England, Mexico MTCs set to slowly reopen on-site training; Provo MTC adding languages

The Provo Missionary Training Center has started to expand its on-site training of new missionaries to those learning new languages, while the England and Mexico MTCs will begin on-site training in September and October.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand and Philippines MTCs, which had been providing limited on-site training the past two months, both have returned to online training only for the time being.

In all, six of the Church’s 10 missionary training centers have either started or are scheduled to start offering the new phased approach to training full-time missionaries, combining online and on-site instruction. The other four MTCs continue to help provide remote, online training.

Due to technology limitations and challenges finding an appropriate location for online training, the Ghana MTC is not applying the phased approach.  The other 5 MTCs are.

A common area at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
A common area at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

This phased approach — which begins with roughly a third of a new missionary’s training online, even after MTCs return to full operations and capacities — allows missionaries to continue to experience many of the positive elements of online instruction that have been realized during the pandemic period of training new missionaries.

“We are encouraged by all we are learning and continue to learn regarding missionary training,” said Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department. “Online MTC training has been a wonderful blessing in the wake of the pandemic, and we are grateful to keep much of that experience in this new phased approach.

“We are encouraged that MTCs are slowly and cautiously reopening for on-site training, and we will continue to closely monitor situations locally to ensure our missionaries and those around them are kept safe.”

The England MTC, located near the Preston England Temple, is welcoming back select new missionaries throughout September for on-site training.

On Wednesday, Sept. 1, it reopened to both missionaries and instructors who have been fully vaccinated, first to a small group of European missionaries to begin English-language training for various assignments across the continent.

One week later, on Sept. 8, the England MTC will host another small group of European missionaries who are training in the German language. And on Sept. 22, training at the MTC will expand to include new missionaries from the United States assigned to serve in missions in the United Kingdom.

The Mexico MTC, located in Mexico City, has been approved to reopen for on-site training beginning Oct. 12, but only for vaccinated new missionaries from the United States and Mexico.

“As has been our pattern, we’re going to start slow, so it won’t be all missionaries but a small group that will gradually expand as our leaders are comfortable,” said Kelend Mills, the Missionary Department’s administrative director of MTCs.

Missionaries study Spanish at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021.
Missionaries study Spanish at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Provo MTC — one of three missionary training centers that reopened several months ago to fully vaccinated missionaries — is slowly and carefully expanding from its initial English-only training.

Spanish language training resumed in Provo on Aug. 18, with Portuguese training to begin on Sept. 8. New missionaries training in the latter will be drawn from those assigned to serve in Portugal as well as in missions in the United States and other international locations, such as Africa.

“Those assigned to Brazil will still be trained online through the Brazil MTC,” Mills added, noting that the center in São Paulo has yet to be scheduled for reopening.

Both the New Zealand and Philippines MTCs have stepped back from on-site training for a time — and for different reasons.

“Circumstances in the Philippines and New Zealand have caused us to pause on-site training for a time until they are restabilized,” Mills said, adding “we’re watching very closely local circumstances, we’re making sure we’re following all local regulations and that we’re functioning under the direction of Missionary Department leaders.”

In the Philippines, some on-site COVID-19 cases and increased case counts throughout the nation were high enough that the Missionary Department opted to put a hold on on-site training.

The Philippines Missionary Training Center, which had reopened to local missionaries beginning July 22, reported some COVID-19 cases among both training missionaries and MTC staff. All recovered, and the missionaries in the MTC are now out in the field, Mills said.

New missionaries arrive at the New Zealand Missionary Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 30.
New missionaries arrive at the New Zealand Missionary Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 30. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The New Zealand MTC has been training missionaries from New Zealand and Australia on-site since June 30.  An increasing count of positive COVID-19 cases in Australia and New Zealand has led to travel restrictions being imposed again.  As a result, on-site training is being paused until conditions improve.

In New Zealand, the government increased restrictions for travel into and around both the country and the city of Auckland as well as other operations following the report of a handful of positive cases across the country.

The Provo MTC, which had started June 23 with nearly 250 new missionaries a week in late June and through July, is now up between 650 and 700 missionaries because of the expansion to Spanish training.

And since resuming on-site training on June 24, the Ghana MTC has remained stable in hosting an average of 50-plus training missionaries.

Closed to missionaries for the past 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flagship Provo MTC and the nine other training centers worldwide became centers of virtual training, as new missionaries remained at home for instruction and language lessons via videoconferencing.

Current status of missionary training centers worldwide

Provo MTC — Expanded from its online training to add, beginning June 23, on-site training of fully vaccinated, English-speaking missionaries assigned to the United States missions. Spanish on-site training began Aug. 18, and Portuguese training to follow on Sept. 8.

Ghana MTC — Expanded from its online training to add, beginning June 24, on-site training of new missionaries from African nations.

New Zealand MTC — Expanded from its online training to add, beginning July 1, on-site training of new missionaries from New Zealand and Australia. Currently paused because of local COVID-19 precautions, as online training continues.

Philippines MTC — Expanded from its online training to add, beginning July 22, on-site training of Filipino missionaries. Currently paused because of local COVID-19 precautions, as online training continues.

England MTC — Opening Sept. 1 to on-site training of new missionaries from Europe, with German training being added Sept. 8. On-site training will expand on Sept. 22 to include missionaries from the United States assigned to the United Kingdom. Continuing online training.

Mexico MTC — Online only now, but opening Oct. 12 to on-site training for select new missionaries from Mexico and the United States.

Brazil MTC — Online only, not yet scheduled for on-site training.

Colombia MTC — Online only, not yet scheduled for on-site training.

Peru MTC — Online only, not yet scheduled for on-site training.

South Africa MTC — Online only, not yet scheduled for on-site training.