Handbooks and Callings
    22. Providing for Temporal Needs and Building Self-Reliance
    Footnotes
    Theme

    “22. Providing for Temporal Needs and Building Self-Reliance,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).

    “22. Providing for Temporal Needs and Building Self-Reliance,” General Handbook.

    22.

    Providing for Temporal Needs and Building Self-Reliance

    22.1

    Purposes of Church Welfare

    The purposes of Church welfare are to help members become self-reliant, to care for the poor and needy, and to give service.

    22.1.1

    Self-Reliance

    Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others.

    Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.

    When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but cannot meet their basic needs, generally they should first turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient or feasible, the Church stands ready to help.

    Some of the areas in which members should become self-reliant are outlined in the following sections.

    22.1.1.1

    Health

    The Lord has commanded members to take care of their minds and bodies. They should obey the Word of Wisdom, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, control their weight, and get adequate sleep. They should shun substances or practices that abuse their bodies or minds and that could lead to addiction. They should practice good sanitation and hygiene and obtain adequate medical and dental care. They should also strive to cultivate good relationships with family members and others.

    22.1.1.2

    Education

    Education provides understanding and skills that can help people develop self-reliance. Church members should study the scriptures and other good books. They should improve in their ability to read, write, and do basic mathematics. They should obtain as much education as they can, including formal or technical schooling where possible. This will help them develop their talents, find suitable employment, and make a valuable contribution to their families, the Church, and the community.

    22.1.1.3

    Employment

    Work is the foundation upon which self-reliance and temporal well-being rest. Members should prepare for and carefully select a suitable occupation or self-employment that will provide for their own and their families’ needs. They should become skilled at their work, be diligent and trustworthy, and give honest work for the pay and benefits they receive.

    22.1.1.4

    Home Storage

    To help care for themselves and their families, members should build a three-month supply of food that is part of their normal diet. Where local laws and circumstances permit, they should gradually build a longer-term supply of basic foods that will sustain life. They should also store drinking water in case the water supply becomes polluted or disrupted.

    22.1.1.5

    Finances

    To become financially self-reliant, members should pay tithes and offerings, avoid unnecessary debt, use a budget, and live within a plan. They should gradually build a financial reserve by regularly saving a portion of their income.

    22.1.1.6

    Spiritual Strength

    Spiritual strength is essential to a person’s temporal and eternal well-being. Church members grow in spiritual strength as they develop their testimonies, exercise faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, obey God’s commandments, pray daily, study the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets, attend Church meetings, and serve in Church callings and assignments.

    22.1.2

    Members’ Efforts to Care for the Poor and Needy and Give Service

    Through His Church, the Lord has provided a way to care for the poor and needy. He has asked Church members to give generously according to what they have received from Him. He has also asked His people to “visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief” (Doctrine and Covenants 44:6). Church members are encouraged to give personal compassionate service to those in need. They should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause,” serving without being asked or assigned (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–27).

    The Lord has established the law of the fast and fast offerings to bless His people and to provide a way for them to serve those in need (see Isaiah 58:6–12; Malachi 3:8–12). When members fast, they are asked to give to the Church a fast offering at least equal to the value of the food they would have eaten. If possible, they should be generous and give more. Blessings associated with the law of the fast include closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve.

    Some opportunities to care for those in need come through Church callings. Other opportunities are present in members’ homes, neighborhoods, and communities, such as those coordinated by JustServe (in the United States and Canada, see JustServe.org). Members can also help the poor and needy of all faiths throughout the world by supporting the Church’s humanitarian efforts, by participating in disaster response through Helping Hands (where applicable), and by individual efforts to serve others in need.

    Providing in the Lord’s way humbles the rich, exalts the poor, and sanctifies both (see Doctrine and Covenants 104:15–18). President J. Reuben Clark Jr. taught:

    “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” (in special meeting of stake presidents, Oct. 2, 1936).

    22.1.3

    The Lord’s Storehouse

    In some locations the Church has established buildings called bishops’ storehouses. When members receive permission from their bishop, they may go to the bishops’ storehouse to obtain food and clothing. But the Lord’s storehouse is not limited to a building used to distribute food and clothing to the poor. It also includes Church members’ offerings of time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means that are made available to the bishop to help care for the poor and needy. The Lord’s storehouse, then, exists in each ward. These offerings are “to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, … every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:18–19). The bishop is the agent of the Lord’s storehouse.

    22.2

    Welfare Leadership in the Ward

    22.2.1

    Bishop

    The bishop directs welfare work in the ward. He has a divine mandate to seek out and care for the poor (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:112). His goal is to help members help themselves and become self-reliant.

    The bishop’s counselors, the Relief Society president, the elders quorum president, and other members of the ward council assist the bishop in fulfilling these responsibilities.

    The bishop maintains confidentiality about the welfare assistance that members receive. He carefully safeguards the privacy and dignity of members who receive assistance. When he feels that other ward leaders can help members in need, he may share information according to the guidelines in 22.4.

    More information about the bishop’s welfare responsibilities, including guidelines for administering assistance from fast-offering funds, is provided in 22.6.

    22.2.2

    Ward Council

    In ward council meetings, the bishop teaches welfare principles and instructs council members in their welfare responsibilities. Council members consider spiritual and temporal welfare matters as follows:

    They counsel together about ways to help ward members understand and follow principles of welfare.

    They report on spiritual and temporal welfare needs in the ward, drawing information from personal visits and from ministering interviews. When information may be too confidential to share with the entire ward council, leaders speak privately with the bishop (see 22.2.3).

    They plan ways to help specific ward members meet their spiritual and temporal needs, including long-term needs. They determine how to assist members who have disabilities or other special needs. They keep these discussions confidential (see 22.4).

    They coordinate efforts to ensure that members who receive Church assistance have opportunities to work or give service. They compile and maintain a list of meaningful work opportunities. If Church welfare operations exist in the area, these operations may provide work opportunities and training for people who need Church assistance.

    They compile and maintain a list of ward members whose skills might be useful in responding to short-term, long-term, or disaster-caused needs.

    They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the ward to respond to emergencies (see 22.6.11). They coordinate this plan with similar plans in the stake and community.

    22.2.3

    Ward Priesthood Executive Committee

    The ward priesthood executive committee (PEC) has been discontinued. Agenda items for PEC meetings are now included in ward council meetings and, if needed for a sensitive issue, in expanded bishopric meetings.

    22.2.4

    Elders Quorum and Relief Society

    Welfare is central to the work of the elders quorum and the Relief Society. In elders quorum and Relief Society presidency meetings, leaders plan ways to teach principles of self-reliance and service and to address welfare needs. Under the direction of the bishop, these leaders help members become self-reliant and find solutions to short-term and long-term welfare concerns.

    22.2.4.1

    Short-Term Welfare Needs

    As the bishop provides short-term assistance, he may give assignments to elders quorum or Relief Society presidencies.

    The bishop normally assigns the Relief Society president to visit members who need short-term assistance. She helps assess their needs and suggests to the bishop what assistance to provide. The bishop may ask her to prepare a Bishop’s Order for Commodities form for him to approve and sign.

    The Relief Society president’s role in making these family-needs visits is explained more fully in 9.2.2.2.

    22.2.4.2

    Long-Term Welfare Needs

    Many short-term problems are caused by long-term difficulties such as poor health, lack of skills, inadequate education or employment, lifestyle habits, and emotional challenges. Elders quorum and Relief Society leaders have a special responsibility to help members address these concerns. Their goal is to address long-term concerns in ways that lead to lasting change.

    As elders quorum and Relief Society leaders become aware of long-term needs, they respond compassionately to help individuals and families. They use resources available in their organizations and in the ward. They pray for guidance to know how to provide assistance.

    To gain a better understanding of how to help, elders quorum and Relief Society leaders normally visit members who have welfare needs. They may use the Self-Reliance Plan or otherwise follow its principles to help members plan ways to respond to welfare needs.

    As leaders help members respond to long-term needs, they counsel with the bishop. In some cases, elders quorum and Relief Society leaders work together.

    22.2.4.3

    Reporting to the Bishop and Seeking His Continued Direction

    The elders quorum and Relief Society presidents regularly report to the bishop on actions they and their organizations are taking to address short-term and long-term welfare needs in the ward. They seek the bishop’s continued direction on their welfare efforts.

    If individuals and families have short-term problems that they cannot resolve themselves and that elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies cannot resolve, these leaders inform the bishop immediately.

    If the elders quorum or Relief Society presidencies learn of possible concerns with worthiness or sensitive family matters, they refer the members to the bishop.

    22.2.4.4

    Ministering

    Assistance with spiritual and temporal welfare often begins with those who serve as ministering brothers and sisters. In a spirit of kindness and friendship, these brothers and sisters help individuals and families. They report the needs of those they serve to their elders quorum or Relief Society presidencies.

    22.2.4.5

    Seeking Service from the Elders Quorum, Relief Society, and Others

    Elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies may seek the service of people whose skills or experience could help those in need. Members may provide short-term service such as providing meals or childcare or sharing information about available employment. Members may also provide guidance to help with long-term welfare needs, such as health, sanitation, nutrition, preparing for a career, finding opportunities for education, starting a small business, or managing family finances.

    After leaders ask others to provide assistance, they remain in contact with the needy individual or family to provide encouragement and to help in other ways as necessary.

    Leaders may assist the bishop when he refers members to Church welfare operations such as bishops’ storehouses, Church employment resource centers, Deseret Industries, and Family Services. Leaders may also help members receive assistance through community and government agencies.

    22.2.5

    Ward Welfare Specialists

    Welfare specialists serve as resources to help the bishopric and to help elders quorum and Relief Society leaders perform their welfare duties.

    The bishopric may call an employment specialist to help members prepare for and find suitable employment. The bishopric may also call other welfare specialists to help members with needs such as education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.

    22.3

    Welfare Leadership in the Stake

    22.3.1

    Stake President

    The stake president oversees welfare work in the stake. More information on his welfare responsibilities is provided in 22.5.

    22.3.2

    Stake Council

    In stake council meetings, leaders consider spiritual and temporal welfare matters as follows:

    • They identify welfare concerns in the stake and seek ways to address those concerns. However, they do not assume responsibility to resolve ward welfare matters.

    • They plan ways to teach welfare principles to stake and ward leaders.

    • They discuss ways to make ward leaders aware of people in the stake who can serve as resources to help with welfare needs.

    • They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the stake to respond to emergencies (see 22.5.3). This plan should be coordinated with similar plans of other stakes in the coordinating council and with plans in the community (see 29.11).

    • They plan welfare activities, taking care not to place undue burdens on ward leaders.

    • They plan ways to respond to stake welfare assignments.

    • When assigned by the Area Presidency, they provide leadership and support for a welfare operation.

    If a bishop has been assigned to handle requests for assistance to people who are transient or homeless, members of the stake council determine how to make stake resources available to that bishop.

    22.3.3

    Stake Welfare Specialists

    A member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor may call a stake employment specialist and other welfare specialists. These stake specialists serve as resources for bishops and other ward leaders. The specialists may help with welfare needs such as those listed in 22.2.5.

    22.4

    Confidentiality

    As the bishop and other ward leaders learn of members’ welfare needs and assistance that has been provided, they maintain the confidentiality of that information. They carefully safeguard the privacy and dignity of members who receive assistance. They are careful not to embarrass members who need assistance.

    There may be times when it would be helpful for the entire ward council, and perhaps other ward members, to know about the welfare needs of an individual or family. For example, when a member is unemployed or looking for a better job, others may be able to help the member find a job more quickly. In such cases, the bishop and other leaders generally seek the needy members’ permission to share information about their situations.

    When leaders ask others to help, they share only the information needed to fulfill the assignment. Leaders also instruct them to maintain confidentiality.

    22.5

    Welfare Duties of the Stake Presidency

    22.5.1

    Welfare Leadership and Councils

    22.5.1.1

    Teach Welfare Doctrine and Principles

    The stake president and his counselors ensure that the doctrine, principles, and blessings related to spiritual and temporal welfare are taught regularly to stake members.

    22.5.1.2

    Teach Leaders Their Welfare Responsibilities

    The stake president and his counselors teach leaders their welfare responsibilities. The stake president takes special care to instruct bishops in the principles and policies of administering Church welfare assistance. As part of this responsibility, he organizes the stake bishops’ welfare council (see 22.7).

    The stake president ensures that bishops administer Church welfare properly. In his regular interviews with bishops, he asks about the welfare of individual ward members and discusses the use of welfare assistance, including fast offerings, to help those in need.

    Welfare matters may also be discussed in the stake presidency’s training meetings with bishoprics, in stake priesthood leadership meetings, and in other similar settings.

    22.5.1.3

    Attend Coordinating Council Meetings

    Stake presidents attend coordinating council meetings to receive instruction in various Church matters, including welfare principles and duties. In these meetings, presided over by an assigned Area Seventy, leaders consider ways to foster self-reliance, care for the needy, and encourage fast-offering donations. For information about these meetings, see 29.11.

    22.5.1.4

    Preside over the Welfare Work of the Stake Council

    The stake president directs the welfare work of the stake council. In stake council meetings, leaders consider spiritual and temporal welfare matters as follows:

    • They identify welfare concerns in the stake and seek ways to address those concerns. However, they do not assume responsibility to resolve ward welfare matters.

    • They plan ways to teach welfare principles to stake and ward leaders.

    • They discuss ways to make ward leaders aware of people in the stake who can serve as resources to help with welfare needs.

    • They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the stake to respond to emergencies (see 22.5.3).

    • They plan welfare activities, taking care not to place undue burdens on ward leaders.

    • They plan ways to respond to stake welfare assignments.

    • When assigned by the Area Presidency, they provide leadership and support for a welfare operation.

    If a bishop has been assigned to handle requests for assistance to people who are transient or homeless, members of the stake council determine how to make stake resources available to that bishop.

    22.5.1.5

    Serve as the Agent Stake President for Church Welfare Operations

    The Area Presidency appoints an agent stake to each bishops’ storehouse, cannery, home storage center, employment resource center, production project, Deseret Industries store, and other Church welfare operation or project in the area. This assignment may change periodically.

    All stakes that are served by a welfare operation, not just the agent stake, may be called on to provide volunteer labor for it. These efforts are coordinated in coordinating council meetings. The president of the agent stake represents the welfare operation in these meetings (see 29.11).

    The president of the agent stake organizes an agent stake operating committee to oversee the welfare operation. This committee is composed of the stake president or an assigned counselor, the stake bishops’ welfare council chairman, the stake Relief Society president, the manager of the operation, and other specialists as needed. The committee meets regularly to provide priesthood guidance and support to the manager of the operation, to make sure the operation serves needy members appropriately, and to coordinate volunteer labor.

    22.5.1.6

    Call Stake Welfare Specialists

    A member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor may call a stake employment specialist and other welfare specialists. These stake specialists serve as resources for bishops and other ward leaders. They may help with welfare needs such as job placement, education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.

    22.5.2

    Welfare Assistance

    Generally, welfare assistance is administered by bishops. However, the stake president has a role in providing assistance in the following circumstances.

    22.5.2.1

    Assistance for Bishops

    The stake president should be aware of the temporal circumstances of bishops and their families. When a bishop or members of his immediate family need welfare assistance, he reviews the needs and the proposed assistance with the stake president. The stake president’s written approval is required before the bishop may:

    • Sign a bishop’s order for Church welfare assistance for himself or his immediate family members.

    • Use fast offerings to assist himself or his immediate family. If fast-offering funds are used, the stake president reviews the bills and other expenses before authorizing payment.

    • Obtain help for himself or his immediate family through Church welfare operations.

    When authorizing the use of fast offerings for the bishop or his immediate family, the stake president ensures that the instructions in 22.6.4.5 are followed, particularly with regard to signing checks. In summary, the bishop may not sign a check that is for welfare assistance for himself or his immediate family.

    22.5.2.2

    Medical Expenses That Exceed Authorized Amounts

    The Church has specific amounts that are authorized for medical expenses. For guidelines and exceptions, see “Medical Expenses That Exceed Authorized Amounts.”

    22.5.2.3

    Other Special Medical Circumstances

    See 22.6.6.

    22.5.2.4

    Assistance for Members Who Are Transient or Homeless

    Where there are two or more wards in the vicinity, the stake president may appoint one bishop to handle all requests from people who are transient or homeless. This helps avoid duplication and confusion.

    Where there is a concentration of stakes with large numbers of people who are transient or homeless seeking assistance, the Area Presidency may call a Church-service missionary to handle such requests. This man should have served as a bishop. He should also be experienced in helping the needy and be familiar with the use of Church welfare resources. Exceptions to these guidelines must be approved by the Presiding Bishopric.

    22.5.2.5

    Support to Members in Prisons, Hospitals, and Other Institutions

    See 38.8.46.

    22.5.3

    Emergencies

    The stake president directs the stake council in preparing a simple written plan for the stake to respond to emergencies. This plan should be coordinated with similar plans of other stakes in the coordinating council and with plans in the community (see 29.11).

    The stake council makes assignments for carrying out the stake’s emergency response plan. The council periodically reviews and updates these assignments.

    Care should be exercised so emergency planning does not promote fear. Mock emergency exercises should not be conducted.

    During an emergency, the stake presidency receives reports from bishops on the condition of Church members and Church property. The stake presidency then reports to the Area Presidency.

    During an emergency, Church leaders make the services of the Church available to civil authorities. Church leaders also take independent action in behalf of Church members as needed.

    With approval from the Area Presidency, Church buildings (except temples) may be used as shelters, first-aid stations, feeding locations, and recreation centers during emergencies. Stake and ward council members ensure that those using the buildings observe Church standards of conduct, including the Word of Wisdom, while they are in the buildings.

    During an emergency, the stake president oversees public information that is released locally by the Church. He ensures that it is accurate and timely. He may respond to questions from the media, or he may assign a stake communication director or assistant director to do so. He may also serve as the local Church spokesman, or he may designate a spokesperson. The stake president reviews and approves all news releases given by the spokesperson. He also gives proper recognition to civil authorities and relief agencies.

    22.6

    Welfare Duties of the Bishopric

    22.6.1

    Welfare Leadership and Councils

    22.6.1.1

    Teach Welfare Doctrine and Principles

    The bishop and his counselors ensure that the doctrine, principles, and blessings related to spiritual and temporal welfare are taught regularly to ward members.

    22.6.1.2

    Teach Leaders Their Welfare Responsibilities

    The bishop and his counselors teach ward officers their welfare responsibilities to (1) encourage self-reliance, (2) care for the poor and needy, and (3) help members resolve long-term welfare needs. The bishopric teaches these responsibilities in personal interviews, in ward council meetings, and in other similar settings.

    22.6.1.3

    Encourage Members to Live the Law of the Fast

    The bishopric and members of the ward council encourage members to live the law of the fast. Typically this includes (1) fasting each fast Sunday for two consecutive meals and (2) giving a fast offering that is at least the equivalent value of the meals not eaten. Members are encouraged to be generous and give much more than the value of two meals if they are able.

    When members live the law of the fast and contribute fast offerings, their lives and the lives of the needy will be blessed (see Isaiah 58:6–12). The importance of living the law of the fast should be taught in sacrament meetings; quorum, Relief Society, Young Women, Sunday School, and Primary meetings; home visits; temple recommend interviews; and tithing settlement interviews.

    22.6.1.4

    Oversee the Gathering and Accounting of Fast Offerings

    See 34.4.2.

    22.6.1.5

    Preside over the Welfare Work of the Ward Council

    The bishop directs the welfare work of the ward council. He ensures that in ward council meetings, leaders consider spiritual and temporal welfare matters as outlined in 22.2.2.

    22.6.1.6

    Participate in the Stake Bishops’ Welfare Council

    See 22.7.

    22.6.1.7

    Call Ward Welfare and Employment Specialists

    See 22.6.4.

    22.6.2

    Overview of Welfare Assistance

    Through the Church, the Lord has established a way to care for the poor and needy and help them regain their self-reliance. When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but cannot meet their basic needs, generally they should first turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient or feasible, the Church stands ready to help.

    The objectives of Church welfare assistance are to strengthen needy members as follows:

    • Help them become self-reliant and stand independent of all welfare assistance, regardless of its source.

    • Help them become stronger spiritually and learn to provide for others.

    • Help them maintain their self-respect and dignity.

    22.6.3

    Principles and Guidelines for Rendering Assistance

    The Lord has described His way for caring for the poor and needy. He instructed the Saints to “impart of your substance unto the poor, … and [it] shall be laid before the bishop … [and] shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:31, 34).

    The Lord further explained that these offerings should include members’ talents. These talents are “to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, … every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:18–19).

    In some locations the Church has established buildings called bishops’ storehouses. When members receive permission from their bishop, they may go to the bishops’ storehouse to obtain food and clothing. But the Lord’s storehouse is not limited to a building used to distribute food and clothing to the poor. It also includes Church members’ offerings of time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means that are made available to the bishop to help care for the poor and needy. The Lord’s storehouse, then, exists in each ward. The bishop is the agent of the Lord’s storehouse.

    The bishop is entrusted with the responsibility of using the resources of the Lord’s storehouse to care for the poor and needy members of the ward. He uses the gift of discernment, sound judgment, and compassion in determining how best to help those in need. Each circumstance is different and requires inspiration.

    The bishop seeks the guidance of the Spirit and applies the following welfare principles to help him determine who should receive assistance, what kind and amount of assistance to provide, and how long to provide it.

    22.6.3.1

    Seek Out the Poor

    The bishop has a divine mandate to seek out and care for the poor (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:112). It is not enough to assist only when asked. He should be aware of the temporal circumstances of needy ward members and ensure that those in need receive proper care. He encourages priesthood and Relief Society leaders and those who minister under their direction to help identify members who need assistance.

    22.6.3.2

    Promote Personal Responsibility

    Before providing Church welfare assistance, the bishop reviews with members what resources and efforts they and their family can provide to meet their needs. Teaching principles of provident living and committing members to live by these principles will often help members do much to resolve their needs themselves.

    When appropriate and feasible, those in need should seek help from family members before seeking help from the Church.

    Church welfare assistance is normally given to meet temporary needs as members work to become self-reliant. It is intended to help members develop independence, not dependence. The bishop encourages even those who may require long-term assistance, such as some who are disabled or aged, to do all they can to help themselves.

    22.6.3.3

    Sustain Life, Not Lifestyle

    The bishop provides basic life-sustaining necessities. He does not provide assistance to maintain an affluent living standard.

    Members who are temporarily unable to provide for themselves may need to alter their standard of living until they are self-reliant. They should not rely on Church welfare to insure them against temporary hardship or to allow them to continue their present standard of living without interruption.

    22.6.3.4

    Provide Commodities before Cash

    When possible, the bishop provides members with commodities or services instead of giving them money or paying their bills. Members can then use their own money to pay other obligations. Where bishops’ storehouses are not available, fast offerings may be used to buy essential commodities.

    22.6.3.5

    Give Work Opportunities

    The bishop asks those who receive assistance to work to the extent of their ability for what they receive. He teaches the importance of work and gives meaningful work assignments. If members are reluctant to work, the bishop helps them understand that work assignments are given to bless them. When they work for assistance, they remain industrious, maintain self-respect, and increase their ability to be self-reliant.

    The ward council compiles and maintains a list of meaningful work opportunities. If Church welfare operations exist in the area, these operations may provide work opportunities and training for people who need Church assistance.

    22.6.3.6

    Other Guidelines

    Completing a Self-Reliance Plan may help the bishop determine what assistance to provide.

    The bishop should bear in mind that the temporal circumstances and needs of members vary from country to country. A family that might be considered needy in one location might not be considered so if they lived elsewhere. Also, members who are considered poor by some often do not view themselves as being poor.

    When the bishop does not know a member, he contacts the member’s previous bishop before giving welfare assistance.

    Generally, the bishop assists only those members who currently live within his own ward’s boundaries. Individuals who are not members of the Church are usually referred to local community resources if they need welfare assistance. However, on rare occasions the bishop, under the inspiration of the Spirit, may assist individuals who are not members of the Church, particularly if they are parents or caregivers of member children. He should be discerning about the type and amount of assistance he gives.

    Providing welfare assistance should not be based on the activity level or worthiness of those who need it. Using the welfare principles outlined in this handbook, the bishop administers assistance to all members in need. He encourages less-active members who receive assistance to improve their spiritual well-being by attending church, praying, reading the scriptures, and increasing their activity in the Church.

    In some situations, providing welfare assistance may be contingent on members fulfilling simple assignments from the bishop, such as doing assigned work, looking for a job, and eliminating unnecessary expenses. However, some members who are widowed, orphaned, elderly, or disabled may be unable to fulfill assignments. The bishop provides compassionate care to these members based on their situations and capabilities.

    When a stake president or members of his immediate family need welfare assistance, he contacts the bishop of his ward. The bishop follows the principles and guidelines that govern welfare assistance as he would for any other Church member.

    22.6.4

    Church Resources Available to Help the Poor

    The bishop prayerfully determines how to use the following Church resources to help those in need.

    22.6.4.1

    Ward Council

    Members of the ward council help the bishop meet members’ welfare needs. For information about the welfare work of the ward council, see 22.2.2.

    22.6.4.2

    Elders Quorum and Relief Society

    Welfare is central to the work of the elders quorum and the Relief Society. Elders quorum and Relief Society leaders ensure that they regularly consider welfare matters in their leadership meetings.

    Under the direction of the bishop and quorum or Relief Society leaders, ministering brothers, ministering sisters, and others help needy members find solutions to welfare needs and become self-reliant. The time, talents, and skills of ward members are an important resource for the bishop to use in caring for the needy.

    The welfare work of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society is explained more fully in 22.2.4.

    22.6.4.3

    Relief Society President

    The bishop normally assigns the Relief Society president to visit members who need welfare assistance. She helps assess their needs and suggests to the bishop what assistance to provide. This may include preparing a Bishop’s Order for Commodities form for the bishop to approve and sign.

    The Relief Society president’s role in making these visits is explained more fully in 9.2.2.2.

    22.6.4.4

    Ward Welfare Specialists

    The bishopric may call an employment specialist to help members prepare for and find suitable employment. The bishopric may also call other welfare specialists to help members with needs such as education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.

    22.6.4.5

    Fast Offerings

    Each week the Church consolidates fast-offering contributions into a worldwide general fast-offering fund. Bishops then draw on this fund as needed to provide short-term shelter, medical assistance, and other life-sustaining aid.

    Guidelines for the bishop in using fast offerings to administer assistance are outlined below:

    • Personally approve all fast-offering expenditures.

    • If a bishops’ storehouse is not available, use fast offerings to buy essential commodities (see 22.6.3).

    • When possible, make payments to providers of goods and services rather than to the person being assisted or to other individuals.

    • Do not loan fast offerings to members. Members are not required to repay welfare assistance they receive from the Church. Encourage members to contribute to the fast-offering fund when they are again able to do so.

    • Do not use fast offerings to pay members’ consumer debt or obligations incurred in business failures or speculative ventures.

    • Ensure that any fast-offering assistance to the bishop or his immediate family members is first approved in writing by the stake president (see 22.5.2) and complies with the following instructions for preparing checks.

    • When preparing a check for fast-offering assistance (or a payment approval form, where used), ensure that:

      • Two authorized signers always sign the check or form.

      • The persons signing the check or form are not related to either the payee or the person being assisted.

      • Neither the payee nor the person being assisted signs the check or form.

    22.6.4.6

    Stake and Other Church Resources

    If the stake presidency has called stake welfare specialists, the bishop may ask them to provide expertise or other assistance.

    In some parts of the world, the Church has established welfare operations such as bishops’ storehouses, canneries, employment resource centers, Deseret Industries stores, and Family Services agencies. Where these operations exist, they provide resources that bishops can use to help the poor and needy. If a bishop needs information about such resources in his area, he contacts the chairman of the stake bishops’ welfare council or the stake president.

    22.6.4.7

    Perpetual Education Fund

    Where the Perpetual Education Fund is available, members in need can work with their bishop to qualify and apply for a loan that will help fund vocational or technical training. Requirements can be found on the priesthood endorsement form in Leader and Clerk Resources or on the Perpetual Education Fund website.

    22.6.5

    Non-Church Resources Available to Help the Poor

    Members may choose to use resources in the community, including government resources, to help meet their basic needs. The bishop and members of the ward council should become familiar with these non-Church resources. Such resources may include:

    • Hospitals, physicians, or other sources of medical care.

    • Job training and placement services.

    • Help for people with disabilities.

    • Professional counselors or social workers.

    • Addiction treatment services.

    Even when members receive assistance from non-Church sources, the bishop helps them avoid becoming dependent on these sources. He also advises them to comply with any laws associated with receiving non-Church assistance, especially while receiving Church welfare assistance. Bishops should be careful not to duplicate non-Church welfare assistance.

    22.6.6

    Members Who Need Medical Care

    Before the bishop pays medical expenses for needy members, including mental health care, he determines whether the care is necessary based on sound medical advice. The bishop also determines whether family members are able to assist and whether the member is fully using insurance, government assistance, and other available benefits.

    If the bishop feels that the Church should help pay a needy member’s medical expenses, he uses fast-offering funds. He ensures that the records of health care providers designate the member or family as the party responsible for payment, not the Church.

    In general, fast offerings may only be used to pay for medical treatment that is consistent with the standard quality of care available in the country where the member resides. Fast offerings are not to be used to pay for medical care provided by practitioners or facilities outside the administrative area of the Church where the member’s ward is located (or, in the case of the United States or Canada, outside the country where the member’s ward is located). Exceptions to this policy should be rare and require authorization from the Presiding Bishopric.

    If the member’s bishop feels that an exception may be justified, he counsels with the stake president. If the stake president agrees, he may submit a recommendation for the Presiding Bishopric to consider an exception. He submits his recommendation through Welfare Services (1-801-240-3001 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3001).

    Fast offerings may not be used to pay for medical care that is morally, ethically, or legally questionable.

    22.6.7

    Members Who Are Transient or Homeless

    The bishop may assist members and others who are transient or homeless, but he should be discerning about the type and amount of assistance he gives. When possible, he contacts the bishop of the person’s home ward before providing assistance.

    For instructions when there are two or more wards in the vicinity, see 22.5.2.4.

    22.6.8

    Confidentiality

    The bishop maintains confidentiality about the welfare assistance that members receive. He carefully safeguards the privacy and dignity of members who receive assistance. When he feels that other ward leaders can help members in need, he may share information according to the guidelines in 22.4.

    22.6.9

    Welfare Abuse and Fraud

    Bishops should protect against welfare abuse and fraud. In the United States and Canada, bishops who have concerns about welfare abuse or fraud should call the bishops’ help line (1-801-240-7887 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-7887). Bishops may also call the help line to verify a person’s membership in the Church before giving welfare assistance.

    Outside the United States and Canada, bishops should contact the area office.

    22.6.10

    Members with Social and Emotional Needs

    Some members may experience serious social and emotional challenges, such as mental illness; unwed pregnancies; marriage and family problems; drug, alcohol, and pornography addictions; and same-sex attraction.

    Members who face these and other similar challenges require increased sensitivity, understanding, compassion, and confidentiality. Bishops can be instrumental in helping members heal and recover. In many instances, members with challenges such as pornography and other addictions may have additional moral and spiritual needs that the bishop can help them resolve. Bishops should offer spiritual solutions by helping individuals understand the basic doctrine of hope and redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

    The behavior of individuals with social and emotional challenges often adversely affects spouses and family members. The bishop and others whom he asks to assist should meet with those who are adversely affected and extend support and understanding to them.

    The bishop may consult with Family Services agencies, where available, for help in assessing needs, determining the need for professional counseling, and identifying resources to assist members with social and emotional challenges.

    22.6.11

    Emergencies

    The bishopric directs the ward council in preparing a simple written plan for the ward to respond to emergencies. This plan should be coordinated with similar plans in the stake and community.

    The ward council makes assignments for carrying out the ward’s emergency response plan. The council periodically reviews and updates these assignments.

    Care should be exercised so emergency planning does not promote fear. Mock emergency exercises should not be conducted.

    When emergencies arise, the bishop should receive reports from quorum leaders concerning the conditions and needs of members. Quorum leaders receive these reports from ministering brothers. The bishop then reports to the stake presidency on the condition of members and Church property. This system may also be used to communicate messages from the stake presidency or bishopric.

    During an emergency, Church leaders make the services of the Church available to civil authorities. Church leaders also take independent action in behalf of Church members as needed. For information on using Church buildings during emergencies, see 22.5.3.

    Supplemental equipment, food, clothing, and services are available through bishops’ storehouses, Deseret Industries stores, and Family Services agencies where they are established. During emergencies, the bishop should request these commodities or services as needed.

    During emergencies, full-time missionaries can help with communication, ensuring that all members receive needed information and are accounted for.

    22.7

    Stake Bishops’ Welfare Council

    The stake bishops’ welfare council is composed of all bishops and branch presidents in the stake. The stake president appoints one bishop to be chairman of the council. In consultation with the stake president, the chairman arranges meetings, prepares agendas, leads discussions, and arranges for instruction. The stake president may attend these council meetings occasionally to give instruction. A stake clerk also attends and keeps a record of assignments and decisions. As needed, welfare specialists occasionally may be invited to attend.

    The council meets at least quarterly. Agenda items for these meetings may include the following:

    • Receive instruction in welfare matters. This may include reviewing instructions the stake president received at coordinating council meetings.

    • Exchange ideas and experiences relating to welfare responsibilities.

    • Review trends in fast-offering contributions, welfare needs and resources, and welfare assistance.

    • Identify work opportunities for members who receive welfare assistance.

    • Identify ways for priesthood quorums and the Relief Society to help meet welfare needs in the stake.

    • Identify agencies and services in the community that could be called on to assist members.

    • Evaluate the services and management of Church welfare operations in areas where they exist.

    • Discuss coordination of assistance to people who are transient or homeless if the stake president has assigned one bishop to oversee this assistance.

    • Review bishops’ storehouse procedures where one exists.

    • Coordinate welfare farm and other welfare operations labor assignments.