By Erin Tolman
The purpose of this room was to help visitors make the connection between the life of the Savior and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints today. Through pictures and spoken word I hoped to teach an incredibly condensed version of the history of the Church including Christ’s visit to the Americas, the First Vision, and the translation of the Book of Mormon while always bringing the focus back to Jesus Christ. I felt that it was extremely important to find a balance between explaining about the Restoration in an unapologetic way while at the same time being sensitive to those visitors who are not members of our church who may not understand why there is this room about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon during a Christmas program. As I prepared the room, this was one of those foremost thoughts in my mind and I hoped that this balance would be reflected in the script and in the logical progression of the pictures.
The room was set up like a temple visitor’s center. Sheets covered the bulletin and chalk boards to get rid of that “scout room” feel. Visitors would enter and in front of them were four tables decorated with table runners and pictures. The pictures on the table were as follows:
1st Table – Christ Visiting the Americas (the huge four foot long picture from the building) small round table – picture of the Book of Mormon and the Bible Together from distribution
2nd Table – Lovely picture of the first vision borrowed from Margo Kiki and a picture of “Brother Joseph” from distribution (framed in my personal frame)
3rd Table – A framed large Articles of Faith (framed in my personal frame) and the picture of the Saints moving westward which was from the building also
4th Table – Picture of President Hinckley, copies of the Living Christ and the Proclamation all framed in my personal frames, this table also had copies of church materials such as magazines, the Teachings of the Living Prophets, books by apostles, etc. small table by the door – copies of the Living Christ for visitors to take home (in English and Spanish) I also had a CD player playing “I Believe in Christ” which I borrowed, Next to most of the pictures I had a quote or scripture printed on a small card reinforcing whatever was the purpose of that particular picture
As visitors came in I welcomed them to the Restoration Room. Then I recited a memorized script, progressing through the pictures and explaining their significance. The script was as follows:
After the Savior was resurrected in Jerusalem, He visited His disciples there. He also visited the “other sheep” that we learn of from the Book of John in the Bible. These other sheep were followers of Christ on the American continent that we learn about through the Book of Mormon, a companion to the Bible in our search for truth about Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon was translated by a young man named Joseph Smith who lived in the 1800’s.
Joseph Smith wanted to know about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and which of all the churches on the earth were the true church and which he should join. He received a miraculous vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in which he was told that following the death of Christ’s apostles in the Holy Land, the complete Gospel was lost off of the earth. Jesus Christ explained that He would reveal the fullness of the Gospel through Joseph Smith in due time.
Through Joseph Smith, we learn about the nature of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, the Priesthood, or, the authority to act in God’s name, as well as truths about our eternal nature and purpose here on the earth. Not only did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon, but he also received revelations which are compiled in a book called the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith became a prophet just as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the Old Testament were prophets.
The Lord formally organized His church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with Joseph Smith as the president and prophet in 1830. In response to questions about the church, Joseph Smith wrote thirteen statements which encompass the general doctrine of the church.
After Joseph Smith’s death in June of 1844, a man named Brigham Young succeeded him as the prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints and led the early members of the church across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.
And just as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others were prophets in the in the 1800’s and 1900’s, we have a living prophet today named Gordon B. Hinckley who, assisted by 12 apostles, helps guide us through our lives and to our Savior, Jesus Christ. We receive guidance about spiritual and temporal matters that help draw our families closer together and help us individually to come unto Christ.
(Bear VERY short testimony of Christ) i.e. I testify to you that I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He is our Savior and Redeemer.
Sheets for hanging on walls – $29.19
Items from the distribution center (including items for materials
table in the cultural hall) – $43.00
Sheets for table easels and hemming tape (this number may be off by
a few cents…I turned in the receipt already and can’t remember the
exact amount but it’s close) – $16.43
Total Cost – $88.62
I was also in charge of a table of materials in English and Spanish for visitors to take home. This table was set up in the cultural hall.
We had a very hard time finding a good location for this table. I think if we had a better place for it that more things may have been taken.
The Missionaries were supposed to staff the table to make sure that items got into the right hands but there was a little miscommunication there and I don’t think it quite happened this way. We can work on this next year
Things That Worked:
I was very pleased overall with the room. I could feel the spirit and felt peace and so I was more confident that others would as well.
I felt that the pictures were set in such a way that there was a logical flow between Christ’s resurrection, His visit to the Americas, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and our living prophet today.
I liked having copies of the Living Christ to take home and apparently the second night many of them were. Not so many were taken the first night that I staffed the room…and I’m not sure why.
Things That Could Be Improved in my Room:
I needed to have better communication with Brother Adams, the worker in the room for the second night. I did not think through all of the things he needed to know such as where the extra copies of the Living Christ were and how to use the CD player. When I went through myself the next day I realized that I hadn’t adequately prepared him.
Something that was not so much really in anybody’s actual control was that the room was pretty small and when there was a group of more than 8 or so people I was not able to have the space to move in front of the pictures – I was sort of stuck against the wall trying to make myself heard…so if there is a way to ensure that groups are as small as possible (and I realize that this is a very hard thing and may not be possible) it would have helped in my room.
Thoughts About the Program
I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of all of the rooms.
Every room was beautifully decorated and I felt the spirit throughout the entire tour when I went through for myself.
Another difficult thing, and I wish that I had a good suggestion for how to remedy this, was the number of people in the hallways during tours. Many times I would open my door for the next group to comeand kids would be running up and down the halls. I know it’s very difficult with the kind of crowds that come to keep people out of the halls but it was distracting.