SALT LAKE CITY — The final Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York, is postponed until the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday.

The 2020 Nauvoo Pageants are canceled, too, but will return next year and continue in the future, according to a letter sent to local church leaders in the United States and Canada by the Priesthood and Family Department.

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The Hill Cumorah Pageant will be held July 8-10 and 13-17, 2021, the letter said. The Nauvoo Pageants will run July 6-31, 2021.

Church leaders announced in December 2018 that they were shutting down four of eight large Latter-day Saint pageants, including the Hill Cumorah Pageant, which began in 1937. Last year, about 42,000 people attended eight performances in Palmyra, New York.

“The Mormon Miracle Pageant” in Manti held its final performances in June 2019, ending a 53-year run. The eight performances drew 153,500 people, double the 2018 attendance, according to the Sanpete Messenger.

Church leaders also discontinued two biennial pageants in Utah — the Castle Valley Pageant, which had been held in even-numbered years, and “Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew,” which was performed in Clarkston in odd-numbered years.

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The pageants church leaders chose to keep are:

  • The Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant “Truth Will Prevail,” which are performed on alternating nights outside the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. This year, they had been scheduled to run July 7-Aug. 1. The Nauvoo Pageant, about early Latter-day Saints who fled persecution to settle Nauvoo, was to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. “Truth Will Prevail” tells the story of early church members in the British Isles and was to run on Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • The British Pageant in Chorley, England, held every four years under area leadership next to the Preston England Temple. The next performance is scheduled in 2021.
  • The Mesa Easter Pageant, which will resume in 2021 under area leadership after completion of the Mesa Arizona Temple renovation.

Last fall, more than 4,700 people applied for the final cast of the Hill Cumorah Pageant this summer, up from 3,600 applications the year before. The cast was expected to report for rehearsals on July 3. The pageant schedule was to hold eight performances from July 9-11 and 14-18.

The Hill Cumorah is the location where church members believe the Angel Moroni met Joseph Smith and gave him engraved plates that he translated into the Book of Mormon.

Leaders chose to close the Hill Cumorah and Manti pageants because of the scope and cost of the events. They required 700-1,000 volunteers and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours. Wear and tear on the church’s sacred sites in Palmyra was another consideration, a church spokesperson told the Buffalo News.

“Local church leaders and members are encouraged to focus on gospel learning in their homes and to participate in Sabbath worship and the church’s supporting programs for children, youth, individuals and families,” the church leaders said in a statement in December 2018. “The goal of every activity in the church should be to increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to share his gospel message throughout the world. Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged.”