“Report of the Welfare Services Meeting,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 119
“The gospel is the answer to all the problems of the world; all the problems of the world,” declared President Spencer W. Kimball at a Welfare Services meeting held Saturday, October 5, in the Tabernacle. In attendance were General Authorities of the Church and stake and ward officers with stewardships that include welfare services.
Among the problems discussed at the meeting was the increase in social and emotional problems within the Church. Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said that a recent study conducted for the Presiding Bishopric noted that “the incidence of social problems may be the most serious issue challenging the Church today.”
Bishop Featherstone said that almost 80 percent of a bishop’s time is taken up with the social problems of his ward members. But, he added, there is a need to “increase the use of resource people” within a ward or stake. Many priesthood holders have had experience as bishops or stake presidents, positions in which they have learned how to help. This experience should be used to aid those in need, he said.
However, he emphasized that the father, the head of the family, is the first line of help when problems arise. If the problem is such that assistance outside the family is needed, then the quorum leaders come into the picture. Exceptional problems would be referred to the bishop, who in turn could turn to resource people within his ward or stake. These resource people might be professionals in such areas as counseling, finance, or emotional problems.
“We need to become more prevention-conscious,” said Bishop Featherstone. Resource people, he said, could be used to train young people in drug prevention, give guidance in handling finances, or provide counseling for young marrieds to prevent future problems.
In another area of concern, the Presiding Bishopric’s office reported the need to increase fast offerings.
“The per capita contributions are not keeping up with inflation,” said Bishop Featherstone. “According to national [United States] figures, the cost of living last year increased by 14 percent. Fast offering contributions for the first six months of 1974 were up 11 percent from 1973. Subtract the 11 percent increase in fast offerings from the 14 percent cost of living increase, and you can see that we are slipping behind by 3 percent. This is serious because it shows that we are not paying our fast offerings to the Church.”
Bishop Featherstone said that in addition to the low fast offerings contribution, “assistance rendered last year was up 22 percent. You do not have to be a mathematician to see that we are losing ground in taking care of the poor. Last year we drew on the tithing funds of the Church for nearly $3 million.”
He said little imagination is needed to realize the serious problem the Church is facing concerning our responsibility for the needy.
“The Lord would never ask us to take care of the poor and the needy if the task were impossible,” he said, and then suggested that some stakes that do not have current building or expansion expenses might consider increasing the per capita fast offering from its members.
Where there is assistance, he reported, it is expected that the recipients work for it to the extent of their ability. “In 1973 only 12.6 percent worked for what they received,” he said.
The blessings resulting from following the principle of work were outlined by Bishop H. Burke Peterson, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
“One of the tragic things that is happening in the Church is that many of those receiving welfare are not being given the opportunity to work for it within their physical capacity,” he said.
President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, also emphasized the need for work in upholding an individual’s respect and the need to remember the Lord’s admonition to “honor thy father and thy mother” by taking care of their needs and their welfare.
In summary, President Kimball said that “we are unkind if we teach people to take without giving.”