Traveling through the countryside of Southern England is a treat. The pastures and farmlands are surrounded by well-trimmed hedges and beautiful but sometimes unfamiliar flowers. I love the small quaint villages we pass through. Noticeably absent are the flashy and obnoxious billboards so prevalent in the United States. Outdoor advertising is carefully controlled, and even in the cities the signs are rather small and unobtrusive.
Because of government regulations, we can’t put up billboards or erect signs inviting people to the London Temple Visitors’ Centre. As a result, most people are unaware of its existence. Consequently, we are working with Salt Lake to put a Visitors’ Welcome sign at the temple gate, and we have made a formal request of the Surrey County Council to approve some directional “brown signs” to guide motorists to the temple grounds. We’ll let you know what happens in a future blog.
In the meantime, we have had some success in placing articles about the Centre in local newspapers, most notably in local Mantra Magazines (circulation 70,000) and in the East Grinstead Courier and Observer. The Courier carried a brief article and picture about the Visitors’ Centre two weeks ago, then last week published an amazing, full-sized, accurate article on the Church and the history of the temple. The Church has had some biased negative coverage lately from the sensational London press, so this article was refreshing and much appreciated. In fact, it was even picked up in the Mormon Times section of the Deseret News. You can find the articles in the following links:
When we were called to direct the Visitors’ Centre in January, it changed from being managed by the England London South Mission to being supervised by the Church Missionary Department in Salt Lake City, which oversees all 16 visitors’ centers and also historic sites operated by the Church. We were asked to promote the Centre in ways not previously attempted and have had to be creative and use our own best judgment in attempting to blaze new territory. At times it has felt overwhelming to work in uncharted territory in a foreign country where we don’t know the ropes, but we are learning. We are now working to invite teachers in the area to bring their students to the Centre to learn about the Church as part of their curriculum in religious education. We have established a Sunday fireside series, planned Monday night activities at the Centre, and now have a Facebook page. We travel to a new ward each Sunday to speak in meetings and encourage members to bring their friends to the Centre to learn about the Church. An added blessing is that this gives us the opportunity to travel throughout southern England.
We enjoy welcoming people to the Visitors’ Centre and getting to know them – members and non-members. I love to stand next to The Christus and testify of Jesus Christ and the atonement. We have excellent exhibits on The Book of Mormon, the temple, the current apostles, and the family. We have more than 60 different films to show in our 60-seat theatre. There is much you can learn in a visitors’ center.
The best thing about our London Temple Visitors’ Centre, and the most powerful tool we have to bring people to Christ, is our sister missionaries. We’d rather watch them teach than teach ourselves. They do a better job – they are just terrific, and we love them. Most investigators who now come to the Centre are brought by the missionaries or by members of the Church. We have found that investigators taught at the Centre on the temple grounds feel the strength of the Church and the influence of the temple. They take the lessons more seriously, and they are more likely to keep commitments. ~Don~