Under the direction of the First Presidency, visitors’ centers exist not only to acquaint people with the Church but also to help them understand its beliefs. The center focuses on Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, who invites all people to come unto Him and find peace through faith in Him. It also seeks to help visitors understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ answers life’s questions and how families can be together for eternity through making temple covenants.
“This beautiful facility will be a great blessing to the surrounding community,” said Mark Lusvardi, director of public programs for the Church’s Missionary Department. “It creates an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the temple and the basic beliefs of members of the Church.”
A newly commissioned picture depicting a sunrise over a local area is the background for Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue of the Christus. A prominent exhibit features the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and another display, titled “Special Witnesses of Christ,” offers the testimonies of the Church’s First Presidency and members of the Quorum the Twelve Apostles. Other exhibits include an explanation why temples are constructed, local Latter-day Saints talking about their belief in the Savior, and a movie titled God’s Plan for His Family. All the exhibits are visitor-friendly.
The new directors of the Portland Temple Visitors’ Center are Elder D. Brian Johnston and his wife, Sister Beverly Johnston, who reside in the local area. “It’s been a joy to be a part of it and watch this work and everything unfold,” said Elder Johnston. “The attention to detail is amazing, the quality of the exhibits exceptional and the readiness for the opening incredible.”
The Church operates several visitors’ centers throughout the world. The facilities are usually located near a temple or Church historic site and are operated by a director and staffed by missionaries.
Visitors’ centers located near temples include Idaho Falls, Idaho; Laie, Hawaii; London, England; Los Angeles, California; Mesa, Arizona; Mexico City; Nauvoo, Illinois; New Zealand; Oakland, California; St. George, Utah; Temple Square North and South in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Washington, D.C. Those at historic sites or other locations are Cove Fort, Utah; Hill Cumorah, New York; Independence, Missouri; Kirtland, Ohio; Liberty Jail Historic Site; Mormon Handcart Historic Site; Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters; Park City, Utah; and San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.