Scripting the Mormon Miracle Pageant

Grace Johnson wrote the script for the “Mormon Miracle” which came to her at a time when she was pondering man’s existence. After a successful lecture tour, it was published in book form and later dramatized for the Mormon Miracle Pageant. (Photo courtesy of Merilyn Jorgensen)

The script for the original presentation, which was later used for the Mormon Miracle Pageant was written by the late Grace Johnson. She relates that the script came to her as an idea while she was pondering man’s existence, and asking herself questions, such as, “Why am I here? Where am I going? Is there a God? If a man dies, shall he live again?”

She answered her questions because Jesus gave the answers in the Meridian of Time. Again, when a boy, Joseph Smith, who went into the woods to pray.

She wrote, “There ought to be a work portraying a picture of both Mormon theology and history in a single presentation. Not only fact — but feeling. It’s so easy to become complacent and forget about the impact the ‘Mormon Story’ had on the settlement of America,” she said some years ago in an interview.

“The story of the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or ‘Mormons’, with their constant movement westward, until they finally settled in what is now Utah, was a factor that completely changed the face of America.”

They launched a thousand ships of immigration, flooding the New World with divergent cultures, bringing skills, trades and arts with them to meld a unique commonwealth as they worked together to make the barren desert blossom.”

She presented her lecture tour to service clubs in the eastern U.S. and thought she was probably the first female member of the Church to present the historic story from the lecture platform. Information of the success of the lecture tour reached the Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Johnson was requested to present her “Mormon Miracle” in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, as part of the June Conference of the Church in 1947, which commemorated the centennial of the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers in Utah.

From there, “The Mormon Miracle” was published by Deseret Book Company and was subsequently sponsored for a tour of Church stakes in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah, concluding with a presentation at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City.

Brigham Young University presented it in 1964 with a cast and narrators and with music provided by a 75-voice choir. It was also presented as a baccalaureate service in the Church College of Hawaii. It might be said the pageant is a product of many dreams and aspirations.

It was quite a few years after Johnson’s original lecture tour in New England, and after her historic presentation in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and subsequent lecture tour that Trevor and Clover Christensen, who were then working in an administrative capacity at the Church College of Hawaii, read Miss Johnson’s story of The Mormon Miracle as part of the graduation exercises.

On a later visit to Trevor’s mother, they again presented Grace’s story in a ward sacrament meeting in Ephraim. About the same time, a number of people in the area were discussing what could be done to hold a meaningful celebration on Utah’s Pioneer Day, the 24th of July.

Some felt it might be fitting to return to the old-time celebrations that would stir up a feeling of patriotism and love for the nation, as well as something that would help people hold in sacred remembrance the sacrifices of those early pioneers who settled the Sanpete valley, and the cause for which they came.

It was felt that perhaps a day-long activity with a proper program, parade, flag drills, racing and ball games would be symbolic of earlier celebrations. Maybe there could be a campfire in the evening, surrounded by square dancing and drama to help us remember who we are and why we are here. There was talk of having ice cold melon and other treats available.

And then someone said, “Why not dramatize Grace Johnson’s Mormon Miracle?” It was as if many people were thinking along the same lines at the same time.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!