This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Anyone desiring a glimpse of the campus where thousands of young Mormons prepare to preach their faith can walk through the halls of the newly expanded Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, when it is opened to the public at the end of July.
Built in the 1970s to house about 2,300 missionaries, the faith's flagship MTC will be able to train as many as 3,700 missionaries at a time.
The two new buildings primarily include classroom space, the church said in a news release, while "existing residence halls have been remodeled to increase capacity, update mechanical and utility systems, improve landscaping and enhance living areas."
Talk of expanding aging classroom facilities began in 2012 with plans for a nine-story high-rise. Nearby residents opposed that proposal, arguing that the tower would destroy the character of the neighborhood.
Everything changed in October that year, though, when the Utah-based faith announced it was lowering the minimum age for male "elders" from 19 to 18 and for "sisters" from 21 to 19. The number of missionary applicants ballooned, and the need to enlarge the training center near church-owned Brigham Young University rose dramatically.
In 2014, a new plan was unveiled. It called for six-story buildings and was readily accepted by the previous critics.
Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints have spent from two to nine weeks (depending on the mission destination) of intense language study and gospel grounding in those halls. The MTC is akin to a boot camp for these foot soldiers of Mormonism "God's army," some call them who then ship out for stations worldwide.
Open-house tickets will be available beginning July 10 at mtcopenhouse.lds.org. The public tours will stretch from July 31 through Aug. 19.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 15 MTCs around the globe, with expansions also taking place at such centers in Mexico, Ghana and the Philippines.