Here’s what these Primary children love about the new Book of Mormon Videos

Nine-year-old Ryan Christensen said he loves watching the new Book of Mormon Videos series with his family on family night. Watching stories like Nephi getting the plates of brass and building a ship has taught him something important.

“When Heavenly Father tells you to do something, you do it,” he said. “Whatever He tells you to do, do it. He will be always by your side.”

Christensen’s neighbor, Isabella Gomez, 11, also enjoys the videos and the feeling she gets when she watches them. “I like how they remind us every single time we watch them how Jesus Christ is our Savior and He is here to protect us and guide us.”

More than 300 Primary children and their families gathered in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Saturday, Dec. 7, for a special screening of the Book of Mormon Videos in the Legacy Theatre, hosted by the Primary general presidency and board.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president and her two counselors, Sister Lisa Harkness and Sister Cristina B. Franco, each highlighted a favorite episode and what it means to them. Among the clips shared were Nephi obtaining food for his family, Nephi building a ship and Jacob teaching people about the Atonement and resurrection.  

Since the end of September, a new Book of Mormon video has been released every Friday. These videos are a resource that can be used to support the 2020 “Come, Follow Me” curriculum that will focus on the Book of Mormon. 

“These videos are such a blessing from Heavenly Father to individuals, to families, to the Church and to all the world,” said Sister Jones after the event. “I hope that this could expand the opportunity for families and children to be aware of them, and to want to sit down and actually view them. 

“Because once they view them, the Spirit will speak to their hearts, and they’ll feel something.”

Following the screening, the children and their families flowed into the lobby to meet cast and crew members, take pictures with life-size cutouts of Nephi, see props used in the filming and take home a Book of Mormon coloring book. Among the props displayed were the sword of Laban, the Liahona and the Large Plates of Nephi.

Aaron Merrell, producer of the Church's Book of Mormon Videos, shows off production props, including the Large Plates of Nephi, after a screening at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
Aaron Merrell, producer of the Church’s Book of Mormon Videos, shows off production props, including the Large Plates of Nephi, after a screening at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Children also had the opportunity to sit down and be interviewed one-on-one by a member of the Primary general presidency about the Book of Mormon and the videos. Sister Franco conducted interviews in Spanish.

Of her experience interviewing the children, Sister Jones said, “I am so convinced that this is such a righteous generation. They’ve come prepared to listen and to learn and to lead. They have a spiritual confidence about them. They naturally seek the Lord. They recognize when the Spirit touches them. It was beautiful to listen to their descriptions of what the Spirit felt like.”

Jane Hellewell, 8, of Provo, Utah, talks with Primary general president Sister Joy D. Jones, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after a screening of the Book of Mormon Videos in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
Jane Hellewell, 8, of Provo, Utah, talks with Primary general president Sister Joy D. Jones, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after a screening of the Book of Mormon Videos in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Among the cast members in attendance was Blake Wakan, 16. Playing the role of teen Jacob, the son of Lehi and Sariah, helped him to feel “more of an emotional connection to different characters and parts of the Book of Mormon,” he said.

Wakan’s father, Duane Wakan, said watching his son participate in the videos made the Book of Mormon come to life. Because his son was cast as a future prophet, he said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the Book of Mormon prophets and the role they played in converting people and bringing them unto Christ. … Our family is always talking about the Book of Mormon now.”

The experience his son and other children and teens who acted in the videos had “will give them strength for the rest of their lives,” Duane Wakan said.

Blake Wakan was excited to see fellow cast members at the screening, including Aleyna Allred, 13, who portrayed one of Lemuel’s daughters, and Oliver Roper, 12, who acted as young Joseph. 

“I never really paid attention to that part of the Book of Mormon until now,” Allred said of the episodes she was in. “It gives it more meaning.”

Christine Ollerton, of Springville, Utah, center, greets cast members from the Church's Book of Mormon Videos, (from left) Blake Wakan, Oliver Roper and Aleyna Allred after a screening in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
Christine Ollerton, of Springville, Utah, center, greets cast members from the Church’s Book of Mormon Videos, (from left) Blake Wakan, Oliver Roper and Aleyna Allred after a screening in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Roper said that although filming was hard work, “it paid off.” He now has a better understanding of how the stories in the Book of Mormon fit together. For example, “I didn’t realize how sad it actually was for the Nephites to depart from the Lamanites,” he said.

Jane Hellewell, 8, attended the Book of Mormon screening with her mother. She said she likes the new videos because they help her understand the Book of Mormon stories in a new way.

“In the scriptures, it is kind of hard for me to understand because it’s kind of like a different language. But in the movie they described it as something we can understand,” she said.

Dana Wright, a member of the Primary general board, said she feels these videos are “an incredible, powerful blessing” for children as they can relate to characters and their stories.

Liam Mecham, 8, Ayla Mecham, 5, and Elsie Mecham, 3, pose for a photo with a life-size cutout of Nephi at a special Book of Mormon Videos screening for Primary children in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
Liam Mecham, 8, Ayla Mecham, 5, and Elsie Mecham, 3, pose for a photo with a life-size cutout of Nephi at a special Book of Mormon Videos screening for Primary children in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Credit: Rob Jex/Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“It’s going to help these sweet families tell the stories that the children need to hear and that they want to hear,” she said. “I think the videos will be an extra bonus for what we have in scripture to be able to visualize it and see that they were real people with real trials and real faith.”

Sister Jones said, “I feel that these precious children are going to be so blessed to grow up with the Book of Mormon and these videos together. We want them to realize this really happened. And that record is now in their hands so they can learn from those experiences.” 

“I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is using technology in a way that is blessing the lives of children,” she continued. “It’s uniting them, as they talk about what they are watching and learning.”