My name is Jacob Paulsen and in the last two weeks, I was able to witness something that changed my life.

My wife and I were both born and raised in Southern Wyoming and as such we have connections to The University of Wyoming. My father received his master’s degree from UW and both my father in law and mother in law have received multiple degrees from UW.

Now living in Colorado, I work as a volunteer to coordinate with local and regional media outlets when news stories involving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are covered.

Several weeks ago I received a phone call informing me that there may be some media interest in an upcoming food donation that the church was involved with in partnership with The Black 14 Philanthropy organization.

I had to dust off my Wyoming roots and do a little research to refresh my memory.

Before it was a non-profit organization to support schools, university, black student athletes and underserved communities the Black 14 were just 14 University of Wyoming football players.

In 1969, these 14 football players approached their football coach Lloyd Eaton and asked permission to wear black armbands during the upcoming home game against BYU.

As this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns and operates BYU, had a policy that excluded black people from the priesthood of the church and many athletes on other teams had worn black armbands to silently protest against that policy.

The church, through revelation to the prophet, changed it’s policy less than a decade later but in 1969 these 14 players were caught by surprise when they went into Eaton’s office to request permission to wear the armbands.

Coach Eaton immediately dismissed them from the team. The loss of these players was a devastating blow to the team. At the time of the incident the Cowboys were undefeated and ranked 16th in the AP Poll. It was all downhill from there and many feel that 50 years later the team has yet to fully recover.

Black 14 Member & future New England Patriots player Tony McGee drinks water during practice at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. on Sept. 3, 1981. (Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In 1971, when my father and mother in law attended UW they have memories of walking through picket lines to get to the church owned institute where they took religious classes near the campus. The wound was fresh and in many ways for some The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became to target of the frustration and scorn of UW football.

The Church didn’t kick the players off their team. Coach Eaton did based on the school’s “no protesting” policy.

In the mid 1980s my father attended UW to complete his masters degree. He finished his undergrad at BYU and while living in Southern Wyoming spent several summers in Laramie to finish his masters degree.

He tells me he may be one of very few people in this country who can say (or dares to mention it out loud), that he has a degree from both BYU and UW. Nearly 15 years after the incident the wounds hadn’t healed for many at the University of Wyoming.

Fast forward a few decades. In the fall of 2019, appx 50 years after the incident, The University of Wyoming invited back the Black 14 to speak to students, attend a special dinner, receive an official apology letter, and receive jerseys and letterman jackets.

At a football game attended by the eight players that returned the student body that consists of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints wore Black 14 T-shirts during the game.

In 2020, members of the Black 14 saw the need for food to be donated to help those who are suffering during this pandemic as we enter the holiday season.

Working with Gifford Nielson, President of the Church’s North America Central Area, the Black 14 made an arrangement that many may consider a miracle.

The church agreed to donate and deliver 360,000 pounds of food across the US to cities and local charities selected by surviving members of The Black 14.

John Griffin, a member of the Black 14 who resides in Denver selected Catholic Charities of Denver to be one of those recipients. So on November 17th at 9:00 AM a Deseret Industries semi-truck pulled into the Salvation Army Warehouse in Aurora.

Representatives of The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Denver Rescue Mission, and John Griffin and his family. Nov 17th, 2020 Aurora, CO

Catholic Charities who lacked a large enough storage facility called on The Salvation Army to receive and store the food donation long enough for it to be distributed to various food banks and organizations across the metro including the Denver Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and various Food banks and ministries.

From here I don’t need to tell the rest of the story. The local media has done so for me. Below I include some of the video news coverage and a link to The Denver Post.

I end my part of this story by telling you that time can not only heal wounds but also turn hearts toward each other. As I look back at my own family’s history as proud members of a Church that provides vast relief to people affected by tragedy; and the many UW degrees proudly displayed in homes on both sides of my family; it all has come full circle for me as the charity of Christ conquers all.

CBS Denver Nov 17th, 2020

9News Denver Nov 26th, 2020

KWGN 2 News Nov 17th, 2020


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.” 


On April 11, 2019, accompanied by his wife Marva, Elder Thomas T. Priday of the Seventy attended and was among various leaders recognized in opening remarks at the 2019 Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner hosted by Multicultural Mosaic Foundation and Abrahamic Initiative. 

This special evening program, held at historic St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, provided a wonderful opportunity for making and deepening relationships with interfaith friends in the community–including many members of the local Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities.

Among the many guests and interfaith leaders in attendance included The Reverend Jim Gonia, bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (and his wife Kim, also an ordained ELCA pastor), Imam Muhammad Kolila of the Downtown Denver Islamic Center, Brother Ismael Akbulut (President) and Gulsum Katmer (Executive Director) of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, The Very Reverend Richard Lawson (Dean) of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Osnat Fox (senior Israeli emissary) of Jewish Colorado and the Reverend Bonita Bock, member of the Metro Denver Faith Leaders Caucus and former director of Wartburg College West, and emcee of the dinner program. 

(more…)

Dr. Skinner Presents to A Full Crowd At Trinity Presbyterian Church

A standing room only crowd gathered for part 3 of a 4 event lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls in Arvada on Saturday, June 23. The event, which was hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church and
sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, drew members from both faiths as well as others from the community who were interested in learning more about the origins of the scrolls and their relevance to modern religious beliefs.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been a recent curiosity in the area due to the exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which opened March 13. The first scrolls were discovered in 1947 in the Qumran community located on the Northwest shore of the Dead Sea.

At the lecture event, entitled “The Religious and Archaeological Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls” presentations were made by Dr. Andrew Skinner – BYU Professor of Ancient Scripture and Former Dean of Religious Education and Dr. Craig Blomberg – Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Denver Seminary. (more…)


While the many Christian denominations in Colorado have unique doctrines and different approaches to worship, they all share a fervent belief in Jesus Christ and a tradition of praising him in song.

 

Late in 2017, four congregations in the southwest suburbs of Denver gathered to do just that. The 20th Annual Interfaith Concert featured around 225 musicians from the Columbine Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Columbine United Church, St. Frances Cabrini Parish and St. Philip Lutheran Church. Around 600 people attended the performance.

 

“This is a wonderful event that brings us together to make a joyful noise as we focus not on our differences but on our common faith in Jesus Christ,” said Rev. Brad Doty, assistant pastor of St. Philip Lutheran Church.

 

The unique event began in 1997 with only two churches participating: The Columbine Stake and St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish. For twenty years both churches have continued to perform together, while welcoming up to three other local churches to join every year. Held in the fall, the Interfaith Concert has become a beloved start to the holiday season. (more…)