“Bishop Pace Tells U.S. Senate Panel How Saints Aided in Famine Relief,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 109
Bishop Glenn L. Pace, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, was among those testifying in favor of a national day of fasting during hearings of a United States Senate committee recently.
Bishop Pace was invited to testify before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which endorsed a proposal by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch that U.S. residents be urged to fast on the Sunday before their Thanksgiving holiday. They would then contribute the money they save on food toward helping victims of famine in Africa.
Such an effort would be similar to what was accomplished on January 27 this year when, at the invitation of the First Presidency, some three million Church members in the United States and Canada donated $6.4 million in fast offerings toward famine relief.
Bishop Pace explained to the committee that Latter-day Saints fast regularly, believing fasting can increase spirituality. Church members then have the opportunity to contribute the money thus saved on food to the support of the needy.
When the January 27 fast was called, he said, “Our members were informed that all of the contributions would go directly to the relief agencies without a penny being spent on overhead in the Church. This commitment we have kept without reservation.”
He explained that Church leaders carefully evaluated relief agencies before committing the funds donated by members. Thus far, he said, these funds have been committed to the following groups: League of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, CARE, and Africare.
Geographically, the funds have gone for relief efforts in Ethiopia, Sudan, Mali, Chad, and Mauritania.
He said approximately two-thirds of the funds went into emergency relief and one-third into development projects.
Bishop Pace said the Church is “proud to be associated with all agencies trying to relieve pain and suffering which has become a part of the everyday life of millions of people living in these troubled lands.
“Some few within and without the Church have criticized us for extending aid to those who are victims of the policies, politics, or mismanagement of their governments,” he told the Senate committee. “The response given by President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, has been: ‘Where there is stark hunger, regardless of the cause, [we should] not let political considerations dull [our] sense of mercy or thwart [our] responsibility to the sons and daughters of God, wherever they may be or whatever their circumstances.’” (Ensign, May 1985, p. 54.)