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Friday, April 1, 2011

Welfare Services: Celebrating 75 Years

This weekend is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Church Welfare Services. An article in Church News & Events entitled, "Welfare Services Celebrates 75 Years" provides a nice summary of how it has evolved over the years. Don't miss the photo gallery as well as the timeline.

From the article:
Church leaders wanted to help struggling members without promoting idleness and a sense of entitlement.
The goal of Church leaders was to help people help themselves become independent without sacrificing the necessities of life.

In 1933 the First Presidency announced, “Our able-bodied members must not, except as a last resort, be put under the embarrassment of accepting something for nothing. . . . Church officials administering relief must devise ways and means by which all able-bodied Church members who are in need, may make compensation for aid given them by rendering some sort of service” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols., 5:332–34).
Probably the most famous quote in Mormondom concerning the welfare system is this:
“Our primary purpose was to set up . . . 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,” President Heber J. Grant said during the October 1936 general conference. “The aim of the Church is to help the people to 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).
From childhood the phrases "curse of idleness" and "evils of a dole" rang through my mind. They are as firmly established in my value structure and that of other Mormons.

The Church's web site on Provident Living has other welfare resources. The most recent Welfare Services Fact Sheet -- 2010 is available. Resources from the 2009 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance as well as the Church's publication, "Providing in the Lord's Way."

ALL of the Church's welfare efforts are geared toward establishing, and maintaining, self-reliance.

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