Gateway: Living

Serving one another in love still a mark of religious Americans

On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor.
On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor.

Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. The scriptures record his ministry of healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. “Come follow me,” was his invitation, and “the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do” (Luke18:22 and 3 Nephi 27:21). With John his beloved apostle of old, we bear witness and testify that “the Father sent the Son to be the saviour of the world” (1 Jn. 4:14) and that a major purpose of his sacred mission was to teach us how to love and serve one another.

His message of love of God and fellow man rings down through the centuries to our present day. We are blessed to live in a great country, where over 80 percent of religious Americans will volunteer as needed in any given year.

In December 2007 and in the wake of flooding in Belfair and Mason County, my friend Paije Abplanalp, young wife of the bishop of our Belfair congregation at that time, was reporting to the brethren of the church’s governing council at Gig Harbor on the needs of flood victims, in preparation for a clean-up and mop-up service project. I have never forgotten what she said and how she said it.

“I come here tonight by invitation to make a report, not in any official capacity or stewardship, but as a disciple of Christ who has made sacred covenants. With the flooding,” she said, “we find ourselves with an opportunity to live up to those covenants to serve our fellow man with this project, and I know that we can fulfill our obligation to the Lord by doing so.” She made her report and expressed faith that things would work out for the good of the people who found themselves in need.

The resulting event, coordinated with local agencies, saw a volunteer force of some 900 persons from the greater faith community, working hand in hand, deployed to impacted homes and neighborhoods with shovels, heavy equipment and hundreds of emergency clean-up kits provided by the LDS Church.

There are some absolutely incredible women in the faith community — talented, capable, dedicated and compassionate. I wish I could tell more of their stories.

The church to which I have the privilege to belong provides an organized way for women of faith like my friend Paije to multiply their efforts exponentially to accomplish wonders. The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the oldest and largest women’s service organizations in the world, counts over six million women in all of our 30,000 congregations in 175 countries. Their story will never be fully told. How can it be?

In a church full of ministers, men and women, Julie B. Beck, former general president of the Relief Society, said, “The blessings of the priesthood make it possible for every person who is set apart to serve in any office in the Lord's Church to receive authority, responsibility, and blessings connected with the office.

“Spiritual gifts are numerous and varied and come to us as we seek them and use them appropriately. We enjoy them because of the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in and around and woven through our lives.”

The life and teachings of the compassionate Christ are still available to all who will seek Him.

In the words of the late LDS President Thomas S. Monson "We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked, All of us can walk the path He walked when, with His words ringing in our ears, His Spirit filling our hearts, and His teachings guiding our lives, we choose to follow Him as we journey through mortality. His example lights the way. Said He, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’"

God bless those who choose to follow His incomparable example.

On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached at For more information, visit