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. 


On August 10th, over 100 members from the Denver Colorado Stake and the Denver Colorado North Mission participated in a service project during the city of Denver’s community service week, Denver Days. Mulch was spread, building exteriors and water fountains were painted, and trash was gathered throughout Bible Park. Many people walking throughout the park stopped to visit with members and share their appreciation for helping to beautify the city.


Take your family and friends out to the ballgame at the annual Church of Jesus Christ Night at the Rockies. This special game will be Wednesday August 28 at 6:40pm as the Rockies take on the Boston Red Sox.

Church members and friends are invited for a fun evening that has become a memorable summer tradition. Be sure to arrive early to hear the Colorado Saints Chorale perform the national anthem.

Tickets can be purchased at https://groupmatics.events/event/byualumni2.

See you at the game!


This spring the hashtag #trashtag has gone viral worldwide prompting people to clean up litter and trash on beaches, roadsides, parks etc.

The Tenney family in Arvada picking up trash near a Lake off 80th and Kipling on July 30th.

In an effort to make our neighborhoods cleaner members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that make up the congregations in Arvada were encouraged to work with neighbors, friends, and youth groups to pick up trash around town.

Across the town, groups went out picking up garbage and sharing their efforts on Facebook and Instagram to inspire others to clean up their neighborhoods too.

Grant Speed, an Arvada business owner picks up trash at Tucker Lake

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


Missionaries serving in the Denver Stake participated in a day of service early on July 20th at Bronco stadium for the Cystic Fibrosis Climb 2019. 

Over 500 people participated in running and walking inside around the stadium and climbing over 3600 steps for the cause. Participants ranged from professional step racers to friends, families together with babies on their backs and very young children. 

The missionaries served as the route marshalls to show the way around the stadium as participants climbed up and down the stairs.

In this the 10th annual CF Climb, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation continued to lead the charge in finding a cure. This year over $140,000 was raised at the event!

To learn more about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation visit https://www.cff.org/


The Peoria Ward Young Women of the Aurora Stake organized a sock drive for the homeless in their community. They collected and donated about 150 pairs of socks for men, women, and children to Aurora Warms The Night. The organization assists the homeless year-round with cold and warm weather services and also meals, warm clothing, hygiene items, transportation to shelter, laundry vouchers, bus passes, a shower trailer, and advocacy. 

The young women collected the sock donations from members of their ward and gave them to Aurora Warms The Night as the organization was feeding the homeless and running a shower trailer at Saint Mark Lutheran Church. The donations were very appreciated and the young women expressed gratitude that they could provide service to the homeless members of their community.


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.”