Utah religious leaders gathered at This is the Place Heritage Park last night for the dedication of the park's Walk of Pioneer Faiths and The Garden Place building -- the park's beautiful new wedding and corporate event spot. The Walk, which is also amazing, has monuments along the way paying tribute to nine other religious faiths settling our chunk of the West around the same time as the Mormon Pioneers.
Representatives of those other faiths were honored on stage during the dedication, including:
Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of SLC Reverend Curtis Price of the First Baptist Church Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman of Jewish congregation Kol Ami Pastor W. Michael Chittum of SLC's First Congregational Church Reverend Scott B. Hayashi for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah Pastor Steve Klems of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Reverend. Matthew Gilbert of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake Pastor Michael J. Imperiale of the First Presbyterian Church Reverend Steve Goodier of the First United Methodist Church
It would have been nice to hear more of them talk at the ceremony, but I guess that might have taken all night.
Reverend Curtis Price gave the invocation, and Bishop John C. Wester gave the closing prayer/dedication. Ellis Ivory, Board Chair and Executive Director of This is the Place Foundation conducted the dedication.
"Whether fron Denmark or Delaware," Lt. Governor Greg Bell said he was in awe of the American pioneers who brought their faiths to Utah. "And Utahns still enjoy freedom of worship, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion." Bell also encouraged religious leaders to be involved in public dialogue and make their voices heard.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles represented the LDS Church at the ceremony saying, "You can't come to Utah and not visit This is the Place Heritage Park."
The crowd was also treated to two performances. The Heritage Singers sang Go West, and fourth graders from Upland Terrace Elementary School sang the state song, yes, we have one, "Utah... This Is the Place."
Afterward, guests were invited out to the garden of the Garden Place for... cookies.
My only criticism of the night: You have all of these religious leaders along with distinguished guests in the audience like SLC Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, and you just serve cookies? They were tasty, but not as elaborate as most were expecting in such a beautiful place.
Luckily, guests were also able to talk with the religious leaders on the Walk of Pioneer Faiths, take free tours of the park or explore the Brigham Young Forest Farmhouse. I did the latter. Here's some pics: