Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s faith council is organizing a citywide effort during the month of April called “Pray Act Trust:”  Pray in unity with our neighbors, Act to assist others where we can, and Trust in our Father in Heaven that all will work out. Community involvement will be recognizable through the hashtag #prayacttrust

PRAY

Activities for the month will kick off tomorrow with a phone call for all members of the community. Pastor Del Phillips will introduce the month-long campaign, followed by several members of local clergy offering prayer. The kick-off will run from 12-12:30.  All are welcome to participate on the call.  Call in number is 425-436-6392  Access Code 485444. The audio will also be available on Pastor Del’s Facebook page (see below).

ACT

Each day during the month of April join the community in service. How? Each daily act of service is consistent with Shelter in Place guidelines. These daily options help members of the community connect in spite of social restrictions while also creating positive impacts in their own lives and those of their neighbors.  This will be similar to what we experience during the Christmas season with the 30 days of Light the World.  These ideas will be at https://www.prayacttrust.com/.

Sunday, April 5th will be a citywide day of fasting and prayer.  A list of community charities will be provided where a fast offering can be made.

See the Facebook link for Pastor Del’s facebook live inviting us all to join.

WEEK ONE

We can come together in the midst of coronavirus quarantine. Join us daily for prayer at noon, perform a daily act of service, and trust God. 

Wednesday – April 1

Commit to pray every day for the next 30 days. Join us live for group prayer on Facebook or by calling in. Call in number is 425-436-6392  Access Code 485444. 

Thursday – April 2

Write a thank you note to someone. It could be instant gratitude via email, or a tangible thank you card in the mail. 

Friday – April 3

Offer to do a grocery run for someone else. If you are high risk, let someone else serve you and do a grocery run for you. 

Saturday – April 4

Find a story with good news. Forward it to five friends. 

Sunday – April 5

Join the community in a day of fasting and prayer. 

Monday – April 6

Donate the money you would have spent on your meals yesterday (or more!) and donate it to a local charitable organization. 

Tuesday – April 7

Cheer up the neighborhood walk. Chalk the sidewalks with messages and pictures of hope and joy. Make sure to tag your work #PrayActTrust

TRUST

The theme of the month comes from Psalms. “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  – Psalms 91:2

As our beloved prophet President Nelson recently shared, “Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ know us, love us, and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain.

“These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.”

As we all unite in prayer, act in service, and trust in God, we will be lifted in the joy amidst our circumstances. #PrayActTrust


Mayor Hancock, Shawn DeBerry Johnson, Elder Thomas T. Priday, and project lead Craig McIlroy present charity recipients from 2019 Giving Machines with checks.

The excitement of the holiday Giving Machines continued Thursday as five local charities gathered in Denver Mayor Hancock’s office. Those in attendance were all smiles – with good reason. In Denver’s inaugural year the Giving Machines surpassed all expectations. Denver area helped raise more than $750K for charitable organizations – and Thursday was the payday. If there was one theme word of the day, it was huge. The checks were huge, the payments were huge, and, best of all – the impact for those in need is huge.

Two volunteers from Catholic Charities pose with NBA Super Mascot Rocky

Catholic Charities’ Director of Communications and Marketing, Cheryl Talley, reported how excited they were to be part of the Giving Machines. Citing the 3,000 meals that were donated to the women they serve, “this is more than a meal. This provides more than nourishment. It provides hope, and a pathway. This is a huge, huge improvement for the lives of women here in Denver.” Other gift options available through the machines means hundred of families Catholic Charities serve will receive 10 days’ worth of groceries, a years worth of diapers, and thousands more blankets will be provided. They can even provide many with a mattresses and bedding. Their total donation received was $89,126.

A sample social media teaser for BCDI shows how easy it is to give a huge gift.

Black Child Development Institute- Denver, received more than 2,000 donations, making their total gift $68,398. That translates into thousands of books for children, hundreds of STEAM kits, fresh produce for thousands of children, and many, many children who can now attend early literacy boot camps. Cassandra Johnson, Denver Affiliate President, shared appreciation for their most popular gift- a 20-book at home “starter library,” which means “children will have increased literacy skills” and put on the path to better educational opportunities.

Linda Loflin-Pettit, Chair of the Board of Directors for The Rose Andom Center illustrated the huge impact their gift makes. Both research and anecdotal experience show that women facing domestic violence have large transportation obstacles to overcome, both in fleeing abuse and in traveling to centers of support. Thanks to the 2,500 bus passes given at the machines, Loflin-Pettit is convinced that lives will be saved. The Rose Andom Center, Denver’s first one-stop center for survivors of domestic violence received $56,479. Other gifts given included hundreds of personal care items and toys for children’s waiting rooms, well-woman exams, and counseling and legal advocacy for abuse victims.

A child smiles in front of the Giving Machines. Donations options for Mile High Ministries and the Rose Andom Center show behind him.

Mile High Ministries received $60,448. Their services can now provide thousands more meals, hundreds of hours of tutoring and adult education classes, and months of nights of safe shelter for families who need support. What did they have to say about this support? “We are enormously grateful,” reports Jeff Johnsen, Executive Director.

Though six charities were recipients of the Giving Machines, there may have been one or two whose items for sale were most talked about. After all, how often do you get to buy a piglet from a vending machine? Church World Services, one of the two global charities, was definitely a draw with its unique options like chicken and sheep. Over 3,500 visitors chose to buy chickens. Yet, all benefitted from the machines’ universal appeal. In their 6 weeks at Writer Square, the Denver Giving Machines saw more than 9,000 transactions from its visitors, donating more than 25,000 items.

The Jaussi family stops to Light the World through a gift at the Giving Machines.

Denver-based Water for People, the other global charity, had unique attractions of their own. Their top seller, the tiger-worm toilet, was donated 1,169 times. Chad Arthur, Chief Development Officer of Water for People, explained that tiger worms help prevent the spread of disease through the latrine system. “This will make a huge impact.” Other gift options means 500 wells and 900+ hand pumps will be given from this year’s donations, not to mention the very thing we take for granted – hand soap. Water for People received more than $200,146 from Denver’s giving.

Operating costs and credit card fees for the Giving Machines were covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church also covers a portion of administrative fees. Thursdays’ checks included the total donation from Denver Metro residents, and funds from The Church of Jesus Christ.

A donor buys a tiger-worm toilet for Water for People through the Giving Machines.

Though forecast to have modest success, Denver Area made its own way with the theme of “huge” and raised $753,069. Such success is sure to grow. Denver is set to host the Giving Machines in 2020, and we’ll see just how much bigger the impact can get. Look for their return to Writer Square from November 23, 2020 – January 4, 2021.

The Light the World campaign is an annual Christmas campaign designed to share love and service to everyone around.


Union Station shines bright for the Grand Illumination

In the time of year where family traditions and activities are central- you might be on the hunt for quality family fun. Denver offers many answers. Since the costs of fun and holidays can add up quickly, we offer five solutions that are friendly on your wallet. 

These tips are for everyone looking to enjoy family time together in Denver, and do it at low cost. It is possible to do both!

1. Start at the Giving Machines in Writer Square. On this day of fun and -mostly free activities- start off by thinking of those in need. After all, when was the last time your $3 at a vending machine bought meals for those at a shelter? Or you gave chickens for Christmas? With 5 local and 1 global charity benefitting from the machines, don’t miss Denver’s first year as host to the Light the World Giving Machines! Visit GivingMachinesDenver.com for more information.

A family makes their selection at the Giving Machines

2. Visit Santa Claus at Larimer Square. After you’ve been the giver of gifts, visit one of the most famous gift givers – Santa Claus! Here’s a chance to visit St. Nick, and enjoy the surroundings in Larimer Square while you’re at it! Photos are free – please just bring your own camera. Santa visits every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Click for more info. 

Children share their Christmas wishes with Santa on the Square

3. Travel “abroad” with a visit to the Christkindl Market. For a taste of the variety of ways holidays are celebrated, enjoy the Christkindl Market. Entry is free, and just a stroll through the many shops provides an eyeful of wonder and delight. Handmade gifts represent makers from many countries. Take your visit to the next level with an authentic German pretzel. Yum! Check further details at their website.

A scene from last year’s Christkindl Market. Photo courtesy: Denver Christkindl.

4. Go Ice skating at Skyline Park. Perhaps you’re ready to add some speed to your holiday tour. If you own your own ice skates, this activity is totally free. For those needing to rent – skate rentals are $7 for kids and $9 for adults. Hot tip for 4th graders : Free skating and rentals are provided to ALL Colorado 4th graders ALL Season long! See their website for more hours and information. 

Downtown Denver Ice Rink (Photo by Jack Dempsey)

5. Make a visit to the Mile High Tree. Wrap up your day with the sounds of the symphony, and the wonder of the Mile High tree. All events here are free! See a Christmas tree unparalleled by anything you’ve seen before. This 110 foot tall, immersive art installation can host up to 140 guests at a time, for a viewing experience from within the tree itself! Enjoy two different shows, rotating every 15 minutes. Open from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Click for more info.

The view from inside the Mile High Tree


We’re two days away from the Grand Opening of the Giving Machines! We know it’s a big honor – and super exciting – to have the Giving Machines in Denver.  After all, only 10 cities in the WORLD get the chance. 

Duane Smith and Jermaine Carroll help get the machines to their temporary landing spot while they await the official install and unveiling.

But what can we do to help maximize the Giving Machines’ impact?

Here’s a list of 6 easy ways to help Light the World through the Giving Machines.

1  – Take the personal challenge to go onto your favorite social media outlet and follow the Giving Machines page (@GivingMachinesDenver for FaceBook and Instagram. @denvergiving for Twitter). Send an invite to all your local friends to do the same. Those who have hosted Giving Machines before assure us that social media is the Number ONE way to spread the word. 

Instagram posts make an impact!

Once the machines open – VISIT, TAKE a picture, and SHARE! Tag us @givingmachinesdenver on any social media channel. 

2 – Share this 60-second video that fully embraces the Giving Machines impact. It’s the newest, BEST video for showing friends and neighbors what the machines are all about. Watch it – send it! Let your friends and neighbors know through this super simple minute that an unforgettable giving opportunity is here in DENVER!

3 – Perhaps we should change the name of pass-along cards to come-along cards. These cards print so easily from your home computer and capture everything at a glance. Pass them along – attach them to neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, etc. You could include them in your Christmas cards!

Better yet invite your friends to visit the Giving Machines with you

4 – Download and print the FHE lesson written specifically for the Giving Machines. You’ll find activities tailored to helping your family get to know what they can give to others, and recognize the many temporal ways they’ve been blessed at home. Put it on your calendar – and do the lesson with your family.

5 – Visit and use the website! givingmachinesdenver.com 

We’ve put a ton up there. The website includes a downloadable, printable PDF menu, specifics about parking locations & cost, details about the charities, upcoming events (like when the Broncos cheerleaders will be there), social media graphics for sharing, and more!!

6 – Read and be familiar with the FAQ’s. As the Giving Machines come up in conversation – and they often will! – you’ll be prepared to spread the word while answering questions at the same time. 

These are just a few ideas. What ideas do you have? 




Elder Davidson is currently a service missionary in the Denver Area

Last November, the First Presidency announced an important change to missionary service.  Beginning January 2, missionary-age youth in North America may officially embark as service missionaries. With the individual in mind, each service mission is customized to the needs and abilities of the one who has been called to serve. For some, that may mean being  able to serve a few hours a week; others may serve more than 40. 

Who is being called as service missionaries – and how does it work?  Missionaries can serve for a period of time between 6 and 24 months. Those who started a proselyting mission and came home early can apply to complete their missions as service missionaries. Those who have limitations keeping them from a 18-24 month proselyting mission are also prime candidates. 

Service missionaries’ days are filled with volunteer work at a variety of locations. Evenings and weekends still mean a base at home. In the Denver area, service missionaries can be found at Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Family Services, the Bishop’s Storehouse and the Denver temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Overseeing and coordinating the efforts of service missionaries are Elder Ed and Jayne Swapp, Service Mission Leaders for the Colorado Denver, Southwest Slope, Service Mission Area.

Elder and Sister Swapp are primed and ready, having recently served as Mission President and companion in Monterrey, Mexico as well as a proselyting mission in the Dominican Republic just prior. Seeing the work of the Lord move forward through service missionaries has been a blessing. 

 Elder Swapp shares his conviction that, just like proselyting missionaries, service missionaries are truly full time missionaries, and the Lord has expectations for them as well. “They will be stretched, they will be refined, and they will be tested.” 

The blessings of the mission are felt by all involved. Elder Davidson, serving in the Denver area, reported in last week’s email, “I’m excited to go back to my assignments every day and serve in a Christlike way.”

Though today’s service mission program is young, service missionaries follow a pattern set through the ages. “Just as Christ did, just as Ammon did, these missionaries are changing hearts through their service,” Sister Swapp shares. 

Those working with our missionaries recognize the similarities, too.   Trained simply to serve and not to proselyte, service missionaries still wear their missionary tag to each assignment. Those with whom they serve feel the influence of the Holy Ghost through serving together. 

Two examples will illustrate their impact. The first comes from Elder Cochran’s service, who has been serving in the Western Slope. He radiates love. Those he has served have noticed. Recently, Elder and Sister Swapp toured Elder Cochran’s volunteer facilities at Habit for Humanity. As they met various employees throughout the departments, workers recognized their missionary tags, realized they were connected with Elder Cochran, and repeated over and over, “We love Elder Cochran. Send us another like Elder Cochran. We love Elder Cochran.” 

One service missionary in Arizona made such an impact on her co-worker that when her co-worker’s home doorbell rang and two proselyting missionaries were on the front step, she recognized their name tags and invited them in. Within a few weeks, she and her family had taken all of the discussions and were baptized. The open door that led to that baptism began with a service missionary. 

Created with the idea in mind that there is a way for everyone to serve, Elder Swapp reports, “The service mission is breaking stereotypes. As church membership understands it and gets behind it, it will have a magnificent impact.”

In the meantime, those who have been called to serve continue to give their offering serving the Lord –   growing their testimonies and changing their lives in the process. 


In the largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C., Elder Michael D. Jones, Area Seventy, joined many faith leaders at the Western Conservative Summit. He was included in the reading and signing of the Williamsburg Charter. Read on for a snapshot of what transpired July 12 – 13. Don’t miss the video links as well!

VIDEO: Elder Jones Reads and Signs Williamsburg Charter

LAKEWOOD, CO— At the recent Western Conservative Summit, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Seventh-day Adventist, Hispanic, African American, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Lebanese, and Latter-day Saints religious leaders stood side by side on the stage, along with Colorado Christian University President Dr. Donald Sweeting, and pledged their commitment to defending religious freedom for all people.

The words they spoke were a reaffirmation of the Williamsburg Charter, written and signed by Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as leaders from a variety of faiths and backgrounds in 1988. Principle number one of the charter says, “Religious liberty, freedom of conscience, is a precious, fundamental and inalienable right. A society is only as just and free as it is respectful of this right for its smallest minorities and least popular communities.” Many attendees to the Western Conservative Summit also signed the Williamsburg Charter.

“We are proud to stand for the religious freedom and freedom of conscience of all faiths and no faith. America did not create religious freedom, religious freedom created America,” said Jeff Hunt, Chairman of the Western Conservative Summit.
“We are grateful to be joined by significant faith leaders of many different faith communities from our state in agreement with the Williamsburg Charter and the religious freedom and freedom of conscience for all,” said Dr. Donald Sweeting, President of Colorado Christian University.

Signers of the Williamsburg Charter include:
Dr. Donald Sweeting, President of Colorado Christian University; Biff Gore, Highline Community Church; Tim McTavish, Seventh Day Adventist Church; Gerard Abiassaf, St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy Church; Reverend Ruben Rodriguez, Mountair Christian Church; Elder Michael D. Jones, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, PhD, Intermountain Jewish Newspaper; Ismail Akbulut, Mosaic Foundation; Mr. Tejwant Singh Mangat, Colorado Sikh Sabha Temple; The Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop of Denver.

VIDEO: Western Conservative Summit 2019 – YouTube Playlist

Credit: Western Conservative Summit of the Centennial Institute


Pres. Mike and Debbie Rush
Pres. Chris and Sheryn Thomas

For two families in Highlands Ranch, their summer travel plans do not come with a week or two return date,  nor a promise of rest and poolside relaxation. For both Mike & Debbie Rush and Chris & Sheryn Thomas, on Saturday, June 22 they reported for a 3-year volunteer mission trip.  Mike and Chris have been called to serve as mission presidents for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with their wives serving as their companions. Both couples will be serving in separate parts of Mexico City.

On a day-to-day basis the supervising couples oversee not only the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of their own families, but also assume responsibility for each of the missionaries assigned to their area, which is usually about 160 at a time.  For example, individual missionaries arrive and depart at approximately six-week intervals, as they begin or conclude their two-year period of service. Each missionary is personally attended to, oriented to the mission environment, and then assigned to a companion. By the end of their missions, each couple will have served with 500-600 missionaries.

Both the Thomases and Rushes are grateful for this opportunity to serve. “This is not a position for which we applied or which we otherwise pursued,” Sheryn explains. Nevertheless, after the leadership of the Church approached them about the possibility, she reports that they “felt strongly that this was a journey [they] would like to pursue.”

Mission presidents typically begin service July 1, after being given about 6-9 months’ notice to prepare. This is their time to train, study, and take care of all arrangements at home.   Rush leaves a job as Head of Global Health Policy & Advocacy for Zebra/Temptime – a biomedical device and technology company in the greater NYC area. Thomas is a partner at Ogletree Deakins.  Both must also decide what to do with their home and possessions while they’re gone.

What about their families?

“We love and will miss our kids, their spouses, our grandkids, our extended families, and our friends terribly. But we will also love caring for, encouraging, and serving the 500-600 young missionaries from throughout the Americas and the good people of Mexico who we will have stewardship for,” said Debbie.

The Rushes have 3 grandchildren under the age of 4, and four grown children. Their youngest is currently serving an 18-month mission in Barcelona, Spain, and the oldest 3 are married and living throughout the US.  Notably, one of the Rush’s sons is married to one of the Thomas’s daughters.

“All of our children have been incredibly supportive of our decision to accept this assignment” Chris and Sheryn Thomas report. They continued, “Our older daughters, Mara and Brenna, have served missions in Chile and Mozambique, respectively, and our third daughter, Jessica, is currently serving a Spanish speaking mission in San Jose, CA.” For the youngest child who is still in high school, the situation is a bit different. “For Justin, this mission experience will lead to uncharted territory. He is making a big sacrifice,” Chris and Sheryn acknowledge, “and he will be skipping his senior year at Thunderridge High School.” The combination of leaving his friends in Highlands Ranch and moving into an unknown environment has proven to be somewhat overwhelming. And yet, they add, “Despite those concerns, Justin has decided to trust that God is interested in the details of his life, and that He has prepared something wonderful for him in Mexico.” 

Though they might feel underqualified to take on such a task in so many respects, all newly called Mission Presidents and their wives are being fully trained to do their best. Chris and Mike, who both served Spanish speaking missions as young adults, start off on a strong foundation, having the language requirement met. Debbie and Sheryn, however, have been taking Spanish classes weekly with a tutor from the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT. The couples also participate in weekly discussions with a tutor based out of the MTC around the book Preach My Gospel, the manual for all missionaries for the restored Church of Jesus Christ.  An intensive, four-day seminar is held near the end of June, which marks the end of the couples’ formal training.  

Why do they do it? Their answers are simply focused on their faith in Jesus Christ and belief in His restored gospel.

Mike asserts, “We take seriously the charge that the Savior gave to Peter and His other disciples when He said: “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s…But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time…and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30

He continues, “Some people who we truly admire here in Highlands Ranch, the Ludwigs, served in this same capacity a number of years ago. They shared that they learned that “a sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it’s a sacrifice.”  And while leaving career and family and friends and home for 3 years is, indeed, a sacrifice, we love the Savior and are grateful for His sacrifice for all of mankind.  So we would ultimately do whatever He and His servants ask us to do.”

“We love our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Chris and Sheryn explain, “and look forward to serving Him and His children in Mexico City.” While all have had moments of feeling inadequate for this type of position, they have also asserted that “with the support of our Redeemer, we can accomplish the work before us.”


This morning, members of the University Hills Ward were joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for sacrament meeting. Expressing thanks for their friendships, Mayor Hancock spoke fondly of Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, “who has been a dear friend…and has really wrapped his arms around me and my family” and President Peter Krumholz of the Denver Stake.  He spoke highly of his brothers of faith and Craig McIlroy, a “wonderful brother friend in Christ.” Brother McIlroy serves as Public Affairs Director for the Denver South Area, and is a member of Mayor Hancock’s faith council. He joined the mayor’s companions Nigel Daniels, Special Aide to Mayor Hancock, and Reverend Shawn Johnson, Director of Community Relations, in the congregation.

From left to right: Elder Thomas Priday, Marva Priday, Mayor Michael Hancock, Bertha McIlroy, Shawn Johnson, Craig McIlroy, Nigel Daniels, and President Peter Krumholz

With his personal story of faith and optimism as an example, Mayor Hancock spoke of his shared belief in and love for Jesus Christ. An ordained deacon in the Baptist church, he spoke of his gratitude to participate in the sacrament with ward members today. Speaking of a trip he took years ago to Jerusalem, he shared what was the most “profoundly powerful trip” of his life. He spoke fondly of the way “all the stories came together” by being in Israel, the joy of feeling the spirit of Christ, and His sacrifice for us.  

In looking at the journey that has led to this point in life, Mayor Hancock attributes his faith to the example of his mother and the hand of God. Her tenacity and resilience during his formative years inspired him to work hard. Additionally, seeing the hand of God along his life’s path has brought him to a place of “pure joy and celebration of the power of God.”

  In an illustrative metaphor, Mayor Hancock compared the obstacles that we overcome in the battle of life with Goliath, and the faith we use to go forward as David. “If we have faith in God, if we have the strength to follow his word, we will get through it.” As one of ten children, he watched the struggle for survival his mother exhibited in raising the kids alone. He wondered what kept her going and how she kept coming home.

Recognizing that we may all look or feel under qualified or unprepared for the task at hand, Mayor Hancock encouraged parishioners to follow the example of David and choose to say, “I will go.” David shed the ornate armor. Mayor Hancock taught that we too can choose to place faith in God, not worry about what man can give, only the tools God has blessed us with, and say, “I’ll go just as I am.” He shared testimony of taking the same steps of faith in action, and finding that at the end of the day God says, “I got you.” 

Mayor Hancock closed by sharing gratitude for members of the Denver Stake and their help with Denver Days. He thanked the congregation for their recent service at Inspiration Point and for the time to worship together today. He stated, “I know that I am a child of God. I am honored to be with you as a man of faith. Thank you for your faith and service to this great city.”