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An Inspirational “Urban Trek” Emphasizes Interfaith Relationships and the Value of Service

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In an amazing show of teamwork and interfaith service, 250 young people and 80 leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salem Utah Woodland Hills Stake) came together in Salt Lake City for a day of service. This event, part of the Urban Trek Youth Conference, took place across 12 different locations and involved working with various religious groups and nonprofits, adding up to more than 1,600 hours of service.

The day started at the historic First United Methodist Church, built in 1906 and home to Utah’s second-largest organ. Here, the youth helped move furniture to prepare for renovations that would provide shelter for homeless families.

Alyssa W., a youth who served, shared that “I gave my testimony on the Methodist Church since I believe that we are all children of God we should treat others similarly.”

At The Other Side Academy, another group worked in a thrift store that supports rehab programs. They sorted donations, stocked shelves, and hung clothes, contributing to a cause that helps people reintegrate into society.

At Welfare Square, a facility run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the youth learned about the extensive help the church offers to people of all faiths. They saw how food is produced and distributed, gaining a better understanding of global needs and the importance of service.

A visit to the Chua Pho Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was a highlight for sure. Reverend Tam, known for her kindness, prepared a meal of egg rolls and fried rice for the group.

President Averett, Salem Utah Woodland Hills Stake President shared:

“I think the biggest thing about the Buddhist temple that I would like to share was the relationship developed with Reverend Tam. In a very synergistic and supporting way, we spoke together about the rising generation and shared ideas of how to connect them to God. It really felt like we were working together to solve challenges of faith in this generation. It was a very humble conversation, no one holding back, just sharing the challenges and ideas that might work. I learned a lot from Reverend Tam!”

At Fill the Pot Ministries, Reverend Ragsdale and his wife, Toni, shared their mission to help the homeless, inspired by their own family’s struggles. The welcoming atmosphere highlighted the strength of community and love.

The youth also helped prepare for the upcoming Holy Festival at the Krishna Temple by cleaning and organizing the grounds. They learned about the temple’s beliefs and practices, fostering understanding and appreciation.

At the Salt Lake City Cemetery, the youth cleaned up graves of notable figures, including church leaders and historical personalities. This activity connected them to the past and instilled a sense of respect for those who came before.

At Heritage Baptist Church, the volunteers tackled heavy yard work, including cutting down tall thistles. This physically demanding task taught them about the church’s beliefs and practices.

The Utah Food Bank gave the youth another chance to serve by delivering boxes of food to homes in need, highlighting the importance of compassion and empathy in fighting food insecurity.

At Congregation Kol Ami, a Jewish community center, the youth worked in the community garden, which provides free produce to those in need. This service emphasized sustainable support and community care.

Another volunteer group went to Saint Catherine of Siena, a Catholic church near the University of Utah, benefited from the youth’s efforts to beautify its grounds. This collaboration highlighted the shared values of service across different faiths.

Father Cody-St Catherine of Sienna mentioned that “it was a true blessing to have the group come, and they made a huge difference on that patch of land. It looks so much more presentable now! Thank you so much, and God bless you!”

At Catholic Community Services’ St. Vincent de Paul, the volunteers prepared and served 850 meals per session, showing the crucial role of this organization in helping those facing food insecurity.

Reflecting on the day, Brother Daniel Vincent said, “I just felt everyone’s spirit everywhere we went. They were all wonderful.” Reverend Ragsdale summed up the event’s spirit, saying, “At the end of the day, don’t we all just love God? Aren’t we all headed to the same place?”

This interfaith service event not only provided immediate help to those in need but also brought diverse religious communities closer together. The youth left with a deeper appreciation for the power of service and the beauty of different faiths working together.

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