In a planned “Day at the Capitol,” clergy and faith leaders met on Thursday, April 26, 2018. With a goal of uniting faith communities to engage and act in the political sphere, Catholic Charities organized a gathering of local pastors and clergy. In attendance were Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, among many others. Deacon Geoff Bennett, Vice President of Parish and Community Relations for Catholic Charities spearheaded the event and began the morning with the vision for the group. He invited all to set aside doctrinal differences, “…agree on foundational issues, and tell our legislators that these things are important to us.” Stake presidents, priests, and other attendees shared thoughts on how to carry out this ecumenical vision. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila spoke next, further driving home the point about Christians’ needs to be active, informed constituents that help enact change. Quoting de Tocqueville, Archbishop Aquila taught, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” The meeting concluded with a presentation from Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, and president of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors (NASCCD). She helped educate the group about legislative advocacy, what it looks like, and how it’s carried out. The group concluded with a walk to the capitol, where they hoped to meet with local legislators. However, as Kraska taught, with politics you learn to be patient and flexible. Large crowds of teachers protesting salaries also chose Thursday to walk on the capitol; they arrived in such large numbers that religious leaders’ agenda took a back seat. Despite the change of plans, participants shared enthusiasm and gratitude for the meeting.
On Monday, December 4, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock met with Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This meeting marks the coming together of two people whose aim is to serve and represent the people in their midst. Elder Priday is the highest ranking church official in the Denver area and Mayor Hancock’s $927 million bond that recently passed will fund roads, parks, libraries, health and cultural facilities
For members of the LDS church, with a belief in the gospel comes a belief in Jesus Christ, a continual effort to be good neighbors, and serve the community. It was with this very interest in doing good that Elder Priday met with Mayor Hancock. His offer, to help with Denver Days, Denver Parks and Recreation, and Metro Denver Volunteers, was very well received. The state of Colorado is home to more than 150,000 church members, approximately 70,000 of whom live in the Denver area.
Members’ involvement in the Mayor’s volunteer initiatives could mobilize a large task force. Mayor Hancock was especially enthusiastic to hear about options to recruit volunteers through the church’s web-based initiative – JustServe.org. It is anticipated that the most pressing need this winter will be the Snow Angels effort. Snow Angels is a program that helps ensure the sidewalks of the elderly and those with disabilities are shoveled after heavy snow.
Looking ahead, Elder Priday and Mayor Hancock’s common interest will reach beyond coordinating community service together. This spring, the (more…)