Hosting Church-Service Missionaries serving in the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provide a unique service.
More than 500 women and men serve for at least eight hours per week for three years in an assigned building on Temple Square—the Church Office Building, the Relief Society Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, for example—and in the Conference Center. Their primary purpose is to build bridges of friendship for the Church and state of Utah by conducting tours and being a source of information for visitors of diverse faiths, nationalities and ethnic backgrounds from throughout the world. They act as both Church representatives and unofficial ambassadors of the city and state. According to former Church Hosting director Virginia U. Jensen, “We may be the first and only contact visitors have with a member of the LDS Church.”
For people with questions about Church doctrine, the hosting volunteers refer them to full-time missionaries who serve on Temple Square. Guests of the Church can usually have their questions answered from sister missionaries who speak their native language.
Guests to Church headquarters are often given tours of nearby Church facilities, such as the Humanitarian Center, Welfare Square, and the Museum of Church History and Art. Former Church Hosting director Lowell Snow said the First Presidency’s instructions were: “Don’t talk too much. Let the Church speak for itself.”
“Guests usually leave Salt Lake saying, ‘I came not knowing about the Church, but I found warmth, friendship, love, and caring,’” says Brother Snow.