“Church Continues ‘Open Door’ Tradition,” Liahona, July 2008, N5–N6
In his homes in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith often entertained visitors—both those he invited and those who were passing through town. In fact, he built a hotel in Nauvoo, Illinois, to accommodate the frequent guests who called upon him and other leaders of the Church.
The extension of hospitality continued as the members of the Church settled in the West. Many notable people visited Salt Lake City during the early years of the Church.
Today, visits to Church sites such as the Temple Square complex rank high on the itineraries of tourists and travelers to Salt Lake City.
Millions of visitors annually tread the manicured grounds of Temple Square, the site of not only the architecturally significant Tabernacle but also the granite-walled temple that has become a symbol synonymous with the Church itself.
People arrive at Temple Square and the surrounding sites of the Church headquarters—the Conference Center, Family History Library, Museum of Church History and Art, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, or even the Church Office Building—as visitors on family or personal vacation trips, as business people on a break from conventions or other meetings, as leisurely wanderers, or as notable or invited guests.
Upon arriving at Temple Square, guests are greeted by young women from all parts of the world serving as full-time missionaries for the Church. These young missionaries are supported by a group of nearly 1,300 part-time volunteers—couples or individuals who, with the young missionaries, give brief tours and explain Church history and beliefs to interested visitors. Volunteers invested nearly 240,000 hours in their 2007 hosting assignments on Temple Square.
In 2007 an estimated five million people stopped to explore Temple Square, one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the state. Records indicate visitors represented every state in the United States as well as 83 countries of the world.
No matter where the guests come from, the enthusiastic and dedicated guides who serve as full- and part-time missionaries show the traditional hospitality that has existed in the Church since the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith.