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The End Of The Mormon Miracle Pageant — Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
July 1, 2019 5:25 am

The End Of The Mormon Miracle Pageant — Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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One member is examining the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism welcome of this additional viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson my colleague or am well on June 22, 2019.

The last performance of the Mormon miracle pageant took place and we thought that we would spend this time to talk about what the pageant was really all about some of our experiences of going to this pageant and perhaps even some theories as to why the pageant all of a sudden came to an end and that's really how it happened.

It was only announced what last October.

Eric where the church announced that not only with the Mormon miracle pageant in man tie you to be coming to an end but it also mentioned that the church was no longer interested in any of the larger productions which would include other pageant such as the Palmyra pageant which will come to an end after 2020 we thought we would talk about the pageant because I'm sure that we talked about it in times past. There's probably a lot of people who live outside of Utah who do not understand the significance of this outdoor play that takes place on the Temple Hill as it's called in Mantell Utah. The backdrop is the man tie Temple itself and of course they have a lot of lights on the temple was the as the play goes on.

But the performance itself is on the hill and then at the bottom of the hill.

There are numerous chairs they've estimated anywhere. What up to 14,000 fold up chairs are set out on the lawn and there's even another small area for blankets and such. You have to understand that man tie is in the middle of a rural area. It only has a few thousand people. This temple was built many years ago in the 19th century and so it's a very historic temple, but every year man tie closes down for two weeks to be able to take in all of these people businesses are doing well but you have to understand this is a LDS mindset that said the majority of people in this community and the neighboring communities like you from in Gunnison are very heavy, LDS, in fact, in the early days when I started to go back in 1987.

They estimated that 90% of Sanpete County was made up of Latter Day Saints. So very, very historic place in the very center of the state of Utah and until recent years there has not been a huge Christian influence at all by churches and this just been in the last 20 years that we've actually seen Christian churches. Going into this area, so when I was doing door-to-door 1987 and knocking on doors and telling people about Christianity, something never even heard of evangelical Christianity all they knew was Mormonism. I remove are talking to one farmer who was probably in his 80s and that he had never been further than Salt Lake City so he had never heard the gospel that I was able to present to him, but I was thinking even if I did convert somebody that first year there were no churches in Sanpete County to be able to take him to and so this is something that we have dealt with over the years, but is exciting to see how now Sanpete County has two or three solid Christian churches that people can go to and we should mention that a lot of Christians have found this to be an excellent place to present the gospel because this is where you have thousands and thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in one small area. I mean we know that Paul went to the synagogues why because he wanted to speak to the Jews.

And so we want to speak to Mormon so we would go to the Mormon miracle pageant. We would stand on the streets and we would engage in conversations and many of us had different strategies that we would use to hopefully get the attention of the Mormons that were going to see this outdoor play. It was encouraging for me to see in the last two weeks of the 2019 pageant. So many Christians that came out hundreds and hundreds of Christians came from all over the country. Many of them took their vacations to come to the pageant to talk to the Latter Day Saints. Many young people came out as parts of youth groups. They actually paid to go there and I think that probably shocks a lot of Latter Day Saints because remember the early years.

I don't remember so much in the leader years, but in the early years, it was not uncommon for a Mormon to come up to you and say how much are you getting paid, i.e., here, and of course a lot of these young people actually paid to go on these trips to go and talk to the LDS people and I think that took them aback when they would realize that they had that much of a concern that they would want to spend time to come out there to talk specifically to them and that's what I would tell them this is where you here I came here I would tell them because I want to talk specifically to you. You have to understand that they closed the streets around the temple area so that you could actually talk to people outside off the sidewalk in the streets and until just a couple of years ago when they purchased one of the street setter that is in front of the temple. We were able to go pretty much all around in that area and share and there still were plenty of places.

Even after they purchased the street but I first went in 1987 when I first went maybe in the week that I went maybe four or five of us were out there witnessing and we would attract huge crowds, 3050, and I seen pictures maybe as many as 100 people would be around and I'm not a street preacher but you almost became that when people are shouting questions that you and just very few Christians were doing that.

I went again in 1989 with my wife Terry and then in 1991 I had talked to you about doing this pageant and so you are able to get going in the very early years when there still were not very many Christians and tell us a little bit about how we came to start doing this annually with MRM. Will you would come to me and you would mention this, and I really was not familiar with and so as you talk to me more about it. I thought this would be a great opportunity to go up and do some of evangelizing, so we had known a mutual friend man by the name of Bart Brewer. He was actually a former Catholic priest, and he offered us his RV and so we thought sure so he let us use his RV and I remember this RV probably was not really long trip worthy. I think that's probably a nice way of putting it. And so we had all sorts of mechanical problems, but being the young punks.

We were at that time we were undaunted and so we just made these repairs and couple times we've had to get into it to a mechanic to get it fixed but that was our first opportunity and I was just enthralled by the crowds, and even though it was a bit hostile. I remember those first several years.

It was not uncommon for Mormons to tear your literature up in front of your face in mock you for being there in my personal experience I found that started changing. As the years went on, every once in a while you would, of course, get a latter-day St. who did not know how to handle information that contradicted what they had been led to believe, but I found that a lot of the Mormons to kind of tolerate us to a higher degree. You might say that in those earlier years. It was a great experience.

We made it an annual event. You and I only missed one year since 1991, and that was because in 2002. The Mormons were going to open the Nauvoo temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. That just happened to be in June 2002, so we had to make a decision where we are going to go. You and I both decided it would be important to be there in Nauvoo and I'm glad we did go to but that was the one year that I missed since 1990 1C figure almost 3 decades.

We had been going to it because it was just an incredible place to share the gospel. A lot of these Latter Day Saints people had never heard what we had to say were never understood clearly what we had to say and so this would give us an opportunity and I might say I've been to a number of pageants that the church put on over the years I've been to the Palmyra pageant up into the Jesus the Christ pageant up into the Nauvoo city of Joseph pageant identities pageant and I would say that of all the pageants man tie the Mormon miracle pageant was probably one of the easier pageants in order to share the gospel and this is why, because as you said we had the whole street to work with you did not have to worry about blocking anybody's way on the sidewalk and that was one of the problems with the Jesus the Christ pageant in Mesa yeah basically a sidewalk and if you get three or four people talking to you on the sidewalk, it starts to block off the sidewalk, which of course we understand that's illegal. You can't do that so it made it very difficult but I felt man tie to be a very easy place to witness and over the years we have seen people come to faith not necessary so much.

Maybe right on the spot and we didn't expect that to begin with, but we have certainly seen people come to faith and some have actually come back as Christians to help us on the streets and recall that the first time they'd ever been to the pageant.

It was as a latter-day St. another coming back as a Christian and they're wanting to share the gospel with those that you might say they left behind in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One of the things that made this pageant so easy to go to. I mean you had to certainly travel but it was for two weeks. You could go on a short week with three nights or the second week with five nights and we would have a place in the man's high Park, the city would rent out the space on the lawn that you could have a tent. I think in the early days it was five dollars a tent in the later years. It was $10 a tent, which is very inexpensive and there's a pavilion there and that became the place from the very beginning, I think, in 1989 we went there and that's where Christians were already gathering in fact a lot of people call it the Christian corner, so there or the Christian ghetto which person you thought I was referred to is a Christian ghetto.

We can laughingly set it but it was a place to have fellowship and to be able to be together. We would sing in the pavilion before we would head over there in later years E from church of the Bible and ship Thompson became involved and opened up their church to allow us to have meetings and we started to have meetings in the daytime. In the mornings but it was a great place to take that you and I remember from where you and I come from in San Diego. There were several churches that made their way there, and I taught at a Christian school. I love having the students that I taught my Bible classes out there on the street. I'll never forget. For instance, one gal who was a junior in high school and was not I'm gonna say the most enthusiastic Christian in my Bible class but she went out there and I'll never forget her coming up to me and just so bubbly and it and excited and she says to me you know this is the first time, Mr. Johnson, I shared my faith and I did it. I am so happy for me as an adult to say wow because that pageant encouraged street conversations and Latter Day Saints are very open generally to have conversations about faith much more than perhaps let's say a Jehovah's Witness and how many young people. I recall would exchange emails. A lot of these young people were sharing emails and continuing the conversation, even after they had gone home and I think you're right.

It was a great testing ground if you will for these young people to get out there and make themselves vulnerable in sharing their faith in your right.

It also Eric. It wasn't easy place to do it because Latter Day Saints, as you say are more open to talk about religious things spiritual things, so it made it very easy for conversation to take place. I want to continue this in tomorrow's show because there are a lot of questions as to why the pageant came to an end in the first place, and I have my own personal theories, and I want to talk about that in tomorrow's broadcast. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information is research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request our free newsletter is research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is

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