Visitors must pass through a lobby featuring several boutiques, including a liquor store, find their way to the elevator, take it to the fourth floor and then stroll down a long hallway. No familiar logo above the door. No church name or meeting times on the directories.
And every Sunday as expatriates gather for their weekly services, the branch (congregation) president reads an official statement from the pulpit, explaining to any new members or visitors that proselytizing is forbidden. So is distributing LDS literature or mingling with Mormons who are Chinese nationals and meet separately.
None of that is likely to change with Monday’s announcement that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has held “high-level” talks that are “expected to lead to ‘regularized’ [church] operations” in China.
The Utah-based faith isn’t about to overwhelm the world’s most-populous nation with young men in dark suits or erect temples in Beijing, Shanghai or anywhere else on the mainland.
“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson said in a news release. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration.”