An Evening With Joseph & Hyrum

 

An Evening With Joseph & Hyrum

An Evening With Joseph & Hyrum
Written by Donna Cuillard
Presented May 22, 2005 Simi Valley California Stake
In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith
(This fireside was given as part of our Stake Year-Long Celebration honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the 175th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Church


Presiding: Stake President
Conducting: 2nd Counselor Stake Presidency
Prelude (30 minutes) 6:30pm: Music of the Restoration

Throughout the entire presentation I had a power point presentation going with photos representing whatever the readers were talking about. Our great tech brethren had it showing on the big screen in front of the Chapel and also had computers set up so that those in the choir could see all the slides.
Running time: 1 hour 5 minutes (7:00pm-8:05pm)

Opening Hymn #3: Now Let Us Rejoice
Opening Prayer:

Presentation:

“We Named Him Joseph” –  We had a Sister sing this song while a young couple walked back and forth in front of the Chapel with their baby.  We had individuals in pioneer clothing walk up from various places in the chapel to “see the baby & greet the young couple” as though Joseph Sr. & Lucy were walking baby Joseph.

From “O Let The Morning Come”.
Copyright release info from:
Prime Recordings, Inc.
2245 North 800 East
Provo, Utah 84604

Following the ending of the song, Joseph & Emma & Hyrum & Mary walked in from the back of the cultural hall and up to the stand. (We had over 850 people in attendance so our chairs went all the way back to the stage in the cultural hall. )  We wanted everyone to see Joseph & Emma & Hyrum & Mary coming in so we had them enter from the back doors of the cultural hall.

Hyrum:
And so it was that on the 23 day of December in the year 1805, my younger brother, Joseph was born. Mother noted in her journal, “We had a son whom we called Joseph, after the name of his father.” I was almost six years of age and we were living in Sharon, Vermont.  In 1811 my Father & Mother moved our family to New Hampshire, a part of what was then called the Connecticut Valley.  In the winter of 1812 typhoid fever swept through the area and took the lives of six thousand people.  Our entire family was affected.  I was 13 and Joseph was 7 when we were both stricken with the terrible sickness. Delayed complications of a bone infection resulted in a painful condition for poor Joseph.  Owing to Mother’s illness and fatigue in caring for our family, I was allowed to sit with Joseph during this time.  “Almost day and night for some considerable length of time”(1)  I cradled Joseph’s painfully infected leg pressing it between my hands so that Joseph might be enabled to endure the excruciating pain.(2)
Thus, from the very beginning, our lives were woven together into a pattern of brotherly love, faith and service. 
After three successive years of crop failure, Father moved our family west into New York.
Time passed and in the spring of 1820, when Joseph was 14 years of age, he had a marvelous experience which would change our lives, and in fact the world, forever.

Joseph:
“There was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion…. I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse which  reads:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.  I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act, I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know….
I at length came to the determination to “ask of God”.
So, in accordance with this, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.  It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.  It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.  I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.  Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction – not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being – just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” 
No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages … which of all the sects was right and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them.”
Joseph Smith History 1:5,11-19 (abstracts)

Oh How Lovely Was The Morning, SSII Ward  Choir –
We used the arrangement from
From “O Let The Morning Come”.
Copyright release info from:
Prime Recordings, Inc.
2245 North 800 East
Provo, Utah 84604

Emma:
Joseph and I were married on January 18th, 1827 in South Bainbridge. After our marriage, we went to live in Palmyra, New York at the home of Joseph’s parents.  Hyrum had recently married Jerusha Barden and they were living nearby. 

Almost immediately the persecutions increased.  In December my brother Alva came with his team and we loaded our meager belongings, including the plates which were buried in a barrel of beans, and we moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania. We lived in a tanning shed on my Father’s property.  I was busy with homemaking duties such as weaving and candle making, and I was also functioning as a scribe for Joseph.  At this time we were also awaiting the birth of our first child.  It was here that our first child was born….. and died. 
Joseph continued the work of translating the plates, when on the 15th day of May, 1829, he went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins that he found mentioned during the translation.

Joseph:
While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us saying:
“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins;
He commanded us to go and be baptized and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery and afterwards that he should baptize me.  Accordingly we went and were baptized.  The messenger who visited us on this occasion  was John the Baptist.  Not long thereafter the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was  conferred upon myself at the hands of the ancient apostles Peter, James & John.

On Tuesday April 6, 1830, Hyrum was with me when, on a day designated by revelation, the Church was officially organized at the log farmhouse of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York. Only 11 days previous we rejoiced at the publication of the Book of Mormon, another testament of the Lord Jesus Christ, translated by the gift and power of God.

The months that followed brought a co-mingling of joy and sorrow.  On April 30th Emma gave birth to twins who died shortly after their birth. We wept for the loss of this little girl and boy.  Shortly thereafter, our friend Julia Murdock died subsequent to the birth of her twins. Their father, John Murdock, was overwhelmed with grief. Besides the twins, he had several other small children to care for.  One day Brother Murdock bundled up his tiny, motherless twins and brought them to Emma and I to adopt and to raise as our own. At last Emma’s arms were full and our tears were dry.

Hyrum:
In June of 1831 Kirtland bustled as nearly thirty missionaries prepared to leave their families and embark on their assignments.  I, along with my companion John Murdock, was among them.  Joseph instructed us following the commandment of the Lord which he had received by revelation saying, “Let them journey from thence preaching the word by the way…….  Let them go two by two…..” (D&C 52:9-10).

A few months after my return “I was called to view a scene which brought unto me sorrow and mourning. My little Mary, nearly 3 years of age, was called from time to eternity on the 29th day of May 1832.  She expired in mine arms. Such a day I never before experienced, and O may God grant that we may meet her again at the great day of redemption to part no more.” (Hyrum Smith Diary, 1831-35; pgs 28-29)
In spite of our difficulties, we found peace and comfort in the Hymns of the Restoration which spoke of the plan of salvation and the eternal nature of the family.

O My Father – Hymn #292 –  Family

Joseph:
The greatest part of our efforts in Kirtland were directed to the building of the Lord’s House.  We labored & sacrificed to fulfill the Commandment which I had received from the Lord to Build a Temple.  I appointed Hyrum to the Temple building committee and he traveled widely among the Saints collecting donations for the building of the Lord’s house. 
Regarding the pattern of the Temple I told the Brethren, “I have a plan of the House of the Lord, given by Himself.” (HC:352)

Hyrum:
When Joseph presented the full pattern for the Temple, it delighted the brethren, and myself in particular.  I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.  After the meeting, Joseph took us to a nearby field, where we removed the fence and began leveling the grain.  I ran to my parents’ house, grabbed a scythe, and was about to leave again when Mother stopped me and asked where I was going with the tool.  I replied, “We are preparing to build a house for the Lord, and I am determined to be the first at the work.”  Upon reaching the field, I commenced digging a trench for the wall.” (Lucy Mack Smith, loose pages of preliminary manuscript of,  Biographical Sketches, 202-203.)   On June the 5th George A. Smith hauled the first load of stone for the building of the Temple, and by the middle of December the walls of the Temple were rising in Kirtland.

Joseph:
The morning of March 27, 1836, dawned brisk and clear.  Snow was on the ground and the wind blew slightly.  Hyrum and I arrived at the Kirtland Temple at 8am to open the doors for the dedication.  More than 500 people had already assembled by the time we arrived. This was a great and marvelous time. We had labored in our persecutions and sacrificed in our poverty. And now, at last, the Temple was ready to be dedicated.   Nearly 1,000 people filled the Temple. Angels attended with us and many great spiritual manifestations took place. Following the dedicatory prayer the Saints arose and we joyfully sang a hymn written by Bro. Phelps…….

“The Spirit of God”… Hymn #2 – Choir & Congregation (everyone stood spontaneously and sang this song.  The Spirit was so strong and we all wept for those who sang it originally in the Kirtland Temple.

Hyrum:

In 1837 the persecution in Missouri intensified. I was called to go there on a mission during the summer to assist the Saints.  I left at home my beloved wife Jerusha, about to give birth, and our four little ones.  Following the birth of little Sarah, my Jerusha became extremely ill with pneumonia, and she died just 11 days later. I received news of this tragedy by way of a letter written to me by my brother Samuel who wrote, “This evening I sit down to write to you to perform a duty knowing that every reasonable man wants to know exactly the state of his family.  Jerusha has gone from a world of trouble and affliction and toil to rest until the morning of the resurrection.  She died this evening about half past seven o’clock.  She was delivered of a daughter on the first or second of this month.  Our prayers did not prevail.   I am praying that the Lord will give you strength that your afflictions will not be more than you can bear.”(2)
This was a difficult time for our family, but in the Lord’s due time He provided a new wife for myself, she who loved my children and cared for them in the faith as though they were her own.  Her name was Mary Fielding.

Joseph:
In January of the following year, persecution increased and it became evident that we would have to leave Kirtland.  We began the 900 mile trek to Far West.  We crossed the frozen river on foot because it was not safe to ride in the wagon .  The entire journey took two long and difficult months. 

But the peace for which we had hoped and prayed, would not come to pass.  On the 27th of October in the year of 1838, the governor of Missouri issued an extermination order to drive the Saints out of Missouri.  When this order was made public, anti-Mormon volunteers immediately began to gather at Richmond.  They begin their path of destruction on the 30th of October with an attack on a small community a few miles east of Far West called Haun’s Mill.    Women and children escaped across the river and into the woods. Men and boys barricaded themselves in the newly-constructed blacksmith’s shop.  The mob surrounded the blacksmith shop, placed their gun barrels between the logs and began firing.  When they were finished, the militia has accomplished a full-scale massacre with 1600 rounds of ammunition fired at forty people.

Hyrum:
The city of Far West was under siege.  Joseph and I and several others were taken prisoner; bound and left lying on the ground through the night where we suffered exposure from a driving rainstorm.  When our Father heard of the capture of Joseph & I, he collapsed from the emotional shock.

Joseph & I and the other prisoners were taken first to Richmond and then to Liberty jail where we suffered greatly. The damp cold and miserable dimness of the closed-up building was overwhelming.  We were chained together. Our food was spoiled and often poisoned. It was here that I witnessed Joseph stand in chains, with great power and majesty, and rebuke the guards.  It was here that Joseph continued to receive revelations which brought us comfort, peace and knowledge. Though our circumstances were dim, the guards permitted us visitors.  Emma came to see Joseph and brought their son and one winter evening my wife brought our new son to visit:

Mary Fielding Smith:
“In January 1839 I went to visit Joseph & Hyrum.  I had given birth nearly 11 weeks previous to a son, Joseph F., whom Hyrum had not yet seen, owing to the fact that he had been imprisoned for several months.  I was weak and sick.  My sister Mercy placed me in a wagon bed and she drove the wagon the 40 miles to the jail. It would be beyond my power to describe my feelings when we were admitted into the jail by the keeper. As the door was locked behind us, the rusty hinges cried out in a pitiful screeching. We could not help feeling a sense of horror on realizing that we were locked up in that dark and dismal den; but there we beheld Joseph, the Prophet, the man chosen of God, in the dispensation of the fullness of times to hold the keys of His kingdom on the earth, with power to bind and to loose as God should direct, confined in a loathsome prison for no other cause or reason than that he claimed to be inspired of God to establish His church among men.  There also we found his noble brother, my husband Hyrum, who was not charged with any other crime than that of being a friend to his brother Joseph.  The night was spent in fearful forebodings.  (Mercy F. Thompson, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor 27 no. 13  (July 1, 1892): 398.)

Only two weeks later we were being driven from Missouri into Illinois. Nearly five thousand men, women, and children, exiles in our own land. Traveling across the muddy plains, in wagons and on foot, traveling through the bitter cold, rain, and sleet until we were brought face-to-face with the ice-filled Mississippi once again.  During this time of great anxiety & persecution, Sister Eliza R. Snow composed a hymn that helped us press on in hope.

Song: Though Deepening Trials: Male Vocalist

Hyrum:
After 6 months imprisonment, Joseph & I returned to our families in April of 1839. In the summer of that year we purchased a piece of land situated in the middle of a swamp.  This city soon came to be called Nauvoo or the City of Joseph. The boggy terrain would breed mosquitoes, the climate was humid and many people contracted malaria. The sick and dying were lying all along the banks of the river.  Joseph & Emma moved out of their house into the yard so that the sick could be cared for in their home.   On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, Joseph arose from his sickbed and commenced to administer to the sick and commanded them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to arise and be made whole.    We were weak. Stricken in our poverty;  Nevertheless, we began once again to build a city and, of course, our Temple.  The Lord continued to pour out His blessings upon us as Joseph rallied us and spoke peace to our souls.

Joseph:
Beloved Brethren & Sisters:  “The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the scenes that we have passed through, the privations that we have endured; the untiring zeal that we have manifested; the insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessings which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight, for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets-a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and salvation of the human family.” (HC IV:610)

Mary Fielding Smith:
On Aug 15, 1840, at a funeral that was held at the burial ground located on the bluff overlooking Nauvoo, Joseph announced that the fulfillment of the Savior’s teaching had arrived, that the Saints could now “act for their friends who had departed this life.” (Nauvoo Baptisms For The Dead, Susan Easton Black). From that time forward, the Saints from Nauvoo to Quincy, Illinois, and even as far away as Kirtland, Ohio, entered river waters to be baptized as proxy for departed loved ones.

Joseph:
One Sunday night after meeting I went into the Mississippi River and baptized over 200. Then the apostles and other elders went into the river and continued the same ordinance. Hundreds were baptized there. The next Brother, a few rods from me, baptized another hundred. We were strung up and down the Mississippi baptizing for our dead.
We continued with the building of the Temple at Nauvoo to the end that we would be “Endowed with power from on High”.  Never before had a people been united together in so great a cause. This year, following Father’s death, Hyrum was appointed by revelation – “because of the integrity of his heart” –  to serve as Patriarch to the Church and to become Assistant President of the Church.
Anticipating that my time was short, and the Temple was not yet near completion, I met with a handful of brethren in the upper room of the Red Brick Store and conferred upon them the ordinances of the holy endowment.   In the coming months, Emma and a few of the sisters likewise received their endowments.  I taught the Saints of eternal families – “bound” or “sealed” together forever. Our message to all the world is,  “Come unto Christ and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; ….. and love God with all your might, mind and strength.” Moroni 10:32

Emma:
In only three years, our beautiful city of Nauvoo rose from the swamps of Commerce to become one of the largest cities in Illinois.  Joseph organized the Relief Society and we sewed clothing and prepared food for the brethren working on the Temple.  We started a penny drive to collect money to further the work on the Temple. There were military parades with Joseph, tall and strong, astride his black horse.  The Nauvoo Brass Band entertained us often.  Education was important and Nauvoo was divided into four administrative divisions for public schools.  We had a Drama Company which put on plays and voice classes were held.  Instruction was held in homes for higher mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, Hebrew, German, Greek, Latin, French & Spanish.  Dances were held often and we enjoyed the music brought by the Saints from Scotland, Ireland & Germany.  Joseph encouraged painting & writing classes even though it consumed precious and expensive paper.  Truly we used cultural arts to help build the kingdom of God on the earth.

By August of 1842, persecution had forced Joseph into exile once again.  A small group of our friends brought Hyrum and I to visit him on an Island in the river.  Of that evening Joseph wrote:

Joseph:
“How glorious were my feelings when I met the faithful and friendly band, and what unspeakable delight and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma – she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart.  Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our path and crowned our board.  Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, – undaunted, firm, and unwavering – unchangeable, affectionate Emma.  There was Brother Hyrum who next took me by the hand.  Thought I to myself, Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got!  Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul! O, how many are the sorrows we have shared together.   HC 5:107-109

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony last of all, which we give of him: That He lives! For we saw him, even on the right had of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the only begotten of the Father.  ” D&C 76:22-23

Hyrum:
“I have given my testimony to the world of the truth of the Book of Mormon, the renewal of the everlasting covenant, and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven in these last days.  I had been abused and thrust into a dungeon, and confined for months on account of my faith, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  And I thank God that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast; and I can assure my beloved brethren  & sisters that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life.” Times & Seasons 1844

Male Reader: (Taken from Carthage Chronology – which we received from the Carthage Jail visitor’s center)
June 20, 1844 Thursday: Joseph advises Hyrum to take his family on the next steamboat to Cincinnati.  Hyrum, as usual,  replies, “Joseph, I can’t leave you.”

June 24, 1844 Monday:

6:00am Joseph & Hyrum bid their families farewell.  Wives and children weep.  Neighbors kneel and pray as Joseph & Hyrum ride by.
6:30am Joseph and 17 others start for Carthage on horseback.
9:50am Joseph’s group meets Capt. Dunn and returns to Nauvoo to fulfill the order to surrender State arms.
6:00pm Joseph’s group starts again for Carthage.
11:56pm Joseph and his group finally complete the 6 hour ride & arrive in Carthage.

June 25, 1844 Tuesday
Early am Joseph, Hyrum and friends voluntarily surrender to the Constable for protection.
9:15 am Joseph, Hyrum and friends are paraded before mob-militia where they are mocked.
8:00pm Joseph and Hyrum and the others are ordered by the constable to jail  and are charged with treason.

June 27, 1844 Thursday
5:30am Dan Jones leaves Joseph & Hyrum to go on an errand. He returns mid-morning and is denied re-entry to the jail.
8:20am Joseph writes to Emma…

Joseph:
“Dear Emma:  The Governor continues his courtesies and permits us to see our friends. I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done.  Give my love to the children and all my friends and all who inquire after me; and as for treason, I know that I have not committed any, and they cannot prove anything of the kind, so you need not have any fears that anything can happen to us on that account.  May God bless you all. Amen”  (HC 6:605)

Male Reader Continues:
3:15pm John Taylor sings a hymn for Joseph & Hyrum.  It would be the final hymn they would hear.

Song: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief – Male Vocalist
__________________________________________________________________

Older Brother in the Stake:
First official word of the martyrdom arriving in Nauvoo is a message from Willard Richards & John Taylor:

“Carthage Jail, 8:05 o’clock, p.m., June 27th, 1844.
Joseph and Hyrum are dead.  Taylor wounded, not very badly.  I am well.  The job was done in an instant, and the party fled towards Nauvoo instantly. We will prepare to move the bodies as soon as possible. Be still and know that God reigns.”  (HC 6:621)

Ten thousand people viewed the bodies of Joseph & Hyrum.

Having already buried six beautiful babies, her husband & Hyrum  dead, and she herself being in the early months of pregnancy, Emma finds herself alone. Mary, Hyrum’s widow, is left with two small children of her own and the several remaining children from Hyrum’s first marriage.  Only 4 weeks later, Joseph & Hyrum’s younger brother, Samuel, dies from injuries he received while trying to outrun the mob on the night of the martyrdom, leaving a pregnant widow and 4 small children.

The enemies of the Church, thinking that the death of the Joseph & Hyrum would bring an end to the Church, were wrong.  The rising of the sun had brought the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heavens were open and a Great and Glorious work had come forth.  The night of darkness was past. The morning had come.
__________________________________________________________________
Song: O Let The Morning Come – Our Joseph Smith sang this and there was not a dry eye in the congregation.
From “O Let The Morning Come”.
Copyright release info from:
Prime Recordings, Inc.
2245 North 800 East
Provo, Utah 84604
__________________________________________________________________
Reader:
“And if they die, they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me.  And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them.” Doctrine & Covenants 42:44-46

Praise To The Man – Choir & Congregation

Closing Prayer

Sources:
1. Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches, 63.
2. O’Driscoll, Jeffrey S.;  Hyrum Smith, A Life of Integrity, Deseret Book 2003

Regarding the fireside, An Evening With Joseph & Hyrum, that we put on in our
Stake.

Cost:  I purchased the CD's from Janice Kapp Perry, From "O Let The Morning
Come".
Copyright release info from:
Prime Recordings, Inc.
2245 North 800 East
Provo, Utah 84604
The CD's cost about 15.98? and the songbook cost $5.98 I think. 
We then purchased the copyright $1.00, plus 50cents per copy of each song
that we would be copying for the choir.
There were no other expenses for the Fireside.
Since it was a reader's theater, there were no memorized parts.  Costuming
was done from whatever people had at home.
I have had some requests asking about how long it would take to rehearse &
prepare this fireside.
We had no rehearsals.
Everyone was asked to pray about their part and follow the Spirit.
The first time we all met together was the evening of the Fireside at our
prayer meeting.
We had a wonderful evening, the Spirit was strong, those who participated
were completely amazing and those who attended didn't want to leave.
We did not have refreshments.
I asked two different people to put together a display table on Joseph Smith
- one in each of the two foyers for the building.  They were wonderful.
Our only setup in the Chapel was that we placed quilts over the wooden front
piece in front of the Chapel.  Very simple because we wanted those who
attended to focus on what the readers were saying and not on fancy decorations. 
Any ward or stake can put this on with two or so weeks notice as far as
getting the readers ready.  Publicity would probably take two or three weeks to get
people ready to attend.
Donna