Deseret Industries Celebrates 75 Years of Strength and Service
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer
The Church cannot and will not shift the responsibility of caring for the poor to others, said President Henry B. Eyring on August 14.
“Something remarkable and edifying happens to us as we give of ourselves—when we extend ourselves to the Lord’s poor,” said President Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency. “It is especially in this work that we mortals can experience the pure love exemplified by our beloved Redeemer and Savior.”
Speaking at the dedication of the Church’s new welfare facility in Sandy, Utah, President Eyring called the building—which houses a Deseret Industries, an LDS Family Services office, and LDS Employment Resources Services—a “temporal representation of a spiritual commitment.”
The dedication services also marked the 75th anniversary of Deseret Industries, the Church’s thrift store that first opened in downtown Salt Lake City on August 12, 1938.
Also participating in the dedicatory services for the new 58,656-square-foot facility were Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the Church’s Presiding Bishop; Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy; Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president; and Elder Glen L. Rudd, an emeritus Seventy.
During his remarks, President Eyring said that since the earliest days of the Church the Lord has taught that individuals are responsible for their own self-reliance. “This cannot be delegated to others,” he said. “However, we acknowledge that in every life sometimes current needs threaten to overwhelm available resources.”
During the past 75 years, more than 100,000 people have entered into a Deseret Industries training program and discovered a place of nurturing and support—“a place where they can develop and discover the persons they were capable of becoming,” said President Eyring. “Tens of millions of community members have donated and shopped here. Millions in need have received needed household goods and furniture.”
Making reference to the racks of clothing and the shelves filled with books and household supplies, President Eyring told the gathering—comprised of local Church leaders whose stakes will be served by the facility—that what they see is “merely a shadow of the true purpose” of the building.
“In this facility and others like it you will find some of the finest people this world has to offer,” he said. “Often those who come here have journeyed through dark valleys of suffering and distress, persecution, and failure. No matter the path they have walked, here they are offered safety and blessed hope—a place of understanding, nurturing, and encouragement.”
The welfare program, he said, is patterned after the life and work of Jesus Christ.
“Though He was a king—the Son of the Everlasting Father—He spent His days ministering to the humble, the poor, and the sick,” said President Eyring. “He lifted those in distress; He lightened the burdens of the weary and granted blessed hope to those burdened with sorrow.
“Our Heavenly Father’s work and glory is the great and wondrous process of transformation (see Moses 1:39). He takes imperfect souls and, through the principles and commandments of the gospel and through the intervention of the Spirit, transfors them into beings of unimaginable glory and immortal destiny.”
President Eyring dedicated the facility as a place “to clothe, heal, comfort, teach, and encourage” those “who are sick, who mourn, who suffer, or who otherwise are in need.”
“And we beseech Thee, our Father, that the downtrodden, outcast, and oppressed will find within these walls blessed hope, enduring faith, and the renewal of mind, body, and spirit.”
Elder Clayton said he recently had the opportunity to drive through southern Utah and think about the early Church members who established Utah’s pioneer communities. “There were many obstacles to survival in that wilderness,” he said, noting that today’s wilderness looks different. The new welfare facility, he said, is the “Lord’s way to comfort and tame the wilderness.”
Bishop Stevenson spoke about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. He said the memories of the disaster are overshadowed only by the Church’s welfare principles.
“I bear a living testimony of all that we so easily call welfare,” he said, noting that as the Church stepped forward after the disaster, it was like a “healing balm applied by the Lord” descended as dew on those impacted.
Sister Burton said the “tired, forlorn, and those feeling lost” will find within the walls of the welfare complex “a haven of second chances.”
“Here they will find encouragement, hope, and confidence,” she said. “In this refuge of healing, they will take what is already wonderful about themselves and work to become even better and whole as they strive to transform themselves.”
Elder Rudd, who spent his career working in Church Welfare and remembers when the first Deseret Industries opened, said the facility is part of the Lord’s program. It is His way to take care of His children—“particularly those that stand in need,” he said.