PROVO — The LDS Church released renderings Tuesday night of its final plans for the expansion of its Missionary Training Center in Provo.
A site plan also shows the new oval that will change the way families drop off their missionaries at the MTC, one of the church's 15 training centers around the world.
Construction will begin in the summer. When complete in 2017, the MTC will be able to train, house and feed 3,500 missionaries at a time, up from 2,800, according to a news release.
The Provo MTC has been in flux since October 2012, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lowered the ages at which men and women can serve missions. The age change led to a flood of new missionaries that overwhelmed the Provo MTC.
To accommodate the rush of new elders and sisters into the mission field, the church leased an apartment building and nearby housing at BYU about a mile away from the MTC. It also closed a church school in Mexico and converted it into an MTC.
The Mexico City MTC, opened last year, now hosts many of the church's Spanish-speaking missionaries during training, easing pressure on the Provo MTC.
Also, the number of missionaries is normalizing after the boom caused when LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced that men could leave at 18 instead of 19, and sisters could serve at 19 instead of 21.
Those men who were between 18 and 19 and women who were between 19 and 21 who decided to serve immediately created a bottleneck that now is abating.
The church had 58,000 missionaries in 347 missions around the world when President Monson announced the change. Today it has 87,000 missionaries serving in 405 missions.
The finalized plans include three new six-story buildings immediately south of the existing MTC and 300 underground parking stalls. The buildings will house classrooms, personal-study areas and space for small-group activities.
Once those buildings are complete, classroom buildings near the MTC entrance will be demolished. In their place will be a landscaped oval for dropping off missionaries.
Some residence halls will be remodeled to increase housing capacity.
Missionaries train for one week to two months at MTCs, where they learn a language if necessary, learn teaching skills and receive religious instruction.
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