Do you have to be religious — or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ — to volunteer with ILP?
You might notice that ILP volunteers on Instagram tend to post a bit about going to church or visiting a temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on their semester abroad and wondering if ILP is a religious program.
Nope. We're not. And you don't have to be either.
Want to spend a semester abroad traveling the world
with other college-age American volunteers?
We're accepting applications right now!
Many ILP volunteers are members of the "Mormon" faith. How come?
One reason is that ILP is based out of Orem, Utah
This area of the country has a high percentage of the population who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (you might have heard it referred to as LDS or Mormon). Many of our volunteers are also attending Brigham Young University which is a religious school — ILP is a great semester abroad for BYU students.
Because ILP is Utah based, and many of our applicants are religious, they are looking for "LDS volunteer opportunities" or programs that align with their standards; ILP provides that — Volunteers can attend an international Latter Day Saint wards and branches in every single country they are serving in.
However, you don't have to be religious. In no way is it a requirement for an ILP semester.
And you don't have to be from Utah, either.
While many of our applicants are residents of Utah, we have volunteers who come from various places throughout the United States and Canada.
... Another Reason? ILP has a Code of Conduct
We hold our volunteers to a higher standard to help nurture a more positive and safe experience for our volunteers and to also leave a more positive impression on the community they are serving. All ILP volunteers sign that they will follow the Code of Conduct during their semester.
The ILP Code of Conduct is similar to standards that the Latter Day Saint church and Brigham Young University encourage, so it tends to be a better fit for volunteers who are looking for that sort of experience. Many of our volunteers choose ILP because they want a program that fits with their lifestyle and they want to travel with friends who live the same way that they do.
Some of the things all ILP volunteers commit to live by during their time on the program include: abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, no romantic relationships (both within the group and with locals), and obeying the law. Read more about it here.
Personally, having the Code of Conduct made me so grateful during my semesters with ILP. Among other things, it helped my group become more unified as we were all living the same way and doing the same things.
Do I have to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ to volunteer with ILP?
ILP is not affiliated with The Church and you do not have to be a member of that church (or any church) to volunteer abroad with ILP.
Will I have to go to church?
You might find that a high percentage of your group is religious. If you want to attend Latter Day Saint church services on Sundays while you live abroad, it's very common that you'll have someone else (or several people) in your group who want to go with you, but like I said there could also be a wide range of people with different religious practices and views.
The people in my past ILP groups have been some of the very best parts about my semesters abroad with ILP! You are not required to go to church, even if half of your group is going each Sunday.
If you choose to go to church ...
If you are a member of another religion and want to see if there's a church nearby for you to attend, let us know. We already have information set up for attending a church of this faith (the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) because volunteers choose to go each semester, but we are in touch with locals in the area who can let us know if there are other churches you can attend as well.
Every ILP group has Saturdays and Sundays off and many choose to attend a ward/branch/church of their choosing, but it's absolutely not a requirement. We do believe that it could enhance your experience if you're interested in that and want to support you in finding out where to go.
All ILP volunteers must have this in common though...
No matter what your religious views are, all ILP volunteers agree to live our Code of Conduct while volunteering.
During your application process we'll go over these details with you. We want to make sure that you're comfortable agreeing to our rules and standards because that will greatly help determine whether ILP is the right program for you!
For example, if you're looking for a chance to travel and give service, but want to party on the weekends, ILP is probably not the right program for you. On the flip side, if you agree that refraining from drinking while you live abroad is a good idea and even appreciate that you can travel with friends without it, then ILP would be a great volunteer program for you. We are very upfront about the standards of our program while you are applying because we want to make sure you're making the best decision on whether the ILP experience is what you're looking for.
Many ILP volunteers come home saying that they've made lifelong friends and that their group was the best part of the experience. We hope that's the same for you no matter your religious affiliation!
Does ILP sound like the type of volunteer program you've been looking for?
If so, we are accepting applications now! We don't have deadlines for when to apply by, but spots are limited so we always recommend applying as early as you're able to.
If you have more questions about how a semester abroad with ILP works, check out this blog post that covers all the major questions we typically get like "How much does it cost?" and "Will I be alone?"
Or if you're ready to get your application started, just click that button. It's a quick form online to get started and then we can help you through the process from there.