A Facebook group created by a Latter-day Saint missionary to build faith during the pandemic is now seeking nonprofit status to expand its capacity to serve.
Worldwide Unified is an online interfaith community of more than half a million people whose mission is “to be unified in helping with the spiritual, emotional and temporal needs of others,” according to the group’s website.
The Facebook group, now approaching its 2-year anniversary, is updated with hundreds of posts each day ranging from prayer requests and personal accounts of miracles to positive messages from religious influencers.
“A lot of people come to the group just to offer prayers for those who are struggling and to find some hope in the midst of so much tension,” said Alexander Solis, a BYU student studying HR and nonprofit management from Lima, Peru, and one of the group’s founding members.
Worldwide Unified also hosts devotionals and fasts, all of which are geared toward an international and diverse coalition of believers. “We want to bring people together because we believe in the power of community,” Solis said.
The group’s most recent worldwide event was a Feb. 27 fast in support of the victims of the Russia-Ukraine war. The invitation reached more than 800,000 people in dozens of countries including the Congo, New Zealand and Japan, Solis said.
Partnering with a nonprofit, Worldwide Unified was also able to raise $32,000 for Ukrainian aid, Solis said.
Solis and the Facebook group’s creator, Jaden Taylor, a computer science major from Saratoga Springs, hope to make such monetary support a permanent part of Worldwide Unified by obtaining nonprofit status.
This designation from the IRS would allow Worldwide Unified to legally receive and use donations in a charitable capacity. Solis and Taylor plan to apply to make Worldwide Unified a nonprofit sometime in the next three months and have a business plan and website ready to launch when they do.
“We wanted to do something because we have a lot of group members from different countries who have more needs than just prayers,” Solis said. “We pray for them, but we could do more than just praying. And if we can do it, then we should do it.”
Solis and Taylor have big plans for the future of Worldwide Unified. Taylor envisions an organization capable of sending volunteers to clear natural disaster sites, provide water to rural areas and teach people how to do family history.
However, these ambitions are a far cry from Taylor’s initial intention in creating the Facebook group.
Taylor was serving as a missionary in San Diego when Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, invited members and nonmembers alike to unite in fasting and prayer on April 10, 2020, to bring about an end to the pandemic.
Taylor felt impressed to create a Facebook group called “Worldwide Fast April 10,” feeling it was something he could do to spread the prophet’s invitation despite pandemic restrictions.
“I just wanted to create a group and then have everyone fast, as many people as would join,” Taylor said. “I was thinking maybe it would reach a thousand people. That would be my part to help.”
Before he knew it, hundreds of thousands of people had joined the group. Taylor quickly realized he needed help moderating the page’s content to keep it in line with his goal of promoting unity and faith.
Solis was one of the first people selected to help moderate. He quickly took on a leading role in the team as they tried to make the most of the Facebook group’s unexpected success.
“It was a miracle,” Solis said. “Every day I was posting a flyer saying we hit 100,000 members, the next day 200,000, the next day 300,000. And when we hit half a million, that was the day actually of the fast, April 10.”
By that point the group had gained more than 500,000 members and had reached people of 32 faiths in 99 countries in less than a week, Solis said.
Following the worldwide fast, Taylor and Solis said they felt the group should continue and remain independent of other organizations. They changed the name of the group to Worldwide Unified and expanded the group’s purpose, which they summarize as “Many faiths, one place.”
Two years later, the group continues to grow, publishing around 150 posts each day — mostly prayer requests from members, but also longer-form messages from influencers on their team, Solis said.
One of these influencers is Portia Louder, who lives in Highland with her husband and two of her children. She volunteers a few hours each day to moderate posts and to write her own based on personal experiences of overcoming trials through faith.
Louder said volunteering as a moderator for the Facebook group has been a faith-promoting experience and has helped her to see the beauty of engaging with a diverse community.
“One thing that I’ve learned working with Worldwide Unified is that we don’t all have the same perspective,” Louder said. “But we can find common ground despite the fact that we may believe differently.”
Solis and Taylor agreed with Louder, saying working to create an interfaith community has shown them what unites the human family is always greater than what divides it.
“I’ve learned the biggest thing is to love people whether or not they have the same views as you do,” Taylor said. “That’s kind of our mission.”