U.K. Mormons renew British Pageant with Elder Ballard in the audience

Simon D. Jones, LDS Church

Captain Dan Jones as portrayed in the British Pageant 2017 in Chorley, England, on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2013, more than 1,000 members the LDS Church in the United Kingdom volunteered in the British Pageant, billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event, the first official Mormon pageant held outside the United States.

The event was a major success, but afterward church members tore down the temporary theater and disposed of the set and the costumes.

On Tuesday, back by popular demand, the British Pageant returned, retelling the story of the migration of thousands of Mormon converts from the British Isles to the United States in the mid-1800s as well as stories of sacrifice and martyrdom that produced the first English translation of the Bible.

And on Thursday, a special visitor joined more than 1,500 spectators for a performance of “Truth Will Prevail” in a new temporary theater on the grounds of the faith’s Preston Temple in Chorley, England. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the pageant recalled the rich legacy of music dating back to the Mormon pioneers.

“Even on the Plains,” he said in a news release, “when they were moving across in those very difficult times with their wagons and their handcarts, they would find themselves singing, oftentimes dancing in order to try to keep their spirits up and to feel the joy and the power that comes from music and song and socialization.”

The pageant is a massive undertaking that draws volunteer cast and crew from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. More than 300 people worked for six months to choreograph, learn lines, build sets and craft costumes. More than 2,000 Mormons are involved overall, which means pageant participation surpasses 1 percent of the 185,000 church members in the United Kingdom.

The pageant’s stories include the legendary Mormon missionary Captain Dan Jones of Wales, who became a…

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