The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Announces Changes to Pageants
MANTI, Utah – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is calling an end to pageants including the popular Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti.
The final performance will run in June 2019 on the temple grounds.
“It’s really important to our community. It’s important to our youth, it’s important to our families,” said Doug Barton, the former pageant president.
The Mormon Miracle pageant started as a Pioneer Day Celebration that expanded into a major production drawing people from across the state and around the world.
“If no one came to see the pageant it would still be worth doing because of the impact on the lives of the people that participate in it,” said Barton.
The Church estimates nearly 5 million people have enjoyed the production in its five decades.
Each year the performance draws at least 80-thousand people in a two week span.
But in the last 15 years, total attendance has dropped by 40 percent.
“Our society is changing. Our attention spans are shorter,” said current Pageant President Milton Olsen. “And the pageant has existed for 53 years and has really not changed for 53 years, so it doesn’t connect with people the way it used to.”
Security, production expenses and the amount of time it takes for families to participate are all concerns, local church leaders say factored into the decision.
The team behind the pageant hopes it can be revived at a different venue, saying so much work has gone into the live theatrical performance.
The church released this statement:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing across the earth. As this occurs, local Church leaders and members are encouraged to focus on gospel learning in their homes and to participate in Sabbath worship and the Church’s supporting programs for children, youth, individuals and families. The goal of every activity in the Church should be to increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to share His gospel message throughout the world. Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged. As it relates to existing pageants, conversations with local Church and community leaders are underway to appropriately end, modify or continue these productions.”
The pageant president expects 2019 to be a banner year for the production as it nears its final scene.
“This will be the last chance to see it. The way that it is,” Barton said.
Local church leaders say they’ve been asked to consider in the next few weeks if and how the pageant will move forward.
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