On Saturday, April 27, 2019, members of the Denver, Front Range and Arvada Stakes–joined by ten full-time missionaries–participated in a special Denver Days kick-off event at Inspiration Point Park. 

Based on Mayor Michael Hancock’s vision of “a city where neighbors not only [know] their neighbors but as a result [feel] safer and more connected to the communities they call home,” The city created Denver Days, “a program….that encourages neighbors to get to know their neighbors by hosting block parties, picnics, and service projects with the focus on small, organic gatherings.”

(See https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-days.html)

Organized by Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation and Office of Neighborhood Engagement, with further sponsorship support from Comcast Cable, Saturday’s event at Inspiration Point Park commenced with opening remarks from various City officials, including Mayor Hancock, as well as remarks from former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. 

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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. 

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Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and friends at the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert

It was a big weekend for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, and Denver South Area Public Affairs Director Craig McIlroy accompanied Mayor Hancock to Salt Lake City for a red carpet weekend. Activities kicked off with a tour of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse.

Shawn Johnson and Mayor Hancock prepare care packages

Not your average service mart, Mayor Hancock was blown away by “so expansive an undertaking.” With the idea that so much of the needed goods are paid for through members’ fast offerings, Pastor Del Phillips, who accompanied Mayor Hancock, said he felt inspired to implement Fast Sundays and Fast Offerings with his congregation. Home to thousands of pounds of food, its own trucking line, and many unique features that enable the Church to be first on the scene at natural disasters, the Bishop’s Storehouse is an impressive sight.

Elder Priday shows Mayor Hancock the Light the World giving machines

Next on the agenda was lunch at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The team got to visit the charity vending machines unique to the Christmas season and used in connection with Light the World. Buyers can choose to give a goat, fresh water, or a myriad of other necessities to people in need around the world. After Mayor Hancock’s introduction to these vending vehicles for good, maybe Denver can be home to a giving machine next Christmas.

 

Mayor Hancock receives instruction at the Family History Center

After lunch, Mayor Hancock was introduced to Salt Lake City’s Family History Center. With one on one attention, he and his associates had access to millions of records, including access to the Freedman’s Bureau. On the trip with Mayor Hancock was Shawn Johnson, Director of Community Relations. She reports being pleased to “have the opportunity to dig deeper into [our] family’s roots.”

Saving the best for last, Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and their teams rounded out their evening with dinner and a show. Dinner was hosted by Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy. He presented each couple with their own “Faith in Every Footstep” sculpture. Dinner was followed by the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert. This was a highlight for multiple reasons. Earlier that day, the USOC announced Salt Lake City as the US nominee for a future Winter Olympics games. Mayor Hancock was able to congratulate Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski in person at the conference center.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy hosts Denver guests for dinner before the show

 

Tale of Two Cities – Denver Mayor Hancock and SLC Mayor Biskupski meet

The biggest highlight was of course hearing Christmas music sung by the Tabernacle Choir. While beautiful in and of itself, the icing on the cake was enjoying special guest artist Kristin Chenoweth sing. Her first number received a standing ovation. Brother McIlroy reported, her presence was “breathtaking from start to finish.”

One year ago, Elder Priday and Brother McIlroy first met Mayor Hancock in his office. Since then, their relationship has blossomed with joint ventures in community service, working together on a faith council, and attending musical events together. Said Elder Priday, “We were able to have substantive discussions with the mayor and his team that will build significant goodwill and relationships for the Church in this area for years to come. It was apparent that they had been touched by the Holy Spirit.”

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Earlier in 2018, a group of talented missionaries put together a musical presentation called “Meet the Elders.” The presentation aimed to inspire and educate members of the church and their friends and neighbors about the life and goals of a missionary.

During the course of several weeks, the “Meet the Elders” program was presented 6 different times across the Denver Metro from Parker to Boulder. Now the studio recordings of the songs featured in the program have been released.

This music was performed by:

Elder Brenden Blackham
Elder Connor Brown
Elder Alex Hasse
Elder Jacob Fenske

It is being published here with their permission.

Use the links below to download the MP3 files for each individual song to your computer or mobile device.

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On the evening of October 28, 2018, several members of the Church’s Denver Public Affairs Council attended a special Community Solidarity Vigil, hosted by Jewish Colorado at Temple Emanuel in Denver.  At the vigil, representatives of the Church were able to visit with Rabbi Joseph Black, who conducted the evening event, and convey the love, condeolences and support of Elder Thomas T. Priday (Area Seventy) and local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in response to this weekend’s senseless tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The vigil, which attracted thousands of members of the community and allowed for standing room only throughout the Synagogue, was an inspiring demonstration of love and interfaith unity within the greater Denver area.  Program participants included representatives of the Anti Defamation League, Governor John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, as well as members of the Denver and Aurora police departments and a number of prominent interfaith leaders from the community–representing Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs, among others.  Speakers focused on the need for the elimination of hate and bias in our society as well as a feeling of safety and security in our places of worship.

Following the event, Sister Karen LaCouture, Interfaith specialist for the Church of Jesus Christ’s Denver area, stated “I was most grateful and impressed that so many people from all walks of life were drawn together to the vigil at Temple Emanuel in support of our Jewish brothers and sisters, as well as those of all faiths who may be the target of hate, violence or misunderstanding.”  Her words echoed those of Church President Russell M. Nelson who, just this week while meeting with media in Uruguay, remarked that Church members and those of other faiths “need to work together to stem the tide of violence.” He added, “The teachings of the Lord are clear. There is to be no contention, no disputation. We should love one another. So violence has no place in society.”


 

Two young scouts make their way to their next activity

He’s not a bad kid. He’s actually a pretty good kid. But over the last several months, as my son Landon approached his twelfth birthday, I’ve wondered exactly how hairy the highly anticipated teen years would be. What I didn’t realize was the change that could take place in a short 5 day time period during the summer. You could almost call it a priesthood “enhancement.” From July 23-28, 19 stakes from the greater Denver area participated in an Aaronic Priesthood Encampment at Peaceful Valley Ranch, and my son was one of the lucky ones who went.

To begin with the end, you might want to know that at the end of the week, he celebrated his first night back in his own bed by waking early to attend a 7 am stake priesthood meeting.  He came home singing. There was no sulking or dragging about after a week of sleep deprivation. As I heard the phrase “Rise up O men of God!”(and every subsequent lyric) reverberate throughout our home, my heart rejoiced along with his. Here are the blessings I have seen:

 

“Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things.”

It’s a big time commitment to leave before dawn on Monday and stay through Saturday morning. So many other things can pull at your schedule. yet the opportunity to spend all day, every day surrounded by faithful priesthood holders who have set aside their agendas to be at encampment is priceless.

 

“Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of Kings.”

Rain pours over Peaceful Valley Camp

 Over the past 2 years of preparation for the camp, church leaders selected a theme and plan that was inspired. “Qualified for the work,” from Doctrine and Covenants 4, became the theme, and from sunup to sundown, this was at the forefront of activity.

All the boys can report that the weather did not hold off for this week of camp. There were times when it was rough. But for all who stuck it out, their offering of “mind and strength” paid off in “heart and soul.”

 

Boys and their leader pause for a “groupie”

“Rise Up, O men of God, in one united throng.”  What happens when 19 stakes of young men, their leaders and their fathers gather under the direction of priesthood leadership? One benefit is strength. Our boys know they are not alone. For 51 weeks of the year, every time they walk down the halls of school, skip parties they know don’t hold their standards, or leave sports tournaments before Sunday’s championship games, they’re reminded that they are different. But for 5 days, surrounded by each other, they could unite in faith and brotherhood. Encampment rang in the day and closed out the night singing these very words. Every day. Twice a day.

 

“Bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.”

Hundreds gather under a beautiful Colorado sky for a fireside

Their days and nights were bookends of brotherhood. Every morning started with a devotional. And every evening featured  inspired fireside speakers. Luckily my son is my talker. He tells me all sorts of things. I heard a bit about shooting, hiking, and adventure activities. But the events I heard about in greatest detail were the nightly firesides. Guest speakers and musicians ran came from a variety of backgrounds. A couple included former NBA player Jimmer Fredette,  and Bill Tolbert, whose personal experience with the Challenger is a story worth hearing. Another speaker shared his story about surviving a bear attack. He taught those listening about the benefits of listening to the Holy Ghost, and the tender mercies and miracles found even in terribly hard things.

 

A scout gets a photo op with leaders, including Charles Dahlquist and Elder Thomas Priday

“Rise up, o men of God! Tread where his feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of Man, rise up o men of God!”  Leaders at Camp included President Stephen W. Owen,  Young Men General President, Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, and Charles Dahlquist, national commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America, and former Young Men General President. What a privilege to have them among the ranks.

One day my son and his quorum friends happened to eat lunch with these leaders, and the ensuing conversation added more fuel to the young boys’ fires. As these new deacons talked with, answered and asked questions of their own, they were reminded once again of the awesome responsibilities that come with being a priesthood holder. Their 15 minutes with fellow brethren who have long before started on the path of discipleship wasn’t spent discussing the weather (though they could have. The rain – oh the rain!). Instead, they discussed who in their quorum needs fellowshipping, what they are doing to help, and other topics on a similar vein. As Landon recounted the story, I offered a silent prayer of gratitude for the example of righteous men, even at a simple lunch.

 

Qualified for the Work

My son came home ready to pitch in. He came home ready to lead out. He sits on his bed every night, writes in his journal and reads his scriptures. As I see these new habits come into place, the same we’ve been modeling and talking about for years, I see how his time at Camp is helping qualify him for the work. Certainly, all who attended heard the message, and I know at least one young man was inspired to “Rise up!”

Additional photos from the week can be seen here: 

Photo credit: Royd Despain


Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as Mormons, are performing their own musical about the life of a missionary. Over the past several months 4 missionaries have been working together to create an original musical production that will entertain and inspire audiences while portraying an accurate depiction of the life of a Mormon Missionary. This production is titled “Meet The Elders.” (more…)


On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) attended a beautiful Iftar dinner hosted by Multicultural Mosaic Foundation (“Mosaic”), and its President, Ismail Akbulut.  The purpose of the event was to deepen friendships while increasing mutual understanding, among local Latter-day Saints and Muslims.

Elder Thomas T. Priday and Dr. Ismail Demirkan

In the tradition of Islam, an Iftar is the evening meal in which Muslims complete their daily fast as part of their holy month of Ramadan.  Throughout this special month, Muslims strive to more fully observe the principles of virtuous and generous living that are central to their beliefs.  For example, in his highly informative opening presentation (following a welcome given by Brother Akbulut), Mosaic’s Interfaith Director, Dr. Ismail Demirkan, explained that for devout Muslims the Ramadan fast is about abstaining from more than just from food and water, but from other more worldly activities and sin–indicating that one’s words, thoughts, and treatment of others receive greater attention during Ramadan. (more…)