published Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Cooper: Mormons to rededicate Atlanta Temple this weekend

More than 200 area Mormon youth will kick up their heels in Atlanta today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rededicates its Atlanta Temple with a cultural celebration.

The celebration, titled “Southern Lights,” highlights the culture of the country overall as well as the parts of Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama that the temple serves.

The event is scheduled for the Atlanta Civic Center, and the temple rededication is Sunday.

“I feel glad to be part of it,” said Cameron Wolfe, 16, one of some 120 area boys who will be doing a Revolutionary War dance as part of the celebration. “We’re representing the church to the world.”

Attendees said all youth ages 12-18 were invited to take part from the 15 stakes (regions) the temple serves in the three states.

“It’s very exciting,” said Hannah Duperre, one of some 80 area girls who will be doing a salsa dance in the event. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a highlight for most of us participating in it. The president of the whole church (Thomas S. Monson) will be there to watch us.”

More than 2,700 youth from the three states will participate in the celebration, officials said.

Duperre said the groups practiced about three months before tonight’s event. Group leaders were sent specific choreography, and group rehearsals were held weekly.

With videos of each dance available online, participants also were encouraged to practice on their own, she said.

“At first,” said Duperre, an East Hamilton High School student, “I was kind of discouraged because I’m not a dancer. But once I learned it, I had a lot of fun with it.”

In addition to the salsa, in which each member of the group will be attired in lime green T-shirts and tri-colored skirts, girls from other stakes in the three states will present “a lot of fun-looking” dances from different

eras such as the Charleston from the 1920s and a boogie-woogie number from the 1940s, she said.

Wolfe said the Revolutionary War dance — in which participants will be dressed in white shirts, green vests and royal blue knee breeches — also has “a bit of choreography” and requires participants to march, rotate in place and maneuver faux guns in time with the steps.

“It was a new experience,” he said. “I hadn’t gotten into a dance like this before. It was difficult in the beginning. But continuing to come to the Wednesday night practices, eventually you learn the dance.”

Mormon temples, according to the website for the Atlanta-area edifice, are used “solely for the performance of sacred ordinances and religious instruction aimed at strengthening members’ relationships with God, their family and others around them.”

The temple, located in suburban Sandy Springs and the first temple in the Southeast, was originally dedicated in 1983.

Both students said they had visited the Atlanta temple, which had been closed for two years for the renovation.

“Out of all our buildings, [the temples] are more sacred,” said Duperre. “We believe they’re the house of the Lord.

Contact Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy. the Mormons are not scared of black people any more.

April 30, 2011 at 2:45 p.m.
Gr8britton said...


If you knew any Mormon history you'd know that African Americans were baptized and accepted into the LDS religion from it's inception. That's a far cry better than most southern "Christian" churches which denied even membership and baptism. While you defended slavery and murdered your northern brothers Mormons cried for abolition.

You need to remove that pointy white hood and see that you forgot the eye holes so you can see the truth.

May 1, 2011 at 2:46 a.m.
Kaileo said...

Unfortunately, Gr8britton is NOT telling ALL of the truth. While it is true that African Americans were baptized into the Mormon church from it's inception, they were NOT allowed to have the Mormon priesthood NOR enter into the Mormon temples. Mormons believe that without the instruction given and ceremonies performed in the temple, you cannot reach the highest level of heaven.

Brigham Young himself said that the penalty for mixing with the Negro race (as he put it) was "death on the spot".

Mormons didn't stop these discriminatory practices until the mid 1970's. And we see a similar pattern with gay people today. Plus, they still don't let their women have their priesthood.

So, once the FULL truth is known, it seems that Mormons had little pointy white hoods too...

May 3, 2011 at 11:22 p.m.
Mataia said...

I just wanted to say that the LDS Church does NOT "refuse to let women hold the priesthood because they're women and they're not equal to man." Women have a different role. The men hold the priesthood, yes. But his wife is his companion. In the LDS church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals. And I personally don't know any LDS people who are racist nor homophobics. If they are, then they aren't living upto the standards that their church emphasizes.

That's all I wanted to say about that....

Now about this Cultural Celebration.

That sounds AMAZING. Frankly, it's a wonder that anything got done to put this extravaganza together! No one was paid to put this show on; it was all volunteer work.

WOW. :O Good job!

May 5, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.
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