Gay-rights advocates to perform service during LDS conference weekend

Volunteer projects are planned for weekend of LDS conference

Published: Friday, March 27 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Members and supporters of Utah's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have been busy for the past few weeks.

They weren't planning a massive rally during the upcoming general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like many false rumors that ran through e-mail circles would have you believe. Instead, leaders in the LGBT community were finding places where they could roll up their sleeves and work as part of an event they are calling "General Service Weekend."

"People have been calling and asking if we were going to protest general conference weekend, but we don't feel that there is a need to protest the church any further right now," organizer and gay-rights advocate Jacob Whipple said.

"But we wanted to seize all that energy and do something productive."

It was Whipple who launched the protest in Salt Lake City that brought thousands to Temple Square just days after California passed Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

Now he and others have worked hard to coordinate a number of service projects in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties that will take place April 4-5.

"General Service Weekend is not to detract from LDS general conference; it is to reaffirm Christian acts of kindness in the community," Whipple said.

Participants in the weekend activities are being asked to meet at the Utah Pride Center, 361 S. 300 West, or at the Unitarian Church, 705 23rd St. in Ogden, at 10 a.m. both mornings.

Whipple expects 50 to 100 volunteers in Ogden and another 300 to 500 in Salt Lake City to help tackle projects including park cleanups, maintenance at the Road Home, gardening work for Utah G.A.R.D.E.N.S., classroom maintenance at Head Start, and making visits to refugee families to uncover certain needs they may have and later bringing donations to them that will have been collected that weekend.

Whipple said there are a host of other projects planned and all members of the public are welcome to get involved.

"We want to make the community better, not just for the LGBT community and gay-rights supporters, we want it for everyone," Whipple said. "We recognize we are not the only ones that have challenges in Utah. In our quest for equal rights we want to help out as many people as we can as well."

A complete schedule of General Service Weekend events can be found at www.allforoneinitiative.org.

E-MAIL: ethomas@desnews.com

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