LDS Church Welfare Services
In the year 1936, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS Church), formally established a Church Welfare System. The purpose of this program is to help LDS Members become self-reliant, care for the poor and the needy and to give service to others.
In the formation of this program, President Heber J. Grant, then the President of the Mormon Church said:
“Our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our church membership”(In Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 3).
The LDS Church believes that in order for its members to be able to effectively help others, they should first be self reliant on their own level. Mormons are given the direction to be responsible for their own temporal and spiritual needs, providing for their families the best that they can. However, if they have done everything to address their needs and when resources from relatives are already utilized, the Church stands ready to help.
Part of the Welfare System is maintaining self-reliance in the aspects of Health, Education, Employment, Home Storage, Finances and Spiritual Strength. These factors are the basis for a happy and well prepared Home in times of illness and economical uncertainties.
Mormons follow a code of health known as the “Word of Wisdom” that prohibits them from drinking coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages. They neither smoke tobacco nor use harmful drugs or substances that are addictive in nature, such as illegal drugs and others things which are physically and spiritually destructive. The Church upholds healthy practices and encourages its members to develop healthy habits.
The Latter-day Saints are counseled to get as good an education as possible, so they can get good employment or productive self-employment that will allow them to financially sustain their own families. With this admonition, the LDS Church assists its members by operating the “Perpetual Education Fund” (also known as PEF), a program that provides education and training funding to ambitious youth from developing countries, where quality education is beyond their reach, due to poverty and lack of financial resources. Also, the Church operates LDS Employment Resource Centers in many areas all around the world. These centers are run by employees and missionary volunteers who work full time to ensure that LDS members are assisted in their pursuit of temporal self-reliance. They also operate websites that help with employment and welfare programs such as www.providentliving.org and www.ldsjobs.org.
Presidents of the Mormon Church all throughout the ages have continuously counseled their members to maintain Food Storage at least for three months, if a year’s supply is not possible. Faithful Latter-day Saints give heed to these counsels by storing food, clothing, and basic needs that will enable them to be prepared in times of calamities and natural disasters, where immediate help for survival may not be available. Many Mormons also prepare a 72-hour Kit, an assortment of supplies such as food, water medicines and other materials that will allow them to live for 3 days where Disaster Relief Operations may not be able to respond right away.
The Mormon Church also teaches its members to avoid unnecessary debt that can ruin self-esteem and entangle a person in unpleasant financial circumstances. Furthermore, spiritual self reliance is also a priority for the Mormons. Members are encouraged to fortify their own families spiritually through regular scripture study, family prayer and wholesome recreational activities.
If an LDS member comes to the Church for financial assistance (such as for medicines, etc.) the Church, through the Bishop who is the presiding leader in a local congregation, assesses the members’ needs and administers appropriate financial help. In a Ward (local congregation), there is a group of Auxiliary Leaders known as the “Ward Council.” This council discusses ways to help the needy member overcome their burdens.
In some areas in the world, the LDS Church has established buildings which are called “Bishops’ Storehouses.” Under the permission of the members’ Bishop, they can go to the Storehouse and be provided with food and clothing that will help them in their immediate need. Aside from that, there is also the “Lord’s Storehouse.” This includes church members’ giving of their time, talents, and other resources for the poor and needy. In a revelation recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelation), the Lord said about this storehouse:
“And all this for the benefit of the Church of the living God, that every man may improve upon His talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church –
“Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the Glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:18-19).
The Mormons are not just particularly concerned about their own people but with other people as well, even from other Faiths. In natural calamities, disasters, and emergencies, the LDS Church is one of the first contributors in sending food and relief supplies and materials to distressed nations and areas. Although most of the time, not announced, the LDS Church is one of those to respond immediately to assist in these emergencies. The Mormon Church often partners with other reputable charity organizations, such as Moslem Relief, to expedite delivery of goods.
But where does the LDS Church get the funds to assist? Faithful Mormons obey the “Law of the Fast” (also known as Fasting). Every first Sunday of the month they fast by abstaining from the intake of food and water for two consecutive meals or 24 hours. The money that they would have used to buy food for themselves for the two meals is given to the Church and set aside as “Fast Offering.” This money then becomes the fund that the Church uses in assisting the needy members and non-Mormons alike. Many members contribute generously to this fund along with Humanitarian Aid donations. Mormons take happiness in sacrificing for others as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation…” (Lectures on Faith, p. 58).
It is one of the philosophies of Mormonism that self-reliance must be achieved so helping other people may be possible. With this guiding principle, the Mormon Church has been continually growing and becoming a positive influence in the countries where it operates, the Church itself being a “Self-Reliant” entity.