Special Invitees Enjoy The British Pageant

by Debbie Twigger

Group picture of Richard Bruce, Malcolm Adcock, Fiona Bruce MP, Mrs. Kaneez Fathema and Mr Kazi Ziaul Hasan
Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief (third from left) attends the British Pageant; with (L-R) her husband Richard Bruce; Malcolm Adcock, Church Communication; wife of Assistant High Commissioner from Bangladesh, Mrs. Kaneez Fathema; and Assistant High Commissioner from Bangladesh, Mr Kazi Ziaul Hasan.

The British Pageant was held in Chorley at the Preston Temple grounds for the third time in August 2023, after a delay of one year. It was a huge success, with 13 performances of up to 1200 capacity taking place from August 2nd to August 12th.

Special receptions were held most evenings for guests from the worlds of politics, sport, media, interfaith, education, and local councils. from London and Manchester. The special guest on the first performance was Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons- a previous British Pageant attendee. He met with the Pageant Presidency, Craig Wright, Paul Elvidge and John Deacon, along with other Church leaders, guests and friends of the Church. President Wright spoke about the message of the pageant which was faith, family and community, and sharing some of the history of the Church in the British Isles.

A guest reception before a performance of the British Pageant
A guest reception before a performance of the British Pageant

A guest interfaith leader from InterfaithMK, David Rennie, was invited to give the opening prayer at the first performance. This pattern continued at most performances, offering a consideration for those of other faiths and an opportunity to share common ground and experiences. Those offering the opening prayer were from the Jewish, Islam, Church of Reunification, Christian and the Community of Christ faiths. David spoke of his experience at the British Pageant, “Really I want to say thank you for inviting us, it was a truly moving and spiritual occasion on so many levels. Beforehand I had no idea of the British involvement of the establishment of the church in Utah, which was both a delight and an education.”

Fiona Bruce, MP and Prime Minister’s Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, attended the special reception on 4th August where Ambassadors and High Commissioners from London and Manchester were also in attendance. They met with Church leaders, including Elder Alan T Phillips, General Authority Seventy, and member of the Europe North Area Presidency and Area Seventy Elder Adrian Bettridge.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, President Craig Wright and Peter Trebilcock
Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker of the House of Commons) with President Craig Wright (Pageant President), and Peter Trebilcock (National Director of Communication).

Marin Watt was a direct descendant of George D. Watt, the first member of the British Isles to be baptized. He visited from his home in the USA and met the cast member playing his ancestor in the show. He commented, “It truly was an experience of a lifetime for me personally. Having been told of the event of George D. Watt and the race to the River Ribble and his being the first person baptized has always had a special place in my heart. But, now I have been there. I have walked the footsteps of my Great Great Grandfather. I have been at the Temple which is there because of baptisms over 186 years ago involving my ancestors. I heard and witnessed how the people of the British Isles know of that baptism and what it still means to them today. I was able to watch the pageant, in England, of those events surrounding the introduction of The Gospel of Jesus Christ in my ancestral land and so much more.”

Another guest, Community Regional Manager for the East of England at The Royal British Legion, Jo Ticehirst, remarked on her visit, “I would just like to say a huge thank you for inviting us to your pageant last night. We had a most wonderful evening and felt that the performance was superb!

Elder Carl B Cook and his wife, Elder Hans T Boom and other British Pageant communication team members and Pageant presidency
Centre, Elder Carl B Cook and his wife with Elder Hans T Boom, Europe President. and other British Pageant communication team members and Pageant presidency.

“The quality of the singing was excellent and the whole production a fantastic event. We gained a real understanding of your church and how it came about and how the temples came to be built. We also really enjoyed the chance to get up close to your magnificent temple and see it in all its glory. Truly an architectural delight.

“Furthermore, it reminded me of the support and hard work that you all do in the community and, in particular, for the Royal British Legion. We are truly grateful for all that you do for us.”

A popular guest from the sports world was Alan Pace and his wife, a member and American owner of Burnley FC taking the team up to the Premiership in the UK. Other attendees included former Pageant President MSP Stephen Kerr, Area Seventies Elder Martin Turvey and Elder Mark Stewart, Elder Hans T Boom from the Europe Presidency, and Elder Carl B Cook, Presidency of the Seventy and his wife.

Around 120 invited guests attended the receptions prior to the Pageant performances, and also took part in the pre-pageant activities including the Family History fair, offering digital photos and search opportunities.