A group of Manx members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a day-trip to the LDS temple in Chorley, Lancashire, to watch ‘A British Pageant’, which was held over nine evenings in the Temple grounds.
This was the first time an LDS pageant, modelled after the pageants held annually in America, has been held in Britain, and only the second time a church pageant was held anywhere outside North America.
Tickets were free and every seat pre-booked months ago. Over the nine days a cast and choir of over three hundred volunteers and many others working ‘backstage’ entertained thousands of excited visitors.
The woman who wrote and directed the pageant served a mission for the church in the island in 2003.
The theme, as the title suggests, is the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons) in Britain and the contribution Britain has made to religious freedom over the centuries.
Building on the accomplishments of such historical figures as John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, the pageant tells the story of British Latter-day Saints who have sacrificed so much to build their faith and strengthen their communities.
The first Mormon missionary to Britain was Heber C. Kimball who arrived in Liverpool in 1837. When he first set foot in Liverpool in 1837 he found a political rally in full progress with the slogan ‘Truth Shall Prevail’.
Sensing the significance of the moment, he used the words as his rallying cry.
Four years later John Taylor arrived in Douglas on the Liverpool boat to spread the word to the island.
John Taylor was born in Milnthorpe, Westmoreland, emigrated to Canada as a Methodist lay preacher and while there met and married Leonora Cannon, who was born in, and lived her early adult years in, Peel.
They converted to the LDS church and later John was sent on a mission to England, from where he eventually brought the ‘restored gospel’ to his wife’s homeland.
John Taylor went on to become the prophet/president of the church and, with Leonora by his side, the only non-American to date to be so.
From those first missionary efforts hundreds of Manx converts also emigrated to America and they and their descendants have become instrumental in the growth of the church there and further afield.
Over the years five, from the Cannon and Cowley family, became apostles.
Others played significant parts in the development of the early church.
Many also became notable in secular and political matters in America, among whom were mayors, congressmen, judges and state senators.
John Thomas Caine was largely responsible for Utah gaining statehood.
George Cannon made death masks of, and coffins for, the the church’s founder, Joseph Smith.
The 19th century policy of gathering church members to America resulted in the decimation of the church in the island and for the first half of the 20th century no LDS church existed here.
The picture shows some of the members underneath the banner at the entrance to the pageant grounds.