Victorian performances prepare young people for missionary service

Victorian performances prepare young people for missionary service

News Release

As the cast and crew of the British Pageant gather in Chorley to tell the story of the earliest missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to the British Isles, two of the production’s young stars prepare to follow in those missionaries’ footsteps.

 

Ben Hancock, an 18-year-old from Darlington, wears many hats during the British Pageant, but his main role is that of a Scottish convert named Robert Laird who is at first reluctant to leave his homeland.

Like many other Mormons his age, Ben is about to embark on a two-year mission to share his faith with others. On 6 May, Ben found out he would be assigned to serve in Singapore. Just three days after he takes his last bow as Robert Laird, he will enter the Missionary Training Centre in Provo, Utah, to learn the Malay language.

"Robert Laird is a blessing to me. He provides a way in which I can beautifully express my personal feelings about packing up and leaving for my mission in Singapore in a few weeks - as he did for Nauvoo, Illinois. It makes it all the more moving for me and for the audience,” says Ben.

Another young performer, 19-year-old Kiera Taylor from Bournemouth, had the unique experience of receiving her mission call during her time in Chorley at the British Pageant. On Saturday 5 August, family friends picked up her post in Bournemouth and drove to deliver it to Keira in Chorley. She opened the letter in costume on stage immediately following the end of the Saturday matinee performance.

Kiera, who plays Mary Alice Cannon, was surprised and excited to be assigned to serve in the Scotland/Ireland mission, leaving in November.

“Before beginning the Pageant, I was told that what I would learn in the Pageant would prepare me for my mission. I’m learning about the beautiful heritage of the [church members] from the countries I’ll be serving in. It makes me so excited to serve these people I’m learning about; it’s almost like serving a mini mission. Because of the love that I feel towards everyone, I’m getting a glimpse of what Heavenly Father feels for His children. Because I love them it makes me want to serve and help them, and I’m excited to serve in a different capacity,” says Kiera.

The Mormon faith has a long tradition of missionary service. The British Pageant, a Victorian celebration of that tradition, has returned to the United Kingdom for the first time since its original production in 2013. The production runs through Saturday, 12 August, and tickets are free to the public.

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