Editors note: The following story appeared in the Jan. 2-8 edition of the Oakland Post.
Pastor Ray Williams of Morning Star Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif., and his wife, Janet, were recent guests at the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Also visiting were Pastor H.H. Lusk and his wife, Bettye, of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Seaside, Calif., and Associate Pastor Kenneth Murray and his wife, Bridgette.
The visitors met with LDS Church officials to explore ways in which the two denominations could work together to achieve common goals. They toured the home of the world-famous Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
The ministers and their wives had a personal tour of Welfare Square, conducted by Director Rick Foster, who explained the LDS Church's emphasis on helping those who receive assistance to become self-reliant.
Welfare Square is comprised of the Bishop's Storehouse, which can be compared to a grocery store without a cash register; a bakery, which bakes as many as 1,500 loaves of bread per day to meet local needs; a cannery; a milk-processing plant; and a thrift store. The entire facility is operated by a handful of paid staff and an army of volunteers.
In exploring ways the churches can work together to assist the needy, Foster explained that the LDS Church maintains employment centers throughout the United States, which are open to the public and to which the ministers may refer the people they are trying to assist.
The LDS Church also conducts 12-step programs open to anyone in need of help overcoming an addiction.
The ministers met with Elders L. Tom Perry and Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to discuss common interests and ways they might collaborate. That evening they were hosted at dinner by the Department of Public Affairs, where they were introduced by Michael O. Leavitt, former governor of Utah and secretary of Health and Human Services in the administration of President George W. Bush, and Rev. Williams was invited to speak.
Rev. Williams and his entourage attended the Christmas concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra with special guests Tom Brokaw and Alfie Boe, a Tony-award winning tenor from England.
The group was seated near current Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and his wife, Jeanette. When the Lusks were introduced to the Herberts, they explained that their son Henry has just been hired as the receivers coach of the University of Utah football team.
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The Herberts then introduced them to their son-in-law, Ben Cahoon, who was the receivers coach for the BYU football team. The exchange was good for laughs about tight ends and wide receivers and contributed to a wonderful evening.
Rev. Williams, pastor of Morning Star Baptist in Oakland, also serves as moderator of St. John Association, a statewide Baptist Denomination, and said he plans to encourage his church's members to visit the LDS Temple Hill in Oakland to "do research on their family's roots as we observe the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation."