Comer: Church of Jesus Christ’s generosity on display with donation
Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald
One of my favorite memories is of a temple recommend interview I had a number of years ago. It came at about the time when my first child was born. Following the interview, the bishop surprised me by asking a question I did not expect.
“What is your biggest unpaid bill right now?”
I told him it would have to be a hospital bill.
“Bring it to me. I’ll take care of it,” he said.
To say that was a blessing would be a massive understatement. The bill may not have been all that large to other people, but for me at the time, it was a huge burden.
I found myself thinking of that situation this week as I pondered the ways in which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come to my aid. It is just one of many examples of bishops and other members, for no reason other than a desire to be generous and helpful, reaching out to me in times of need.
None of it is surprising. These members simply follow the example of the church they belong to.
It was reported on Wednesday that the church donated 5,700 water shares to help preserve the Great Salt Lake.
“The donation, believed to be the largest ever permanent donation to benefit the Great Salt Lake, ensures water will continue to flow to the lake and preserve critical shoreline and wetland habitat in Farmington Bay,” the Utah Department of Natural Resources said in a statement. “The donation is equivalent to over 20,000 acre-feet (about the size of Little Dell Reservoir) and up to 50 cubic feet per second of water. The water was historically used for agricultural purposes. The donation ensures water from these shares can continue to flow to the lake in perpetuity.”
If the words “largest ever” in a report about a church donation sound familiar, it might be because of another recent report.
On Sept. 14, 2022, the church announced that it had donated $32 million to the United Nations World Food Programme, which it reported as its “largest one-time contribution to a humanitarian organization.”
“This extraordinary donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could not come at a more critical time,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said. “With millions of people starving today, WFP is working hard to deliver food, help and hope — and this life-saving contribution allows us to do just that.”
World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar called the donation a “transformational gift.”
“Private sector support is critical to our mission, enabling WFP to scale food assistance and resilience work that brings families stability and comfort during these challenging times,” he said. “I am confident that the Church’s gift will inspire others to join our movement to end global hunger.”
In an address at the October 2022 general conference titled “Helping the Poor and Distressed,” Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of the church, said that the church’s expenditures in 2021 “for those in need in 188 countries worldwide totaled $906 million — almost a billion dollars” and that its members “volunteered over 6 million hours of labor in the same cause.”
“Those figures are, of course, an incomplete report of our giving and helping,” Oaks said. “They do not include the personal services our members give individually as they minister to one another in called positions and voluntary member-to-member service. And our 2021 report makes no mention of what our members do individually through innumerable charitable organizations not formally connected with our church.”
In an address at the October 2019 general conference titled “The Second Great Commandment,” Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, highlighted some of the church’s humanitarian efforts, which included:
- More than $2 billion provided by Latter-day Saint Charities over the years.
- Approximately 400,000 food orders provided to individuals in need each year through 124 bishops’ storehouses operated by the church throughout the world.
- Clean water in hundreds of communities in 76 countries.
- Millions of pounds of clothing collected and sorted each year through Deseret Industries outlets in the United States with the inventory either being donated to other charitable organizations for worldwide distribution or provided to members in need.
In 2018 alone, Nelson said the church provided:
- Emergency supplies to refugees in 56 countries.
- Vision care for more than 300,000 people in 35 countries.
- Newborn care for thousands of mothers and infants in 39 countries.
- Wheelchairs for more than 50,000 people in dozens of countries.
- More than 100 disaster relief projects around the world.
In all this, the church emulates the teachings of Jesus Christ, who said “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
I hope we can all strive to follow the example the church has set and look for opportunities to provide service and aid to those in need.
Contact Ryan Comer at email@example.com.