, according to the release.
Even as things begin to return to normal following COVID-19 precautions, the church also announced Wednesday it is making a permanent change to have all missionaries receive online instruction at home for a week before heading to the MTC.
"I think the week at home really taught me how to be responsible for my own personal study, and also be there for my companion, even when it's super difficult, like over a long distance," Elder Jacob Taylor of Tucson, Arizona, said in the release. "So, 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."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided virtual training sessions to new missionaries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with a total of 32,000 missionaries taking part in the training since March of 2019. According to the release, 2,766 missionaries are currently involved in online MTC training.