LDS church cancels Hill Cumorah Pageant’s final season

Members of the Hill Cumorah Pageant cast. The pageant, which is possibly one of the LDS church's best known and largest annual events held in Palmyra, New York, was among the pageants the church announced it would be discontinuing, Palmyra, New York, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it was canceling its remaining pageants for 2021. This includes what would have been the final season of the long-running Hill Cumorah Pageant.

In this file photo, a pageant cast member plays out a scene from The Book of Mormon during the former Manti Pageant, Manti, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

In addition to the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the Nauvoo Pageant and British Pageant have also been canceled for this year; however, unlike the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the other pageants are set to return in 2022.

In place of the final performance of the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the church will broadcast the 2019 version of the production, according to a press release from the church.

“This event will commemorate the contributions of tens of thousands of volunteer participants through the years,” the press release stated.

The pageant will be broadcast online starting July 9.

Performed in Palmyra, New York, the Hill Cumorah Pageant started in 1937 and has been used as missionary tool for the LDS church in the decades since. The pageant details scenes from the Book of Mormon, the religious text from which church members earned their “Mormon” nickname.

In 2018, the church announced that 2020 was to be the pageant’s final season. This coincided with the outright cancellation of other pageants or the transfer away from general church oversight and promotion to the stewardship of regional church authorities.

At the time, church leaders said that local leaders and members are to be focused on faith-centered activities such as Sunday worship, home-based gospel study and supporting church programs.

“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,” the church said in the original 2018 statement. “Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged.”

This saw the end of the Castle Valley and Clarkston pageants in 2018 and the final performance of the Manti Pageant in 2019.

As for the church’s three remaining pageants, tentative return performances are as follows:

  • The Nauvoo Pageant will return in July 2022.
  • The British Pageant will continue every four years under local church leadership with the next performance set for sometime in 2022.
  • The Mesa (Arizona) Pageant will return under local leadership once the Mesa Temple’s renovation is completed.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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