In a U.S. state that has seen numerous recent natural disasters — like tornadoes and flooding — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members have worked hard to give aid, gather supplies and volunteer around Kentucky wherever needed.
As a result, the Church will receive the Governor’s Service Award this spring for their humanitarian relief efforts. Ahead of that honor, and after much planning and preparation, more than 70 members of the Church gathered at the Kentucky State Capitol to meet with Gov. Andy Beshear and members of the Kentucky General Assembly on Feb. 16.
The group included Elder Nathan A. Craig, Area Seventy in the North America Southeast Area, and delegations from 10 stakes — including stake presidencies, stake Relief Society presidencies, communication directors and assistant communication directors over outreach and media.
Beshear spoke about all that the Church and its members do for Kentucky.
“I see members of this community after floods, after tornadoes, helping their fellow human beings. And I believe we are stronger when we accept and work with all faiths to create a better world,” he said.
A USA Today investigation found that Kentucky counties have been ranked in the top 10 hardest hit by disasters in the United States. Beshear thanked the Church for its help after such events.
“Whether it was in Nicholas County early on, or after the worst tornado event that almost wiped out my dad’s hometown, or the worst flooding event that left thousands of Kentuckians homeless. I know you all have been there. I am very grateful for it, and I am very grateful for you. We are honored to have you,” he said.
The stake delegations met with the governor and then had meetings with their local representatives, speaking with 48 legislators — about one-third of the Kentucky General Assembly. Church members shared information about the humanitarian aid and service that the Church provides throughout the state.
Elder Craig presented Beshear with a personalized copy of the Book of Mormon.
“Today was a day of miracles,” Elder Craig said. “We were able to share that as followers of Jesus Christ, we have something to give. This was a great opportunity to come as a Church delegation and meet with our elected officials and share that we are, first and foremost, their neighbors. And we love our neighbors.”
B. Todd Bright, the communication director for the Kentucky Louisville Coordinating Council — which includes several stakes — said the meetings were also about ministering to the state legislators.
“There have been 10 states of emergency in Kentucky since this governor took office in 2019,” Bright said. “They [the leaders] need our love. They need our prayers. We are called to serve the same people. As we share with them our love of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and express that love through genuine service to our fellow Kentuckians, hearts are truly softened.”
The day’s event was the culmination of a year’s planning and preparation. Going into the future, the stake leaders are forging genuine friendships with their legislators and will continue to love, share and invite.
Following the meetings with the legislators, Elder Craig offered the invocation at the opening of the day’s Kentucky Senate session.
As a part of that prayer, Elder Craig said, “I ask Thee to bless those who have been entrusted to do the work for their fellow citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, who have been entrusted by the voice of the people to represent and act on their behalf. I ask Thee to endow them with wisdom, to bless them with discernment, and grace them with compassion.”