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New center aids visitors to Palmyra

PALMYRA, N.Y. — Since its dedication just over a month ago, a new Welcome Center here is providing a place where hundreds of visitors can be oriented about the Church.

Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy dedicated the new welcome center Dec. 4.

Inside the new building is a large room with a big window where visitors can see the Joseph Smith Farm. Elder Philip H. Clark, site director, called the building a place "to gather people, to have them come in for respite during their travels."

At the Welcome Center visitors will receive an introduction to the Church sites in the area and learn of available tours.

During his remarks before the dedication Elder Jensen shared a parable entitled "A Pearl and a Box."

In the parable, a collector of precious gems found a beautiful pearl. It was his treasure. He was certain that there was not a jewel box worthy of this perfect gem. The collector designed a box himself. When the box was finished he put the pearl in it and put it on display.

"He stood by it as people came to see it. He studied them and listened carefully . . . Soon, he turned away in deep sorrow. It was the box they admired. It was the box that attracted them. To his great disappointment, only a few of them really saw the pearl."

Elder Jensen told those gathered for the dedication that it was his prayer that the center "could be a haven, a welcome to the world, from which they can get direction in the mooring and their lives can be blessed."

But he cautioned that they want to show visitors the pearl — the knowledge of the restored gospel and the events that occurred in Palmyra.

"I testify to the reality of what really happened here that, indeed, in the spring of 1820, Joseph really did see the Father and the Son."

Elder Clark said that in addition to the Welcome Center, fences will be restored, a barn is being raised across from the Smith Farm Home and a cooper's shop will be constructed.

"The farm, in a way, really talks about the early 1820s and 1830s," said Elder Clark. "It is now a very wonderful thing that it has been preserved. You can stand at the window [in the Welcome Center] and look back in time. Through these structures, you kind of get a measure of time. . . . We really want [visitors] to be impacted by the events that took place in the area around them."

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