“Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Sept. 1983, 79–80
The following statement, entitled “Rebuilding and Giving Service Following Disasters,” was issued by the First Presidency on 10 June 1983.
Our hearts go out to all who are victims of disasters throughout the world. We love and appreciate you who have been quick to help and are now working to prevent more widespread and serious damage. Members and nonmembers alike have worked side by side in a cheerful answer to the call for service. Public servants in many places have shown creativity, foresight, and service beyond the call of duty.
Many inquiries have been received regarding the Church’s position on government and other assistance. We wish to restate the policy on this matter.
“The responsibility for each member’s spiritual, social, emotional, physical or economic well-being rests first with the member, second, upon the family, and third, upon the Church. Members of the Church are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant to the extent of their ability.
“Every Latter-day Saint would wish to be self-supporting, while physically and emotionally able, rather than voluntarily shift the burden of one’s own or one’s family’s well-being to someone else. So long as they can, under the direction of the Lord and with individual labors, members should work to the extent of their abilities to supply themselves and their families with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life.
“As guided by the Spirit of the Lord and through applying these principles, each member of the Church should make individual decisions as to what assistance is accepted. In this way, independence, self-respect, dignity, and self-reliance will be fostered and free agency maintained.”
The Lord will assist those who understand and practice the principle of self-reliance and who do all that is possible to rebuild from individual resources. As individuals and families proceed to do all they can, they may accumulate through insurance, loans, or help from extended family, enough resources to acquire many of the necessary materials. But few will have the combination of money, time, and energy to rebuild what has taken many years to establish.
In these cases, the bishop may feel it is appropriate to provide food from the storehouse or to supply materials through the use of fast offering funds. With this assistance, the brotherhood of the priesthood quorums can work to rebuild homes and neighborhoods.
In addition to the giving of time and talents, it would be most appropriate for those who desire to give financial support to increase their fast offering donations. Our additional fast offerings at this time provide another means for us to give Christian service. All our efforts should be motivated by compassion and true Christian charity.
We encourage all to increase their ability to be self-reliant. Plant gardens, store food and other emergency supplies, and be prepared to care for your own as well as share with those who may be affected by adversity.
We request that bishops read this message in a sacrament meeting and follow these guidelines as they counsel with their members. We trust and pray that our members will maintain integrity, respect, and hope, in spite of the losses of their material possessions.