Apostle and Singapore Ambassador Illuminate 400,000 Christmas Lights in Washington, D.C.
The 45th annual Festival of Lights at the Washington D.C. Temple goes until January 2, 2023
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Ashok Mirpuri, Singapore’s ambassador to the United States, together pressed a red button and illuminated 400,000 Christmas lights at the Washington D.C. Temple on Tuesday night.
The ceremony launched the 45th annual Festival of Lights for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the temple.
Elder Cook said the lighting ceremony represented the commencement of the Christmas season celebration which “commemorates the birth and life of Jesus Christ, who we revere as Savior and Redeemer of the world.”
|Elder Quentin L. Cook of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (right) and Ashok Mirpuri (left), Singapore’s ambassador to the United States, together pressed a red button to illumine 400,000 Christmas lights at the Washington D.C. Temple on November 29, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.||1 / 10|
“As Christians, we believe that all of us are children of a loving Father in Heaven and that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son. Our scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as the light and life of the world.”
Elder Cook called Jesus Christ “the ultimate symbol and champion of how to vanquish the superficial distinctions that otherwise divide us from our sisters and brothers in the family of man.”
“We take that universal injunction seriously,” he said. “Members of our faith are committed to doing what we can to help better communities and break down barriers that prevent God’s children from sharing in the peace and goodwill that ought to be a common inheritance for all humankind.”
The ceremony took place in the lobby of the temple Visitors’ Center. Dozens of invited ambassadors, diplomats, and interfaith leaders attended the lighting ceremony. They faced a window that looked out at the brightly lit temple.
“Across the world, the Festival of Lights carries a deep symbolic and spiritual significance,” Ambassador Mirpuri said. “In many religious traditions and cultures, light is celebrated as a representation of life and joy, the triumph of good, of hope, of warmth.”
In April 2021, President Russell M. Nelson announced that the Church would build its first temple in Singapore. Ambassador Mirpuri said it would be the Church’s third in Southeast Asia, and Elder Cook praised Singapore for a rich legacy of religious tolerance.
“We look forward to welcoming the temple as a feature of Singapore’s multiethnic and multireligious landscape,” Ambassador Mirpuri said.
The lighting ceremony symbolized a diversity of cultures, faith traditions and beliefs, said Elder Cook, who said his Christmas prayer was that all people would apply Christ’s principles of peace and goodwill.
He told the ambassadors about the Church’s efforts to do so.
“We work to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, welcome the stranger and care for the sick,” he said. “We seek to combat racism and prejudice, protect the natural environment, and strengthen the bonds of understanding and fellowship that separate disparate groups.”
The lighting ceremony included J.W. “Bill” Marriott and his wife, Donna Marriott, and the Washington D.C. Temple Choir. Everyone joined in singing Christmas carols together. During the program, Utah Senator Mitt Romney introduced Ambassador Mirpuri; Bill Marriott introduced Elder Cook.
Bill Marriott, who has participated in every one of the temple’s Festivals of Lights, called Christ “the bright and morning star with light that can never be dimmed.”
Ambassador Mirpuri and others expressed joy that the festival had returned after being canceled in 2021 as workers focused on completing the temple renovation. The temple was rededicated in August by President Nelson.
Green, red, white, purple and blue lights will illuminate the temple grounds each night from December 1 through January 2. In addition to the lights and decorated Christmas trees on the temple grounds, visitors can see 87 créche displays, or nativities, from 64 countries inside the temple’s Visitors’ Center.
No ticket is required to see the lights or créches. Free tickets are required for the nightly performances.
Performers include the Gay Men’s Chorus on December 6, Polynesian dancers on Christmas Eve and Washington D.C. North missionaries singing Christmas carols on Christmas night. The Beijing Opera will perform on New Year’s Eve.
Tickets are available at dctemple.org.
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