The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon church) has a history that spans the entire world. The Church of Jesus Christ was restored in America by Joseph Smith in 1830. After the restoration, The Church of Jesus Christ sent missionaries all over the world. One of the first places Mormon missionaries travelled was to the British Isles. The United Kingdom is coming up on the 175th anniversary of Mormonism’s presence, and the Saints in the country are planning a grand celebration. 
Pageants Are a Big Part of Mormon Culture
In the United States, Mormons produce pageants all throughout the summer months commemorating scriptural accounts and church history events. Several pageants are produced in Utah, with several others taking place in Palmyra, New York; Nauvoo, Illinois; and Mesa, Arizona. In America, pageants are a big part of Mormon culture.
The Chorley Pageant
The Saints in the United Kingdom thought that producing their own pageant would be a fitting way to commemorate the 175 years of the presence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the British Isles. The focus of the UK pageant will be the church’s history in their own country. This presentation will include telling the stories of the first Mormon missionaries to proselytize in England, who arrived in 1837. The storytelling will take place through both acting and musical performances. The event will also hold pre-show activities for everyone, like period dancing with costumes and games.
The stories told in the pageant have been gathered from real accounts of British converts, many of whom emigrated to the United States to join the Mormon pioneers in their trek West. These pioneer journals are more than 150 years old and contain precious insight into the lives of the Mormon Saints during this time in church history. It will be remarkable to see some of these stories come to life on stage.
The Chorley pageant will be the first official Mormon pageant to take place outside of the United States. The Church of Jesus Christ will erect a large marquee, or tent, to hold 1,500 people. The pageant will take place right next to the Preston England Temple. The cast consists of 200 people, and the pageant’s performances will be on July 31, August 1 – 3, 6 – 10. Anyone may attend the pageant, regardless of church membership, though a ticket is required for entry.
Why Is History So Important to Mormons?
Mormons do many things to commemorate their history. Aside from the summer pageant productions, Mormons have Sunday school lessons on church history and even hold large-scale celebrations for Pioneer Day, held on July 24 every year to celebrate the pioneers’ arrival in Salt Lake City. Youth groups participate in pioneer trek reenactments, complete with dressing up in costume for the event. Why is history so important to Mormons?
Mormons hold their history sacred, largely because of the sacrifices the pioneers made to establish the Utah settlements (often referred to as Zion). Because they hold the gospel of Jesus Christ so dearly, Mormons feel great debt and gratitude to those who sacrificed so much–often their very lives–to ensure the continuance of The Church of Jesus Christ.
Family history and genealogy are also important to Mormons. Mormons believe that family history work is important because it allows the generations to be connected through sacred ordinances performed in Mormon temples. Because of the early Mormon saints, church members today can trace their lineage back through the generations so that they can perform proxy temple work for their ancestors. This is a responsibility and opportunity taken very seriously by church members.
For the church members in the United Kingdom to produce such a grand celebration honoring their pioneer forebears demonstrates not only gratitude for their history but also expresses joy at what Mormons have now: The true Church of Jesus Christ established throughout the world. We should all be celebrating with the British Saints at this important anniversary, for it represents a divine gift that almost everyone throughout the world can take part in.
Charlotte graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English, with an emphasis in editing. During her education she interned with the Neal A.Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU Publications, and the New Era magazine. Charlotte currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son. She's a stay-at-home-mom and has been able to keep up her writing through maintaining a personal blog (smallandtrivial.blogspot.com).