1 of 3
Valerie Johnson
Elder M. Russell Ballard shakes Carolyn Ruth Anderson's hand following a devotional given to cast members and volunteers of the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, Utah, on May 29.

MANTI, Utah — Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke to close to 1,000 cast members and volunteers of the Mormon Miracle Pageant in a devotional held in the Manti Utah Stake Center on Sunday, May 29.

"I count it a blessing that Sister Ballard and I can be with you tonight," Elder Ballard said. The Mormon Miracle Pageant has great meaning to his family, he said. "We have a lot of ties to this pageant, more than perhaps many of you might know."

Macksene Rux, the oldest sister of Ballard's mother, directed the Mormon Miracle Pageant for 20 years, from 1969 to 1988. "In the process of those 20 years, I became very familiar with what ... [the cast] needed," Elder Ballard said. "Every time she needed something, my phone would ring and we'd do what we could. She asked sometimes for miracles, so I want to testify to you that there really is a miracle in what you're involved in.

"They tell me that most of the pageant is still the original recording," Elder Ballard remarked, strongly suggesting that the part of Mormon not be re-recorded or rewritten during his lifetime. "As mentioned, my father was the voice of Mormon."

"There have been some very interesting things happen to make this pageant what it is," Elder Ballard said. For instance, some trees needed to be removed from the temple grounds so the audience could better see the pageant. "You don't touch a tree on temple grounds without the First Presidency saying you can touch a tree," he said. Mark E. Peterson and Gordon B. Hinckley became advisers to the pageant. "The next thing you know, a few trees came down. It's a miracle, isn't it?"

Elder Ballard paid tribute to those who have spent many years volunteering for the pageant, some of whom have died. These include Helen and Morgan Dyreng, the directors of the first production, R. Clair Anderson and Elder Ballard's aunt, Macksene Rux. "I think those on the other side of the veil, when they have so much invested in certain things in their lives, that the Lord allows their influence to be felt when we take on the task of putting on for the 50th time ... the pageant on the hill of the Manti Utah Temple.

"It's a marvelous thing that you're going to unfold to the people of the world."

vjohnson@deseretnews.com