Members prepare for the Provo City Center Temple cultural celebration

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Rebecca Lewis instructs a large group of youth who will be participating in the Provo City Center Temple cultural celebration. (Rebecca Lewis)

The Provo City Center Temple cultural celebration will be Saturday, Mar. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. More than 5,400 youth will participate in a narrated program along with remarks from LDS Church leaders.

The upcoming cultural celebration will bring nostalgia to many as it reflects on the Provo Tabernacle that burned down on Dec. 17, 2010.

The celebration will focus on the theme “To Give unto Them Beauty for Ashes,” which comes from the Old Testament scripture Isaiah 61:3.

The theme was chosen as a representation of how the Provo Tabernacle was burned to ashes before being restored as a temple. It is also a metaphor for what the Savior can do for us according to Polly Dunn, cultural celebration committee chair.

Rebecca Lewis, BYU contemporary dance faculty member, is sharing her passion for dance as she directs a number honoring the new temple for the celebration.

The celebration will be a historic, panoramic view of Provo’s history and heritage. Lewis’s piece, set in the 1860s, will be performed to a rendition of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Lewis said she thinks the youth will never forget this cultural celebration experience.

“All the time, effort and enthusiasm they have put in makes it so meaningful. I feel that the choreography has really just been given to me, I’ve simply put it on the dancers and we go from there to create something beautiful,” Lewis said.

Church members have participated through music, dance and song to express their gratitude for the blessings of the gospel since the Church’s restoration, according to the lds.org website. However, the first-ever cultural celebration wasn’t held until 2004 before the dedication of the Accra Ghana Temple. Every temple dedication and rededication since has been accompanied by a cultural celebration.

Dunn said the cultural celebration was not for the community, but for the youth. She said the First Presidency wanted the youth to have a good, spiritual experience, to come to the temple and have uplifting spiritual feelings.

“I didn’t want to make this something that they could learn in a day. I wanted (the children) to feel like they have accomplished something,” Dunn said.

The cultural celebration invites the youth to sacrifice some of their time in gratitude and appreciation for the coming of the temple, according to Dunn.

The event is free and open to the public.

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