Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

A Sparrow is Peacefully Evicted from Inside the Tabernacle

In 1985, Ronald D. John was employed as manager of Temple Square operations. Among other responsibilities, John was in charge of preparing and maintaining Temple Square buildings, such as the Tabernacle, for events.

One evening, the decision was made to leave the doors to the Tabernacle open overnight. The hope was that leaving the door open overnight would cool off the organ pipes so the instrument could be tuned.

An unexpected consequence of leaving the doors open was that a sparrow entered the Tabernacle. Due to the presence of recording equipment and other important details, it was necessary that the bird leave the Tabernacle as soon as possible.

Employees were unable coax the bird to leave and ended up calling animal control. The experience was recorded in the June 1989 edition of the Ensign magazine, and an excerpt is below:

 

The animal control people brought some pellet guns. Although they were not allowed to fire them on private property, they pointed out that our employees could borrow them to shoot the sparrow.

I immediately put that idea to rest. The ceiling in the 118-year-old building was the original—made from plaster combined with fine animal hair to give it stability and its beautiful acoustics—and I didn’t want it damaged by pellets. There were other practical reasons not to shoot at the bird, including the risk of damaging the delicate recording equipment and musical instruments still on the stand. But more important, I did not feel it would be appropriate to kill this tiny creature. I remembered a talk by President Spencer W. Kimball about not shooting little birds.

The animal control people then suggested setting poisoned food out for the bird. I wasn’t comfortable with this, either. But the bird needed to be removed from the Tabernacle as quickly as possible. That night there would be a full house with several General Authorities and other dignitaries in attendance.

As the bird continued to fly back and forth, chirping loudly, the thought came to me that if this bird was important to Heavenly Father, perhaps I should ask him how to get it out of the building. I turned my back to the others, bowed my head, and said a simple prayer: “Heavenly Father, if this sparrow is important to you, could you please let us know how to safely remove it?”

I immediately had a strong impression of what to do. Closing the prayer, I turned and gave instructions to the workers. They turned off all the lights in the building, shut the window blinds, and closed all but one of the doors.

At that moment, the bird was perched on top of the organ’s facade. Suddenly he left his lofty perch, and in a perfect swan dive flew out the open door to freedom.

 

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