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LDS Church produces “Be One” event Friday night

SALT LAKE CITY — Friday night is an evening of music and messages in the LDS Conference Center, with the theme of “Be One.

It commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation on blacks and the priesthood. The theme comes from Doctrine and Covenants 38:27, which reads, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

Many different choirs and dancers and speakers will be a part of it, including Gladys Knight, Alex Boyé and the Bonner family. Rehearsals have been going on for weeks. Choreographer Yvonne Baraketse spoke Thursday night after the last rehearsal.

“The performance is really important to me, because as an LDS person originally from Africa, this is the moment to put the two cultures together, my African heritage and the LDS Culture,” she said.

Yvonne Baraketse

She is originally from Rwanda and says she choreographed the dance numbers to symbolize unity and joy. She hopes people take with them that everyone is a child of God.

“A performance where we can portray our heritage, our songs, and our way we express our joy when we are celebrating,” said Baraketse.

Temanuata Laussen is with Knight’s Saints Unified Gospel Choir.

“This is one of the greatest blessings of my life. It’s such an honor to be a part of this, and to realize that modern-day revelation is alive and well,” said Laussen.

Temanuata Laussen

The Bonner family includes Debra and Harry Bonner and their 8 children, who are all involved in choirs and teaching music, to some big Hollywood names as well. Debra says they will be singing together several arrangements of LDS Primary songs.

“We are so excited. And we are really honored to be a part of the celebration of “Be One,” meaning we are all one, we are all children of our Father in Heaven,” said Debra Bonner.

Courtesy Bonner Family

“We attended the 10th anniversary. Debra had a choir, we were the host choir, and participated in the commemoration of the 1978 announcement in the assembly hall on Temple Square,” said Harry Bonner.

Their son Yohosh also remembers being a part of that 1oth anniversary when he was a young boy. Now he is happy his siblings will come together from across the country for the 40th anniversary.

“Our family, we are each other’s best friends. So any opportunity to be together and spend time together, and any time music is involved, and the gospel is involved, which really connects us, it’s a party. We are excited to be together and share our testimonies and praise God and press forward his work and principle of ‘Be One,’” said Yahosh Bonner.

Many say they hope the event promotes unity and healing moving forward.

It is sponsored by the First Presidency. President Russell M. Nelson said this recently after meeting with national leaders of the NAACP:

“Today, in unity with such capable and impressive leaders as the national officials of the NAACP, we are impressed to call on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect.”

Several church leaders denounced racism during a recent General Conference.

President M. Russell Ballard said, “We need to embrace God’s children compassionately and eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism. Let it be said that we truly believe the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are for every child of God.” Added Elder Quentin L. Cook, “anyone who claims superiority under the Father’s plan because of characteristics like race, sex, nationality, language, or economic circumstances is morally wrong and does not understand the Lord’s true purpose for all of our Father’s children.”

All the tickets are gone for the Conference Center, but it will be streamed live on at 7:30.