About 420 years after the Savior’s birth, the prophet Moroni finished the record of his people in the ancient Americas on gold plates and buried them in the Hill Cumorah for safekeeping. In his final words, he invited all to read the record and ask God if it was not true.
Centuries later, young Joseph Smith was directed to the location and eventually recovered and translated the ancient record into The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
A special episode of the Book of Mormon Videos series has been published depicting these two events — Moroni burying the plates and Joseph Smith finding them — to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision.
“We are pleased to release this episode from the series to add to the bicentennial celebration of the first appearance of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith, a historic event that resulted in the publication of the Book of Mormon,” said Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, who leads the Book of Mormon Videos’ steering committee.
The new episode premiered in English during the hour leading up to the Face to Face broadcast for young adults featuring Elder Ronald A. Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, on Sunday, Sept. 13. It was published on Sept. 16 and is now available with Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
The episode will be the last video of the Book of Mormon Videos series to be published before 2022. Further filming has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
A personal connection to the story
Moroni witnessed the destruction of his people in his final years. While in hiding, he finished and preserved his father Mormon’s record. Mormon was the principal compiler of the record and the person from whom the Book of Mormon takes its name.
John Munoa, a Latter-day Saint actor originally from Temecula, California, played the part of Moroni in the new video. “It was a huge honor to play this great man,” he told the Church’s Newsroom.
Referencing Moroni’s promise in Moroni 10:3-5 to those who read and pray with real intent to know if the record is true, Munoa said, “the doctrine of Christ is either true or it is not, and that’s the hinge pin on which it all turns.”
As a member of the Luiseño tribe — a Native American people from a region extending from what is now Los Angeles to San Diego, California — Munoa said the Book of Mormon Videos project hits close to home.
He remembers hearing Elder Larry Echo Hawk, a now emeritus General Authority Seventy and descendant of the Pawnee Indian tribe, share his testimony during the October 2012 general conference about receiving a personal confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and how it changed him.
The Church leader felt that the Book of Mormon was his story, Munoa said. “For my dad, it was kind of the same experience; he felt like this was about him and his ancestors.”
Munoa studied Moroni’s Christ-centered teachings and spiritual experiences as he prepared to portray the prophet he described as “a spiritual giant.” Munoa said, “If I had to choose one thing about him that stood out the most, it would be his testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Update on filming
Since the beginning of the year, many individuals and families have been watching the Book of Mormon Videos along with “Come, Follow Me” home-centered gospel study.
“We have been grateful to see how the Book of Mormon Videos have complemented the study of the Book of Mormon at home,” said Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and member of the Book of Mormon Videos’ steering committee.
“We obviously wish we had more videos ready now for the study of the second half of the Book of Mormon. Yet we are grateful that more episodes about Jesus Christ and His ministry in the Americas will be coming after the next two years of filming in 2021 and 2022.”
When filming resumes in 2021, the focus will be on the events surrounding the visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas in 3 Nephi and the story of the Jaredites. Plans for filming in 2022 include episodes covering the teachings of Mormon and more stories from the books of Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman.
Episodes covering 1 Nephi through Enos are currently available with native voices in 15 languages. English-language videos with Spanish and Portuguese subtitles covering the Book of Mosiah and a large portion of the Book of Alma are also available. These videos and the new Moroni episode with natitve voices will be available in early 2021 in 14 additional languages.
The Book of Mormon Videos series can be found on the Gospel Media, Gospel Library and the Book of Mormon Videos YouTube channels. Subscribe to the Book of Mormon Videos YouTube channels in English, Spanish and Portuguese to be notified when new episodes are available.
Future plans include distributing the English videos on the Amazon Prime platform in the United States in coming months.