Mesa temple Christmas display enhances spirit of season

MESA, Ariz. — The Mesa Arizona Temple Garden Christmas Festival includes a new Nativity scene with the scriptural account of the Savior's birth played from speakers.

"We wanted to continue making this a more spiritual display of Christmas lights," said Anita Freeman. She and her husband, Art, are the new lighting directors.

The more realistic Nativity scene, located on the northeast side of the temple, replaced the previous three-dimensional wire framed one outlined in lights. Last year lighted boxes were placed throughout the grounds citing scriptures referring to Christ as the "light."

"There are more and more big Christmas light displays," said Elder Dale Shumway, director of the Visitors Center. "We want to distinguish ours by focusing on the Savior as the light."

The changes are being well received. Record-breaking numbers of people are coming to the temple grounds each night since the lights were officially turned on Nov. 26. People crowd around the new Nativity scene listening to the Christmas story and more people than ever are coming inside the Visitors Center for tours and asking to learn more about the Church.

"This is such a neat missionary tool," said Dianne Galligher, who, with her family, volunteers many hours in helping put up the lights. "We see this as a way to spread the gospel."

"I love to hear the comments from people who come by," said Sister Galligher's husband, Gary, who spent about 60 hours in the three weeks before Thanksgiving helping prepare the display. "There's great satisfaction in seeing how beautiful is it and knowing we had a part in it."

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