“Being a Good Host to Visitors during Games,” Ensign, Jan. 2002, 77–78
When the world turns its attention to Salt Lake City in February for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the Church will be ready to host visitors who come to Church sites and events.
“President [Gordon B.] Hinckley said the important thing for the Church to do is play the role of good host,” says Bruce Olsen, Church public affairs director, speaking of those visitors who will seek out historical and cultural attractions in Salt Lake City.
Part of being a good host means responding to requests for assistance from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002. In addition, the Church has encouraged members to volunteer during the Olympics and has planned its own musical performances, tours of Church sites, and artistic exhibits for those who are interested.
In response to SLOC’s request, the Church is donating the use of a large open-air parking lot that will be transformed into the Olympic medals plaza. Medals ceremonies will take place at this site, two blocks west of Temple Square. Also in response to SLOC’s request, the Church has scheduled special Tabernacle Choir performances for the Cultural Olympiad—the Olympic Games’ official cultural events of international appeal.
The Tabernacle Choir will perform with various guest artists in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on each of the four Saturday nights during the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. (The Paralympic Games, for those with disabilities, are also organized by the International Olympic Committee.) The world-renowned guest artists will include opera star Frederica von Stade, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, a cappella ensemble king’singers, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. On Sunday mornings after the concerts, the choir’s weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word, will be followed by a 45-minute concert with the previous night’s guest artist.
The Church is also sponsoring its own musical event called Light of the World: A Celebration of Life, a theatrical spectacular to be performed in the Conference Center from 7–23 February. Light of the World has reference to the Savior and to the light within all people. The spectacular features a cast of 1,500 musicians, dancers, and actors, performing with the 370-voice Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Five Latter-day Saint composers wrote the music for the production, which portrays universal values such as courage, endurance, and faith. Visual effects in Light of the World will complement the grandeur of the Olympics.
Local Church sites will also be ready to welcome visitors. Hundreds of thousands of lights and other decorations normally on display only during the Christmas season will be left in place to adorn Temple Square during the Olympics. Temple Square’s recently remodeled interactive visitors’ centers will help interested guests learn more about the gospel.
In the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, a conference room will be used as a media center where media representatives can ask questions and look at Church materials. The Church’s official Web site, www.lds.org, will continue to offer its media link to news stories about the Church, complete with sound bites and video clips.
The Family History Library, a magnet for people wishing to research their ancestry, will have extended hours and volunteer staffers to accommodate more patrons. A remodeled orientation room has displays representing various ethnicities and cultures. New resources, such as 160 new computers, laptop workstations, Internet access, and accessibility for disabled persons, make the library more user friendly.
The Museum of Church History and Art will feature four exhibits during the Olympics: A Covenant Restored: Foundations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; World Views: Latter-day Saint Artists Look at Life; Families and Faith: The Fabrics of Latter-day Saint Life; and That in Me Ye Might Have Peace: Messages of Hope from the Scriptures. These exhibits are designed to appeal to visitors from around the world.
From January through May, Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art will host a world-class museum exhibit called Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian Art Museum. The exhibit will showcase majestic western landscapes by artists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran and depictions of Native Americans by George Catlin and other celebrated western artists.
To help serve Olympic visitors, Church members have been asked to volunteer as tour guides at Welfare Square, the Humanitarian Center, the Family History Library, Brigham Young University, the Conference Center, and Temple Square. Members’ talents will also be utilized as they participate in performances scheduled in the Conference Center, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and the Assembly Hall. BYU has canceled classes during part of the Olympics so that its students and faculty, many of whom are bilingual, may volunteer at or otherwise participate in the games.
At SLOC’s request, local Latter-day Saint families, along with families of other faiths, will host in their homes the families of participating athletes.