‘Making spirits bright’

With Christmas lights aglow, poinsettias in place, and holiday music filling the air from an octet of a cappella singers, the LDS Southern California Public Affairs Council welcomed guests made up of civic leaders, diplomats, business leaders, academicians and interfaith leaders to an annual Christmas Gala hosted at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center on Dec. 1.

Broadway singer and actor Kevin Odekirk captivated guests as he performed several carols, hymns and even “Bring Him Home” from his first Broadway musical, “Les Miserables.” His performance followed an endearing Christmas message by Witney Carson McAllister, a professional partner and choreographer from television’s current hit, “Dancing with the Stars.” She spoke of dancing “when it becomes something I feel instead of think about. Just as dance can convey personal feeling and meaning, so God speaks to our souls and inspires us during the Christmas season.”

“He who has ears to hear, let them hear … and eyes to see, let them see,” she reminded.

Notable guests in attendance included diplomats from 14 countries, local civic leadership from mayors to city councilmen and assemblymen, academicians and interfaith pastors, imams, rabbis and sheikhs in addition to Latter-day Saint authorities and Area Seventies. Diane Watson, former Congresswoman from California’s 33rd congressional district, attended as well as Pepperdine University’s Dean and Professor of Education and Psychology, Helen Easterling Williams, who offered the evening’s invocation.

Framed by hundreds of thousands of lights surrounding the Los Angeles temple grounds, this annual Christmas program has become an anticipated tradition where guests truly enjoy coming together in a spirit of unity and cooperation.