GARLAND, Texas — Nearly 2,000 youths from the 11 stakes of the Dallas Texas Mission came together June 23-25 under the banner “Standing Together As One in Truth and Righteousness.” Participants had the opportunity to join in celebrating and strengthening their position as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After nearly two years of planning, the event began with an opening ceremony highlighting Texas culture, followed by a giant dance/party that filled the arena and conference center in Garland, Texas. The next day was a flurry of youth workshops and rehearsals, punctuated with meals served by hundreds of volunteers, impromptu hymn singing and a terrific “share your testimony” Book of Mormon service project.
The last day, Saturday, June 25, was jam-packed with three performances of the two-hour pageant that the youths had been rehearsing in their stakes for nearly eight months. Nearly 15,000 people, including many who weren't members of the LDS Church, filled the arena seats.
The performance displayed 24 musical numbers, including young women “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” young men determined to “Seize The Day” and a troupe of fiddlers. Each stake had a signature number, along with several special groups highlighting the talents of the youths and all of the ways they stand united with country, family, heritage, faith and future.
Numbers were tied together with video clips of various general authorities commenting on the great potential of youths of the LDS Church, along with dozens of youths expressing their thoughts on the relationships they value. More than 10,000 costumes and professionally designed lighting lit up the arena.
One of the favorites numbers was “Praise to the Man,” which began with a lone bagpiper playing in a visual Sacred Grove, and ended with 60 youths joined on the arena floor by 88 full-time missionaries and the flags of 134 nations.
"To see 2,000 young people come together with a common purpose was amazing," wrote Kevin Earl, stage manager for the event. "Throw in the sweet spirit that comes from their faith and testimonies, and no matter how much they’re screaming and yelling or acting like teenagers, one can’t help but be overwhelmed with happiness. I felt this feeling several times and know that they were where our Heavenly Father wanted them.”
Despite the crowds, many youths expressed how their individual lives were changed.
“I will never forget this moment in my life when my testimony was strengthened astronomically,” said Morgan Empey.
The youths were identified by stake with color-coded T-shirts. One young man noted with a chuckle, "On Friday, everyone was grouped in colors, but by the end of the night we looked like a bag of Skittles — the colors were all mixed up."
“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something so special. The spirit there was so strong and so powerful. We all loved the Jubilee, and I know that it'll be something that people won't be able to forget,” wrote Breah Buss.
The finale featured all of the youths, dressed in white, filling the arena floor and singing about never standing alone. Hopefully, they never will.
Shauna Erickson is from the Carrollton Texas Stake.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company