Spiritual, physical beauty characterize center

Sitting in the afternoon shadow of the St. George Temple, the new visitors center provides a striking view of the glistening white temple and the surrounding southern Utah red-rock landscape and bright blue sky.

Visitors to the center enter the front lobby with its beckoning Christus statue. There they are greeted by missionary couples and sister missionaries, who conduct tours. After brief remarks about the mission of the Savior, His love for all mankind and invitation to come unto Him, guests are led to either the Mountain Room or Universe Room off each side of the lobby. Groups are taken to each room in alternating sequence to help people move through smoothly, without delay.The Mountain Room features red rock landscapes so prominent in southern Utah. The Universe Room offers visitors the feeling of viewing earth from space. Simulated thunder, lightening and rain - with a background of dramatic instrumental music - help those in the Mountain Room appreciate the grandeur and power of God's creations. As the thunder and lightening diminish and a peaceful rain remains, the missionary guide asks visitors about their feelings during the presentation.

"Awesome," said one youth in a pre-dedication tour. "Powerful," was another common reply. Led by a missionary guide, a brief discussion follows concerning the creation of earth for the benefit of humankind, and of the creation of man in the image of God.

The experience in the Universe Room is equally as dynamic, with musical accompaniment and taped narration detailing the purpose of life and the wonders of God's plan for each person.

One visitor to the center related how her teenage grandson, who had been struggling with his testimony and Church activity, became very emotional while standing in the Universe Room. He told her that he never had felt such a sweet, peaceful feeling.

From both of the two rooms, visitors are led into one of three theaters, where they view all or portions of "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" or "The True and Living God." Other Church films also are shown at the center, and the central, larger theater is used for special meetings and presentations, such as a Christmas program written by Sister Anne O. Leavitt titled "The Gifts of God," which will be presented later this year.

After watching the films, guests are given comment cards to fill out before they enter the large resource room at the rear of the center. There, a large glass wall, like the large glass wall in the front lobby where the Christus is located, provides a striking view of the gleaming temple.

Other features of the resource room include three-dimensional exhibits titled "The Savior," "The Purpose of Life" and "Family"; along with several interactive video stations with up to 40 hours of information on various gospel principles, programs and Church history.

A missionary couple at the center, Elder Hal and Sister Geneal Shurtz of Escalante, Utah, discussed their enthusiasm for the center and their experiences there before hurrying across the street for the dedication.

"We have had a lot of wonderful people come through," Sister Shurtz said, "and lots of them are interested in the Church. They have been very positively impressed with the beauty of this center. We feel very fortunate to have it."

Elder Shurtz noted: "We love it here. We feel this is one of the best missions that anyone could ever have the privilege of serving in. People from all over the world stop here and become acquainted with the Church. It's a wonderful experience and beautiful facility."

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