Team Utah

by Tim Posada '05 and Steve Johnson '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).

"It's more about building relationships with others,” said Steve Johnson '05, “and becoming friends that care about each other enough to talk about each other’s faiths while still being friends."

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, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, Old Testament and New Testament, Gospel Principles, and other resources.

The trip was a week-long crash course in LDS faith and culture. APU students began the trip in Manti, encouraging local Evangelical Christians and completing two service projects. 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 on the distinctions between their two faiths. Afterward, students from both BYU and APU spent the day hanging out together on BYU’s campus and in one of the BYU retreat houses. The students toured BYU, played games, sang songs, shared testimonies, talked about their faiths and became friends.

The tour continued to the city of American Fork, where APU students did a service project for and met with the pastor of Calvary Fellowship American Fork. On Friday, the APU students reconvened with new friends from BYU for dinner, games, and a birthday party.

“Many of the friends we made at BYU have come out to visit us in California, we talk to them on the phone and email them all of the time,” says Johnson. “It is amazing to see what God is doing through this trip.”

The trip ended with the team retreating to Zion National Park for debriefing and reflection on what God had done over the past week.