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Thousands of Latter-day Saint youth gathered in Pocatello to celebrate new temple

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POCATELLO (KPVI) – About 5,000 youth gathered at the Portneuf Wellness Amphitheater last week for an evening of entertainment in preparation for the opening of the Pocatello Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Latter-day Saint temples differ from the meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. A temple is a place where church members go to draw closer to Christ, make promises to serve Him, and to receive added blessings from God. For Latter-day Saints, the crowning experience of the temple is the uniting of marriages and families forever.

RELATED | Latter-day Saint leaders say Pocatello Temple will be dedicated this fall

Organizers of last Wednesday night’s gala say the purpose of the event was to emphasize the protection a person can receive by connecting with his or her family, whether that family is living or already passed on.

Musicians Whitney Permann, Brooke Stone, and Soni Muller of Mercy River opened the gala, sharing their songs “Be One”, “Something Out of Me”, “Undeniable”, and “Stand”.

During the gala, Stone told the crowd she grew up in a family that was very athletically talented. She didn’t have athletic abilities and at times felt like an outsider. One day, she learned her great-grandmother had a lot of musical talent. That’s when she realized she had a very significant connection with her family.

At the end of her remarks, Mercy River performed their song, “Stand. It featured a music video that paid tribute to women whose actions have made a significant impact, including Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Watch it above.

Nik Day, who has composed over 100 songs that have been included in the Youth Music albums for the church, also attended the event. A highlight of his performance was when his wife, Darla, joined him on stage to sing, “Like Him”. Before singing, she shared that she had spent many years living her life and trying to solve her problems by worldly standards. Then one day while driving, she began to wonder if there was any hope for her with God. She prayed for the first time in a long time and had the thought to look right and saw the Utah penitentiary. She then looked to the left and saw the Draper, Utah Temple.

“You can choose,” she thought at the time, which she told the crowd. “You can choose bondage with Satan or freedom and joy with (God).”

Nik invited the crowd to sing along during his performance of “Peace in Christ.” He ended the evening by inviting the crowd to sing this year’s youth theme song, “Great Work”.

Hank Smith, a popular speaker within the LDS Church and religion professor at Brigham Young University, took the stage by storm. The crowd laughed as he joked about family and family relationships. Amidst his humor were reminders and encouragements. He told those in attendance anything that is anti-family is anti-Christ. He encouraged the audience to seek to make strong families, and spoke of “the miraculous power” that is associated with temple attendance.

RELATED | Construction on Latter-day Saint temple in Pocatello moving forward, new president announced

The evening ended with a brief message from Pocatello native Bruce Winegar, who will be the first President of the Pocatello Temple.

Many businesses pooled their resources together to help host the community event. Soda Barn donated 5,000 cookies. Entrepreneur and college professor Shane Moulton set up a huge LED screen allowing those in attendance an up-close look at the performers. Derk Mitton, an administrator with Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25, and his brother, Kirk, supplied sound. Colton Jensen provided filming expertise. Whitney Permann of the group, Mercy River, coordinated the performances.

The Gala was under the direction of local church leader, Kevin Loveland, and his wife, Ann.

The evening was the beginning of several other activities planned in preparation for the temple opening. Sixteen to 18-year-old youth will be invited to help plant flowers later in the summer. There will also be a youth fireside on Saturday, Nov. 6, the night before the temple dedication. Another youth event will be held before the open house, which will begin on Saturday, Sep. 18, and run through Saturday, Oct. 23, excluding Sundays.

Church members Troy and Jennifer Dye will oversee all events in preparation for the dedication of the temple.

The Pocatello Temple at 2140 Satterfield Drive is one of 37 temples under construction across the globe and when dedicated, will be one of more than 200 temples in operation. It is expected to serve more than 64,000 church members in eastern Idaho from Blackfoot to Malad.

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