Humanitarian lauds Church

The Rev. Leon Howard Sullivan, noted humanitarian and pastor emeritus of the 6,000-member Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa., visited Salt Lake City Nov. 19 to tour Church welfare facilities and to meet with Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales.

While at Church headquarters, the Rev. Sullivan toured the Deseret Industries Sort Center and Welfare Square and was hosted at a luncheon by Church Welfare Services personnel."I have great admiration for the Rev. Sullivan," Bishop Hales expressed following the visit. "Every once in a while in your life you meet a person who makes a tremendous difference for good, and he's one of those people. His life is a marvelous story of hard work and service. He is constantly looking how he is going to help others."

The Rev. Sullivan is founder and chairman of Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, OIC International and president of International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH).

Started in 1964, OIC of America is a program sponsoring career training and retraining on a large scale. It is operating in more than 80 U.S. cities and has trained more than 1 million men and women, with more than 800,000 of those people being placed in gainful employment. OIC International, founded in 1969, operates in more than 10 African countries to provide skills training there.

The objective of IFESH is to lead American companies, institutions and individuals to get involved in improving conditions of people in Africa and other developing nations.

The Rev. Sullivan is involved in a number of other humanitarian efforts as well.

Bishop Hales said the Church has worked in partnership with the Rev. Sullivan's efforts successfully in several instances, providing food, clothing and educational materials. Though those cooperative efforts have taken place, the Rev. Sullivan had not previously been to Salt Lake City.

"I'm so glad I made this trip," he remarked. "I've been most impressed with the people I've met, who are as sincere about what they are doing to help the poor and the needy as any leaders of religious groups in the world. I had heard a great deal about what the LDS Church was doing and had persons who had visited here tell me what they had seen, but it's hard for someone to explain it; you have to see it for yourself.

"The thing that impresses me beyond the leadership and the sincerity of the leaders is the service to people. Everything here seems to be pointed toward helping people who are poor, the needy, the sick - people who need hope and need a light. What you are doing is providing help and hope, a light to a lot of people who you will never see. I didn't realize the Church was doing so much in so many places, not only in the United States, but in other parts of the world.

"Finally, I was impressed by the self-help concept in everything I've seen. All of the things we try and do with our work revolve around the idea of self-help. I'm looking forward to a continued great relationship with the LDS Church." - Mike Cannon

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