A visit to the Chua Pho Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was a highlight for many. Reverend Tam, a spiritual leader known for her kindness, prepared a meal of egg rolls and fried rice for the youth. Her generosity and cultural teachings left a lasting impression.

“Urban Trek” Interfaith Service Event Unites Youth and Community Through Acts of Kindness

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In an inspiring display of interfaith collaboration and community service, 250 youth and 80 leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in Salt Lake City for a day of service. The event, part of the Urban Trek Youth Conference, spanned 12 locations and included interactions with various religious communities and nonprofits totalling 1,600+ hours of service.

The day began at the historic First United Methodist Church, where the youth helped move furniture to prepare for renovations that would provide shelter for homeless families. This church, built in 1906, houses the second-largest organ in Utah, adding a touch of historical significance to their efforts.

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At The Other Side Academy, participants served at a thrift store that supports rehabilitation programs. They sorted donations, filled shelves, and hung clothes, contributing to a cause that helps individuals reintegrate into society.

The group then moved to Welfare Square, a facility run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here, they learned of all that the church offers to the needy of all faiths, and saw the breadth of the needs around the world, which gave them a wider understanding of why service is so important. They learned about food production and resources, showcasing the church’s commitment to community service.

A visit to the Chua Pho Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was a highlight for many. Reverend Tam, a spiritual leader known for her kindness, prepared a meal of egg rolls and fried rice for the youth. Her generosity and cultural teachings left a lasting impression.

A visit to the Chua Pho Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was a highlight for many. Reverend Tam, a spiritual leader known for her kindness, prepared a meal of egg rolls and fried rice for the youth. Her generosity and cultural teachings left a lasting impression.

A visit to the Chua Pho Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was a highlight for many. Reverend Tam, a spiritual leader known for her kindness, prepared a meal of egg rolls and fried rice for the youth. Her generosity and cultural teachings left a lasting impression.

 

Fill the Pot Ministries provided a place of refuge and compassion. Reverend Ragsdale and his wife, Toni, shared their mission to serve the unhoused, inspired by personal experiences of hardship within their own family. The warm and welcoming environment contrasted sharply with the rough exterior, emphasizing the power of community and love.

 

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

 

The Salt Lake City Cemetery offered a unique historical perspective, with the youth cleaning up graves of notable figures, including church leaders and historical personalities. This activity provided a tangible connection to the past and a sense of reverence for those who came before.

The Salt Lake City Cemetery offered a unique historical perspective, with the youth cleaning up graves of notable figures, including church leaders and historical personalities. This activity provided a tangible connection to the past and a sense of reverence for those who came before.

 

Heritage Baptist Church tasked the volunteers with heavy yard work, including cutting down tall thistles. The experience was both physically demanding and rewarding, as the youth learned about the church’s beliefs and practices.

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The Utah Food Bank provided another opportunity to serve, with youth delivering boxes of food to homes in need. This hands-on experience highlighted the importance of compassion and empathy in addressing food insecurity.

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

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

Saint Catherine of Siena, a Catholic church near the University of Utah, benefited from the youth’s efforts to beautify its grounds. This collaboration underscored the shared values of service and stewardship across different faiths.

Finally, at Catholic Community Services’ St. Vincent de Paul location, the volunteers prepared and served meals. The sheer volume—850 meals per session—underscored the vital role of this organization in supporting those facing food insecurity.

at Catholic Community Services' St. Vincent de Paul location, the volunteers prepared and served meals. The sheer volume—850 meals per session—underscored the vital role of this organization in supporting those facing food insecurity.

 

Reflecting on the day, Brother Daniel Vincent noted, “I just felt everyone’s spirit everywhere we went. They were all wonderful.” Reverend Ragsdale succinctly shared the spirit of the event, 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 assistance to those in need but also fostered greater understanding and unity among diverse religious communities. The youth left with a deeper appreciation for the power of service and the beauty of different faiths working together.


For more details and to view media from the event, visit the following links:

 

A few things that leaders, service recipients, and youth stated as they reflected on this day of service are listed below.

Quotes from Church Leaders:
Elder Rowe Area Authority and Quorum of the 70: “Alma teaches us an important and eternal truth, also repeated in our day by revelation in D&C 64:33: “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” What each of them is doing today may seem “small and simple” regarding all that is going on in the world, but it in fact can lead to great things to those whom they serve and interact. As they interact with people and serve others from all faiths, holding up the light that shines from within each of them, they are doing what the Savior would do if he were here.  As the scriptures tell us, “Jesus went about doing good.”  That sounds simple, but it has had a profound impact on the world.  He served all.  They are following in His footsteps today and that means so much to Him.  He loves each one of them, as do I.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

President Averett, Salem Utah Woodland Hills Stake President: “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!

Chris Tambasco, Stake Patriarch: “I’ll mention something personal that meant a lot to us. After everyone had left Sherlyn and I had a sweet chat with the Reverend, his wife Toni  and Corrina (sp).  They showed us the rest of the facility and shared more of what they were doing. Earlier, while speaking briefly with the group, I said that Reverend Ragsdale carries the spirit with him. As we were getting ready to leave the 5 of us exchanged hugs, as did the Reverend and I. As we did so, I said, “I meant what I said back there”. He then said, “I love you.”  And then I said the same to him.”

Justin Kiesel, Harvest Ridge Ward Elders Quorum Presidency: “We were able to serve at the cemetery cleaning up graves and The First Methodist Church. I loved watching the youth engage with so much optimism and positivity. They learned other churches bring great qualities and we share a desire to bring people to Christ.”

Daniel Vincent, Stake Young Men’s: “Each location, to be honest with you, I just felt warm and welcome at each of the locations, each of the leadership, the pastors, reverends, were very welcoming, very appreciative of the youth coming and bringing their spirit into their facilities.”

“As the youth were serving, they had smiles on their faces, and in talking with the youth afterwards I said, “you guys were happy you were smiling, and I asked them why was that? It was 95° outside, you were wearing black shirts and sweating, and they said, “it brought peace and comfort to help others outside of our religion.”

David Clark, Woodland Hills Ward 2nd Counselor: Observing our youth engage in interfaith service projects was an enlightening experience, showcasing the profound benefits of collaboration and mutual understanding. These projects served as a testament to the power of diversity, as young participants transcended religious and cultural differences to work towards a common cause. The empathy and compassion displayed by these youth after serving communities in need is a testament to their growing sense of social responsibility and conviction to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Through their involvement in interfaith service, these young leaders are not only fostering tolerance and respect but also actively shaping a more inclusive and harmonious society.  As a youth leader myself, I would jump at future opportunities to rally our youth and participate in future service projects such as these.

Monica Bambrough, Assistant Director, Mount Nebo Communication Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “It was an amazing day to see so many people of different backgrounds and beliefs serving together. I wish everyone could have spent this day serving with us, because if they saw what we saw and felt what we felt, we could change the world.”

QUOTES FROM SERVICE RECIPIENTS:
Corrine from Fill the Pot Ministries: When talking about their services, “This is not about feeding folks, it’s about meeting people where they’re at and about creating community for those that have been pushed out of community and making sure we acknowledge that we are all human beings and that at the end of the day we are the model of kindness.”

Father Cody-St Catherine of Sienna: “Thank you Debby for the kind words. 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! Please send my thanks to Monica and the others involved. Thank you so much, and God bless you!”

Reverend Tam: ‘We had a great time and experience with you and your youth group, I really appreciate your service. It’s blessed my heart with your kindness.”

Gracia: Heritage Baptist: “What a wonderful day we had, thanks to your generosity and love!”

Mike, First Methodist Church: “Hi Monica, thank you so much for reaching out. Scott is recovering well, slowly but it has been phenomenal to watch God’s hand heal him before our eyes. Watching his facial droop disappear and the focus with eyes change. Thanks for your prayers and especially for your service. Everyone was so thrilled to get the 2nd floor cleared” (His husband had a stroke the day before we came so he could not join us. This is his response to the text i sent him letting him know that yes, God does see him and can bless him, and the we were praying for him) This was a good reminder to us that God loves all of his children and we can pray for our friends of other faiths, that they may be blessed in their difficulties and that we could have a conversation letting him know that we were praying and cared for their current circumstances.

QUOTES FROM YOUTH WHO SERVED:
Bri Framptom: I was able to go to Welfare Square where it was so cool to see how much the churches serves every single person and  at St Catherine’s it was fun to see how different their religion is but still how similar  

Hartley Huntington: I got to do some yard work and plant flowers for the Baptist church. It was cool to see how they are different from us and also some of the similarities. I loved helping out and the lady was very thankful!

Alyssa Warren: I give my testimony on the Methodist Church since I believe that we are all children of God we should treat others similarly

Paisley Yates: We got to pull weeds at a Catholic church! At the end Father Cody said a prayer and it was super cool to see how they say prayers in their religion!

Mia Stone: We served at a few locations, but my favorite one was helping make food for the homeless because it showed me another side of how others live  

Ilene Bowler: I served at the cemetery and the Buddhist temple. We met reverent Tam at the temple and she was super nice and we weeded outside the temple and it felt good to help her because it felt like you were doing the Lord’s work by helping someone.

Riley Button: We went to the Methodist church and moved furniture so that they could house the homeless. It was really neat for me to see other religions and see how we are really all so similar and how we all just love God and want to serve him and how they are making in their community. It also taught me a lot about serving without seeing the way it’ll affect others and seeing their joy but knowing you are making a difference which is something that was really cool for me to learn and I am so excited to start doing more of that kind of service. 

Aubrey Wilkins: I was able to serve at St. Vincent De Paul and Congregation Kol Ami. Both were great but I loved hearing from Rabbi Sam and teaching us about Jewish laws/culture. It was very cool to make connections and also learn about some of their beliefs.

Salem Utah Woodland Hills Stake Youth: I was able to participate in cleaning the Krishna temple’s yard!! The lady who was showing us around, and guiding the tour for us of the temple was SUPER excited to see all of us disciples ready to serve her religion! Before we were about to begin cleaning, she was asked to give a prayer. As she was praying, she listed what she was grateful for!! She literally burst with joy and she couldn’t keep talking because she was just so happy! She could not contain her happiness that we were able to serve her! I felt the spirit and knew that Heavenly Father had guided us there to serve her religion, to be examples of kindness and love!!

Samantha Lowe: I liked going to the Methodist church and being able to see that there is so much truth and love in all religions.

Macy Nielson: I served at the cemetery cleaning up graves. As we went through the graves reading the names and finding the gifts family and friends had left for these people, it was touching to see how a little love represented so much life. We felt connected through the generations seeing these tangible representations of people and their relationships.

Hannah Lesher: My group’s first stop was the 1st United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. While serving there, we helped move furniture, organize pantries, and clean up landscaping outside. The furniture was being rearranged to create rooms for those in need of a place to stay. It was inspiring to see just how similar our religion is to others; our common goal is to be Christlike and help those in need.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of confusion, decisions, and hard topics come up in my life–but serving these people gave me so much joy. It was amazing to see how Heavenly Father can utilize our efforts to not only help others, but to help us individually as well. I realized later that while I was serving these people, I didn’t think about my own problems once. I found true joy through being selfless like Christ. 

After volunteering at the 1st United Methodist Church, we headed to “Fill the Pot Ministries,” where Reverend Ragsdale has created more than just a kitchen—it’s a safe haven for those in need. He told us how it all started, and it turns out, it hit close to home: his own brother faced homelessness. After his brother passed away, Reverend Ragsdale was determined to make a difference, showing kindness to the homeless and embracing each of their unique stories with the love and compassion of Christ. 

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