"Providing in the Lord's way for ourselves and others is a sign of the true Church and evidence that we are disciples of Christ. Church leaders should teach and testify of the principles contained in this leader's guide by precept, by personal example, and by ensuring that the cries of the poor and needy do not go unheeded." (Providing in the Lord's Way, page 1.)The introduction and distribution of Providing in the Lord's Way: A Leader's Guide to Welfare throughout the Church is a landmark event, according to President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency.
"In these tumultuous times in which we live, we must pursue anew our learning and our teaching of divinely given welfare principles," President Monson told regional representatives gathered in Salt Lake City for the recent general conference, where the guide was introduced after several years of preparation. "A miracle of sorts has enabled us for the first time, to my knowledge, to introduce in final printed form, in the many languages which you use, the new publication, Providing in the Lord's Way: A Leader's Guide to Welfare. . . ."A supplement, Church Welfare Resources, was also produced and distributed to priesthood leaders in the United States and Canada to explain the appropriate use of Church welfare resources in those countries.
Providing in the Lord's Way underscores the responsibilities of individual members and families to become self-reliant and to give generously both in fast offerings and in service to the family, Church and community. It also emphasizes the importance of the ward welfare committee, and instructs bishops in proper administration of Church welfare resources.
The guide replaces the previous welfare handbook published in 1980. It is a principle-based training guide and reference tool for Church leaders and the general membership, drawing heavily upon instruction found in the scriptures and upon teachings of modern prophets.
Printed in 19 languages, the manual was prepared for use in a worldwide Church. Two of its three major sections are designed to be used as lessons for family home evenings, priesthood quorum or Relief Society instruction, and for training for ward, stake and regional welfare committees.
The text and visual elements of the manual, including art work, photographs and highlighted quotes and scriptures, have been selected to strengthen the manual's use as a teaching tool. Four pieces of classic art are presented with accompanying scripture texts to illustrate the basic principles of providing for the poor and needy in the Lord's way.
They include: On the cover, Infirm Man at the Pool of Bethesda, by Carl Bloch (John 5:1-9); All the City was Gathered Together, by James J. Tissot (Matt. 25:36, 40); The Widow's Mite, by Alexandre Bida (Mark 12:41-44); and Christ and the Rich Young Man, by Heinrich Hofmann (Luke 18:18-22).
Also included with the text are black and white photographs showing the application of welfare principles in every-day life. Each photo illustrates a brief testimonial to the joy and fulfillment received through welfare service performed in the manner taught by the Lord.
Throughout the text are quotes from members of the First Presidency, past and present.
Stake presidents throughout the Church are receiving instruction on the use and policy implementations of the new welfare manual from area presidencies and regional representatives in area training meetings and regional welfare committees during 1991.
One stake president who has already received this training from his regional representative had high councilors in his stake use excerpts from the publication for their monthly speaking assignments. As a part of the talks, the stake presidency included a letter that added its endorsement of welfare concepts, with encouragement to teach welfare principles in their homes and to donate generously to the fast offering fund.
The response was very positive from bishops and other members throughout the stake, who were touched by the message, according to the stake president.
President Monson said great blessings will result as principles outlined in Providing in the Lord's Way are implemented throughout the Church: "May our joy be complete as we learn - then teach by the Spirit - the principles found in the scriptures and reproduced in the leader's guide and in its accompanying volume for leaders in the United States and Canada, Church Welfare Resources.
"As we do so, be not surprised if there echoes in our ears those words of our Lord and Savior: `Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' "