News Release

International Guests and Government Leaders Experience the 2023 British Pageant

Diplomats and dignitaries attend Pageant performance while visiting Lancashire, UK

Global visitors and prominent individuals from across the United Kingdom attended the 2023 British Pageant in Chorley, Lancashire, hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the grounds of the Preston England Temple during the first two weeks of August.

His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez of Honduras, Dean of the London Diplomatic Corps, was joined at the Pageant by nineteen of his international associates. Other prominent participants in the events included House of Commons Speaker Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Government minister David Rutley MP, and Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Ambassador Ivan Romero-Martinez said, “I’m very happy to be here and to learn more about the hearts of this wonderful people. I plan to come back again.”

The Pageant held special meaning for Fiona Bruce MP. “The story of the British Pageant tells a story of the faith and sacrifice of the people in my home county of Lancashire and throughout the UK to which we all can relate,” she remarked.

David Rutley MP said, “It is impressive to see how well the public has received this Pageant. I came a second night – I enjoyed it so much.”

Elder Alan T Phillips, Second Counsellor in the Church’s Europe North Area Presidency and Elder Adrian Bettridge, Area Seventy, were there to support this historic event. The British Pageant, one of only three pageants sponsored globally by the Church, is held every four years.

Addressing diplomatic and government representatives, and referencing the journey of religious freedom reflected in the Pageant, Elder Phillips reflected, “Our story is one of faith and sacrifice for the rights that our forebears made in our behalf and that we enjoy today. We need to ask the question of what more we can do so others can feel the warmth of community that we feel here tonight. I am grateful to you who devote your lives to give voice to those who are silenced.”

Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons and MP for Chorley, has supported the British Pageant since it was first performed in 2013.

Before the Pageant performance, diplomats and guests were hosted by the Hon Ralph C Assheton and his wife Olivia in a tour of the historic village of Downham, where early Latter-day Saint missionary and apostle Elder Heber C. Kimball preached in 1837-38.

Arriving on the Preston England Temple grounds, the guests were shown flags representing their countries by President Don H. Staheli of the England Missionary Training Centre (MTC). The dignitaries were thrilled to stand by their flags and learn that missionaries are young volunteers who willingly go worldwide to share Christ’s message of peace and goodwill.

President Staheli said, “Right now we have missionaries from twenty-one countries here at the MTC. They will be lifelong ambassadors and will forever keep in their hearts the wonderful feelings they have for your countries.”

Ambassador Susana Herrera-Quesada from Chile remarked how much she enjoyed the experience. “I loved it,” she said. “This has given me an opportunity to learn more about the depth and heart of another faith and its culture. I have also enjoyed the beautiful countryside, architecture, and spirit of history that pervades this area of Great Britain.”

The day’s activities included a reception where guests and hosts were invited to interact and listen to a warm welcome by British Pageant President Craig T. Wright. “I feel a great sense of unity here, like a duvet that warms and covers us all,” he said. “There is more that unites us than divides us.”

“What is the British Pageant?” President Wright asked. “It is the retelling of the first missionaries that came to the UK in 1837. It is a story of family, community, and service. That story continues regardless of our faith or beliefs as we serve and love one another.”

Alexandra Mackenzie Johns, Pageant Artistic Director, added, “I feel deeply that we are all brothers and sisters together. There is power in unity, and we can love each other in our differences. Our differences are a manifestation of God’s creative tapestry in our lives.”

British Pageant performer Leah Ward echoed the feeling of God’s love for us all as she sang the beloved song You’ll Never Walk Alone, by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The culminating event was the long-awaited British Pageant performance. The sound of bagpipes greeted guests in one of the largest purpose-built theatres of its kind in Europe where the combined efforts of over 600 volunteers resulted in a celebration of joy as performers onstage joined the audience in song and dance.

Lady Pilar Brennan, attending with Lord Daniel Brennan, was overwhelmed by the Pageant. “It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

Her Excellency Ambassador Agnes Oshawa of South Sudan commented, “It was fabulous! Words cannot capture my feelings as we relived their journey.”

Other dignitaries who attended the British Pageant included Ambassador Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez from Cuba; Assistant High Commissioner from Bangladesh, Mr. Kazi Ziaul Hasan; the wife of the High Commissioner of Nigeria, Mrs. Saliat B Isola; Ambassador Ulam Djusupor from the Kyrgyz Republic; His Excellency Ambassador Teferi Melesse Desta of Ethiopia; Claudio Duran of Chile; the Rt Hon Andrew Stephenson MP, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury; and Chris Green MP.

This historic tour to Lancashire was organised by Elder Donald Stapley and Sister Kathy Stapley, diplomatic outreach representatives for the Church.

The British Pageant takes place in Chorley until 12 August.

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