Some 1,500 youth in Indianapolis, Indiana, shared the rich culture and history of the Hoosier State through music and dance on Aug. 22.
The celebration, “Gather to the Light,” was held in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Michael A. Carroll Stadium, located near downtown Indianapolis, in conjunction with the dedication of the Indianapolis Indiana Temple — the first in Indiana and the 148th worldwide.
“We have waited a really long time for a temple and we are finally getting one,” said Caroline Griesemer, 15.
She said the celebration is a way to thank the Lord for the gift of the temple.
Speaking to the youth before the performance, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, reminded them of the countless hours they spent preparing to participate in the cultural celebration.
“You have found talents you did not know you had as you prepared for this event,” he said. “You will never forget the feeling of satisfaction as you discover that through effort and determination you could do more than you thought possible. You have stretched higher and farther than you thought you could. One of the reasons you have felt that growth is that the Lord has magnified your performance because of your faith in Him.”
President Eyring told the teens their purpose that evening was to help the Lord fill the world with light. “He is the light of the world,” he said. “His light will shine through you to all who are with us tonight.”
President Eyring promised the teens that the memory of the night would return to them time and again during their lives. Then he ushered in the show.
“Lets fill this stadium with joy, with love and with light,” he said.
The program highlighted the history of Indiana and the many things the state has become known for in recent years — including popcorn production, patriotism and race car driving. A scene that featured the Indianapolis 500 even highlighted elements associated with the annual race — the singing of the song, “Back Home Again in Indiana,” a balloon launch and, of course, milk, which is traditionally drunk by the race champion.
In addition, a scene from the program featured the youth from the temple district, their activities and future missionary service.
Will Ketchum, 17, said he is not a “dance-type of person,” but he participated in the event “as a way to show gratitude to Heavenly Father for the temple.”
Kristen Bills said she gave her best performance — not only for the Church leaders for also for God. “It is not every day you get to dance for God,” she explained.
“This is about them,” said Kami Starnes, director of the youth cultural celebration. “This is about the temple and their light.”