Watch this video to learn about neonatal resuscitation training, one facet of the Church’s welfare activities, as described by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Watch or listen to comments President Thomas S. Monson made concerning welfare during his address at the Sunday morning session of April 2011 general conference. Watch or listen to President Henry B. Eyring’s address, “Opportunities to Do Good,” from the Saturday morning session.
During general conference several messages focused on the 75th anniversary of the Church welfare program. This program was revealed through inspiration to prophets. It has, in fact, fulfilled prophecy for many years, in the lives of Latter-day Saints and in blessing people in many nations during moments of need and in times of crisis.
Some may think of the Church welfare program as a means to provide for members who need food, clothing, or shelter. While that is part of Church welfare, the program that grew from inspiration to Church leaders like President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) and President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) has become a blessing to communities and people in many nations, regardless of their religious affiliation or level of belief or non-belief.
Saving the Life of a Baby
For example, during a visit to a remote hospital in South America, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, learned of a baby whose life had recently been saved by the neonatal resuscitation training provided by Latter-day Saint Charities, one aspect of the Church welfare program. “But for the neonatal training our people had just provided,” Elder Holland said, “there would have been one more baby that was just another statistic. And the difference was, six months earlier, they wouldn’t have known anything to do.”
Many Efforts in Many Lands
Neonatal resuscitation training is one of many humanitarian efforts that fall under the curtain of the Church welfare program. Other programs include emergency relief, clean water initiatives, employment assistance, family counseling, adoption assistance, rehabilitation services, and more. Welfare and humanitarian service missionaries are deployed through the world to serve the Lord’s children.
Helping People to Grow Strong
The Church welfare program was established 75 years ago, during America’s Great Depression, when President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945) stood in the Tabernacle and outlined a new program for the Church. The beginning objective was to meet the basic needs of suffering Church members through a “wholly voluntary system of gifts in cash or in kind,” to create a system that would eliminate idleness and reliance on government assistance, and reestablish “independence, industry, thrift and self-respect . . . amongst our people.” As he explained the aims of the Church welfare program, then called the Church Security Plan, he promised that in response to this “great undertaking,” the Lord would “continue to pour out His blessings so long as the people do their duty by the poor.”
Rescuing All That Is Finest
President J. Reuben Clark (1871–1961), then a member of the First Presidency, said that “the real long term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.”
President Lee, who learned much about strengthening those in need while he was serving as president of the Salt Lake Pioneer Stake during the Great Depression, continued that work after his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, helping the Church to extend its welfare efforts to individuals and communities in many countries.
Since that time, Church efforts continue to use divine principles to meet the basic needs of Church members, and those efforts have also reached beyond the Church and into the communities where Church members live. In many ways, the welfare program has changed the face of the Church throughout the world as members are given opportunities to contribute and serve and many people in and out of the Church are blessed by the fruits of inspired prophetic guidance. Lives are saved; hope is restored; and spirits are lifted as love is shared. That is the welfare program of the Church.
Visit the Church’s welfare website, providentliving.org, and Humanitarian Services site to learn more.Read a news report about the 75th anniversary of the welfare program.