Service given, unity fostered at Southern Virginia's 7th annual Temple Service Day

Hannah Benson Rodriguez

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 5 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Daria Harris, left, and Kathryn Foster are two of more than 270 Southern Virginia University students went to the Washington, D.C., Temple to help serve outside the temple by planting bulbs, and also some did ordinances inside on Oct. 18.

Lindsey Morgan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 270 Southern Virginia University students, along with some faculty and staff members, gathered to ride one of five buses on a three-and-a-half hour commute to Washington, D.C., to spend their day serving others on Oct. 18.

The students’ arrival at the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marked Southern Virginia’s seventh annual Temple Service Day — the day on which the university holds no classes and the Buena Vista Virginia Stake provides transportation and lunch for students who wish to serve at the temple.

“What a wonderful and spiritual experience to have so many students from Southern Virginia participate in service both inside and outside the temple,” said John Brandt, bishop of the Buena Vista University 1st Ward. “Students in the ward have been greatly anticipating this day and we had tremendous support from everyone involved. It’s a lot of work, but what a wonderful and beautiful experience it is. Everything that we do in this life should be pointing toward the temple.”

Students said they appreciated the university’s dedication to temple service.

“I love the fact that we take a day off for temple service,” said Glenn Williams, a philosophy major from La Jara, Colo. “Not only does it give the opportunity to those who have the desire to attend, but because we can go as a school, it fosters comradery and unifies the school in one sole purpose, whether it’s serving inside the temple or on the grounds of the temple.”

Many students served inside the temple, performing proxy baptisms and other ordinance work. Additionally, they beautified the temple grounds by planting flowers, shoveling mulch, weeding, and hanging Christmas lights in preparation for the temple’s annual festival of lights.

“I love doing temple ordinances and I felt very peaceful coming out of the temple,” said Amy Johnson, a liberal arts major from Elko, Nev. “Also, getting to make the temple even more beautiful is a really cool opportunity. Because I love the temple I love getting to do work there.”

In addition to fostering unity among the university community and providing an opportunity to serve, students said they appreciated the chance to rejuvenate themselves spiritually at the temple.

“Attending the temple helps me get peace of mind during tough times at school,” said Williams. “I appreciate the temple because it’s a place where you can leave the world behind and commune directly with God without any distractions. If anybody has the chance to go, they should go. It’s always the right decision.”

In addition to the service they performed, students spent time in the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, where they watched, “Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration,” and viewed the center’s various inspirational displays and videos.

“Getting to go to the temple is such a huge blessing,” Johnson said. “And if you have the opportunity and are able to go, I think you should always use it; you’ll be blessed if you do.”

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