Temple Square Tours

Contributed By Rachel Sterner, Church News staff writer

  • 14 July 2016

Fernanda Locci, left, and Roberto Filippone, right, laugh during a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Editor's Note: Temple Square discontinued its shuttle service in 2018.

“[Passengers] are impressed by the friendliness and sweetness of the sister missionaries, the beauty and cleanliness of the grounds, and that special feeling felt around Temple Square.” —Sister Nedra Taylor, senior service missionary

Editor's Note: Temple Square discontinued its airport shuttle service in 2018.

While the Church is well known for sending missionaries to the far-flung corners of the globe, Elder Jesse Taylor and his wife, Sister Nedra Taylor, spend a lot of time shuttling “the world” to Church headquarters.

As senior service missionaries at Temple Square, the couple fulfills their “tiny little part”—as Sister Taylor describes it—in contributing to missionary efforts by driving a 15-passenger van the 8 miles from the Salt Lake International Airport to downtown Salt Lake City and then back again.

“We absolutely love it,” Elder Taylor said of their service.

The shuttle service helps travelers take advantage of a free tour of historic Temple Square. With at least two hours, visitors can catch the shuttle to downtown, take a guided tour of Temple Square from some of the sister missionaries serving there, and then catch the shuttle back to the airport terminals.

Elder and Sister Taylor said they typically transport about 15–20 people per day, depending on the weather and other travel conditions. In the year that they have served as shuttle operators, Elder and Sister Taylor said they have hosted visitors from Great Britain, Germany, and other European nations as well as various African nations, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, Japan, China, India, and others.

“We love the diversity and spontaneity,” Elder Taylor said.

Every day is different, Sister Taylor added. “It’s always an adventure.”

Along one of the moving walkways at the Salt Lake airport is a lighted billboard advertising the tour. In addition, each of the airport terminal information booths has brochures that read “Layover? Then come on over.”

The Taylors make about six trips a day to and from the airport, switching off with other senior missionary couples who also serve as shuttle drivers. The courtesy van runs every 30 minutes during the busy summer season. Salt Lake City often serves as a pit stop for large tour groups and bus companies tracing the national park circuit from May through September, and Temple Square is the city’s number 1 tourist attraction.

Zong Tian Zhou listens as sister missionaries talk about the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sister Taylor said their primary objective is to serve people and to help educate and inform them about the Church and the area. “We let them know that we’re normal people,” she said.

“We’re ambassadors,” Elder Taylor added.

On the ride from the airport terminal to the west gate of Temple Square, Elder and Sister Taylor chat with their passengers about geographic features they may have noticed as they flew in, such as the Great Salt Lake or Kennecott Copper Mine, as well as the demographics of the city and Church. Sister Taylor also points out distinct features of the approaching cityscape, including the iconic spires of the Salt Lake Temple. Elder Taylor comments that he and his wife were married there 55 years ago.

As they get closer, Sister Taylor calls Temple Square, where sister missionaries from 49 countries speaking some 40 languages are available to provide tours.

The Temple Square tour takes about 20–30 minutes and typically includes three key features: the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, and a view of the temple. Depending on the size of the group, the sister missionaries may guide visitors to the model of the temple in the South Visitors’ Center, the reflection pool on the plaza, or other areas.

From there, people can indicate which other features they are interested in seeing, such as the Christus statue or one of the Church movies playing in the visitors’ centers.

Next to her in the front passenger seat of the shuttle, Sister Taylor keeps an accordion folder filled with brochures of the various other tours, activities, and destinations available in and around Temple Square. She distributes whatever brochure she thinks they’ll find most helpful or interesting.

Visitors can take a tour of the newly renovated Church History Museum, the Family History Library and Discovery Center, Welfare Square and Humanitarian Center, the Conference Center, the Beehive House, and the various gardens in and around Church headquarters, as well as take advantage of the various free concerts and exhibitions such as the organ recitals in the Tabernacle and the God’s Plan for Families exhibit in the North Visitors’ Center.

As they transport people back to the airport, the Taylors often have the opportunity to listen to individuals’ impressions of the tours.

“Most of the time, their responses are positive,” Sister Taylor said. “They’re impressed by the friendliness and sweetness of the sister missionaries, the beauty and cleanliness of the grounds, and that special feeling felt around Temple Square.”

Elder Taylor said he receives the greatest satisfaction in being able to share his love for his family, his home, and his faith with everyone who steps into his shuttle. He can point to the temple and say, “My wife and I were married there. We have six children who were all married there. They’re the most important things in my life.”

To schedule a tour of Temple Square, call 800-363-6027 or visit www.templesquare.com.

Visitors from China listen as sister missionaries explain the Temple Square tour in Salt Lake City on a summer day in 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Li Jian Ling takes a picture of the Salt Lake Temple on the Temple Square tour in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

A group from China follows sister missionaries Sister Hailey Fong, left, from Hong Kong and Sister Rika Kogure, right, from Japan on a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sister Hailey Fong shows a display of the Salt Lake Temple interior to Chinese visitors in the South Visitors’ Center in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sister Elisa Carrus hands out pamphlets to Italian visitors on a Temple Square tour in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

A group of Italian visitors takes a tour on Temple Square led by missionaries Sister Camilla Strihavka, left, from Austria and Sister Elisa Carrus, right, from Italy in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Rosaria Locci smiles as she listens to sister missionaries in the Tabernacle on a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

A group of Italian visitors listen and ask questions on a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Visitors and missionaries gather on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Temple Square courtesy van sits parked in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News. Editor's Note: Temple Square discontinued its shuttle service in 2018.

The Assembly Hall is seen in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Visitors walk through Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 11, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.