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Uniting in goodwill

President Monson addresses Utah interfaith music service

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When men and women of goodwill unite in doing good, it helps eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and replaces it with the strength of many serving together, said President Thomas S. Monson on Jan. 2 during an interfaith music service.

An estimated 300 Utahns of varying religions and ethnic backgrounds attended the event — a pre-inauguration celebration for Gov.-elect Jon M. Huntsman Jr., held at the First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City. The service, which began with a welcome from Michael J. Imperiale, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, also included remarks and prayers from numerous religious leaders in the community and music from the International Children's Choir and the Ogden Second Baptist Mass Choir.

During his brief remarks, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, discussed the kindness that other faiths perform, such as the Salvation Army collecting contributions to help those in need, the Catholic Church's St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen, the Salt Lake Dental Clinic and other charities.

He told the congregation that during Latter-day Saint Church meetings held earlier in the day, a letter was read about the disastrous tsunami in southern Asia. Church members, he said, were asked "to give and to give generously" to help alleviate the suffering.

"I'm pleased that we're there" helping with the humanitarian effort in stricken countries, he said.

"We can do it in our daily lives," he added, speaking of generous deeds.

President Monson cited the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol," in which Jacob Marley's ghost cries, "Mankind was my business," and Marley says he should have been attentive to the common welfare when he was alive.

"And then of course he (Ebenezer Scrooge) had that marvelous awakening," he said.

He urged the congregation to remember, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).

"This is a marvelous time in which we live, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved."

President Monson also praised members of the Huntsman family as "good people . . . doing noble work for Utah and even all the world." He cited contributions the family has made, including working to improve life in Armenia, and sponsoring the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"We look to Gov. Huntsman and his associates" in the coming administration, he added. "We stand behind them."

After the service, Gov. Huntsman, a Church member, held an impromptu press conference in which he promised to try to "bring out the best our people have to offer," and to reach out and touch residents of Utah.

E-mail to: sarah@desnews.com