The fourth city that the Gracias Choir Cantata visited was Salt Lake City. In 1847, the Mormon (the church worshipping the saints after Jesus) believers began to migrate to the capital city of Utah, Salt Lake City, eventually making it into their own land. The name came from the Great Salt Lake that is located in the east of the city. Because of geographical influences this place that snows a lot during the winter and spring caused the many ski slopes to be made which, consequently held the 19th Winter Olympic Games in 2002. Through this the city was able to gain a more famous name for itself.
There are so many believers of Mormon in Utah that it is often referred to as the state of Mormons and Salt Lake City in particular in known as the Main Headquarters of Mormons. That may be the reason why there are so many Mormon temples in the heart of the city.
In the centre of a quiet and calm city the Temple Square exists. Temple Square which is owned by the Mormons is made up of the Salt Lake Temple made with 6 wonderful spires, the Tabernacle and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building remembering the founder of the Mormon religion. The beautifully made and decorated flowers and fountains make the eyes very joyful. The Temple, Conference Centre, History Library and the Tabernacle’s Office which decorate Temple Square makes it seem like a little Mormon kingdom, just like the Vatican City in Rome.
The Kingsbury Hall Performance Centre of Utah University, which held the Christmas Cantata, was once home to famous musicals such as ‘Once’ and ‘Mamma Mia’. Also, it was a renowned hall for displaying many artistic groups such as pop groups, bands and even ballet.
Preparing for the Cantata in Salt Lake City was not easy. Because the church was too small and there was no place for the short-term missionaries to stay. Also, advertising a Christmas performance to people who believe in Mormon seemed impossible. However, God helped the Christmas Cantata in Salt Lake City.
While handing out Dear Neighbour letters (letter of invitation to the Cantata), one elderly lady provided a place for the passing short-term missionaries and ministers to stay for a week, and they were also able to be fed through many food donations.
When baby Jesus was born and the Israelites were praising Him, the audience could not take their eyes off of baby Jesus; it looked like they were trying to be in front of Jesus as they were leaning their bodies forward.
Until the light of the manger and the curtain of the 1st act fully closed the audience could not stop applauding.
Especially, when Anna thought about the younger life and her father’s love, many of the audience’s eyes were brim with tears, together with Anna.The audience reacted to every movement and expression of the actors. We could feel that the audience was enjoying our Cantata and we felt that they were truly happy. Today’s audiences’ reaction was the best.
Following on, Pastor Young Kook Park delivered the Christmas message.
“If you have sin you cannot go to heaven. But God has said that if we are inside of Him, cleansing, holiness and righteousness can be gained!”
As soon as the message ended the audience showed their agreement with shouts of “Oh, Lord!” and “Alright!”
“I came to the Cantata because my friend invited me. I heard that she received tickets while donating to the Cantata. I was so happy that I was able to see this performance. It was something that I never expected, and it was so beautiful. Every song, every expression of the actors and every movement of the hand was so touching. I loved the message the Pastor gave as well! The singing and the performance was good, not only that but I think that the message the Pastor gave was what made this performance more beautiful. Please send me a picture of this interview! I want to hold onto this moment.” -Juliana
“My son and daughter-in-law originally received the tickets, but because they could not go, we, as a couple came to this performance. Because it was tickets simply given out I did not expect anything, and if the performance was not that good I planned on leaving early, I honestly did not expect anything special. But it’s the first time for me to see such a fun, happy and mesmerizing performance. It was incredibly fun. All of them danced perfectly, and the songs really touched my heart. I wonder how they sing that well… It was so good up to a point where I wondered where they learnt their singing from. Thanks to the Cantata I spent such a wonderful night. Now I am going to come and watch the Christmas Cantata every year. -Marjorie (Left)
“It was such a lovely, fantastic performance. We as a couple have been to many Christmas performances. Concerts, festivals, musicals, etc… Although we have been to numberless performances I want to give 10 out of 10 to the Christmas Cantata! The performance was really good but the Christmas message was so touching. My husband cried throughout the whole performance. Listening to the message, I felt how much God loves us and although it is September right now, it felt like we were going back to Christmas day. The reason Jesus was born, the heart of God that loves us… it was so touching. I will surely come back to watch next year as well.
-Couple Patricia and Ivan
Many people try to live kindly, and want to appear to other people as a good person. The people of Salt Lake City are not an exception. To the Mormon Kingdom, Jesus came. Jesus wanted to tell them that only one being should work for their lives. The heart of Jesus entered the heart of those who were one with the Cantata. When we think of Jesus who will work in the middle of their lives and change them we are so hopeful. In order to pass on the heart of Jesus the Gracias Choir is continuing their journey to Denver.