Alec Johnson · October 23, 2015
More than 200 Southern Virginia University students, faculty and staff attended the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the university’s tenth Service Day last week.
Each semester, the university calendar includes a day when classes are canceled to allow students to spend the day in service. The Buena Vista Young Single Adult Stake — which includes six wards that serve students and members of the local community — takes advantage of this day to organize transportation to the temple.
The Stake chartered three buses to the Washington D.C. Temple, which is located approximately three and a half hours from Buena Vista, Va. Additionally, many other students and faculty traveled in their own vehicles to join in for the service at the temple. Participants in the trip served by beautifying the temple grounds and performing ordinances within the temple.
“We had some of the best attendance I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Todd Brotherson, assistant professor of business at Southern Virginia and president of the Buena Vista Young Single Adult Stake. “It’s an absolutely wonderful tradition to have people fellowship and serve together.”
Brotherson explained how Service Day fits within the culture and education at Southern Virginia.
“If we ascribe to educating the full person, then service is something that fits clearly, and if we really believe in preparing leader-servants, then this goes hand in glove with the mission of the institution,” he said.
Nathaniel Fuller, a junior at Southern Virginia who is not a member of the LDS Church, traveled to the temple with friends to serve on the temple grounds.
“It was my first time visiting an LDS temple anywhere in the world,” Fuller said. “I knew I wouldn’t be going inside, but even if you’re not going into the temple to do the ordinances, you’re going there to serve and giving of your time with people you know or get to know. And I love gardening anyway.”
Fuller’s friend Ethan Pike, who is a senior at Southern Virginia, said that he enjoyed the experience at the temple for Service Day.
“We invited Nathaniel [Fuller] to come with us,” Pike said. “It was cool to see his excitement at being there for the first time and it made me realize that I should be that excited each time I go to the temple.”
At the conclusion of the day’s service, many attendees of the trip participated in a testimony meeting at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center.
“The testimony meeting … was a really great experience,” said Brotherson. “I’m just always impressed by the number of people who will stand — whatever the level of their testimony — to give expression to the desire to be good. And that in some way is what service and temple ordinances are all about: to be good ourselves and to help others.”
Fuller said that he gave the benediction at the testimony meeting.
“It was cool to be a part of that and be involved in that,” Fuller said. “You’re doing this together. You have this experience with your faith and you have this great social experience and that’s what the temple does. It was great. I look forward to going back.”
In addition to those who served at the temple, some students, faculty and staff participated in service projects at Southern Virginia and in the community of Buena Vista, Va. These service projects included beautifying the local police station and the university’s campus.