Christmas in Los Angeles

Contributed By Jan Hemming, Los Angeles Public Affairs Office

  • 21 December 2015

The Southern California Korean Choir directed by David Oh at the “Sing His Praises” interfaith-intercultural choir concert on December 5.  Photo by Greg Gollaher.

Article Highlights

  • Violinist Jenny Oaks Baker performed for guests at the annual Christmas Gala.
  • The Los Angeles Ladies Consular Corps Association annual holiday social, now in its 25th year, drew representatives from 16 countries.
  • An intercultural-interfaith choir concert capped the weeklong Christmas festivities.

Framed by warm Pacific Ocean breezes and festively lighted palm trees, diplomats, dignitaries, and interfaith leaders gathered with Church public affairs officials in Los Angeles for a trio of special social events at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center during early December.

Christmas Gala

Violinist and Grammy-nominated recording artist Jenny Oaks Baker gave a performance that brought a room full of guests at the annual Christmas Gala December 2 to their feet in loud applause. She played carols from Christmases past, drawing the audience into a rhythmic clap during “Ding Dong, Merrily on High.”

Sister Baker was the centerpiece of an evening that attracted prominent leaders from a broad spectrum of professional, governmental and diplomatic circles for a catered reception and Christmas program sponsored by the Southern California Public Affairs Council. Lindsay Arnold Cusick, a finalist in this season’s Dancing with the Stars TV show and a Latter-day Saint, gave a brief Christmas message. Chip Rawlings, director of the Southern California Public Affairs Council, said, “One leader after another told me how much they enjoy the spirit in the visitors’ center and that they look forward to this event more than any other.”

Notable guests included Rabbi David Wolpe of Temple Sinai; Daniel Tamm, with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration; Dr. Jerrold Green, CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy; Saheen Kassim-Lakha, director of international programs for the Conrad Hilton Foundation; Father Alexei Smith of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese; and consuls general from 15 countries.

The visitors’ center was aglow with more than a dozen Christmas trees decorated by LDS stakes throughout the greater Los Angeles region, including one by the students from nearby St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church.

Ladies Consular Corps

A variety of international dishes—from homemade sushi and Irish shepherd’s pie, to the Asian rice dish khao dome—were among the tasty offerings at a luncheon jointly hosted by the visitors’ center and the Los Angeles public affairs office December 1. The occasion was the annual holiday social for the wives of foreign consuls general who are all members of the Los Angeles Ladies Consular Corps Association. The tradition, now in its 25th year, drew representatives from 16 countries. Sister missionaries assigned to the visitors’ center sang four Christmas carols and assisted in serving guests.

“Sing His Praises” Interfaith Choir Concert

An intercultural-interfaith choir concert featuring ensembles with Samoan, Korean, African American, and Latter-day Saint heritages capped the weeklong Christmas festivities December 5. A crowd of about 1,000 poured into St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, a block from the Los Angeles Temple, to hear songs of the Christmas season sung by six choirs.

The Southern California Korean Choir and the Compton First Samoan Ward Choir, both composed of LDS members, wore traditional cultural costumes as part of their performance. When the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Choir from downtown LA finished its set, the audience erupted in cheers and hearty hand-clapping. Choirs from the Santa Monica California Stake, the Moore Family Singers, and St. Paul the Apostle New Schola Cantorium also participated.

The event, arranged by Linda Hansen, Santa Monica Stake director of Public Affairs, concluded with all the combined choirs singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Prior to the concert, the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center hosted a Christmas cookie reception.

Wives of 16 consuls general enjoy the annual holiday luncheon sponsored by the Ladies Consular Corps and hosted by the LA Visitors' Center and the Los Angeles Public Affairs office. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

Sister Sarah Fehrenback, an LDS missionary from Colombia, serves Carmel Hill, wife of Honorary Irish Consul General Finbar Hill, at the Ladies Consular Corps luncheon December 1 at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors' Center. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

Sister Vicki Ashton of the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center with representatives from the Turkish consulate. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

Dr. Wayne Gaddis, Saniya Gaddis, Cyeryl Wilde, Elder Gary Wilde, and Ewane Gaddis stand for a photo during the Los Angeles Christmas Gala on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

Arma Faruki, Nabeeha Aleem, Khadija Syed, Maleeha Aleem, Saira Fyed, and Aasiya Syed pose for a photo during the Los Angeles Christmas Gala on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

All six combined choirs with Samoan, Korean, African American, and Mormon heritages at the “Sing His Praises” interfaith-intercultural choir concert December 5. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

The Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Choir directed by LaShawn Chester at the “Sing His Praises” choir concert. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

The Compton First Samoan Ward Choir directed by Sapapilii Masame at the “Sing His Praises” choir concert. Photo by Greg Gollaher.

Jenny Oaks Baker, accompanied by Hannah Baker, performs during the Los Angeles Christmas Gala held on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

Jenny Oaks Baker performs during the Los Angeles Christmas Gala held on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

Lindsay Arnold Cusick shares a Christmas message during the Los Angeles Christmas Gala on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

The Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, Daniel Tamm, and Joumana Silyan-Saba during the Christmas Gala on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

Stanley Black, Joan Ashton, and Raju Rasiah stand together during the Christmas Gala held on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.

The Honorable Fernando Lazcano, emeritus consul general from Bolivia, with the Honorable Javier Vallaure from Spain. Photo by Richard Radstone.

Lindsay Arnold Cusick, from the hit TV show Dancing with the Stars, and her husband, Sam. Photo by Richard Radstone.

The Honorable Nasimi Aghayev, from Azerbaijan, with Maria Calix, a member of the Los Angeles County Council on Women, at the Los Angeles Christmas Gala on December 2. Photo by Richard Radstone.