News Story

“Second Mile” Service Becomes Habit for Etobicoke Mormons

Spencer W. Kimball, 12th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught, “My life is like my shoes — to be worn out in service. … None of us should become so busy in our formal Church assignments that there is no room left for quiet Christian service to our neighbors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 2006).

Inspired to give that quiet Christian service, members of the Etobicoke, Ontario, congregation of the Church set a goal to perform 2015 acts of “second mile” service — acts that would be outside their regular duties or that might push them beyond their own comfort zone — in the community and amongst their congregation throughout 2015.

Whether it was loaning a friend money to buy a cookie, washing dishes at a local organization that fed the homeless, giving free gymnastics lessons to someone who couldn’t afford them, microfinancing a loan, donating furniture and other household items to new immigrants from Afghanistan and Syria, helping to cut and tie blankets for a homeless shelter, collecting items for hygiene kits or a child helping her mom by being quiet so that she did not wake the babies, Church members banded together to give quiet Christian service.

Although one simple act of service on its own may seem small, working together towards a common goal of service opened eyes and hearts to all the good being done in the community. Hearing about others’ service acts — such as painting a pregnant woman’s toenails a pretty colour, giving chocolates to a crossing guard or helping a neighbour fix his old car — gave ideas to others as to how they could help those around them, giving momentum and enthusiasm to the combined effort.

Keeley Brooks gained insight into service as she took part in the project. “Over the year of active focus on serving others, it became clearer that service comes from who one is rather than what one does. One can serve another without any feeling or thought, or even with resentment, but where the individual change comes is when one strives to have charity — that is, the pure love of Christ — for the person one is serving. This true, heartfelt service lifts both the giver and receiver.”

Though the Etobicoke Mormons exceeded their goal, the 2015 service project was not really about the numbers. Success came as the congregation developed a habit of service and came to the realization that we are all responsible for each other and that we can change a life, and even the world, by one kindness at a time.

Mormons believe that when they are in the service of their fellow beings, they are in the service of God (see Mosiah 2:17).

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