On Sept. 21 at 7 a.m., students across the world will gather around the flagpole at their schools, join hands and pray aloud for their families, for their communities and for world peace.
The event, called "See You at the Pole," was initiated three years ago by students who wanted a constitutional way within a public school setting to express their faith in God, invoke his blessing and express appreciation.It's expected that 2 million students will participate this year.
To help Utah students organize their "See You at the Pole" events, Will McGarvey is leading a free conference today at 1945 S. Redwood Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
McGarvey, president of the High School Interdenominational Seminary Clubs, and other Christian leaders will also be teaching students how to organize Bible study classes and seminaries in their high schools.
"Students want to know how to learn more about God and how to spread the Christian message to
their peers without violating school rules regarding separation of state and church," said McGarvey.
"Kids today are also very interested in discussing con-tem-porary issues such as why it's important to abstain from premarital sex, how to avoid drugs and how to stay away from things that deter your relationship with Christ. We want to help provide that forum in their schools," he said.
Prior to 1978, high school Bible study classes were held in buildings off campus. But in 1978, the schools quit giving high school credit for the classes. Since then, interdenominational Bible study classes have become an endangered species.
As he has spent time teaching youth, McGarvey, 26, has become aware of the need for non-LDS Christian students to meet with other Christians "to find their identity in Christ, to pray together and to serve."
He's embraced the challenge of helping kids organize their own Bible study clubs and seminaries in high schools throughout Utah.
Three years ago, a youth Christian movement swept the nation. Currently, one in three high schools in the United States has a Bible Club on campus.
"Non-LDS Christians are a minority in Utah, and they frequently don't know what resources are available to them. They have the same yearning for fellowship as Christians everywhere," said McGarvey.
"We're not competing with LDS seminaries. We just want to provide kids of other faiths similar opportunities."
He and his friend, Davin Saderholm, searched Utah seeking advice from teachers who had taught Bible study or seminary. They found dedicated teachers who have shared their curriculum with them.
Last year, students at Taylorsville and Brighton high schools organized their own Christian Campus Clubs. So far this year, students at East, West, Highland, Skyline, Cottonwood, Olympus, Alta, Murray, West Jordan, Granite, Hunter and Cyprus have expressed an interest in creating their own Bible-study clubs.
The Bible-study classes will be taught before or after school or during the lunch break.
"There are doctrinal differences that keep LDS seminaries and interdenominational Bible classes from meeting together," said McGarvey. "But the LDS community has been very supportive of our efforts to organize clubs and seminaries. Of course, LDS students are welcome to attend. Everyone is invited. We want this to be a mutually beneficial relationship and want to plan service projects with them."