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Serving their common man: LDS members help Provo community church that helped during tabernacle fire

Published: Sunday, Aug. 28 2011 12:31 a.m. MDT

Members of the Lakeside 7th Ward in Provo clean up the bushes of the Provo Community Church of Christ on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PROVO — It wasn't their church, but on this Saturday, members of the LDS Church's Lakeside 7th Ward and Lakeside 10th Ward treated it as if it were. It was about serving their common man and being good neighbors.

It was also about turning a tragic event into a bonding experience between LDS faithful and members of the Provo Community United Church of Christ.

When flames destroyed the Provo Tabernacle last December, it looked as if events planned for the National Day of Prayer would not happen. "When the tabernacle burned down, we offered to help open our facilities," said the Rev. Daniel Haas.

LDS member May Baum spent part of her Saturday taming the hedges in front of the community church. She said he was having fun giving back in the form of service.

"We just thought we'd repay the favor," Baum said.

Members from the two wards worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Community United members, repairing windows and light fixtures, painting, and doing general cleaning and yard work.

LDS members were also responding to a challenge President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, set for members to perform a "day of service" in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the LDS Church's welfare program.

"I believe that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and that we need to all work together, no matter what, to do our best to serve, and to serve our fellow man," said Bishop Steve Bjornberg of the Lakeside 7th Ward.

Bjornberg said members of Community United have been good neighbors and that members from both churches have worked on many community projects in the past.

Haas said the hammering and repair work going on reminded him of Christ's training as a carpenter. With a church that is 104 years old, the building needed a little love. Haas said his congregation has been in Provo for 120 years.

"It feels good to help them," said 11-year-old LDS member Zach Gorski, who sacrificed a sunny summer Saturday to help scrape old paint off the building while balancing on a ladder.

LDS member Heather McGriff helped with painting. She worked on an interior door that was removed and laid out on the grass. "It doesn't matter which religion you are, if you need any help I believe in helping people," she said.

Carol Menasian, Community United council moderator, said she was touched by the gesture. "They've been wonderful out here donating their time," she said. She was particularly impressed by the clean windows. "The window are so clean I can't tell if they're open or closed!"

Haas said ward members have spent three days helping fix his church and clean things up. He anticipates his church will continue to build a strong relationship with its LDS neighbors.

Email: gfattah@desnews.com

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