News Release

Virtual Church history tours strengthen believers globally

In-country translators expand opportunities to visit distant sites

Virtual Church history tours bring “history to life,” said Sybille Ravn-Winch. Earlier this year she was asked to translate a live tour of the Sacred Grove from English to German for other members of the congregation she attends in Germany. While most historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offer virtual tours in English and a few other languages, in-country translators have opened up opportunity for members and friends of the Church across the globe who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to visit historic Church sites in person.

The Sacred Grove is located in Palmyra, New York in the United States. This site is significant to Latter-day Saints as it is where God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to young Joseph Smith Jr. in 1820 and commenced the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ to the world.

The Sacred Grove is located in upstate New York2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“There was still snow on the ground as the tour guides walked the paths and gave us a feel for the surroundings as if we were there.” Sybille said. “The walk from the house to the Sacred Grove was quite a distance and gives you a better understanding of the effort that Joseph Smith had to put forth to find a secluded place to pray.”

The pandemic was the catalyst for Church history sites to offer virtual tours. As people throughout the world became more comfortable in online meeting platforms, considerable efforts were made to make the tours a meaningful experience. On-site guides pace the tours so interpreters can translate a few sentences at a time. Updates to phones, cameras and technology were made to improve the virtual experience. In addition, time to answer questions from participants is often built in to personalize the tour.

“We immediately realised the need to help our missionaries fulfill their purpose,” said Brad Allen, president of the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. “It was a thrill for us to see them share the history of the Mormon Battalion and what it meant to the expansion in the United States and the Church with a worldwide audience.”

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site at San Diego closed for in person tours on March 14, 2020. Over the next 14 months, missionaries provided nearly 3,800 virtual tours for about 40,000 guests from 70 countries worldwide, including 22 from Europe.

Virtual Tours Church Sites 01
The Mormon Battalion at San Diego2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Many of the members of the Mormon Battalion were European Latter-day Saints,” said Brad Allen, president of the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. “They were the pioneers of the Church, faithful and devoted – making sacrifices to build Zion.”

The next virtual tour Sybille would like to take would be Historic Nauvoo located in western Illinois in the United States. Nauvoo is a city built by early Latter-day Saints on the banks of the Mississippi River and served as the headquarters of the Church from 1839 to 1846.

Sister Marilyn Berg Rizley serves with her husband President Stephen Rizley who oversees the Historic Nauvoo Church history site. She said that in-person and virtual tours are a meaningful supplement this year for Church members engaged in a weekly study of The Doctrine and Covenants and early history of the Church as outlined in the 2021 Come Follow Me curriculum.

Virtual Tours Church Sites 02
Historic Nauvoo2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“We love connecting with members across the world and sharing the rich history of the Church here in Nauvoo,” said Sister Rizley. “These sites were preserved and restored to strengthen the faith of our members. They are living testaments to those who sacrificed so much in establishing the Church. We can all draw strength from their heroism and do hard things too.”

She shared a few tips when setting up a virtual Church history tour with an in-country translator. 1) Find a person who speaks English to sign up with the group. 2) When the online tour begins, let the missionaries know in the chat that a translator will be utilized and they will make the translator a co-host to enable microphone access. 3) Check to be sure the tour is scheduled in the correct time zone for your country. Many times, tours can be accommodated after hours for virtual participants across the world.

President Allen said that virtual tour participants “can expect to have their love for the gospel strengthened and gain appreciation for what the early Latter-day Saints did to pave the way for us today.”

“These tours help our history become more real and credible for new and longtime members of the Church,” said Sybille. “It is a beautiful example of faith building for all of us.”

Church history sites will continue to offer virtual tours for individuals, families and groups even as in-person tours are re-introduced. Tours can be scheduled for the following sites; Joseph Smith’s birthplace, the Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, the Book of Mormon publication site, the Priesthood Restoration Site, the Whitmer Farm, Historic Kirtland, the Independence Visitors’ Centre, Liberty Jail, the St. George Tabernacle, the Mormon Battalion Center at San Diego, and the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters. Tours can now be booked form a single location on the Church website -

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