Bringing Jerusalem to Utah

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People dressed in old robes and sandals walk the dusty streets. Three crosses stand ominously on the edge of a hill. Mary and Joseph walk through his carpenter shop as she tells him the news of her pregnancy.

This is Jerusalem, but it isn’t the original Jerusalem. This is a movie set on the outskirts of Goshen, Utah, where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been filming short segments from the life of Jesus Christ.

The filming, which is in its third and final summer season, is part of the Church’s New Testament video project. Some of the videos are available as small segments on The Church’s website BibleVidoes.org and are shared publicly so people can learn more about the life of Jesus Christ.

“The story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest ever told. The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos will provide you and your family a new and meaningful way to learn about Jesus Christ,” the website says.

Members and nonmembers alike can use the videos for anything from church lessons to simply deepening their understanding of the role of the Savior. The videos are a resource to the world.

Yet many people may not know that everything for these global movies has been filmed in nearby Goshen. The set, which was designed and built to be a permanent structure, was originally constructed in 2010, according to the former producer Scott Smiley, who is now the Church’s director of the film and video division.

“We started building this in the fall of 2010,” Smiley said. “We didn’t complete it until October of 2011. We filmed on it while we were still finishing it that first season.”

The cast and crew has continued filming during each of the three summers since 2011.

Some of the New Testament videos went online shortly after the project’s launch in 2011. President Henry B. Eyring made an announcement at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 2011, saying that the Church would be placing New Testament videos on the Church’s website.

“The first look at what we had done was given at the 2011 Christmas devotional,” Smiley said. “That’s when President Eyring announced these videos as a gift to the world.”

Smiley added that the videos will help spread the gospel to people around the world.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to be out here and recreating stories that are familiar to all of Christendom,” Smiley said. “It’s a wonderful set that we’ve built here for it, and it becomes a nice opportunity for us to show the world some of the good news of the gospel.”

Smiley’s favorite part of being a producer on this project was being able to re-create the life of Christ and then to see it up-close and personal as the events unfold on screen.

“I feel like I have been a witness to the actual portrayal of the acts of Christ,” Smiley said.

The New Testament videos not only share Christ’s life and mission with the world, but they have also use worldwide resources to complete the project. According to Smiley, members of the cast and crew represent 10 countries from around the world.

This season’s filming will be completed in the coming weeks. Post-filming plans for the set in Goshen are yet to be announced, but the permanent set was built to last at least 30 years and could be used for other projects in the future.

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