Easter messages portrayed at Oakland center

The life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ were portrayed in words, song and visual presentations recently at the Oakland Temple Visitors Center.

Under the direction of the Greater Bay Area LDS Public Affairs Council, the event included a musical Easter program, which ran April 9-11, and an Easter art display, April 3-18.About 2,800 people attended the musical program, "Easter Miracle." The program blended choral and instrumental music, and a slide presentation depicting the life of the Savior. Under the direction of Steve Harris, the Northern California Mormon-Interfaith Choir and the string section of the Mormon-Interfaith Symphony Orchestra performed Russian Easter music, excerpts from Handel's Messiah and traditional Easter hymns.

Brother Harris, who has been music director of the Oakland Temple pageant, "And It Came to Pass," said that he never ceases to be amazed at how much the Spirit affects people through music. "It is a powerful influence," he noted.

Ed Wakefield, who has been director of the Oakland Temple pageant, developed the slide show, and wrote and gave the accompanying narration. "We told a simple story," he explained, "and we were pleased with this first effort."

Elder Theon Thorley, director of the visitors center, surmised that people who visited during the Easter events were favorably impressed, not only with the presentations, but also with the art exhibit.

The display included 30 items, including prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, needlework and quilts, all related to Easter. Both LDS and non-LDS from the area contributed art items.

"We included with each art item a scriptural statement," related Elder Novel "Bud" Alexander, public affairs missionary at the visitors center. "For instance, there was a painting entitled Jesus Christ Teaching Children.' The scripture we used with that came from Luke 18:16,But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.' "

Working together on the Easter presentations were Pres. Robert A. Madsen of the California Oakland Mission, Elder Thorley and Elder Alexander. They said their hope is to create through the visitors center an area of activities that can help serve as a spiritual boost to the community.

Pres. Madsen noted that Temple Hill - a hill above the Bay Area on which sits the temple, the visitors center and the Interstake Center - is developing a reputation for quality presentations related to seasonal events.

"We have such tremendous facilities," he said, "and we are able to use them for the betterment of the people. This is not just a pretty place. We are trying hard to make a positive statement to the community."

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