Year after year, Meridian has chosen a special project for its readers to work together to fund. We are particularly excited about our new project this year, a magnificent and grand sculpture park dedicated to the Lord, the Book of Mormon, and the covenant on the Americas.
We haven’t yet shared the location with our readership. You’ll be among the first to know when you read on…
For twenty-five years, the fingers of Steven Lloyd Neal have never stopped working on the pieces and parts of sculpture because he was moved by a revelation one unforgettable day that he was to build a massive sculpture park to celebrating Jesus Christ, the covenant upon the Americas, and the Book of Mormon. He was to create this park. But how?
This was no small task because he was also a facial plastic surgeon, father, and husband with full-time responsibilities. At that early time, he also wasn’t certain he had the skills to pull this off. But he had a calling; he knew it and felt it—and he had to be true to it.
Join us in bringing this park to pass by helping to fund the Title of Liberty. Please CLICK HERE.
So, as Steven Lloyd Neal made a covenant with God to build this sculpture park, little did he know then that his promise would come to fruition at a time when it would be desperately needed, when freedom was fraying, religion belittled, and people were attacking statues with the same anger they were using to unravel our foundation and the people of this nation would be forgetting the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Yet the Lord, who has His hand in history, knew we would need inspiration and peace just now and prepared artists, writers, thinkers and Latter-day Saints in advance to play their parts.
Dr. Neal was attending the Portland temple dedication in 1989, when he had “a deeply moving spiritual experience.” He said, “Strong images came to my mind—what I would describe as vestiges of a vision—along with the interpretation of an obscure passage in my patriarchal blessing which I had never understood before. In my heart and mind, the Lord offered me another chapter in my covenant that I had previously made to use my time and talents to depict the message of the Restoration.”
It was a series of sculptures on the Book of Mormon and Christ’s visit to this promised land that would be a massive sculpture park called Monument of the Americas.
He said, “This sculptural rendering I was perceiving was of the Book of Mormon recording the Savior’s dealing with the remnants of Israel in this land, and was to be the ‘light I should hold up where it would be seen afar.’ This the Lord would ‘give in the season and in the hour of need.’”
It was a huge assignment and from that moment, Dr. Neal devoted every effort toward this work—25 years of effort.’ Anyone who knows Dr. Neal, also knows that he spends every moment, even on vacation, working on these sculptures. Since he received what he considers to be a divine commission to do this park, he has never ceased his labors.
Meridian to Raise Funds
Every year Meridian chooses a project that our readers work on together, because together we have made such a difference in the past. We have raised money for earthquake victims in Nepal, helped build a school for the leprosy-affected in India, sent money and supplies to victims of a wildfire in Washington state, dug a borehole in Kenya and much, much more. This has all happened because of you—and together our efforts are significant.
Now as a Meridian readership we are about to take on another project that is even more significant—because this is a project to feed the soul. We hope you’ll help.
Be among the first to step forward to help fund the Title of Liberty in the Monument of the Americas Park by Clicking Here.
At the end of each year, we run an overview of the articles we have published and name the ten-best read for the year. In 2020, hands down, the best-read article was one we wrote about Steven Lloyd Neal and his work to create a large sculpture park called Monument to the Americas celebrating the Book of Mormon. It is a magnificent, inspiring undertaking.
In that article, we mentioned that, as of yet, the massive park had no home and no piece of land for building. This had to be land that was as majestic as the concept for the park and on the practical level, it had to have a local government that would approve a religious park. This is not easy to find, especially in a space that is readily accessible to the public.
This park would be several acres, featuring more than 50 bronze sculptures, many of them heroic size or as much as three times life size and featuring multiple figures, along with a series of expansive bas-relief panels that tell the story of the Book of Mormon. These will be placed among waterfalls, manicured gardens, pools, walkways, flowers and ornamental trees, all celebrating the Book of Mormon and honoring America’s founding.
But Where can the Monument of the Americas Call Home?
Now, Dr. Neal has found a location suitable for a sculpture park celebrating Jesus Christ and the covenant on the Americas.
Dr. Neal believed that if the Lord inspired the creation of this park, then He also had a plan for the site. He said, “I always thought of it as a package deal. But like every aspect of the Monument’s progress, a trial of faith was always part of the process. The Lord gave me a vision of how it should look but kept the surrounding scenery a mystery. Originally, I seriously considered building it in the Los Angeles basin, because it would be accessible year-round. For lots of reasons that didn’t work out.”
“Then my early supporters and I prayerfully considered places such as Nauvoo, Saint George, and Cache Valley. About eight years ago, the Thanksgiving Point Board of Directors (in Utah County) voted unanimously to build it there, but afterward decided it needed a venue of its own.”
Dr. Neal continued to work on these sculptures that as of yet, had no appropriate home. It was an act of super faith as opportunities for the land for the sculpture park were presented only to dry up.
Dr. Neal continued, “Governor Gary Herbert wanted it to be built in the This is the Place Heritage State Park, but the Park Director felt that it was so religious that we would have had significant public pushback and construction would have been stopped by lawsuits.
“Then soon after Shaun Michel and his brother Ollie, were attending a presentation we gave for the Provo City Council. The brothers thought it was the perfect thing to include in their large development on top of Suncrest on Traverse Mountain, which overlooked the Utah Valley. For two years, we all rallied the local church members and citizens, encouraging them to attend City Council meetings to get approval for the park. The Michel brothers lobbied the Council members and the homeowners’ association. Pressing the council, to bring the matter to a vote, the Michel brothers insisted on some action after two years of discussion.
“In that final meeting, one of the five members stayed home, who was one of three in favor of the park. So, the call to vote was as expected: two in favor and two against. Then without explanation, the mayor (who had always said he supported the Park) got up and voted “no” thus killing the measure and preventing us from building there. We will never know what happened.”
“At this point, the search had taken years. Many people might have given up, but Dr. Neal was only more fired with the sense that this was the Lord’s project and He had a place for it.
“Then the board of the Monument to the Americas turned to Heber, Utah, where they felt there would be no obstructionists hiding there. They were right. Mike Bradshaw, who manages the real estate division for the James Sorenson family, came to a presentation about the park, and, inspired by the concept, offered 10 acres without price on a mountain side with a stunning view of Mt. Timpanogos. It was a larger parcel of land than Dr. Neal had ever dreamed of.
Join other Meridian readers in helping to fund the Title of Liberty as our part in building this park. CLICK HERE NOW.
“Before the land was even secured, a top-notch team was in the making. Jeremy Fillmore, a gifted and well-established landscape architect of Orem, Utah, had been consulting on the Traverse Mountain site. When he heard the park would be in Heber instead, he said his best friend growing up lived there, a well-known civil engineer named Brian Balls who quickly joined our team. Clayton Vance, a graduate of Notre Dame school of classical architecture was fortunately added to the group as they often worked together.
“Jeremy Fillmore introduced our project to one of his gifted partners, Ryan Taylor, who moved to Missouri, because he felt a spiritual direction to do so. Also, a gifted landscape architect, Ryan commutes back and forth and has teamed up with Jeremy. Together, they hope to have a master plan of the Monument of the Americas and Gardens completed soon.
“At the end of last year, we found our devoted contractor, Mike Petersen, a veteran home and commercial builder of 30 years, He promptly helped recruit Robert Hicken a stone mason and fabricator with one of the largest and most advanced facilities in the nation. His work on the Provo City Temple has won awards. And one can understand the trust people put in his craftsmanship knowing his recent commission was to make the Salt Lake Temple spires more earthquake resistant. All of these men are devout disciples of Christ with strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon.”
Dr. Neal continued, “So this work is as much their work of faith as it is mine. I have included a little clip from one of our planning meetings where the definitive features of the Park are going to be adapted to the land. The reader can be a “fly on the wall” as it were. Those present are: myself, Jeremy Fillmore, landscape, architect, Brian Balls, civil engineer, Clayton Vance, architect, Michael Hall, the other primary sculptor, and Brad Colton, one of the Directors of the Board.
He said, “I would like you to picture with me the layout of the garden. Driving south on US 40 as one descends the hill from Park City, leveling out into Heber Valley, the UVU Wasatch Campus is seen on the left. What is now a bare hill above the campus will very soon become the art district of the valley. There at the very top one will see from the highway—and from everywhere else in the Valley—the lighted sculpture of Christ marking the location of the park.
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“Turning left on the boulevard soon to be constructed, one passes the before-mentioned features until arriving at the top where the parking lot of the Monument of the Americas will be. Entering the visitor center, one sees inspired art work on the walls and in a gallery. The other side features an auditorium with informative videos for visitors but also it doubles as a black box theatre called “Charitable Acts Theatre “created by Carrie Zabaldo, a local director, where patriotic and religious plays will be produced year-round.
“Then one sees through the large plate glass window a commanding view of the garden behind. Halfway up the gradual hill, one sees a classical arch (later described in these articles). Framed in the archway is a statue of the Savior teaching the sermon at the temple as recorded in Third Nephi. Farther up the hill on the park edge will be the Savior standing atop a waterfall, which is the gold plates. From this platform the visitor has a fabulous view of the Valley and the east side of Mount Timpanogos. These structures are all centered along the same axis.
“Just below the archway is an oval plaza, oriented north to south, with planted grass and some trees to grow some shade and benches to leisurely enjoy the garden. Perennial flowers, ornamentals and terraces will combine in this area in a hide-and-reveal scheme to display the over-60 sculptures of the Gardens. Trails will meander away for exploration then return to this central plaza.
“If one goes to the left, one will find the entrance into a separate garden, the American Covenant Garden dominated by The Title of Liberty and pavilion. If one goes through the archway, symbolizing the Christian era of the Book of Mormon, the path will lead to the other events of third Nephi.
“One must discover the three distinct parts of Third Nephi, chapter 17, hidden from each other: the sculpture of Christ healing the sick; praying for the congregation with words that cannot be spoken; and on a separate plaza out of view of the others—the “Behold your Little Ones” fountain with three tiers and the highest concentration of sculptures in the Park.
“Beyond that, farther up and to the right in the corner, is King Benjamin preaching his sermon in an amphitheater where church groups can congregate or in the summer listen to a violin concert. Just below that will be The Sacred Grove section and the Moroni statues. Below that and to the right will be our studio where much of the sculpture will be finished, right next to the parking lot.”
Dr. Neal, “I hope this general description will pique the reader’s interest to learn more about the Monument Park and visit us one day. We are well on the way to construct it, the longest process being the enlargement of the 60 sculptures which have already been created in maquette size. We would also love your support, since this is being built entirely by charitable donations by those who love liberty and who love the Book of Mormon.
To join other Meridian readers in helping to make this a reality, and raise the Title of Liberty in this park, please donate now and CLICK HERE. All of your donations are completely tax deductible. Checks can be sent to 1092 Skyline Drive, Pendleton, OR, 97801. Make a check to Monument of the Americas.