WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah Before dedicating a new welfare center as a "building of hope," Bishop Richard C. Edgley praised Church members worldwide who are "motivated by compassion, motivated by love, motivated by a desire to serve those that are needy."
"I believe that as an institution, as a Church, we are the most compassionate, loving people in the world," he said.
Speaking at the dedication of a new Deseret Industries Thrift Store in West Valley City, Utah, Oct. 24, Bishop Edgley, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said the center will offer hope and self respect.
The 50,000-square-foot building will serve 36 stakes in the Salt Lake Valley, helping train more than 100 individuals each year. It also includes an LDS Employment Center that will serve more than 2,500 people each year and offices for LDS Family Services.
Hundreds of priesthood leaders, who will be served by the center, attended the dedication.
During brief remarks, Bishop Edgley reflected on a few experiences he has had while watching the Church and its members reach out.
After a recent earthquake in Peru, for example, Bishop Edgley met a woman who had lost everything.
"What is your future?" he asked her. "She teared up. She said, 'I don't know about the future. We have nothing. If it were not for the Church, I would be out on the street with my family begging for food."'
Bishop Edgley said he was touched when a stake in Peru, not impacted by the earthquake, decided to take on the needs of one ward that was. "Nobody asked them to do that. They did that because there in their hearts (was) this feeling of love and of service and of compassion."
The same compassion was seen during the tsunami in Southeast Asia and other disasters, he said.
"It is not the Church that is doing this, it is the saints, it is the generosity of people like you, the generosity of people in Hong Kong, the generosity of people in Indonesia. Because what we have learned in this Church is the principle that we love one another, we take care of one another and we have this great opportunity to serve in a way that brings great joy, not just to the person receiving the service, but to ourselves."
Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, also spoke at the dedication, noting that she grew up in the area that the new welfare center will serve.
"To see something of this quality in the place where I have my roots means a lot to me," she said.
Sister Beck noted that her daughter, son-in-law and six grandchildren had been forced to flee their California home earlier in the week because of wildfires.
"They have been taken in and loved and cared for," she said.
The Church, she said, was there for her daughter's family and others. "It doesn't change the fact that we have had a tragedy, but it helps people who are down and out to know that help is on the way and it is well organized."
She recalled a recent meeting with a delegation of 17 African women who visited Salt Lake City. The women wanted to learn more about the Church's welfare program.
Sister Beck explained that the majority of Church welfare happens in wards and Relief Societies, where Church members gather together and take care of one another.
"In that group they generally have what they need to take care of each other. If they don't, they go to their bishop. He provides them with help."
Sister Beck encouraged local priesthood leaders to take advantage of the services provided by the new center, including the training programs, the employment resources and the family services.
Through its community partnership programs, the store also assists charitable agencies in the Salt Lake area including Division of Child and Family Services, Hilda B. Jones Center, Magna F.A.C.T. (battered women's facility), and the Granite School District. In addition, it will have a humanitarian room where people can volunteer to assist in local and international humanitarian relief. As part of its humanitarian effort, the West Valley Deseret Industries will provide hundreds of thousands of pounds of clothing each year to the Church Humanitarian Center where the clothing will be sorted and shipped around the world to those in need.
Established in 1938 as a single thrift store, today there are 43 Deseret Industries stores serving people in seven western states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
E-mail to: [email protected]