Members of the LDS Church regularly volunteer to don caps, aprons and gloves to can food at the church's Welfare Square in Salt Lake City.

And Mormon leaders in Park City found this year that non-Mormons also are willing to pit apricots or peel tomatoes in the noisy, steamy canning plant on 800 West."That was wonderful," the Rev. Bob North, pastor at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, said, recalling his involvement in the volunteer production line last summer. "It was a totally new experience. Most of us were not even aware there was a cannery."

Nor are many Utah Mormons aware that they could stand shoulder to shoulder with people of other faiths and produce food for the needy.

But local and general leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are citing the Park City experience as an example of Mormons and non-Mormons linking arms in the name of community service.

The LDS Church donated food to the Park City food and emergency kitchen in return for the voluntary service.

During the coming year, Mormons in Summit, Salt Lake and Tooele counties can expect to hear more emphasis on working with other churches and civic groups to address problems and needs in their communities.

Elder John E. Fowler, president of the LDS Church's Utah Central Area, which encompasses Summit, Salt Lake and Tooele counties, said community service is not a new concept. He cites scriptures and statements by other church authorities encouraging involvement in the community.

"This is just to add to and increase the things we have been doing to bring public affairs down to the ward level," Elder Fowler said.

It's been happening in bits and pieces throughout Elder Fowler's area over the past few years:

- The idea of enlisting non-Mormons to help at Welfare Square came from Al Cooper, a member of the Park City Stake high council. Cooper also sits on the Park City Ministerial Council, and he saw the stake's canning assignment as an opportunity to restock the city's food pantry and kitchen, a responsibility of the ministerial council.

- Last week, the local LDS and Catholic church leaders initiated a forum where local clergy from any church can regularly meet and discuss community social problems and solutions. Elder Fowler said he plans to pass on some of the information gathered at the interfaith meetings to LDS priesthood leaders in wards and stakes that can assist.

- It's become popular for LDS wards in the Salt Lake area to regularly provide the Saturday evening meals for the homeless. "It wouldn't work without their support," said Ann Bero, resources coordinator for the St. Vincent de Paul Center, a soup kitchen for the hungry and homeless.

- Another often-cited example of Mormons combining forces with other faiths is a neighborhood crime-watch program that began in the East Millcreek 6th Ward and within months spread to involve four other churches, a local Lions Club and two other LDS stakes.

"There was just no question that crime was a concern regardless of religion," said Reed Call, bishop of the ward that initiated the program and readily found support across religious boundaries.

Besides addressing community concerns, the program has built bridges with other churches that previously didn't exist, Call said. "There is no question we are more and better acquainted and more involved with our non-LDS neighbors" because of the program.

Relations between the dominant Mormons and minority non-Mormons in Utah have historically been strained if not nonexistent. "There has always been a kind of reservation my members held toward the LDS Church," said the Rev. David Coulter, pastor of the Centenary United Methodist Church and president of the Salt Lake Ministerial Association.

When Elder Fowler's predecessor, Elder Loren C. Dunn, invited local clergy to lunch and discuss the LDS Church's thrust toward cooperation to address local issues, the Rev. Coulter said he was suspicious.

"My first feeling was I didn't trust it. I looked for a hidden agenda," he recalled. "But I was pleased when Elder Dunn said instructions were being given to the (ward) bishops, and it was not a new posture but a new emphasis."

Last summer, the Rev. Coulter's congregation in Salt Lake City worked with a local LDS ward to put on a "Night Against Crime" in the Methodist church parking lot.

"The most pleasant thing was involvement of our members and their members planning and carrying out the neighborhood activity," the Rev. Coulter said. "There was no hesitancy."

Elder Fowler, a Californian who has lived most of his life outside of Utah, said he can sympathize with the feelings of members of a minority religion. But he added that he also has experienced what good can be accomplished when people of different faiths work together.

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"We can't just be concerned with active LDS in our community. We need to be concerned about what's going on in the community," he said.

And with 515,000 members in his area alone, Elder Fowler said the church has a "pretty hefty resource" to contribute to community concerns. That's in addition to the numerous buildings and established social services program.

"A lot of non-LDS leaders have seen social problems among low-income groups and have felt powerless to do much about it," the Rev. Coulter said. "Our resources are limited, and we are aware that unless the LDS Church gets involved not much can be done."

But the Rev. Coulter said the Mormons, despite their resources, need and want the cooperation of other churches because the problems are not exclusive to the LDS faith. "Other churches have been involved for hundreds of years going outside (religious) boundaries to work with community problems."

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