6.2 Welfare Leadership in the Ward
The bishop directs welfare work in the ward. He has a divine mandate to seek out and care for the poor (see D&C 84:112). His goal is to help members help themselves and become self-reliant.
The bishop’s counselors, the Relief Society president, the high priests group leader, the elders quorum president, and other members of the ward council assist the bishop in fulfilling these responsibilities.
The bishop maintains confidentiality about the welfare assistance that members receive. He carefully safeguards the privacy and dignity of members who receive assistance. When he feels that other ward leaders can help members in need, he may share information according to the guidelines in 6.4.
More information about the bishop’s welfare responsibilities, including guidelines for administering assistance from fast-offering funds, is provided in Handbook 1, 5.2.
In ward council meetings, the bishop teaches welfare principles and instructs council members in their welfare responsibilities. Council members consider spiritual and temporal welfare matters as follows:
They counsel together about ways to help ward members understand and follow principles of welfare.
They report on spiritual and temporal welfare needs in the ward, drawing information from personal visits and from home teaching and visiting teaching reports. When information may be too confidential to share with the entire ward council, leaders speak privately with the bishop or in priesthood executive committee meeting (see 6.2.3).
They plan ways to help specific ward members meet their spiritual and temporal needs, including long-term needs. They determine how to assist members who have disabilities or other special needs. They keep these discussions confidential (see 6.4).
They coordinate efforts to ensure that members who receive Church assistance have opportunities to work or give service. They compile and maintain a list of meaningful work opportunities. If Church welfare operations exist in the area, these operations may provide work opportunities and training for people who need Church assistance.
They compile and maintain a list of ward members whose skills might be useful in responding to short-term, long-term, or disaster-caused needs.
They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the ward to respond to emergencies (see Handbook 1, 5.2.11). They coordinate this plan with similar plans in the stake and community.
Ward Priesthood Executive Committee
As needed, the ward priesthood executive committee discusses confidential welfare matters. The bishop may invite the Relief Society president to attend for these discussions.
High Priests Group, Elders Quorum, and Relief Society
Welfare is central to the work of the high priests group, the elders quorum, and the Relief Society. In meetings of the high priests group leadership, the elders quorum presidency, and the Relief Society presidency, leaders plan ways to teach principles of self-reliance and service and to address welfare needs. Under the direction of the bishop, these leaders help members become self-reliant and find solutions to short-term and long-term welfare concerns.
Short-Term Welfare Needs
As the bishop provides short-term assistance, he may give assignments to Melchizedek Priesthood or Relief Society leaders.
The bishop normally assigns the Relief Society president to visit members who need short-term assistance. She helps assess their needs and suggests to the bishop what assistance to provide. The bishop may ask her to prepare a Bishop’s Order for Commodities form for him to approve and sign.
The Relief Society president’s role in making these family-needs visits is explained more fully in 9.6.1. For information on other short-term welfare responsibilities that apply specifically to the Relief Society president and her counselors, see 9.6.2 and 9.6.3.
Long-Term Welfare Needs
Many short-term problems are caused by long-term difficulties such as poor health, lack of skills, inadequate education or employment, lifestyle habits, and emotional challenges. Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders have a special responsibility to help members address these concerns. Their goal is to address long-term concerns in ways that lead to lasting change.
As Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders become aware of long-term needs, they respond compassionately to help individuals and families. They use resources available in their organizations and in the ward. They pray for guidance to know how to provide assistance.
To gain a better understanding of how to help, Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders normally visit members who have welfare needs. They may use the Needs and Resources Analysis form or otherwise follow its principles to help members plan ways to respond to welfare needs.
As leaders help members respond to long-term needs, they counsel with the bishop. In some cases, Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders work together.
Reporting to the Bishop and Seeking His Continued Direction
The high priests group leader, the elders quorum president, and the Relief Society president regularly report to the bishop on actions they and their organizations are taking to address short-term and long-term welfare needs in the ward. They seek the bishop’s continued direction on their welfare efforts.
If individuals and families have short-term problems that they cannot resolve themselves and that Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders cannot resolve, leaders inform the bishop immediately.
If Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders learn of possible concerns with worthiness or sensitive family matters, they refer the members to the bishop.
Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers
Assistance with spiritual and temporal welfare often begins with home teachers and visiting teachers. In a spirit of kindness and friendship that goes beyond monthly visits, home teachers and visiting teachers help individuals and families in need. They report the needs of those they serve to their priesthood leaders or Relief Society leaders.
Seeking Service from Quorum and Relief Society Members and Others
Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders may seek the service of members whose skills or experience could help those in need. Members may provide short-term service such as providing meals or child care or sharing information about available employment. Members may also provide guidance to help with long-term welfare needs, such as health, sanitation, nutrition, preparing for a career, finding opportunities for education, starting a small business, or managing family finances.
After leaders ask others to provide assistance, they remain in contact with the needy individual or family to provide encouragement and to help in other ways as necessary.
Leaders may assist the bishop when he refers members to Church welfare operations such as bishops’ storehouses, Church employment resource centers, Deseret Industries, and LDS Family Services. Leaders may also help members receive assistance through community and government agencies.
Ward Welfare Specialists
Welfare specialists serve as resources to help the bishopric and to help Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders perform their welfare duties.
The bishopric may call an employment specialist to help members prepare for and find suitable employment. The bishopric may also call other welfare specialists to help members with needs such as education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.