Hello. I’m Sister Hurst.

And I’m Sister Coles. We’re missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today we’re at the Hill Cumorah in Manchester, New York, USA.

For us, this is a sacred place.

Over the last 200 years, this hill has been many things to many people. It has been farmland for some. It’s been a local landmark for others.

There's also been an enormous outdoor stage, hosting a pageant with more than 700 performers.

The pageant inspired audiences for more than 80 years.

Now it has been discontinued.

Workers have carefully removed from the hill all the structures that once supported the pageant.

Because of this, parts of the hill will look a bit scarred for a while, while new trees grow where the stage used to be.

Stage lights will no longer shine on this hill,

but this gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the reason the pageant was here in the first place, he reason this is such a holy place. To do that, we need to take you to the top of the hill.

The most prominent feature of this hill is a granite monument with bronze panels on the sides and a gilded statue at the top. Sculptor Torleif Khaphus completed the monument in 1935.

The statue depicts an angel named Moroni,

a prophet who lived in the ancient Americas.

Moroni was the last prophet to write in the book of scripture called the Book of Mormon.

About 1,400 years after Moroni died,

he came to this area as a resurrected being.

He visited 17-year-old Joseph Smith, whom the Lord had called to be a prophet.

You can learn more about this visit in a virtual tour of the upstairs bedroom of the Smith family log home.

One of Moroni’s messages was that a sacred record written on gold plates was deposited in a hill—this hill, which later came to be known as the Hill Cumorah.

The record was the Book of Mormon.

Buried with the gold plates were two stones in silver bows fastened to a breastplate. God had prepared the stones, which are sometimes called the Urim and Thummim and sometimes called interpreters, to help with the translation of the book.

Joseph would translated the record by the gift and power of God from an ancient language to English. On the night of September 21 and the morning of September 22, 1823, Moroni shared this message with Joseph four times.

Several hours later, Joseph came to this part of the hill.

At the time, the area was grassy with scattered trees. Joseph knew exactly where the plates were buried because he had seen it in a vision while Moroni taught him.

Today, we don't know the exact location where Joseph found the plates, but we have these words from Joseph: “On the west side of the hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box.”

Young Joseph removed earth from around the stone, found a lever, and raised the stone.

When he saw the plates, he wondered how much they were worth.

He had thought that this discovery could lift his family out of poverty.

He reached for the plates three times, but each time he felt a shock pulse through him.

Moroni appeared and repeated a warning he had already given that Satan would tempt Joseph to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich.

He was not ready, Moroni explained.

He would not be ready until his only purpose would be to glorify God.

Moroni instructed Joseph to return each year on September 22 until he was ready.

He returned four times on that date to meet with Moroni.

Each time Moroni taught him and prepared him to be the prophet through whom Jesus Christ would restore His gospel to the earth.

During this period, Joseph met with Moroni at least 15 other times. Perhaps some of those meetings also occurred on this hill.

On September 22, 1827, four years after first seeing the plates, Joseph came here and climbed the hill alone while his wife, Emma, waited in a carriage at the base of the hill. Finally, he was ready. Moroni allowed him to remove the gold plates and the other items from the stone box. Now he could prepare to translate and publish the Book of Mormon and share its testimony of Jesus Christ with the world. Since then, millions of people have read it and received a witness that it is true. I am one of those people.

I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon for many reasons.

One reason is that I'm able to receive guidance and learn how to better follow my Savior’s example for me.

One reason I’m grateful for the Book of Mormon is that it brings me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ, by helping me learn more about Him and His love for me.

To conclude our visit with you,

we would like to walk with you on the Hill Cumorah.

We are here in old growth forest that hasn't been cleared since the days of Joseph Smith.

You'll get a sense of what this place was like when a resurrected angel came here to help a young man prepare to be a prophet.

As we walk, we will be silent so you can take in the sights and sounds of the forest.

Thank you for joining us in this sacred place.

We hope you have enjoyed your time here.

The Hill Cumorah and the Preparation of a Prophet

Missionaries take you to the Hill Cumorah. In this place, the angel Moroni helped young Joseph Smith prepare to bring forth the Book of Mormon and taught him “in what manner [God’s] kingdom was to be conducted in the last days” (JS—H 1:54).

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