A 10-foot marble statue of the First Vision was unveiled in front of the Philippines Missionary Training Center this month as part of the 60th anniversary of the Church in the Philippines.
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, General Authority Seventy and Philippines Area president, spoke of the impact of the First Vision on individuals.
“This is how Joseph Smith’s First Vision blesses our own personal lives, the lives of families, and eventually the whole human family — we come to believe in Jesus Christ through the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” he said. “Prophets and apostles throughout the history of mankind have had divine manifestations similar to Joseph’s. The First Vision is one of the best-documented appearances of God in history, and it is a pattern for how everyone can receive divine guidance in their own lives.”
The First Vision happened in spring 1820 when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith as he prayed. The event marks the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder Wakolo and Elder Steven R. Bangerter of the Philippines Area presidency led the unveiling ceremony on Friday, May 21. Those in attendance included several Church, government, community and religious leaders. Several shared messages, in person or prerecorded, according to the announcement on the Philippines Newsroom.
“This marble statue may appear as a beautiful work of art to many, but for us, it is more than that,” said Elder Bangerter, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Philippines Area presidency. “It is an emblem of the origin of sacred doctrines, beliefs and practices that compel us to share the life and teachings of our Savior and to strive to act and to serve as He would act and as He would serve.”
The statue was sculpted and donated by Dee Jay Bawden, also a member of the Church.
Missionary work began in earnest in the Philippines in 1961 and events are planned for a year-long 60th anniversary. There are 825,000 members of the Church in the country with 120 stakes, 1,250 congregations, 23 missions and two temples, with five more temples announced or under construction.
For more about this event, see the Philippines Newsroom.
Note: The number of Church members, stakes and congregations has been updated with information from the Philippines Area.