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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – Welfare, 1941

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood: Welfare, 1941.” You can view other years here.

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WELFARE, 1941.

1941:  13 Jun.:  No federal subsidies accepted for Welfare Plan.

“It has come to our attention that in at least one case–and the suggestion is made that it has happened in others–one of our bishops in carrying on a farming project for the Welfare work has taken from the Government money for not raising crops on the Welfare Project, the land belonging to the ward.

We are not able to approve of this practice.  We do not believe the economics behind this practice are sound, nor do we feel that they are consistent with that civic integrity which should be among our people.  We have constantly declined, as the First Presidency, to receive gratuities from the Government, and this receiving of money for not raising crops is a pure gratuity or dole.  The Church is making every effort to avoid the necessity of later facing a charge that it has accepted governmental gratuities to carry on its work, and it has no desire to accept such gratuities. 

We must, therefore, ask all presidents of stakes and bishops of wards strictly to forego any such practice in the future, and we request that they return to the Government any moneys which they have heretofore received on this account.  This should be done at the earliest practicable moment.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 13 Jun., 1941; IE 44(8):490, Aug., 1941)

5 Oct.:  Welfare Plan neither Communistic nor Socialistic.

“Five and a half years ago when I, under an assignment from the First Presidency, accompanied Brother Melvin J. Ballard throughout the Church to make the initial announcement of the present movement known as the Church Welfare Plan, he was asked everywhere: ‘Is this the beginning of the United Order?’  And to all such questioners Brother Ballard’s answer was the same: ‘No, it is not the beginning of the United Order, but it may be that in this movement the Lord may be giving His people an examination to see how far they have come toward a condition where they might live as one.’

As I have thought about that question, and as I have thought about his answer, I have had difficulty understanding how a people who are not able to sacrifice to a point where they can pay a tenth of their interest annually and abstain from two meals on the first Sunday of the month and pay that as an offering for the care of the needy, I have difficulty in understanding how we can believe that many of our people are more than ten percent ready for the United Order.

Furthermore, I have difficulty understanding that they would be able to live in the United Order were it to be instituted in this day.  I also have grave doubts that prosperous times will make possible that happy day spoken of.  I fear we must yet see more difficult and trying times than any we have yet passed through before such a day can come.

There are some things of which I am sure, and that is that contrary to the belief and mistaken ideas of some of our people, the United Order will not be a Socialistic or Communistic set-up; it will be something distinctive and yet will be more capitalistic in its nature than either Socialism or Communism, in that private ownership and individual responsibility will be maintained.  I am sure also that when it comes it will come from the leaders of this Church whom you sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and will not come from some man who does not occupy that position.  It will not come as a political program, legislated by men not possessed of that authority.  I am also convinced that the time is here when Zion must put on her beautiful garments preparatory for the second coming of the Savior, and I believe firmly that that preparation is in progress.  I am likewise persuaded that the Church Welfare Plan is contributing mightily to that preparation.

It is more than just a coincidence that our Presidency, in 1936, from this stand announcing the beginning of this Welfare movement, made this significant statement:

No pains must be spared to wipe out all feeling of diffidence, shame, or embarrassment on the part of those receiving relief.  The Ward must be one great family of equals.

I have seen from a humble beginning an organization grow to where now there has been produced throughout the Church great quantities of foodstuffs.  I have seen a system of equitable distribution of those foodstuffs grow up under the guidance of our leaders, so much so that the eighty-three storehouses we now have, or that are in course of construction, may each have an equitable supply of all these commodities, and as great a variety as though they were here in the center part of the Church.  I remember also that no Bishop today who is faithful in bearing his responsibility may say that he cannot take care of faithful members of his Ward because he has insufficient funds.  I know that in these years we have been striving to a great end, and we have been led by the hand of our Father.

We have come, yes, in a day when ‘The way of the Lord,’ as He described it, would be applied, when the por would be exalted, or in other words stimulated to success and pride, and uplifted because the rich have been made low, or in other words, because the rich have been made humble and willing to give of their substance, their time, and their talent, and their wisdom, and their example that the poor might be thus guided and directed.  I have seen team work and cooperation grow, and I have seen the Priesthood take its place in blessing this Church temporally and spiritually in a most glorious way.”  (Harold B. Lee, 5 Oct., 1941; CR Oct., 1941, pp. 112-113)

1943:  3 Oct.:  Care of the aged.

“Bishops should determine the economic status of all aged members, calling into council sons and daughters of those who are dependent for their sustenance upon public relief agencies, to work out means and ways whereby fathers and mothers in declining years receive from their own flesh and blood the necessities of life as a loving expression of gratitude to the Lord for faithful and loving parents.

There are some cases where sons and daughters, because of family responsibilities, find their resources insufficient to care fully for parents.  For this reason, the Priesthood quorum to which the aged father belongs should be called upon to provide work or some means whereby an individual can sustain himself.  Thus the Priesthood quorum magnifies the real order of this divine brotherhood, namely, in being my brother’s keeper.

When the family and the quorum have done all within their power to assist, should further assistance be needed, then the bishop of the ward, with the resources of the Welfare program, the fast offerings, and the tithes of the Church, should supplement and augment the assistance already rendered.  In the case of an aged brother and sister who have no children or quorum connections, the bishop of the ward is obliged to provide food, shelter, clothes, fuel and such cash as is needed to provide medicine and other small incidentals for the comfort and maintenance of such brethren and sisters.  Any bishop who advises older brethren and sisters, worthy members of the Church, to seek assistance from agencies other than that of family, Priesthood quorum and Church, in the light of the fifth commandment is not following the will of the Lord nor the advice and counsel of the General Authorities of the Church.

No doubt the question has already flashed through your minds, ‘What about taxes paid and revenues collected for maintenance of the aged?’  Because taxes are levied for a certain cause or project does not make the cause or project right nor lift the obligations that rest upon the shoulders of Latter-day Saint sons and daughters in relationship to their parents.  As loyal citizens, we pay the tax; in fact we follow the admonition of the Savior when He said, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’  (Matt. 22:21.)  Assuming our responsibilities of maintaining parents, we also exemplify a high degree of patriotism and genuine love for our government in that we relieve it of the expense involved.  We should ever remember that the government in an of itself produces nothing except through the channels of taxation.  Therefore, the people should sustain the government and not expect the government to sustain them.”  (Joseph L. Wirthlin, 3 Oct., 1943; CR Oct., 1943, pp. 122-123)

1944:  Mar.:  Welfare Handbook.

“A handbook of instructions describing the objectives, scope, and functions of the church welfare program has been issued by the general committee for free distribution to all welfare workers, particularly the ward and stake welfare chairman.

Prepared at the suggestion of the first presidency of the church, and styled ‘Preliminary Edition of Revised Welfare Handbook,’ it gives adequate and official treatment of the welfare plan in all its phases: history, organization, determining needs of the people, finances and contributions, rendering assistance and providing employment through work projects, storage and distribution of commodities, meeting cash needs of ward members, agricultural rehabilitation, hospitalization, public aid, accidents and injuries.  Charts and an index complete the seventy-five-page booklet.

The handbook is evidence of the unbelievable growth of welfare work, inaugurated in 1936, and will itself facilitate the program’s further development by the detailed information and redy help it puts at the disposal of welfare workers.”  (“The Church Moves On,” IE 47(3):158, Mar., 1944)

1946:  Apr.:  10-year progress report.

“During the first year of its existence it contributed directly to the happiness and the security of more than twenty-five thousand Latter-day Saints.  Before the winter of 1936-37 was upon us, the Church had available for its bishops, through the voluntary contributions of loyal members of the Church, sufficient money, food, fuel, clothing, and bedding to take care of the needs of all worthy members through that winter.  At no time since has there been a shortage of cash or supplies, in the hands of bishops and welfare committees of the Church.  So far as the general committee has been able to ascertain, no members of the Church, whose needs were known to the Church, have suffered for the necessities or the needs of life since the initiation of the program.

To insure a similar record for the future, we have, during the past ten years, assisted in constructing and establishing, wherever a real need has appeared, ward, stake, and regional storehouses throughout the Church.  There are many other bishops’ storehouses planned for construction, with plans drawn and money available, as soon as materials and welfare labor become available.  It is the purpose of the Church to keep these storehouses supplied with food, clothing, and fuel to take care of our people’s needs.  Deliveries are made to those who find it difficult or impossible to visit the storehouse personally.

In this, as in all other phases of our work, the priesthood quorums assist, under the direction of the ward bishopric or the stake presidency.  Stocks for these bishops’ storehouses are furnished by what has become known as the Church welfare annual budget.  The preparation of this budget is one of the most interesting and inspiring operations of the entire program.  The bishops of the wards survey annually their needs.  To assist them in this work a card index known as the ‘green card’ is provided.  Each bishop has such a card for every family in his ward.  The cards are frequently given by the bishop to the priesthood quorums, and these quorums in turn arrange for every member of the quorum to be visited, and a card for his family carefully prepared and kept current.  These cards reveal not only the present needs of the families, but forecast the likelihood of need of assistance in the future.  The experience, training, occupation, present employment, or lack of employment, are items of information to be found on these cards, when properly kept.  Now from these cards, and from the bishop’s general knowledge of the families of the ward over whom he presides, the bishop is able to forecast the needs of the ward for a year in advance, and reports his estimate to the stake, and the stake in turn to the region, and the region to the general committee.”  (Henry D. Moyle, “Ten Years of Church Welfare,” IE 49(4):209, Apr., 1946)

May:  1st Presidency statement on Welfare.

“Ten years ago this April general conference the First Presidency made public announcement of a churchwide program of relief and rehabilitation which has come to be known as the Church welfare program.

Through the faithfulness of the Latter-day Saints this program has succeeded in a great measure and has been the means of relieving the suffering of tens of thousands of individuals and has brought many others to a condition of independence and happiness.

We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to the members of the Church for their support of this program.  We commend those leaders in the stakes and wards who have devoted themselves unselfishly to the arduous duties of directing welfare projects.  Stake presidencies, bishoprics, Relief Society presidencies, priesthood quorum officers in all parts of the Church have responded whole-heartedly to the calls made upon them.  Their devotion and integrity has made possible the remarkable achievements to date.

We have built a strong foundation for this program in these past ten years.  We have found that there is no greater blessing, no greater joy and happiness than comes through engaging in this inspired program given us of the Lord to help those in need and bring our people the blessings which have been promised from ancient times to those who relieve the distress of others.

We urge upon all Church leaders and members a continuation of their devotion to this great program.  These past few months have seen the vast stores of the welfare program used for the relief of our suffering Saints in the war-torn areas of Europe.  There is need now to redouble our efforts in the welfare program to meet any and all emergencies that may come in the future.  The real spirit of the welfare program is to produce that which is needed.  We are fast approaching a time when it may be impossible to buy what we need no matter how much money we may have.

Our economic security for the future will be found in the exercise of our faith and the doing of our works in the further development of the Church welfare program.  To do so will be to find favor with the Lord and bring his further blessings upon the Latter-day Saints in all the world.”  (First Presidency statement, IE 49(5):304, May, 1946)

1955:  30 Sep.:  It will last until a higher plan is revealed.

“The welfare program in operation since 1936 is a continuing plan for the people of the Church until a more perfect and higher plan is revealed.  When we demonstrate our faith, worthiness, willingness, and unity to live fully the principles of the welfare plan, it will lead and prepare us for the higher law of the celestial kingdom.  The Lord has affirmed in this dispensation:

And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.  (D&C 105:5)

I would dislike to see any logical facet or service that comes within the concepts and functions of the welfare plan sacrificed in exchange for what I would term insecure man-made social formulas for collective or personal benefits.  I should not like to see any proposed substitute for the plan unless it is better, and the only way it could be better, in my estimation, is for God to reveal it.

We may not yet see or understand the immediate need of the welfare program, but as surely as God lives and as time goes on, the inspiration of it will prove a blessing to the people of the Church.”  (Delbert L. Stapley, 30 Sep., 1955; CR Oct., 1955, pp. 14-15)

1962:  16 May:  The Principles of the Welfare Plan.

“The early 1930’s were dark days that tried men’s souls.  A deep economic depression had spread over the country.  Fortunes were wiped out.  Men of wealth became poverty stricken.  Factories and businesses were closed.  There was widespread unemployment.  Bread lines formed, and there was want, hunger, and despair throughout the land.  In the wards and stakes of the Church, bishoprics and stake presidencies were doing everything possible to care for their members.  The First Presidency was greatly concerned with this grave condition and in 1933 sent a questionnaire to the wards to determine the resources in the hands of the bishops to care for their people.  By 1936, after prayerful consideration, a plan had been formulated; and in the April General Conference the First Presidency called for renewed emphasis upon the welfare phase of the gospel, and the Welfare Plan was announced.  In announcing the plan the First Presidency explained the reason for its establishment in the following words:

Our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift, and self-respect be once more established amongst our people.  The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves.  Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.

. . . .

The bishop has at his disposal two major resources to carry out his responsibility in caring for the poor:

1. Commodities which are placed in the bishop’s storehouse.  These commodities generally are produced through agricultural projects and processed in canneries owned by the members of the wards and stakes.  The agricultural projects and canneries are referred to as ‘permanent welfare projects.’  At the end of 1961 there were 594 of these agricultural welfare projects in the program.  The Church operates a flour and feed mill and also owns and operates a coal mine.  Clothing is manufactured in other Church-owned factories.  Food items and clothing are placed in the bishops’ storehouses and may be withdrawn and disbursed to members in need only upon authorization by the bishops of the wards.  There were 134 bishops’ storehouses at the end of the year 1961.

It is an interesting story how the storehouses are stocked with the necessary items for distribution.  Each year the bishops of the Church are requested to submit estimates of what will be required to take care of their people in need the following year.  The total of these estimates is then compiled to show a Church-wide estimate, that is, the items that will have to be produced and the amounts.  The General Welfare Committee of the Church then analyzes these estimates, taking into consideration storage factors, storehouse distribution reports, existing inventories and, finally, they are presented to the First Presidency for approval.  These estimates are known as the ‘production budget.’  When the First Presidency gives approval, the budget is allocated back to the wards and stakes throughout the Church to be produced.  It is satisfying to note that the production budget has been filled 98.5 percent on a Church-wide basis for the last fifteen years.  Each area is expected to be as nearly self-sustaining as possible.  They produce all they can to take care of their local needs.  In order to obtain needed items that they cannot produce locally, they raise a surplus that can be exchanged with other areas. . . .

2. The other major resources at the disposal of the bishop are the fast offering funds.  Those contributions come from members of the Church who abstain from two meals per month and pay the equivalent amount of these meals in cash to the bishop.  The bishop uses these funds to provide for the cash needs of welfare recipients and to pay rent, utilities, hospital, and medical bills.

Last year nearly 107,000 persons were assisted to some degree, with the value of the assistance totaling several millions of dollars. . . .

The Welfare Program is here to stay.  Elder Harold B. Lee, who for a quarter of a century served as managing director of the General Church Welfare Committee and who was associated with the program since its very beginning, has made this observation in reference to the permanency of the Welfare Plan:  ‘This program will last as long as this Church exists as a Church.'”  (Henry D. Taylor, Managing Director, General Church Welfare Program, “The Principles of the Welfare Plan,” Talk given to BYU student body, 16 May, 1962; n.p., n.d.; xerox)

1971:  12 Jun.:  Reminiscence of beginning of welfare program.

“Paul C. Child was a counselor to President Harold B. Lee in the Pioneer Stake when the famous early experiments in welfare work were instituted in the 1930s.  On 12 June 1971 he wrote a letter to President Spencer W. Kimball outlining some of their experiences as they used the Church organization to help the members of their stake achieve economic security.  One result of these activites was Harold B. Lee’s call to help establish a Church-wide welfare program.  In light of the impressive growth of welfare work, and its importance in the Church today, this letter becomes a significant document.  With the permission of Brother Child, the major portion of his letter is published here as a reminiscence. . .

Physical Beginning of the Church Welfare Program

Paul C. Child

People sometimes speak of the “pilot project” in Pioneer Stake.  The Stake Presidency was reorganized in December of 1930, if my recollection is correct.  The new presidency, consisting of President Harold B. Lee, Charles S. Hyde and Paul C. Child found themselves confronted with very distressing conditions and problems and set about to find solutions to them.  If my recollections are correct, more than half of our brethren in the Stake were unemployed and of course most of these families required assistance.  One of the first problems therefore was to endeavor to find employment for them.  President Lee assigned the responsibilities of the welfare work to me.  During my tenure as Bishop of the Poplar Grove Ward I had found considerable success in securing employment for my people through Ward members who held positions of foremen, department heads, etc., at Kennecott and other institutions, so one of our first efforts was to broaden the scope of this activity and set up an employment program in each of our wards and units.  As we counseled on this matter we were led into the creating of Ward Work Directors for men and later for women.

We were unable to find employment for all our people and found ourselves with many who needed something to do; hence as we counseled we arrived at the creating of work projects for both men and women where they could work for the assistance they needed.  We soon found that we could not place a monetary value on labor as we did not have the money to pary for it; hence we decided (and properly so) that it should be done on a basis “of need.”

Some wards were of course in more dire circumstances than others, and we decided to request the Presiding Bishop to permit us to retain all funds coming to us from tithes and fast offerings and create a Stake Welfare fund or account on which the Bishops could draw for their cash needs.  We were given permission to do so and functioned for a time in this manner.  However, conditions steadily worsened.  As weather improved we organized our men under ward work directors and their assistants and sent them to assist the farmers and orchardists in their weork which they of course could not afford to pay cash for.  As the crops developed and matured we continued this type of activity.  The farmers could sell only their prime produce, which left them a considerable quantity of produce for which there was no market.  This they gave to us in compensation for our assistance to them and thus we were able to supply our families with produce from the fields and fruit from the orchards.

To supplement all this, after counseling with our high council, we decided to operate a farm for ourselves on which we could grow a “Cash Crop.”  We applied for and were given permission to use some vacant land west of 2nd West and between 11th and 13th South Streets.  The city agreed to give us free use of water from the fire hydrants.  We decided that the best cash crop would be sugar beets, and so President Lee had samples of the soil sent to either the Agriculture College at Logan or field representatives of the sugar company for analysis.  While this was being done President Grant held a meeting of the Priesthood in the Assembly Hall in which he made an urgent appeal to those assembled to plant sugar beets to keep the factories in operation and provide a strengthening influence on the economy.  Shortly after the meeting we received the report back from the soil experts that our land was not suitable for the production of sugar beets.  As we talked about this development in our council meeting President Lee turned to me and asked, “Now what shall we do?”  My reply was, “President Grant wants sugar beets, so let us go ahead with our plans to plant them.”  President Lee then laid our decision and plans before our High Council and they approved.  We had had the city dump leaves, etc., on our property and we ploughed them under.  President Lee then asked the Council after our meeting in the temple where we held a prayer circle each Sunday, that we all assemble at the farm site.  This we did and stood in a group.  After a few remarks from President Lee we prayed unto the Lord that He would bless our efforts and bless the soil that it would yield abundantly.  Following this we set about to further prepare the soil for seeding, etc.  We cared for our crops as well as we knew how and when the harvest time came, imagine our joy as we harvested these beautiful beets, many weighing from 20 to 25 pounds!

As you can well imagine, despite all our efforts we still lacked the necessary means to adequately provide for our people.  In desperation and after much prayer and counsel President Lee decided we should appeal to the First Presidency and accordingly he arranged for a meeting of the First Presidency and the presidency of the Pioneer Stake.  President Lee laid our problems before the First Presidency and told them what we had done and were doing to solve them.  The First Presidency, by President Grant, said to us, “You will go back, you will take care of your people, and the First Presidency will stand behind you.”

Prior to this meeting we had decided to establish a storehouse and canning factory.  The scriptures, which we constantly used as our guide, seemed to require it.  Into this storehouse on Pierpont Street (donated to us by its owner) we brought the products of our labors and commodities which we had to purchase, from which we administered relief to our families.  We also established a coal yard as we had trackage there and bought coal by the carload.  We practiced every possible economy.

Much of the commodities coming to us consisted of onions.  Through our senior High Councilman, Theodore T. Burton, we secured free use of 3 or 4 empty warehouses and in these we stored our onions, constantly sorting them to prevent spoilage.  We learned that in Southern California there were no onions, so we had our mechanics repair such trucks as our people possessed, loaded them with onions and sent them to California to exchange for citrus fruit for which there was no market.  We soon found that we could sell our onions for cash which we needed badly and also purchase the citrus fruit, and thus money began to come into our program.  If my recollection is correct, we never had to make request on the First Presidency for money.

We found that ladies’ knit suits were available at the woolen mills in Logan, etc., at ridiculously low prices.  We contacted the mills and they were glad to make deals with us.  We grought the garments to our Stake Center and made them available for our Relief Society sisters who remodeled them, etc., and thus many of our women became elegantly clothed with “garments of their own make.”  We purchased yardage and had the sisters make layettes, etc., for the lovely babies that the Lord was sending to us.  Each ward had its supply.  From Yardage purchased the sisters also made dressed for themselves and children, and shirts for the brethren.  Thus from the Lord’s Storehouse and by His blessings the crises were met and solved.

It seems that President Grant had received “word” that he was to “immediately begin to state and restate those fundamental principles regarding the care of the poor which had been laid in the gospel from the beginning”; and as President Lee laid before the First Presidency what he had done and what we were doing, that President Grant and his counselors recognized in it an answer to their prayers and quandries as to how they should initiate the instruction which had come to him.”

(“The Historian’s Corner,” BYU Studies 14(3):382-386, Spring, 1974)

1979:  31 Mar.:  Welfare assigned to both temporal and eccles.

“Let me begin by explaining that while many programs have been assigned by the First Presidency to either the ecclesiastical or temporal lines, Welfare Services is among the affairs not assigned to either of these two lines exclusively.

The administration of these services is directed by the General Welfare Services Committee of the Church, composed of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, Presiding Bishopric, the members of the General Relief Society Presidency, and the managing director of Welfare Services.  Because of the similarity of Welfare Services work to the work done through the temporal arm under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric, the Welfare Services Department reports to the General Welfare Services Committee through the Presiding Bishopric.  However, it serves as a resource to the ecclesiastical and the temporal lines, both of which play a significant role in welfare services.

We look to you General Authority executive administrators to provide the inspiration, planning, and regulation within policy that will ensure that Welfare Services receives full emphasis within your respective areas.  You must also train your Regional Representatives in Welfare Services principles and practices.  This you can best do by drawing on the resources of the Presiding Bishopric and the Welfare Services Deparement.  They are assigned to work with you at every council level as shown here this morning.

By following the directives given you by the Quorum of the Twelve and the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, we anticipate a great upsurge of welfare accomplishments in all areas presided over by the executive administrators.

You Regional Representatives have the awesome responsibility to teach and provide the impetus for the implementation of the Welfare Services program.

You will receive guidance for teaching the principles and doctrines of Church Welfare Services through the ecclesiastical line, especially from your executive administrator.  Although you are not responsible for operations, your cooperation with region and multiregion Welfare Services personnel is essential.

With the convening of your first official region council meeting, you become the chairman of Welfare Services in your region.  In concert with the Welfare Services region agent, you are to implement welfare work as directed by the executive administrator.  You will find great spiritual satisfaction as you serve in this capacity.

May I emphasize that the position you occupy in the implementation of Church Welfare Services is vital and critical.  Your performance in this matter can make or break the Welfare Services program in the stake units you are responsible for.

Stake presidents and bishops have long had the major responsibility in teaching basic welfare principles and implementing them in their wards and stakes.  Their work should be greatly enhanced through the new organizational structure introduced here this morning.  From your bishops particularly, we look for great strides in this work in the months and years ahead.”  (Maron G. Romney, 31 Mar., 1979; CR Apr., 1979, pp. 137-138)