Team Utah Dialogues With the LDS

by Tim Posada '05

During Easter Vacation, countless students decided to stall the trek home and head for Mexico. Others choose exotic locations overseas for mission trips or family vacations. But a group of 14 students broke these trends as they embarked on a 12-hour drive to Utah. The goal: create dialogue between Evangelical Christians and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). The Office of World Missions sends many students around the world, and Team Utah sets out with a unique goal and training program.

"It's more about building relationships and keeping them," said Steven Johnson '05. "Year after year, we go back and meet with many of the same people."

At the beginning of the semester, Johnson, along with co-leader Geoff Westbrook ‘06, began training their team by learning LDS doctrine through the Book of Mormon, Gospel Principles, and other resources.

The trip consisted of a week-long crash course in LDS faith and culture. APU students began the trip in Manti, encouraging local Evangelical Christians and completing a service project. Then students went to Salt Lake City where an Evangelical Christian organization, Standing Together, arranged a tour of Temple Square and lunch with a general authority of the LDS church in the former house of Brigham Young.

Students then spent a day at Brigham Young University (BYU), meeting with Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, and Robert Millet, Ph.D., BYU religion professor, who led a discussion time on the distinctions between their two faiths. Standing Together supports three colleges in their ministry: APU, Colorado Christian University, and Biola University.

"What's happening between BYU and APU students, along with other colleges, is an amazing testimony to what Standing Together is doing," said Cat Ryono '07.

The tour continued to the city of American Fork, where they met with the pastor of Calvary Fellowship. On Friday, the trip ended with a day to reconvene with new friends and reflect on the week's experiences.