Provo temple cultural celebration dazzles tens of thousands

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Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve addresses a Marriott Center audience at the cultural celebration of the Provo City Center Temple. (Natalie Stoker)

Thousands of people gathered at the Marriott Center on Saturday in celebration of the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple. They emphasized the theme found in Matthew 21: 16 about drawing strength from the youth of the church.

Approximately 4,500 youth participated in the event, keeping people in the audience on the edges of their seats with music, dance, storytelling and skits.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve opened by sharing a few close memories of his upbringing in Provo and his interaction with BYU as its 8th president.

“My young brothers and sisters and your leaders, the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple is especially significant to me,” Elder Oaks said.¬†“It’s especially significant to me since I was born in Provo and went to high school here.”

The dances that were performed by youths from the Provo City Center District church congregations were rehearsed twice a week for several hours over the past three months. The featured theme of the performance, “to give unto them beauty for ashes,” referred to the transformation of the once burned down and destroyed Provo Tabernacle into the temple that will be dedicated by LDS leaders on Sunday.

Ceremony performer Savannah Seeley explained the satisfaction she felt after all was said and done. “The feeling was very good. When we sang the last song, it was a very neat experience.”

A youth member of the Provo City Center district waves her banner as part of a musical performance of the Provo City Center Temple cultural celebration
A performer waves her banner as part of a musical performance of the Provo City Center Temple cultural celebration. (Natalie Stoker)

The final song, “To Give them Beauty for Ashes,” was composed exclusively for the performance by LDS artist Dave Zabriskie. The result was a lengthy standing ovation as the nearly 22,000-member audience erupted in praise and cheer.

Nicole Walker of Springville, Utah, watched as her daughter performed in several of the musical numbers, “I had a hard time not crying the whole time,” Walker said. Walker explained that she felt very close to the old tabernacle and built many memories in the building.

The decision was made to turn the remains of the Provo Tabernacle into the city’s second temple after a December 2010 fire destroyed all but the exterior. The former tabernacle had served as a location for LDS Church meetings, ceremonies and community gatherings since its initial construction in 1883. Temple dedication ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, March 20.

 

 

 

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