Elder Ballard Speaks to Cast Members of the 50th Mormon Miracle Pageant
Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer
- The Mormon Miracle Pageant will be performed at 9:30 p.m. June 16–18 and 21–25. Admission is free.
- In commemoration of the 50th season, devotionals, starting at 4:30 p.m., and concerts, beginning at 7:30 p.m., will be held before each performance.
The Mormon Miracle Pageant has been a staple of the Manti, Utah, community for half a century, this year being its 50th season. The pageant has great meaning to Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he said during a devotional for cast members and volunteers of the pageant held in the Manti Utah Stake Center on May 29.
Elder Ballard’s mother was the oldest sister of Macksene Rux, who directed the pageant for 20 years, from 1969 to 1988. In the process of those 20 years, she often called upon Elder Ballard’s help with the pageant. “Every time she needed something, my phone would ring and we’d do what we could,” he said. “Miracles have been performed in bringing this wonderful pageant to the people of the world.”
Additionally, those familiar with the pageant might recognize the voice of Mormon, recorded in the early days of the pageant, as Melvin Russell Ballard Sr., Elder Ballard’s father. Elder Ballard joked that he strongly suggested that if the directors wanted to rewrite parts of the pageant, to not “change Mormon. At least not while I’m still alive.”
On the hillside of the Manti Utah Temple, performers depict scenes from the Book of Mormon, including Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Americas and the events surrounding the translation of the Book of Mormon.
“It’s a marvelous thing that you’re going to unfold to the people of the world,” Elder Ballard said, describing the pageant. The Mormon Miracle Pageant is a testimony that members of the Church “know more about the purpose of life. We know more of where we came from. We know more why we are here. We know more about what our destiny is when we go from this world to the next one than any other people on the face of the earth. We know who we are, that we’re the sons and daughters of God.”
The opening scene of the pageant depicts the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision in the Sacred Grove. “There, upon his knees, that boy who had been chosen from the foundation of the creation of the world was visited by the Father and the Son,” Elder Ballard said. “I've always thought, what beautiful words that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have in memory, when our Father in Heaven addresses the boy, ‘Joseph, this is My Beloved Son. Hear Him.’ Just think of that. From that experience came an understanding that we have that almost all the rest of the world does not. And that is God our Eternal Father is indeed our Father, an exalted, glorified being. He is our Father; we are His children.”
In June, this story will be shared with people of the world, many of whom are members of the Church who need their testimonies strengthened, Elder Ballard said. “May God bless you that you will radiate through your eyes, through your voices, through your communications, through your spirit as you meet people, as they come and as they go, that they will leave refreshed, uplifted, inspired, and filled with the desire to be a little better, to try a little harder, to be a little more what our Heavenly Father would like us all to be.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard speaks to cast members and volunteers of the Mormon Miracle Pageant at a devotional held in the Manti Utah Stake Center on May 29. Photo by Valerie Johnson.
Elder Ballard invoked an apostolic blessing on the cast members and volunteers. “I ask Heavenly Father to bless you, every one, in whatever your assignments are, that you’ll have great joy and excitement in being a part of telling a story, the marvelous story of the Book of Mormon, the Lord Jesus Christ and His role in the Book of Mormon, the great message of the Restoration, and the reality that we are the sons and daughters of God.”
Elder Ballard said that he would soon be leaving to travel to Russia and other nearby countries to teach members and missionaries. “What will I be teaching them? What you are going to teach the world on the hill in the Manti Pageant.”
“No one passes through this process of mortality without challenges of some kind or another,” Elder Ballard said. He asked that if at any time things became difficult and they started questioning, “Would you pause and let your mind pause and go to Gethsemane? … Would you allow your mind to see the greatest hero, the greatest friend, the most important person in all of our lives, kneeling in supplication that He would have the capacity to do what Heavenly Father had sent Him to do? That was that somehow through His Atonement, He could lift the sins of all those who would come unto Him on conditions of repentance. That through Him and His Atonement, we would all be able to carry the burdens of what life might present to us.”
In closing, Elder Ballard testified to the volunteers, “You are on His errand, and He will smile upon your effort, to which I am absolutely sure, as I invoke this blessing and leave you this testimony, that you have a wonderful pageant declaring the word of God to the people who come and sit at your feet.”
The Mormon Miracle Pageant will be performed at 9:30 p.m. June 16–18 and 21–25. Admission is free. In commemoration of the 50th season, devotionals, starting at 4:30 p.m., and concerts, beginning at 7:30 p.m., will be held before each performance. For a schedule of events and more information, visit mantipageant.org.
Elder M. Russell Ballard greets the stake presidency of the Manti Utah Stake as he leaves a May 29 devotional for cast members and volunteers of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. Photo by Valerie Johnson.