Missionary training center expands

Three newly completed buildings at the Missionary Training Center, including one named after the first woman missionary in the Church, were dedicated March 10 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency.

The buildings were named for President Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the Church; Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve; and Harriet Nye, the first woman officially called as a missionary in the Church.In addition to offering the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley also addressed an audience of more than 3,000, with nearly 2,000 assembled in the multi-purpose room of the Lorenzo Snow Building and the remainder watching on closed-circuit television monitors in other rooms. Those attending included missionaries in training at the center, current and former Missionary Training Center directors and staff, and family members of those for whom the buildings were named.

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, also addressed the gathering, as did Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, who conducted the meeting. (For a report of Elder Haight's address and information about the buildings and the people for whom they were named, please see page 8.) Also offering remarks were Charles M. Grant, president of the Missionary Training Center, and Rex E. Lee, president of BYU.

Several General Authorities attended the dedicatory ceremony, including members of the Council of the Twelve, the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.

The three new buildings are located in the southeast corner of the Missionary Training Center complex at 1005 N. 900 East, adjacent to the BYU campus. With the completion of the new buildings and a major renovation of existing facilities, the center now has the capacity to accommodate some 4,200 missionaries at a time. Nearly 50,000 missionaries are serving throughout the world, the majority of whom received training at the Provo center - 20,500 last year alone.

In his address, President Hinckley said the completion and dedication of the three new buildings puts into formal operation the fulfillment of a vision talked of and first approved by the First Presidency 70 years ago.

He said missionary work actually goes back to the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1829, before the Church was organized on April 6, 1830. He spoke of the early days of missionary work, its expansion from the United States to Canada and England, and the initiation of work in many other countries. But it was really not until 1924 that the decision was made to establish a formal institution for the training of missionaries, President Hinckley said. The first such institution was an old home in Salt Lake City. Remodeled, it was known as the Missionary Home.

"Sixty years ago I received a call to serve a mission," he said. "I entered the home at 31 N. State in June [1933T. We were there for a week. Such men as President David O. McKay instructed us."

President Hinckley said that since he entered the Missionary Home, he has never been without some official assignment concerning missionary work.

He spoke of other buildings that served for the training of missionaries: The New Ute Hotel and Joseph William Taylor Mortuary, north of today's Mormon Handicraft store at 119 N. Main in Salt Lake City, which were renovated for missionary training from 1962-1971. From 1971-1976, the Lafayette School at the corner of North Temple and State streets was used, with two new wings.

President Hinckley mentioned that years ago he was responsible for the missionary program under a committee of members of the Twelve, chaired by Elder Stephen L Richards. President McKay, then a counselor in the First Presidency, had general responsibility for the overall missionary program of the Church. President Hinckley said that James L. Barker, who had presided over the French Mission at the close of World War II and who was professor of modern languages at the University of Utah, had suggested to President McKay that tremendous good would come of establishing a language training school for missionaries.

"The idea was given serious consideration, and it was determined to build it here in Provo on the campus of Brigham Young University where qualified instructors could be found and many returning missionaries would be available to assist in teaching various languages," President Hinckley explained. "Later, the Language Training Mission was incorporated into the Missionary Training Center, which was first dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball on Sept. 27, 1976.

"With the tremendous increase in the number of missionaries in more recent years, it has been necessary to enlarge this facility, the second phase of which was dedicated in June 1979 by President Ezra Taft Benson, then the president of the Twelve. Now further growth has necessitated these additional structures which we dedicate today.

"In addition to this facility, we have 14 other missionary training centers in various parts of the world. The places in which they are found is an indication of the spread of this tremendous and sacred work - London, England; Mexico City, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Temple View, New Zealand; Lima, Peru; Manila, Philippines; Apia, Samoa; and Nuku`alofa, Tonga.

"All of this speaks of the tremendous growth of the work. Seventy years have passed since our Brethren discussed the need for and made the decision to institute a missionary training program. The work was relatively small then. Today we have, or will have in July, 303 missions. We have nearly 50,000 missionaries in the field or under call. We are in more than 140 nations or political entities. Enough converts come into the Church each year to constitute 100 new stakes of 3,000 members each. It is all part of this marvelous work and a wonder. It is all done in obedience to the commandment of the Lord, who before His ascension said: `Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' " (Mark 16:15.)

President Monson expressed regret that President Benson, for whom he said missionary work has been a trademark and motto, was unable to attend the dedication of the three new buildings. "Of all the people who would most like to be here this day, it would be our prophet," he noted.

President Monson mentioned the long association he has had with the Missionary Training Center, going back to the time he served on the Missionary Executive Committee with President Hinckley and Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve. President Spencer W. Kimball was the committee's chairman.

He said President Kimball always held in reverence the names of early-day missionaries and was a great advocate that such names be placed on specific buildings and dormitories as a tribute to their missionary service.

"Our young men and women who are trained here need a model to follow," President Monson said. "I'm so happy that these early missionaries have been honored."

He spoke of the early days when missionaries served in poverty, with their wives and families home ill in many cases. "How blessed we are," he said, expressing a wish that he could have met President Snow and Sister Nye. Of Elder Richards, with whom he served as a General Authority, he said: "No greater missionary has ever lived."

President Monson reflected on the time when Elder Richards brought him a draft of a new book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, which, in its unedited version was written, he said, like Elder Richards spoke: "It was almost all one long sentence!" President Monson said tens of thousands of copies of the book have been printed, but Elder Richards never accepted any royalties for it. "The Lord came first in his life. And the Lord comes first in our lives. If we remember that, we'll be obedient to the words of the Prophet Joseph, who made this beautiful and profound statement when he set forth the mission and purpose of the Church:

" `It is the bringing of men and women to a knowledge of the eternal truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world, and that only through belief in Him and faith which manifests itself in good works can men and nations enjoy peace.'

"The Prophet declared this the most important work in all the world. The Lord gave a revelation to him, a revelation that will be helpful to you missionaries and to everyone you train. The great enemy of missionary work is fear - fear of people, fear of consequence, fear of inability, but the Lord said: If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.' (D&C 38:30) The enemy is then bound and thwarted and the Lord's work goes forward. All of us have the objective to prepare, and that's the purpose of this great facility, to prepare you and to inspire you, and to motivate you. Then every missionary will achieve the objective exemplified by the life of the Lord, of whom it was said:And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.' (Luke 2:52.) He will bless every missionary who puts his or her trust in Him."

To emphasize the gratitude members feel toward those who brought them the gospel message, President Monson spoke of attending a meeting in Basel, Switzerland, several years ago. At one of the meetings, Johann Wondra, a regional representative, a former president of the Vienna Austria Stake and now president of the Frankfurt Germany Temple, stood to speak.

President Monson said: "Brother Wondra asked Brother Kuno Mueller to stand and then said to the congregation, Here is the missionary who came from Switzerland to our home in Austria and brought the gospel and all that it means to my wife and to me. Without him, where would I be today?' Then he turned to Brother Mueller and he said this:Brother Mueller, I love you. We think of you every day of our lives.' What a touching moment. There was not a dry eye in the meeting."

Concluding, President Monson told the missionaries to remember the Lord's promise: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." (D&C 84:88.)

A chorus of 588 missionaries, directed by Douglas Brenchley and accompanied by Byrdenne Johnson, provided music for the program. The invocation was offered by Elder Robert L. Backman, emeritus General Authority and a former executive director of the Missionary Department. The benediction was given by Marian R. Boyer, a former counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and a daughter of Elder LeGrand Richards.

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