It was just after 10-o-clock on the night of the third live performance. The last note of the finale rang out across the Lancashire countryside in magnificent 8-part harmony, for 10½ beats. On the road outside the Preston Temple grounds, the sound attracted the attention of a young woman. The audience responded with a roar of approval as they stood to applaud the performance. The young woman was now intrigued. What was it that was so wonderful? Curious, she crossed the dual carriageway and walked up Temple Way. A gospel conversation followed!
Such was the power of 'The British Pageant: Truth Will Prevail' that the final note - on its own - created a missionary moment. One of the many that the pageant created from the 9 performances last July to August as it told the history of the Church in the British Isles by a cast of hundreds.
“The British Pageant: Truth Will Prevail ' has made its mark on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United Kingdom and Ireland and the cast, the crew, all of our pageant helpers and volunteers have made this happen because you first embraced the principles of Zion in your hearts, to begin with, and then together as a community of Saints”, declared Stephen Kerr, Pageant President, in his message to everyone involved with the first ever British Pageant.
Each individual who participated or was in an audience has their own story to tell of the impact the pageant made on their feelings, their spirituality and the way they viewed the Church and its British heritage. In fact, the story of the first ever British pageant cannot be told accurately in any language created by man. Its real story can only be understood in the language of the Spirit.
Angela Larsen, a visitor from California, wrote, “The story of the pageant encompasses the history of the Church in the British Isles, and the great migration of saints to the U.S. in the 1800's, who were taught by the likes of John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and others, and the extreme hardships they suffered for the advancement of the Church. It was extremely moving and the auditorium was thick with the Spirit! You could feel the spirits of those saints, and apostles along with the early reformers right there with us - rejoicing in the restoration of the Gospel. Not a dry eye in the place! The music was tremendous! The acting - superb!”
There are defining moments in our lives when something happens that is so significant - a few seconds that change who we are, what we believe, so that we can never go back to what we were. Monday morning rehearsal, two days before the first night, was such a time for me. When I watched the scene depicting Heber C Kimball preaching in the Vauxhall chapel, for a few seconds, I felt that I was listening to Heber testifying of the restored gospel – and the Spirit testified of the truth of what I was hearing.
During the nine performances over 15000 children of our Heavenly Father enjoyed their own unique spiritual experiences as they travelled in their coaches, cars and trains from all around the UK.
“Tonight', said one sister 'was an important line in the sand for me and my family! We are going to be different.'
Wendy McLoughlin, a member of the Nottingham stake, shared her feelings, “The Pageant was totally amazing. I was totally moved to tears. It was probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen”.
Johnny Arnold was not a member of the Church when he sat in the audience for the final performance. Two hours later - the recipient of a powerful manifestation of the Spirit - something had happened - and he knew that there was something special. He has since been baptised.
Many who had not attended Church for a long time were so moved that they resolved to return to activity immediately.
Everyone involved with the pageant were set apart as representatives of the Church by their bishops. Each was serving a mini mission.
Stephen Kerr said, of the members who were involved in the pageant, “We believe we had enough faith and sacrifice between us that we could have been organised as one of those early British pioneer handcart companies, we could have travelled the Mormon trail and crossed the plains together! We would have arrived together in the Salt Lake Valley!”
'This is our story, still being written...' (Arthur Ashton’s words as spoken in the pageant).