Church Hosts Los Angeles Celebration of Light Event
By Matthew Ball, Director of Public Affairs, North America West Area
Nine-year-old violinist and 12-year-old pianist Rachel and Peter Mugemancuro were the surprise headline performers at the annual Celebration of Light Christmas concert held at the Los Angeles California Temple grounds December 3.
International music award winners, the brother and sister duo entertained several consuls general from the diplomatic corps in Los Angeles, multiple faith leaders in Southern California, Los Angeles city representatives, media specialists and many significant opinion leaders during an event at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center.
The Los Angeles temple grounds are well known for holiday lighting. The miles of colorful Christmas lights that festoon the outdoor landscaping have been a Los Angeles landmark since 1956.
The Celebration of Light was an invitation-only event for those not of the LDS faith. Sponsored by the Southern California Public Affairs Council, guests were welcomed to the visitors’ center with live chamber music, Christmas décor, and a presentation of international crèche’s, backdropped by a starry night cyclorama and featuring a prominent star of Bethlehem that overlooked many Nativity scenes. Hors d’ouevres and a light dinner made the pre-concert reception a time for guests to enjoy the many video exhibits and interactive dioramas.
More than 200 guests were escorted into the concert hall where the president of the California Baptist Coalition, Dr. E. Wayne Gaddis, offered an invocation. Elder Jerry Garns, an Area Seventy, offered a Christmas message by incorporating principles practiced in some non-Christian faiths as well as the traditional doctrines held sacred in the Christian community.
The inclusion of all religious belief was a common theme for the evening as the music of the prodigy performers was interlaced with a narrative, spoken word reminder of the peace on Earth that comes from individuals performing simple acts of kindness within their own sphere of influence. Uniting all faith traditions in a closing statement that reminded each attendee of the desired, good will toward all men, Sanaz Meshkinfam, representative of the American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, offered a benediction to the event.
After the celebration, guests filed outside of the visitors’ center where they were greeted with a clear, Southern California night and the sweeping panorama of Christmas lights that illuminated—what seemed like—every corner of the 20 acres of temple grounds owned by the Church.