Washington DC Visitors Center Exhibit Answers Frequently Asked Questions
By Gerry Avant , Church News editor
A new informational exhibit, “We Follow Jesus Christ,” has opened at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center at a time when the Church is receiving unprecedented attention.
“A confluence of factors—from politics to Broadway—has raised the curiosity of journalists, opinion leaders, and others worldwide,” said Elder Don Olsen, the center’s director.
“The increasing discussion of the Church [and] its beliefs and doctrine has spawned not only some misunderstandings, but also some interesting myths and legends,” he added. “We have taken the questions about the Church that seem to have most captured the public’s fascination and answered them in an exhibit format.”
He explained that visitors to the “We Follow Jesus Christ” exhibit can see what the Church teaches about race relations, political neutrality, religious freedom, and marriage. Also, they can see the Church’s position on immigration and abortion and can read about proxy baptism.
Other questions include: “Are Mormons Christian? What do Latter-day Saints believe about God? Do Mormons believe in the Trinity? Do they believe in the Bible?”
The exhibit also speaks of the role of women in the Church and addresses why some Latter-day Saints wear temple garments.
Elder Olsen, in speaking with the Church News on May 24, 2012, said, “The exhibit has been open for just a week and we already have had many positive comments.”
He said a member of the Church commented, “It’s great to have these questions and answers posted on the wall for everyone to see. We have nothing to hide! I’ll be back with my co-workers who have been asking some of these very questions.”
A woman of another faith came to the visitors’ center asking about polygamy, Elder Olsen said. “A missionary took her to the ‘polygamy’ question-and-answer [panel] in the exhibit. The woman said, ‘This is very easy to understand. I’m impressed that you are taking this subject and so many others head on.’ She then asked for the missionaries to come to her home and teach her.”
A senior missionary couple came with an investigator. Elder Olsen said, “The investigator found the exhibit interesting, but the senior missionaries were exuberant. They said, ‘This is wonderful! We’ve never seen anything like this in all our years in the Church. Do you have it in a brochure?’ ”
Elder Olsen explained that there is no brochure on the exhibit; however, the questions and answers all came from an article, “Mormonism 101,” that is posted on mormonnewsroom.org.
Washington D.C. North Mission president James Matsumori told Elder Olsen that the exhibit “is a wonderful idea, especially at this time in the Church’s history.”
Elder Olsen added, “All of the missionaries who have seen it, especially the sisters who work in the visitors’ center, have greeted it with a great deal of enthusiasm.
“Given the reaction so far, we’re confident this will be a very positive exhibit for the visitors’ center and the Church throughout the summer tourist season.”
The exhibit will be on display through the end of August. As with all events and activities at the visitors’ center, it is free to the public. Located at 9900 Stoneybrook Drive in Kensington, Maryland, USA, the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.