Utah Valley celebrates National Day of Prayer

Orem fire department presented the colors at the Day of Prayer. People from many religious backgrounds joined together in a night of prayer. (Natalie Stoker)

The Utah Valley National Day of Prayer service took place Tuesday, June 6, in conjunction with Orem City’s Summerfest. The theme of this year’s service was entitled “All Together in Faith” to promote unity among all faiths of Utah County.

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Kena Mathews, who is also a member of the Day of Prayer committee, said this is the first year the service took place in conjunction with Orem City Summerfest.

“We usually do it in May, but this year we decided we wanted to be part of the community and make it a bigger deal,” Mathews said.

“This event is designed for everyone in the community,” said Chaplain Linda P. Walton, chair of Utah Valley Interfaith Association. “Through this event we hope to work together to promote religious liberty. We hope everyone feels welcome to come and participate in this service.”

The theme was chosen to promote unity among the different faiths and beliefs held in Utah Valley.

A man bows his head during the night of prayer. UVU hosted the Day of Prayer in conjunction with Summerfest. (Natalie Stoker)

Mathews said they were excited to join together people from the LDS community, Seventh Day Adventists, members of the Islamic faith, spiritual leaders of the Native American community, a jail chaplain and a former pastor of the Assembly of God Church.

“Many are coming together to celebrate faith, prayer and unity,” Mathews said.

People of different religious backgrounds were encouraged to participate. Walton hoped coming together in the day of prayer would help others realize the similarities between the different faiths and promote harmony.

“This event is open to everyone and we want people to feel welcome to come regardless of their religious background,” Walton said. “We have about forty different faiths in the valley and while there is a vast majority, there still are a lot of groups who are here and we want them to feel included.”

Walton stressed the similarities of the different faiths.

The back of the program for the service displayed different religions’ interpretation of the “Golden Rule” as contained in their individual scriptures of holy written work. (Cassandra Shaffer)

“There are different faiths and different ways of putting it, but we all believe in the ‘Golden Rule,’ which is what’s printed on the back of this year’s program,” Walton said. “The Christian faith puts it ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ but if you look at Islam, (they say,) ‘No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.’ It essentially all says the same thing but is just contained in different scripture and different holy books and that is the unity we want to get across.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Deputy Executive Director of the Cold Case Foundation Dean Jackson. He said this was not a gathering of a religion, but a gathering of faith, that the purpose of the event was not to make a stage for theologians, but for those who share faith. He said while beliefs may not be identical, faith remains the same.

Keynote speaker Dean Jackson sharing his thoughts Tuesday night. (Natalie Stoker)

“Something amazing happens when we are able to see beyond our own needs, our own wants and our own desires and when we are able to then come together with others who have done the same,” Jackson said, “when we come together in faith. It is the moment when we see beyond our own circumstances and imagine something bigger than ourselves. When we can, in unity, rise above the day-to-day rhetoric and agenda-driven world … and we can see a need and meet it because it’s there and because we can.”

The National Day of Prayer event is in congruence with Orem Summerfest which will be continuing through June 11. The festival will include family activities, games, free concerts, rides, food and fun. More information is available online.

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