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Religion Notes

80,000 Expected to View Mormon Festival

July 20, 1985|JOHN DART | Times Religion Writer

If the no-shows are minimal, about 80,000 people will go to the Rose Bowl tonight to watch nearly 13,000 young Mormons put on a dance festival in colorful yet "modest" costumes.

More than 82,000 tickets have been sold by Mormons in Southern California for what is considered the largest cultural event in the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

Another couple of thousand tickets at $3 each will be sold at the gates for the 6:45 p.m. show.

The event is expected to outdo the largest previous Mormon dance festival at the Rose Bowl in 1980 when an estimated 60,000 people and 10,000 dancers and support personnel attended. Other large festivals were held in 1973 and 1976.

Tarzana bank manager Eugene Morris, general chairman of the 1985 Dance Festival, said the purpose is partly missionary--to introduce Mormons "to people who don't know much about us"--and partly to provide an inspirational experience to church teen-agers.

"Most of us do not get a chance to perform on the field of such a large stadium," Morris said. "That kind of experience usually only goes to athletes and university bands."

Social dancing is discouraged by some conservative Protestant churches in America, but the Mormon Church has traditionally encouraged social dancing and theatrical productions. Morris said that in the San Fernando Valley there is a dance being sponsored somewhere by a Mormon unit almost every week. "It's a good way for them to have social encounters," Morris said.

But Mormon dress codes are in force. Even in rehearsals during hot spells, he said, "we did go out of our way to maintain high dress standards." And for the performances tonight, Morris said, the costumes are modest.

Production numbers include cheerleaders, hoedown dancers, rainbow-forming girls with umbrellas and other props such as giant red hearts and a 20-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Director Jack Regas of the television series "Dance Fever" choreographed four of the 16 dances, but his wife, Kit, and daughter, Lori Marsh, are the primary directors for the event. Television actor Gordon Jump and the Lennon Sisters are among celebrities on the program.

How soon will Los Angeles' new archbishop, Roger Mahony, become a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church? Such appointments are not automatic, church officials say, even for a diocese that has had its previous spiritual leaders wearing the red hat symbolic of the office.

Retiring Cardinal Timothy Manning of Los Angeles was raised to that ecclesiastical rank three years after he succeeded Cardinal James Francis McIntyre in early 1970.

But the most recent elevations in this country to the Vatican's College of Cardinals--Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, John O'Connor of New York and Bernard Law of Boston--were made in a relatively short time after the Pope appointed them as archbishops. In all three cases, their predecessors had died, however.

It has been suspected that Pope John Paul II has delayed promoting some U.S. archbishops to cardinals in cities where the previous cardinal is living in retirement or has a Rome assignment.

That does not necessarily mean that Manning, whose health has been good at age 75, has to die before Mahony, 49, can be named a cardinal. Such appointments are at the papal discretion and take in a number of considerations, including how a cardinal's rank could help in a country where the church is beleaguered politically.

In this country, the preeminence of the three-county Los Angeles archdiocese as the most populous (2.5 million Catholics and growing) is expected to be a major factor in the considerations.

Members of the 373 U.S. and Canadian churches of the North American Baptist Conference gave an average of more than $1,800 each in the three-year period ending Dec. 31, 1984, according to figures released in Anaheim this week.

Conference Treasurer Milton Hildebrandt told the 5,000 delegates and visitors to the 41st triennial convention of the 60,000-member Baptist body that their tithes and offerings totaled $111 million for 1982-84. The six-day meeting at the Anaheim Convention Center ends Sunday.

Mother, father and son will all be ordained as ministers in a ceremony Sunday in Ventura--a first for the Los Angeles-based United Church of Religious Science.

The Rev. Christian Sorensen, 25, who will become the youngest clergyman in the metaphysical-motivational denomination, is already minister of the Ventura County Church of Religious Science and is current president of the Ventura cross-denominational ministers' association.

But two years' ministerial experience is one of the prerequisites before ordination in Religious Science. And his show business parents, associate ministers at the Ventura church, also have been busy earning their credits in the denomination.

Jackie Sorensen, a former actress, is a Religious Science practitioner with a celebrity clientele that includes actress Linda Evans. Paul Sorensen, a veteran actor who plays a recurring television role on "Dallas" as oilman Andy Bradley, is a Religious Science teacher and has served as interim minister at the La Jolla and North Hollywood churches.

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