Welfare question

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edwardochan
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Welfare question

Postby edwardochan » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:33 pm

Hi I have a question. Are Relief Society Presidents allowed to know all persons receiving welfare assistance? My wife is the Relief Society president in our ward and has no idea who is being helped sometimes or most of the time. When she identified a member who is in need, our Bishop told her that fast offering funds were used up already. She has no idea who the recipients are.

Thanks for your response.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:41 pm

edwardochan wrote:Hi I have a question. Are Relief Society Presidents allowed to know all persons receiving welfare assistance? My wife is the Relief Society president in our ward and has no idea who is being helped sometimes or most of the time. When she identified a member who is in need, our Bishop told her that fast offering funds were used up already. She has no idea who the recipients are.


The Relief Society President certainly may know about ward members receiving welfare assistance, but it is entirely up to the bishop how much of that information he chooses to share with her. There may be situations where he feels he should keep the information more confidential.

I don't know what it would mean to say that "fast offering funds were used up." The bishop may need to counsel with the stake president, and there are certain fixed limitations for medical care that require additional approvals. Certainly every situation is different and needs to be handled with inspiration, but there is no set limit for the ward as a whole as to how much funds are available to help the needy, so that statement (admittedly a third-hand statement at this point) seems a bit curious.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:07 pm

In addition to Alan's comments,

From Welfare Duties of the Relief Society:
The Relief Society president assists the bishop in assessing needs of families and individuals in the ward and suggesting ways to respond. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “It is imperative that bishops work closely with Relief Society presidents in administering Church welfare. This is normally accomplished in the monthly ward welfare committee meeting or, on occasion, in the ward council meeting. But emergencies arise, or there may be circumstances where greater confidentiality is required, in which case the bishop and the Relief Society president should consult together. Wherever there is material need in a family, the Relief Society president is best qualified to go into a home and assess the family’s needs” (“Standing Strong and Immovable,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 2004, 21).


So clearly the RS President should be aware of some situations in the ward. However, I don't know of any requirement for the Bishop to share all issues with her. I would expect the RS President would likely be involved with any assistance from the Bishop's Storehouse, but may not be consulted on financial-only assistance.

As for "funds were used up", I think leaders are aware that they will receive some additional scrutiny if the expenses exceed the donations. That's not to say there's a limit. It's simply an additional review to insure that procedures are being followed. But some leaders may feel undue pressure to limit expenses.

Then again, perhaps the Bishop is fully aware of the situation and due to the members (lack of) actions has decided to limit further help. One of the good quotes I've heard is that Fast Offering funds are to preserve life, not lifestyle. If, for example, a member is unwilling to downsize their lifestyle to match their financial situation, or take actions needed to help themselves, they may well find themselves receiving some "tough love".
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crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:59 am

That's what the welfare meeting is for - correlating efforts and information between the bishopric, priesthood quorums and relief society. I won't rehash it in any more detail since it's already been covered adequately.

The one thing I would also like to comment on is the "using up of fast offering funds". I remember that notion being addressed specifically by Bp. Burton in a special DVD released by the church to stakes addressing provident living, etc. It was called "Basic Principles of Welfare and Self Reliance".

Here's the Q/A that is specifically applicable here:
Question: Bishop Burton, how would you recommend
that we teach the law of the fast so as to bring greater
understanding to our members?
Response: The law of the fast is basic to the spiritual
welfare of our Father in Heaven’s children. He has
established the law of the fast, and the law of tithing
as well, to bless His people. The bishop should teach
all members the importance of living these laws. He
should also teach about the blessings the Lord promises
for living these laws. These blessings include a
closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength,
temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger
desire to serve.
In some areas of the world, bishops’ storehouses
are available to help provide food and clothing. Where
a bishops’ storehouse is not available, fast offerings
are used to provide food and clothing. They are also
used to pay for shelter, medical assistance, and other
life-sustaining aid.
There is no requirement, however, that fast-offering
expenditures within the ward and stake remain in balance
with fast-offering contributions.
(emphasis added)
While we are here, the other quote I found insightful and contrary to what most people think is church policy is this:

Question: With the economy in the state that it is
currently in, we are seeing an increased number of
families and members struggling to meet mortgage
payments. Is it permissible for us to use funds to assist
with their mortgage payments?
Response: As you undoubtedly remember, welfare
assistance is usually designed to be temporary. Bishops,
along with quorum and Relief Society leaders,
and other specialists if needed, should help recipients
design a plan to become self-reliant so they will no
longer need welfare assistance.
If a payment of a mortgage in the short run will
enable them to carry out their plan to become selfreliant,
then payment of a mortgage could be very
desirable and permissible.


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