“By Their Works,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 80
A Celebration of History
As ward mission leader in the Pensacola Third Ward, Pensacola Florida Stake, Juan Gonzalez often spoke and worked with African-Americans in his neighborhood and was impressed with the love they had for the Savior. He wondered how he could help these individuals understand that Latter-day Saints shared many of the same values.
After approaching his bishop, Grady W. Davis, and receiving approval, Brother Gonzalez began planning a celebration of African-American history as a bridge of communication and respect. The first celebration focused on the theme “Love One Another,” and more than 150 individuals from many congregations attended. Guest vocalists from various churches in the area performed, and Michael W. Shurtleff from the Church Educational System was the keynote speaker. “We are brothers and sisters,” Brother Shurtleff noted. “We are children of a great and glorious God. He loves us and desires us to love one another.”
Encouraged by the success of the first celebration, Brother Gonzalez began plans for a second celebration. The theme for this activity was “I Am a Child of God.” Several guest performers were part of the program, but the evening was stolen by the children, a sixteen-voice children’s choir from the Pensacola ward and the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. More than three hundred people were in attendance, and bridges of friendship were developed and strengthened.—Fran Councill, Tallahassee, Florida
Recently sixty-six junior and senior high school youth joined together for an “earth day” spring cleanup in Julian, California, a small town in northeast San Diego County. The event was organized by Latter-day Saint volunteers, who were joined by volunteers from the Community United Methodist Church and St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church.
Organized into seven work crews, the students worked for nearly two hours clearing weeds and trash from a cemetery and museum building, planting cottonwood saplings, painting a toolshed, cleaning up residential streets, planting ground cover, and clearing some ball fields.
The entire community cooperated on the project. Relief Society sisters from the Julian Branch, Poway California Stake, donated supplies for the litter-pickup group. A local nursery supplied bottles of vitamins for the saplings. Local radio stations, newspapers, and churches advertised the event, and local merchants provided a meal, which was served by the Relief Society sisters, for the youth after the project was completed.—Marianne Burton, Julian, California