Traveling Open House Teaches Preparedness in UK and Ireland

    “Traveling Open House Teaches Preparedness in UK and Ireland,” Ensign, July 2009, 77–78

    Traveling Open House Teaches Preparedness in UK and Ireland

    Church members in the United Kingdom and Ireland are learning how to prepare for and get through difficult times—and helping their neighbors along the way—with a traveling exhibit titled “Weathering the Storms of Life.”

    The professionally designed exhibit fills a cultural hall with more than a dozen tradeshow-style kiosks and displays on topics related to personal and family preparedness, from preparing for and surviving natural disasters to handling economic hard times through avoiding debt and building financial reserves. Displays highlight educational resources and employment services as well as the Church’s humanitarian efforts.

    Each time the exhibit moves, local organizations are invited to participate in the event, including blood banks, the Red Cross, fire services, and others.

    The Church created the exhibit’s components to apply to people in all parts of the UK but invited stakes to complement the exhibit with local touches, such as rooms set aside for discussions and counseling on getting out of debt, food storage, fire and flood prevention, home security, and more.

    Each day the exhibit was in Chorley, Lancashire, UK, near the Preston England Temple, one stake prepared food from food storage ingredients and shared samples with the visitors. Donald Hull, one of the full-time Public Affairs missionaries who along with his wife, Annette, takes the exhibit from location to location, recalled their wonderful breads. He said the samples generated a lot of interest. People stayed at the food storage display and talked to the cook for a long time.

    While the exhibit was on display at the Ilford Ward, Romford England Stake meetinghouse in Ilford, England, Bishop Kim Theed and his wife, Vanessa, stood outside of the meetinghouse to talk to passersby. It was a chilly January evening, and people stopped to accept a free cup of hot chocolate from them. As the people took the hot chocolate, the Theeds told them about the free exhibit inside the building that would help them to be better prepared for emergencies.

    As visitors entered the meetinghouse cultural hall, they saw people playing games, interacting with the Church’s Provident Living Web site, listening to speakers from various emergency response units, making laminated emergency number cards, and looking through examples of practical 72-hour kits.

    The timeliness of the exhibit was perfect, Bishop Theed said, because many people have been concerned about the global economy. He said that many times when people think of weathering the storms of life they only think about physical storms, but this exhibit focused on weathering all types of storms, including financial ones.

    The exhibit, which was commissioned in 2008 before the current global economic crisis, began a 34-stake tour in January 2009 and is scheduled into 2010.

    Malcolm Adcock, assistant director of Public Affairs for the Church in the UK, said the exhibit was “timely and inspired for all Church members, who are not immune from the financial and social pressures of the economic downturn.”

    Local stake and ward members invite their friends and neighbors to the four-day event. Church leaders invite dignitaries and other community leaders, who have all commented favorably on the exhibit.

    “Though the content of the exhibit is non-proselytizing in tone, there are general references to the principle of tithes and offerings and a few quotes from Church leaders, and our nonmember neighbors like it,” said Brother Adcock. “We’ve learned that people who are not members of the Church share many of our values and support us in many of our preparedness efforts.”

    “This is a high quality event presenting a message that could not be more vital for Church members and like-minded citizens in our communities,” said Elder Stephen Kerr, Area Seventy in the Europe Area.

    The “Weathering the Storms of Life” exhibit is the second such effort in the UK in recent years. It follows on the heels of a similarly successful traveling exhibit, “FamilySearch on the Road,” which took place in 2007 and 2008 and emphasized the Church’s family history efforts.

    Robert Dryden, president of the Leeds England Stake (left), converses with Stephen Worley, a member of the Leeds stake public affairs council, at the “Weathering the Storms of Life” exhibition while in Leeds, England.

    Photograph by Tom Arber