Center Stage in New York


Light the lights. That’s what the youth from the stakes in the Manhattan temple district did to celebrate the dedication of their temple. They became the biggest show ever to hit the stage of Radio City Music Hall.

When my friends and I heard that President Gordon B. Hinckley had asked the teens in our temple district to participate in the Manhattan New York Temple youth jubilee, we were excited because we would perform in Radio City Music Hall. We also thought it would be fun to practice with the other stakes in the area and meet new friends.

It wasn’t until the first practice that it hit me that there was a more important reason I was participating in the jubilee—it was something the Lord wanted me to do.

Twelve stakes from the New York Manhattan Temple district were involved in the jubilee, and we practiced every Saturday for three months. Youth from 12 stakes were divided into six groups, and each group learned different songs and dances that represented some Church history events in New York and the ethnic diversity of our area. The practices took time, but knowing President Hinckley was coming to watch our performance gave me the push I needed to get things right.

When the night of the jubilee arrived, I had a bad case of the butterflies. But then I looked into the audience and saw President Hinckley. I had never seen him in person before, and it was incredible to be so close. In his presence, the Spirit was strong.

The night was a big success. Although we were performing in front of a huge audience, I was able to calm down and have fun. The audience laughed and clapped throughout the performance. Nearly 2,400 youth participated. It was the largest group that has ever been onstage at Radio City Music Hall.

After the performance, we were invited to attend a devotional. At the devotional, President Hinckley said he asked the youth to participate in the jubilee because he wanted the Church to be fun for us. Doctrine and Covenants 136:28 [D&C 136:28] says: “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” The jubilee helped me appreciate just how much song and dance can lift our spirits and help us be happy. President Hinckley also read to us from his journal about the time two years before when he had been inspired to have the Manhattan temple constructed. He told us that Church members in this generation have a great responsibility to make a difference in the lives of those we come in contact with.

The jubilee made a difference in my life. Meeting youth from other stakes has helped me become more outgoing and happy. I’ve also been blessed with many missionary moments with my friends at school who asked me about the jubilee and my reasons for participating in it.

Church members in this area have waited to have a temple nearby. I am grateful to a latter-day prophet who had the wisdom to allow the youth to celebrate the temple dedication through song and dance. It was truly a time of jubilation.

[Temple Dedications]

President Gordon B. Hinckley has asked young Latter-day Saints all over the world to celebrate temple dedications in their area by participating in cultural arts performances. Teens in Manhattan weren’t the first to perform for a temple dedication—they followed the examples of youth in Alaska, Ghana, Denmark, and Brazil.

The Manhattan New York Temple was dedicated by President Hinckley in June 2004. Church members in the area are grateful for this new temple and call it the “Miracle in Manhattan.”

[photos] Photography by Shaun Stahle

Nicole Oakeson is a member of the Morristown First Ward, Morristown New Jersey Stake.