The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had missionaries spreading the gospel since 1830. In February of this year, the church announced the creation of 58 new missions to accommodate the surge in applications following the lowering of the eligible age for service in October 2012. Currently, the church has more than 64,000 missionaries serving around the world.
Before beginning service in their respective areas, missionaries spend time in training centers. According to Brigham Young University, the purpose of a missionary training center is to provide an atmosphere of peace, love, trust, confidence and respect in which missionaries can prepare for missionary service.
Here is the history of the different missionary training centers around the world.
In 1925, the LDS Church created the Salt Lake Mission Home in downtown Salt Lake City as a dormitory for new missionaries. The missionaries would be set apart for their service by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Generally, missionaries would only stay in the Salt Lake Mission Home for only a day or two before going to their assigned areas. If there were delays with visas, the missionaries would serve as guides on Temple Square or work at the LDS Church headquarters.
In November 1961, missionaries began to gather at the Hotel Roberts in downtown Provo. In 1968, missionaries were assigned to buildings on the lower campus of Brigham Young University, which was reserved exclusively to train missionaries.
The LTM included dormitories and classrooms for missionaries.
In 1968 church leaders decided to start teaching missionaries all 16 languages the missionaries would be using. To facilitate this change, LTMs were established at Rick's College to teach Dutch and Scandinavian languages and another was established at the Church College of Hawaii.
In 1970, the church established a LTM in Laie, Hawaii, to facilitate missionaries who were preparing to serve in the Asia Pacific regions, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Polynesia.
Foreign language departments at BYU managed the curriculum taught at the LTM. Some instructors were full-time university language professors; others were university teaching assistants or students who had strong language skills.
As mission presidents began to see the impact that language training had on visa-delayed missionaries, they asked the church to have all missionaries attend language training before going on their missions.
In addition to language, leadership training and basic instructor training was added to the curriculum.
In 1971 the church added another Salt Lake Mission Home at the old Lafayette School on 75 East North Temple. This mission home was for English-speaking missionaries.
The MTC in Provo replaced this in the fall of 1978 for English-speaking missionaries
The Mormon Church acquired land north of Brigham Young University in 1972 during the construction of the Provo Temple, which was originally for campus expansion. This land was developed into four dormitories, a gymnasium and language training building. The Language Training Mission was changed to the Missionary Training Center in 1978. The Salt Lake Mission Home was then shut down permanently and all functions and facility were moved to the MTC in Provo.
Currently, the Provo MTC is designed to accommodate up to 4,000 missionaries and is the largest MTC. Recently, church officials announced that it will expand housing to include Raintree Apartments and Wyview Park to house missionaries due to the influx in numbers.
Missionaries who enter the Provo MTC experience up to 12 weeks of studying doctrine, learning to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively and developing communication skills. Those who will be serving in a foreign language also participate in language classes. Approximately 50 languages are taught at the Provo MTC with ering this MTC had 40 to 50 people.
One of the first missionary training centers established outside of the United States was in 1977 in São Paulo, Brazil. This MTC is constructed near the São Paulo Temple, and is the second largest MTC with a maximum capacity of 646.
Most missionaries in this MTC come from Brazil and other parts of South America, the United States, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Portugal. They are assigned to serve in Brazil, but some Brazilians learn Spanish at this MTC to serve in the Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America.
Established in 1977 in Hamilton, New Zealand, this MTC has a maximum capacity of 64 and was relocated to a new facility in Manukau, Auckland, in September 2010.
The New Zealand MTC provides three-week language programs for English, French, Samoan and Tongan. In August 2011, ESL training was implemented in the New Zealand MTC to help missionaries from the Pacific who has limited understanding of English.
Missionaries trained in the New Zealand MTC serve in the five missions of Australia; Suva, Fiji; Papua, New Guinea; Samoa; Tahiti; Tonga; and two missions in New Zealand.
Established in 1979 in Campestre Churubusco in Mexico City, missionaries received their training through the Mexico City Mexico Churubusco Stake. In 1980, each group of missionaries entering this MTC had 40 to 50 people.
In 1983, missionaries began residing and training at the temple complex in Mexico, using space in the Mexico City Mexico Aragon stake center until November 28, 2006. In 2006, the old Aragon stake center was rededicated as the missionary training center building. Missionaries training in this MTC are assigned to serve in Mexico.
Established July 13, 1981, the Chile Missionary Training Center in Santiago, Chile, was the second South American MTC. It occupied a few classrooms of the former Deseret College of the Church.
On January 14, 1983, the MTC was moved to the second floor of the church offices in the area, where missionaries were trained until 2001. In that year, it was relocated to the third floor of the patron housing of the Santiago Temple, where it currently is located. The only program in this MTC is two weeks long and is for native Spanish speakers.
Established October 1983, this MTC started out as a small rented house in Metro Manila. It received its first group of 26 missionaries from the Davao, Cebu, Manila, and Baguio areas, all of who were assigned to serve in other areas in the Philippines.
In December 1990, ground was broken for a new MTC facility to be built across the street from the Manila Temple. The new MTC could house a total of 80 missionaries. Construction began on March 10, 2010, to further enlarge this MTC to facilitate the growing number of missionaries. Two new MTC residence and classroom buildings were completed in December of 2011, increasing the capacity to 144 missionaries.
Today, missionaries from the Philippines, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Micronesia-Guam, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam attend the MTC. Training is provided in English, Tagalog, Cebuano, Cambodian, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
The Argentina Missionary Training Center was the third foreign MTC the LDS Church established. It opened in October of 1985 and trained approximately 20 Spanish-speaking missionaries every three weeks. In 1994, the church constructed and dedicated a larger building that housed 80 missionaries at a time, with more than 500 missionaries per year.
The Argentina MTC was recently remodeled and now houses more than 90 missionaries, approximately 40 percent of which are English-speaking missionaries learning Spanish for missions in Uruguay and Paraguay.
The England MTC opened in 1985 and was first located on the London England Temple complex before moving to the Preston England Temple complex in 1998.
The England MTC primarily serves the British Isles missions of London, London South, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Scotland/Ireland. However, missionaries who will serve in France, Germany, Russia, and many other European missions are also trained here.
This MTC was initially established in 1986 before it moved to its current location in 1994. The MTC is located next to the Guatemala City Temple in a busy residential and commercial neighborhood. Missionaries who train at this MTC are assigned to serve in Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, or Panama.
Established on July 1, 1986, this MTC was situated in what used to be the mission home for the Peru Lima South Mission. It had an original capacity of 46 Spanish-speaking missionaries and continued at this location until the new center was constructed and then dedicated on August 27, 1998.
The new MTC has a bed capacity of 144 missionaries, and is within walking distance of the Lima Peru Temple. Currently there is an average of about 120 missionaries consisting of both native Spanish-speaking missionaries as well as native English-speaking missionaries who are learning Spanish. These missionaries are assigned to serve in Ecuador, Bolivia, or Peru.
Located in Bogota, the Colombia MTC was dedicated in February 1992. Since its dedication, approximately 13,000 missionaries from Central and South America have attended this MTC. In 2012, missionaries from North America assigned to serve in Colombia began to attend this MTC as well.
Missionaries attending this MTC are assigned to serve in Colombia, Venezuela, or Ecuador.
Established in 1999, this MTC is located on the Madrid Temple complex, which includes the temple, a multistate meetinghouse, and a multipurpose building, and the MTC on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors.
Initially, the MTC trained missionaries who were native speakers of English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Today Russian, Italian, and French-speaking missionaries are also trained.
The countries served by the Spain MTC are the Baltic States, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
The Dominican Republic MTC was dedicated on December 17, 2000, and is located on the 4th floor of the temple patron housing building adjacent to the Santo Domingo Temple. The missionaries who attend the Dominican Republic MTC typically serve in the Santo Domingo East, Santo Domingo West, Santiago, Haiti, West Indies, Jamaica, Guyana, and Puerto Rico missions.
Training in this MTC is done in three languages: English, French and Spanish. Training lasts three weeks, except for North American missionaries learning Spanish, who spend six weeks at the Dominican Republic MTC after having received their first three weeks of training at the Provo MTC.
Located about 10 miles east of Accra, Ghana's capital, the Ghana MTC was dedicated on May 17, 2002. Missionaries come to this MTC in groups of 50 to 65 and divided into classes of eight to 10 missionaries.
Missionaries trained at this MTC come from and serve in a variety of African countries, including Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Others who are called to serve in Africa come from nations outside of Africa, such as the United States, Great Britain, and the islands of the South Pacific, are trained in Ghana.
Established July 24, 2003, the first group to enter this MTC was 14 missionaries. This MTC is one of the smallest MTCs with only a capacity of 38 missionaries, but due to its size, missionaries form lasting relationships with each other at this MTC.
On average, around 30 missionaries come to the South Arica MTC at a time, divided into three districts. It reached the milestone of 1,000 missionaries trained in 2009.
The Tokyo, Japan MTC opened in 1979 and trained approximately 300 missionaries annually in the early 1990s. This MTC closed November 2009.
The Seoul, Kora MTC was established in 1980s next to the Seoul Korea Temple. This MTC recently closed and native missionaries traveled to the United States to receive training.
On January 29, 2013, the LDS Church announced that the church-owned high school Benemérito de las Américas in Mexico City would be converted into a missionary training center. The school will end its school year in June and reopen as an MTC this summer. The first missionaries will enter the new MTC beginning in July 2013.