Interfaith Concert, Public Reading Mark National Bible Week
By Joe Walker, Deseret News
“I believe that people of faith who read and ponder biblical teachings in their lives form the moral underpinning of society.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve
In a historic venue within which praises to God have routinely been sung, some 3,000 audience members in the venerable Salt Lake Tabernacle were treated November 23 to an evening of very specific musical praise during an interfaith “Concert of Praise for God’s Word.”
“This concert is an expression of thankfulness to God for His gift of the Bible,” said Richard Glickstein, president of the National Bible Association, which sponsored the event as part of the organization’s annual National Bible Week observance, during which Salt Lake City was officially designated as National Bible City 2013.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles welcomed the audience to the Tabernacle on behalf of the Church.
“It’s an honor to host this concert of praise and celebration of God’s word,” Elder Christofferson said, adding that the Bible and its teachings are “too often ignored and judged to be impractical.”
“But God’s word out of the Holy Bible is very relevant to each one of us,” Elder Christofferson continued. “The teaching of this divinely inspired book will ultimately lead us to Christ and salvation. I believe that people of faith who read and ponder biblical teachings in their lives form the moral underpinning of society.”
Musical performances for the evening focused on musical settings of Bible verses and Bible teachings. The styles ranged from classical to pop to rhythm and blues and included ancient Hebrew melodies sung by Cantor Emanuel C. Perlman that, according to Glickstein, were likely heard by Jesus Christ in the synagogues in which He worshipped during His mortal life.
Featuring popular actress Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel and The Bible miniseries) and her husband, producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, and The Bible miniseries), each of whom presented several dramatic readings of Bible passages, the concert included a Christian choir from inner-city Baltimore (the Singing Sensations Youth Choir), an evangelical Christian choir from Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake City Mass Choir), the Salt Lake University LDS Institute Singers, and the Brigham Young University Singers.
Following a moving reading by Downey of the 23rd Psalm, the two LDS choirs joined forces to conclude the concert with an awe-inspiring arrangement of “The Lord Is My Shepherd.”
Two days later a “joyful” gathering of political, business, and ecclesiastical leaders in the state capitol rotunda celebrated the language, teachings, and everyday applications of the Bible during a special public reading of favorite Bible verses. Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy represented the Church at the event, sharing a passage from the New Testament book of Ephesians. After the gathering he said the Church “is so honored to be part of this, joining together with other faiths to share our mutual love for the word of God found in the Bible.”
“This is purely joyful,” Elder Nielsen said.
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, the first of 13 citizens who shared favorite Bible verses during the event, said “we really ought to spend more time reading the scriptures.”
“Regardless of our religious affiliation, the Bible provides us with a road map to heaven, to happiness, to how to conduct our lives,” Governor Herbert said. “Like any good road map, the Bible can keep us from getting lost and can help us understand the directions we should take in our lives.”
Others who shared favorite scriptures during the Monday event were community advocate Pamela Atkinson; Bruce Bingham, cofounder of Hamilton Partners; Rabbi Frederick L. Wenger, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Kol Ami; Sheri L. Dew, president of Deseret Book; the Rev. Gregory Johnson of Standing Together Ministries; Father Martin Diaz, pastor of the Cathedral of the Madeleine; Ahmad S. Corbitt, a trustee of the National Bible Association; and Pastor Jim Ayers, senior pastor at Lifechurch.
“It’s the Bible that brings us all together,” National Bible Association President Glickstein said.
Randy Rigby of the Utah Jazz, Father Martin Diaz from the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy, Bruce Bingham of Hamilton Partners, and Eagle Scout Hayden Taylor (right to left) at the public Bible reading at the Utah State Capitol, where many community and religious leaders read favorite passages from the Bible for National Bible Week.