“Of Good Report,” Ensign, May 1993, 109–10
“Good Place to Spend a Saturday”
Recently, when a storm swept through western Washington state, members of the Centralia (Washington) Ward decided to pitch in on a community cleanup project.
“I approached the city with the idea, and they said [Fort Borst Park] was the hardest hit,” said Bishop Jim Moss. “We decided this would be a good place to spend a Saturday.”
About fifty ward members, young and old, showed up to rake, clean up, and throw away debris. The ward’s efforts earned them mention in the local newspaper as well as recognition from community officials.
Neighbors and Friends
For years, members in the Mudgeeraba Ward, Brisbane Australia South Stake, have met next door to the Liberal Jewish Congregation of the Temple Shalom. In a general effort to become more visible in their community and to associate with members of other faiths, the Saints recently organized an evening of sharing with their Jewish neighbors. “Friendship through Understanding” was the theme as approximately eighty members of both faiths met together.
The evening began in the LDS meetinghouse, where Bishop Mark Fell addressed the congregation. The Jewish rabbi then talked to the group, and after general questions, the groups separated. Members of the Church were guided through the Jewish synagogue, and the Jews toured the LDS meetinghouse.
“Great interest was expressed in our family history center, particularly in the microfilm records we have from Israel,” reported Stephen G. Smith, ward Sunday School president. “There was a warmth that flowed between us and increased as the evening progressed.”
At the conclusion of the tours, the two groups met in the synagogue, where the evening was brought to a close. “Everyone went home a little more familiar with each other’s buildings, beliefs, and members,” added Brother Smith.
Increasing Talents, Self-Esteem
The list of hobbies and talents in the Nibley Park (Utah) Ward is long and varied: pigeon racing, gardening, magic tricks, ballet, impersonations, singing, writing, and candle decorating to name a few. And members of the ward have a unique way of sharing their skills with others.
Almost three years ago, under the direction of Bishop Jerry Wells, the ward began a monthly “Spotlight on Excellence” night. Three members are featured every month; each member shares his or her talent in a twenty-minute presentation. The presentation includes a performance if the talent is performable. Otherwise, the presentation includes an explanation of how the talent was developed, the blessing it has been in the member’s life, and information about developing the talent.
Ninety-two-year-old Gwen Summerhays Todd is only one of the more than fifty members who have participated in the program. Ward organist for sixty-seven years, Sister Todd performed an organ solo during her presentation. Other members find that the program has helped them to increase their talents and self-esteem, as well as get better acquainted with members of their ward.
The “Heaven Ward” Project
In response to their stake president’s challenge to plan activities far beyond the immediate objective, members in the Crystal First Ward, Minneapolis Minnesota Stake, adopted the idea of creating a “ward in heaven” by performing enough temple ordinances for enough ancestors—529—to equal the number of living members in the ward.
Ultimately, ward members were so enthusiastic about their goal that they submitted 1,441 names for temple ordinances, nearly tripling their original goal. Some 159 members traveled to the Chicago Illinois Temple for a three-day visit. In those three days, ward members completed temple work equivalent to one person’s serving eight-hour days for six months!
Since then, the Minneapolis stake’s Bloomington and Crystal Second wards have been involved in similar efforts, and wards from other areas, hearing about the idea, have also picked it up.
The Crystal First Ward’s project was divided into two parts: gathering and submitting names, which took place over a period of several months, and the temple excursion.