In the early 1970s rumors were circulated that the Mormon Miracle Pageant might be taken from Manti to be presented somewhere else, with casting and all phases of the production to be professionally done.
Those who knew of the rumors were concerned, and Mabel Anderson, wife of Executive Committee Chairman R. Clair Anderson, wrote a letter on March 10, 1972, to Elder Mark E. Peterson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, expressing her concern.
The letter says in part: “My husband told me something this morning that shook us to our very roots. And I can’t believe it might be true-that the most successful and beautiful thing we have ever done in our stake, the pageant that has become such a labor of love from young to old could be taken from us.”
“After shedding many tears I got the feeling I must write to you what I feel, and I know just speaking as a member of Sanpete South Stake that I express the feelings of nearly all, if they had the opportunity.”
“I know you brethren will be inspired to do what is right and this letter may seem most presumptuous yet still, I feel that because you are “away” from our locale and might not understand all about our pageant and our feelings on the subject that you might not mind this “look” into our hearts, so I would surely appreciate it if you would read my plea.”
Anderson continued with three full pages outlining the great dreams and hopes for the pageant, as well as the growth and development that came to those who were working with it.
She concluded with the following, “We believe that more and more our valley will become identified with the Mormon Miracle Pageant. That people will come again and again to renew their spirits and that visitors from all over the world will find their way to our hillside, that it will be the Mecca for many a pilgrimage.”
“We believe that each year will find more and more people taking the road leading to the pageant on Temple Hill in Manti. Don’t take that dream away from us. Don’t take away the best thing our stake has tried to do, all working in unselfish devotion and dedication to the miracle, getting involved in something beautiful that is ours.”
On March 11, that same year, the late Grace Johnson, the pageant’s author, wrote a letter to Elder Peterson, formally donating the use of the “Mormon Miracle,” as she had written it, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She said, “The Mormon Miracle was freely given by the Lord and must be returned to Him just as freely for His blessing. The knowledge that I have done the right thing will give a peace of mind in my older years I couldn’t have otherwise known.”
In a Mormon Miracle Pageant planning meeting held at the Visitor’s’ Center on Temple Hill in Manti, March 28, 1972, under the direction of Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Council of the Twelve, a new organization for the pageant was formed.
Elder Peterson was unanimously approved as chairman and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley as vice-chairman. Members of the advisory committee included Temple President Reuel E. Christensen and stake presidents of the region, Wilbur W. Cox, Ralph Blackham, Roger Allred, and Lamar Stewart, as well as Sister Grace Johnson.
Macksene Rux was to continue as pageant director with Helen B. Dyreng and Jane Braithwaite as assistant directors. Eight additional committee members named were R. Morgan Dyreng, Production Chairman; Larry Stahle; Elliott R. Braithwaite; Carole Braithwaite; Dorothy Gray; Leslie J. Anderson; Glen W. Lee; Vernon L. Kunz and Louis G. Tervort.
President Wilbur W. Cox was designated as chairman of the Regional Advisory or Executive Committee. He has been followed by President Lee R. Barton and President Greg Maylett of the Manti Utah Stake. Elder Petersen promised favorable and immediate action on tree removal.
Other business included a pageant budget of $15,000 from general church fund, improvement of roads, publicity, arrangements for restroom facilities and the sale of programs.
A final paragraph in those minutes’ states: “Priesthood leaders in the local stakes are to encourage their people to come the forepart of the week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, reserving the weekends for those out of the immediate vicinity.” In keeping with the Church’s emphasis on Family Home Evening, Monday evening performances were discontinued.