Throughout the history of the restored Church, Latter-day Saints have sought to live the principles of welfare and humanitarian service.
Latter-day Saint practices in helping others are grounded in the teachings and example of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Inasmuch as you impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me,” He has said (D&C 42:31).
In announcing the welfare program of 1936, the First Presidency said, “Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far 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, 3).
When President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, was a young bishop in a Salt Lake City ward with an unusually high number of widows, he spoke with President J. Reuben Clark, who had been a principal architect of the welfare program. Knowing that President Monson was a newly appointed bishop, President Clark emphasized the need for the bishop to know his people, to understand their circumstances, and to minister to their needs. Then President Clark recounted the story recorded in the Gospel of Luke wherein the Savior raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11–17).
President Monson tenderly recounts what happened next: “When President Clark closed the Bible, I noticed that he was weeping. In a quiet voice, he said, ‘Tom, be kind to the widow and look after the poor” (“A Provident Plan—A Precious Promise,” Ensign, May 1986, 62).
Shown are images from a Museum of Church History and Art exhibit that traced the history of various Church programs designed to provide for those in need and to teach us to become self-reliant.
Administer to Their Relief
“Now for a man to consecrate his property … to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord.” Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 127.