Wheat Watchers

Preparedness and Planning Group

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A Provident Plan

Posted by imawheatwatcher on November 23, 2008

A Provident Plan – A Precious Promise
April 1986 General Conference
President Thomas S. Monson
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

(Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the Church Welfare system, created April 6 1936)

Fifty years have come and gone. Economic cycles have run their course. Societal changes have been numerous. The Church has expanded beyond the valleys of the mountains to the uttermost reaches of the earth. Membership is measured in millions. The word of God, provided on that historic day [April 6 1830,] is as an island of constancy in a sea of change.

Let us, for a moment, review the moorings, the underpinnings, even the foundation of the welfare program. Said the First Presidency in that year of announcement: “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 to help themselves.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3.)

The holy scriptures leave no doubt concerning the responsibility to care for the poor, the needy, the downtrodden. The organization has been perfected, the duties defined, and the guidelines given. . . .

. . . Just a few days ago I visited with President Marion G. Romney, known throughout the Church for his ardent advocacy and knowledge of the welfare program. We spoke of the beautiful passage from Isaiah concerning the true fast:

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isa. 58:7.)

. . . President Romney wept as he spoke.

Appearing as a golden thread woven through the tapestry of the welfare program is the truth taught by the Apostle Paul: “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6.)

President Ezra Taft Benson frequently counsels us: “Remember, Brethren, in this work it is the Spirit that counts.”

What has the Lord said about the spirit of this work? In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph at Kirtland, Ohio, in June of 1831, He declared: “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40.)

In that marvelous message delivered by King Benjamin, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, we read: “For the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally.” (Mosiah 4:26.)

When we depart from the Lord’s way in caring for the poor, chaos comes. Said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Political Analysis, as reported this year in a Dallas, Texas, newspaper:

“The USA’s welfare system is a disaster. It is creating poverty, not destroying it. It subsidizes divorce, unwed teenage pregnancy, the abandonment of elderly parents by their children, and the wholesale dissolution of the family. The reason? We pay people to be poor. Private charities have always been better at providing relief where it is truly needed.”

In 1982 it was my privilege to serve as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives. Meeting in the White House with prominent leaders assembled from throughout the nation, President Reagan paid tribute to the welfare program of the Church. He observed: “Elder Monson is here representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If, during the period of the Great Depression, every church had come forth with a welfare program founded on correct principles as his church did, we would not be in the difficulty in which we find ourselves today.” President Reagan praised self-sufficiency; lauded our storehouse, production, and distribution system; and emphasized family members assisting one another. He urged that in our need we turn not to government but rather to ourselves.

On another occasion in the White House, I was asked to present to a gathering of America’s religious leaders an example of our welfare program in action. I could have chosen many illustrations, but selected as typical our response to the Teton Dam disaster in Idaho. The result was dramatic. As the First Presidency stated fifty years ago, “The eyes of the world are upon us.” While this is a most important consideration, let us particularly remember that the eyes of God are similarly focused. What might He observe?

Are we generous in the payment of our fast offerings? That we should be so was taught by President Spencer W. Kimball, who urged that “instead of the amount saved by our two or more meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more [be given] when we are in a position to do it.” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 79.)

Are we prepared for the emergencies of our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have on hand our reserve supply? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?

As we look back through fifty years and reflect on the development of the welfare program, as we look forward to the years ahead, let us remember the place of the priesthood, the role of the Relief Society, and the involvement of the individual. Help from heaven will be ours. . . .


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