Monday, April 4, 2011

LDS Church Observes The 75th Anniversary Of The Church Welfare Program In 2011; Promotes Self-Reliance And Preserves Human Dignity

During the just-concluded 181st Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church's Welfare program took center stage. In part, that's because on April 6th, 2011, the Church observes the 75th anniversary of its welfare program. First known as the Church Security Plan, the program was introduced on April 6th, 1936 by then-President Heber J. Grant to help Saints cope with the raging Depression. Since then, the program has affected virtually every member of the LDS Church, especially through its primary principle of fostering self-reliance. Most have been either a contributor or recipient of the program's goods and services that support individuals and families when their needs outstrip self-reliance. It is financed by the fast offerings of Church members, who contribute the money they would have spent on the three meals they voluntarily give up once per month. All the aspects of the Church's welfare program come together on the Provident Living website. KSL news story embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

The nerve center of the Welfare Program is in Utah, where the program is anchored by Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. The facility includes a cannery, milk and cheese processing facility; a landmark 16-million pound grain elevator that can been seen for miles; and a bakery, storehouse, thrift store and employment center, all of which are run mostly by volunteers serving church missions. The thrift stores are run under the auspices of Deseret Industries at 45 location in seven Western states.

The Church's Welfare Program promotes self-reliance by asking recipients to give back labor in exchange for aid. President Thomas S. Monson said, "The purpose of church welfare assistance is to help people to help themselves. Recipients of these resources are given the opportunity to work, to the extent of their ability, for the assistance they receive." This preserves basic dignity; for a family breadwinner, taking charity can be an emasculating experience. At the local level, bishops administer the welfare program with the assistance of the ward's president of the Relief Society.

The LDS Church also sponsors humanitarian relief and developmental projects around the world to help those in need, regardless of their faith. From 1985 through the end of 2010, the church has provided, through its Humanitarian Aid fund, essential help to the needy in 178 countries and territories at a total cost of $1.3 billion. From 2002 to 2008, the LDS Church distributed 302,000 wheelchairs. Qualified LDS volunteers trained 113,000 physicians, nurses and midwives to save newborns with breathing difficulties from 2003 to 2008. And during that same period, LDS Church efforts resulted in improved sight for 215,000 people in 24 countries. More than 215,000 people have received improved sight through the church's vision care initiative, aimed to prevent avoidable blindness. Some 5.2 million people now have access to clean water thanks to the church's initiative to provide convenient and sustainable sources of clean water to communities worldwide.

Humanitarian assistance given included 63,377 tons of food, 14,345 tons of medical supplies, 93,196 tons of clothing, and 11.1 million hygiene, newborn and school kits. In 2010 alone, 777,381 days of labor were donated to church welfare facilities in 143 storehouses, 102 home storage centers, 54 production projects, 23 processing facilities, 326 resource facilities and 326 employment centers.

But while we provide for the temporal needs of people, our obligation to provide for spiritual needs remains unchanged. Thus we continue to build chapels and temples wherever the needs arise. Our critics claim we should spend more money on humanitarian assistance and less money on "ornate" temples. First of all, those temples are "ornate" because we're building them for the Lord; we believe in giving Him our first and our best fruits. Second, $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance in 25 years isn't exactly chump change. The fact is that if we were to stop building temples, many of our critics, particularly those who are ex-Mormon, would find something else to complain about, because they are more interested in seeing the LDS Church vanish from the face of the earth rather than feed the hungry. Our critics are actually a testament to our effectiveness.

But the LDS Church is here to stay. There will be no Second Apostasy.

No comments: