Ogden-Area Youth “Shine the Light” at Cultural Celebration
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Youth from northern Utah and parts of Wyoming spent the day singing and dancing in a cultural celebration honoring the remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.
“The life you live, the gospel you love, the experience of this weekend and the mission you have ahead of you for the rest of your life will be a light in the dark world.”
—Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve
After standing to sing “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” as President Thomas S. Monson walked into the Dee Events Center on Saturday afternoon, youth from northern Utah and parts of Wyoming spent the day singing and dancing in a cultural celebration honoring the remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.
The event, held in conjunction with the temple’s rededication on Sunday, brought more than 16,000 youth together to fill the Dee Events Center at Weber State University.
Because there are so many youth living in the Ogden Utah Temple district, which includes areas in Wyoming, two separate casts performed—one at 1 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m—so all who wanted to be involved could have the opportunity. Many of those participants were part of a youth choir that accompanied the entire performance.
Their families and others living in the district gathered in stake centers to watch a broadcast of the live event.
President Monson presided over the first performance. His first counselor in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring, represented President Monson and presided over the second performance.
President Eyring told the youth that when the Ogden Utah Temple was first dedicated the Church did not hold cultural celebration events. “Now, you will have the opportunity to hold a great memory in your heart,” he said.
“President Thomas S. Monson attended your performance earlier this afternoon. He loves these wonderful occasions, and he loves you. The reason for this event is for you to express your love and appreciation for all whose sacrifice and faithfulness have made it possible for the Lord to give us the blessing of a beautiful temple of God here.”
He told the youth that their performance would “honor the heroes whose faith and sacrifice made it possible for us to receive such a blessing. They were pioneers who chose to follow the Lord wherever He needed them to serve and at whatever the cost. ... They were willing to give their all for God, their families, and for the freedom to worship God.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles welcomed the youth to the first performance, telling them that they “are the hope of Israel.” Drawing from the performance’s theme, “Shine the Light,” Elder Holland spoke of the light that comes as the youth join together to light a darkened world.
“Your collective light—each of you individually being who you are and what you are, … living the gospel and loving the Lord and keeping your light shining—as each of you come together … your collective light can change a darkened world,” he said. Elder Holland praised the youth for their light and encouraged them to take the memories, friendships, and faith gained from participating in the event to help them in the future.
“The life you live, the gospel you love, the experience of this weekend, and the mission you have ahead of you for the rest of your life will be a light in the dark world,” he said. “And you will live that part of the mission that the Savior Himself said He lived, that He came to light a world with sadness and darkness.”
“In the beginning it was only going to be one performance,” said Dennis Ferrin, the director of the event. “It is the first cultural celebration that I am aware of to ever have a second performance.”
Although there were a lot of youth to coordinate, the high numbers were part of what made the event so special.
“They have been practicing for three months on a regular basis,” said Elder Craig G. Fisher, an Area Seventy who has led the events for the temple’s rededication. “They will remember the words to these songs the rest of their lives, and they will always bring that sweet memory for when things get hard. I hope they take away a love of the temple, a love of the gospel, and that the Spirit bears witness to them that it is true.”
Whether it was a dance honoring the Native American settlers, trappers, or immigrants to the area, costumes of the eras filled the floor as each portion of the program highlighted the first settlers—including Ogden’s namesake, Peter Skeen Ogden—and industries in the area. As part of the theme, a lantern passed around to different participants led the audience through the history of northern Utah.
“We used a lantern traveling from scene to scene to represent the light that [the youth] will shine on the world—the Light of Christ,” said Dennis Ferrin, the director of the event.
Some numbers had as many as 700 youth involved, while others included a short video segment with one youth sharing their testimony. When not performing the youth filled the seats while wearing different colored T-shirts.
“I loved being with all of the other youth,” said Robbie Maloy, a 13-year-old participant from Clinton, Utah. “It seemed much shorter during the actual performance. I could really feel the Spirit in the room and loved being a part of it.”
In one of the final scenes, hundreds of youth carried pieces that made up a large picture of the first Ogden Temple. Later, they turned the pieces over to present a large photo of the newly remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.
“None of these kids were born when the temple was built originally, so they are excited to now have a temple again,” said Brother Ferrin. “We hope this helps the kids look towards the temple.”