Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“In Mine Own Way”
Developing spiritual self-reliance.
Developing temporal self-reliance.
Caring for the needy.
The Church welfare program.
A study of this lesson will help us understand the principles of spiritual
and temporal welfare and to commit ourselves to greater self-reliance and
service to the poor and needy.
Scripture references for study:
Our Heritage, pages 108–9, 111–14
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 38 Handout (PDF)
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "We feel the
need to emphasize with greater clarity the obligation for members of the
Church to become more independent and self-reliant, to increase personal
and family responsibility, to cultivate spiritual growth, and to be more
fully involved in Christian service." (Teachings of Gordon B.
Almost from the beginning of the Restoration, the prophets have taught
the Saints to be independent, to be self-reliant in spiritual and temporal
matters. The Lord tells us "if ye are prepared
ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). In the last days the
Saints have faced many challenges of both a spiritual and temporal nature. The Saints have pushed forward and prospered because of their independence. The prophecies teach of great challenges ahead. We have been taught
to prepare both spiritual and temporally.
Heber C. Kimball: "We think we are secure
here in the chambers of the everlasting hills, where we can close those
few doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the
vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to
say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in
these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to
tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God.
Then, brethren, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great
sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a
TEST, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand?" (Life of
Heber C. Kimball, 446)
President Harold B. Lee: "The time is here
when every one of you must stand on your own feet. The time is here when
no man and woman will endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided
by the light within himself. If you do not have it, you will not stand."
(Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p138)
President Brigham Young: "I have tried continually
to get this people to pursue a course that will make them self-sustaining,
taking care of their poor, the lame, the halt and the blind, lifting the
ignorant from where they have no opportunity of observing the ways of the
world, and of understanding the common knowledge possessed among the children
of men, bringing them together from the four quarters of the world, and
making of them an intelligent, thrifty and self-sustaining people.
"My warfare is, and has
been for years, to get the people to understand that if they do not take
care of themselves they will not be taken care of; that if we do not lay
the foundation to feed and clothe and shelter ourselves we shall perish
with hunger and with cold; we might also suffer in the summer season from
the direct rays of the sun upon our naked and unprotected bodies.
"I see more and more that
there are but very few men and women that are even capable of taking care
of themselves temporally." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p16)
President Wilford Woodruff: "Lay up your
wheat and other provisions against a day of need, for the day will come
when they will be wanted, and make no mistake about it. We shall want bread,
and the Gentiles will want bread, and if we are wise we shall have something
to feed them and ourselves when famine comes." (JD, 18:121)
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE NEED TO BECOME SELF-RELIANT?
As President Lee stated above, the time has come when we must stand on
our own testimonies. We need to do those thing which will nurture
our testimonies and help them to grow.
Heber C. Kimball: "Let me say to you, that
many of you will see the time when you will have all the trouble, trial
and persecution that you can stand, and plenty of opportunities to show
that you are true to God and his work. This Church has before it many close
places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned
with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary
for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The
difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does
not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not
got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till
you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand." (Life of Heber
C. Kimball, pp449-450)
Providing for ourselves and our families.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Church
from the beginning has been committed to the principle that 'the glory
of God is intelligence.' (D&C 93:36.) We therefore encourage our people
to study and prepare to render service with their minds and with their
"Some are inclined toward
formal university training, and some are inclined more toward the practical
vocational training. We feel that our people should receive that kind of
training which is most consistent with their interests and talents. Whether
it be in the professions, the arts, or the vocations; whether it be university
or vocational training, we applaud and encourage it." (Teachings
of Spencer W. Kimball, p381)
President Heber J. Grant: "There is a law
irrevocably decreed in heaven, upon which all blessings are predicated,
and no man will get the blessing without fulfilling the law. I wish to
impress upon the Latter-day Saints that we get in this life what we work
for, and I want to urge every Latter-day Saint to be a worker." (Gospel
President Heber J. Grant: "If there is any
one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and
into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one
thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have
debts and obligations that one cannot meet." (Ibid., p111)
Preparation for times of need.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Our bishops
storehouses are not intended to stock enough commodities to care for all
the members of the Church. Storehouses are only established to care for
the poor and the needy. For this reason, members of the Church have been
instructed to personally store a year's supply of food, clothing, and,
where possible, fuel. By following this counsel, most members will be prepared
and able to care for themselves and their family members, and be able to
share with others as may be needed." (CR, Apr 1977)
President Harold B. Lee: "Now, let's not
be foolish and suppose that because the sun is shining today there won't
be clouds tomorrow. The Lord has told us by revelation some of the things
that are ahead of us, and we are living in the day when the fulfillment
of those prophecies is at hand. We are startled, and yet there is nothing
happening today that the prophets didn't foresee.
"God help us to keep our
own houses in order and to keep our eyes fixed upon those who preside in
this church and to follow their direction, and we won't be led astray."
(Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p315)
Caring for the needy.
Part of becoming self-reliant is putting ourselves in a position
to help the needy. We need to develop our spirituality so that we
can assist those with weaker testimonies or so we can become active member missionaries. As we become physically self-reliant, we need to share with those that
do not have sufficient to care for the needs of this life.
"Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the
poor and the needy and administer to their relief, that they may be kept
until all things may be done according to my law which ye have received."
"Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your
substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this
shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and
of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is
not saved!" (D&C 56:16)
"And it is my purpose to provide for my saints,
for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way;
and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for
my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low."
WHAT IS THE LORD'S WAY OF PROVIDING FOR HIS PEOPLE?
Within the Church, we have the Welfare system, overseen by the Bishop and
Relief President, which provides for those in need. We contribute
to this program by our service as needed and particularly through our Fast
"The Lord has established the law of the fast and fast
offerings to bless His people and to provide a way for them to serve those in
Malachi 3:8–12). When
members fast, they are asked to give to the Church a
fast offering at least equal
to the value of the food they would have eaten. If possible, they should be
generous and give more. Blessings associated with the law of the fast include
closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being,
greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve."
(Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, 6.1.2)
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE POOR AND NEEDY WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES?
Jacob, when preaching to the Nephites, counseled the people regarding obtaining
riches. He said that if we do so, we should "seek
them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry,
and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the
afflicted." (Jacob 2:19)
Without question, as Saints of the Most High, we have an obligation to
do all that we can to care for those around us, not just the membership
of the Church. Our first obligation is to pay our tithes and fast
offerings, but we need to do more.
For many years I worked in downtown Seattle. Virtually everyday I saw someone asking
for a handout. We had a representative of the Seattle
Police Department come and talk to our staff about safety in the downtown
area. This officer indicated that in almost all cases, if we give
money to people on the street it will be used to buy either alcohol or
drugs. When asked how we help these people, the officer recommended
giving to one of the downtown missions where they provide food, beds,
and other assistance to those on the street. I thought that this
was good advice. We can go beyond our church offerings by giving
to worthy community organizations, donating to food banks, and giving of
our time to assist such organizations.
Independent of the World
We have been commanded to become self-reliant in both spiritual and temporal
matters. The history of the latter-day Church demonstrates the efforts,
based upon the times, of becoming independent.
From the time the Saints first arrived in Utah, there had been a continuing
drive for self-sufficiency. This drive continued after the arrival
of federal officers and may have been increased by the subsequent arrival
of federal troops in 1858. Many efforts were made to become a self-sufficient
Cotton Mission: In October 1861, 309 families were called to go south
to settle in Utah's Dixie and work to supply the territory with cotton,
sugar, grapes, tobacco, figs, almonds, olive oil, etc.
Over the next decade about 4,000 persons were called to this area.
The first crop of cotton in 1862 yielded 100,000 pounds of seed cotton. A large portion of it was sent east and sold as a cash crop.
The cotton industry in Utah never became a big success and was mostly discontinued
in the 1870s.
Deseret Telegraph line: With the upcoming completion of the transcontinental
telegraph line, Brigham Young called for a North-South telegraph line connecting
all Mormon settlements. A 500 mile line was in place and put into operation
The Railroad: The railroad was moving west and the Church was concerned
about the effect the railroad might have on immigration, morality, and
the continued drive for independence.
In December of 1867, Brigham Young organized the School of the Prophets
(named after the Kirtland school). It was a successor to the Council
of Fifty. The school was a forum or town meeting of leading high
priests in which theology, church government, and problems of church and
community were discussed and appropriate action taken. It became
somewhat of an economic planning conference and initiated policies
to deal with the incoming railroad:
Securing a contract to construct 90 miles of road from Echo Canyon to Ogden. This would reduce the number of undesirable characters polluting the Mormon
communities. The income would also support the Utah saints and the
Established locally owned "cooperative" enterprises designed to prevent
unemployment and make the communities less dependent on imports from the
East. A number of manufacturing concerns were established including
the Utah Manufacturing Company (wagons, carriages, & agricultural equipment)
and Provo Woolen Mills.
Increase exports to the east. To become competitive some wage reductions
were put into effect. The faithful were willing to sacrifice for
the kingdom, but there were others who criticized the church for this action.
The construction of a 37 mile church owned railroad from Ogden to Salt
Lake and eventually other extensions.
ZCMI was organized to assist the saints in purchasing imported goods. Many merchants were considered hostile towards the interests of the church
and taking advantage of the Saints.
At the October 1868 Conference, a general boycott of outside merchants
Retail outlets were established in about 100 communities.
Word of Wisdom campaign: It had not been a binding commandment upon
the Saints. The main reason for this campaign was to help stop the cash drain
from the territory and use the money saved to bring "the poor to Zion."
The Women's Relief Society.
To marshal support for these policies of continuing independence, the
Women's Relief Society was reorganized with Eliza R. Snow appointed as
Leonard Arrington: "The object of the Relief
Societies was to teach the poor to provide for themselves and to establish
institutions and programs which would assist the poor to live more comfortably
and those not so poor to live more frugally." (Great Basin Kingdom,
The Relief Society encouraged and supported the home industry movement.
They organized the Deseret Silk Association. Nearly every one of
the 150 local Relief Society organizations had a silk project during the
After the formation of the Relief Society, President Young called for the
formation of "Retrenchment Societies" among the young women of the settlements.
President Young set the pattern for these societies when he called his
wives and daughters together in the parlor room of the Lion House in November
Said President Young at that time: "All
Israel are looking for my family and watching the example set by my wives
and children. For this reason I desire to organize my own family first
into a society for the promotion of habits of order, thrift, industry,
and charity; and, above all things, I desire them to retrench from their
extravagance in dress, in eating, and even in speech. The time has come
when the sisters must agree to give up their follies of dress and cultivate
a modest apparel, a meek deportment, and to set an example before the people
of the world worthy of imitation....
"I want you to set
your own fashions. Let your apparel be neat and comely, and the workmanship
of your own hands. Wear the good cloth manufactured in our own mills, and
cease to build up the merchant who sends your money out of the Territory
for fine clothes made in the East." (Great Basin Kingdom, p252)
Eliza R. Snow oversaw the organization of the "Young Ladies Department
of the Co-operative Retrenchment Association" both within the Young household
and through the Relief Societies to the rest of the territory.
The girls were taught to glean wheat, piece quilts, crochet, make hats,
knit stockings, and to engage in many cultural activities.
The fruits of their efforts were donated to the Perpetual Emigration Fund
and other worthwhile church projects.
These retrenchment societies eventually evolved into "The Young Ladies'
Mutual Improvement Association" first organized in 1877.
The United Order of Enoch.
Motivated by the depression following the Panic of 1873 various cooperative
movements were organized under the name of the United Order of Enoch.
Brigham City: In 1864 Lorenzo Snow organized a mercantile cooperative
in which many citizens took shares.
Profits were dispersed in kind rather than cash. A tannery and woolen
factory were built and operated. By 1874, 40 departments had been
established covering almost every phase of industry and agriculture. The settlement became 85% self-sufficient.
Brigham City gained a reputation as a "hive of industry." It was
one of the most prosperous and progressive settlements in the territory.
The Brigham City experiment was so successful that the citizens barely felt the
depression following the Panic.
Brigham Young was so impressed with the Brigham City enterprise that he
wanted to extend such cooperative movements. Four types evolved:
The community contributed all their economic property to the Order and
received wages and dividends depending upon their labor and property.
About half of these type of orders lasted only a year. Some in these
communities refused to join. There were often arguments over its
Brigham City type plans.
A modification of the Brigham City plan used in the larger cities.
Each ward had a specialty. In Salt Lake City the 8th Ward
operated a hat factory, the 11th Ward a tailor's shop, the 19th Ward a
soap manufactory, and the 20th Ward a boot and shoe shop.
A communal plan. All property was contributed to the Community.
The best known of these communities was that at Orderville, in southern
These communities ranged in size from 50 to 750. They ate at a common
table and wore clothes from the same bolt of cloth. Labor was directed
by a board of management and life was regulated by a United Order bugler
who signaled the community to rise, to eat, to attend to prayers, to go
to work, to return from work, etc.
These communities worked remarkably well.
The Orderville community operated farms, gardens, and orchards, a cotton
farm, a poultry project, three dairies, a sheep enterprise, a steam sawmill,
water-powered gristmill, and several molasses mills. Almost complete
self-sufficiency was attained.
The Orderville community was not without its challenges. As local
communities prospered from the mining boom at Silver Reef, some of the
inhabitants of Orderville became jealous. Consider this story about a young
man related by Mark Pendleton:
"As he gained stature, the pants he wore seemed
to shrink, but as there were no holes in them, and no patches, his application
for a new pair was denied. But where 'there is a will there is a way.'
There was a big crop of lambs that spring. When the lambs' tails were docked,
the young brother surreptitiously gathered them and sheared off the wool
which he stored in sacks. When he was assigned to take a load of wool to
Nephi, he secretly took the lambs' tail wool with his load and exchanged
it for a pair of store pants. On his return, he wore his new pants to the
next dance. His entrance caused a sensation. The story is that one young
lady rushed to him, embraced and kissed him. The president of the Order
demanded an explanation, and when it was truthfully given, he said: 'According
to your own story these pants belong to the Order. You are requested to
appear before the Board of Management tomorrow evening at half past eight,
and to bring the store pants with you'."
At the meeting, the brother was commended for his enterprise, but was reminded
that all pants must be made of cloth from the same bolt. The Board of Management,
being reasonable, decided to unseam the store pants and use them as a pattern
for all new pants. This young man would get the first pair.
"The tailoring department was soon swamped with
orders for pants. The elders of the Order protested. The boys went to work,
as usual, but loafed on the job. It was noticed that the everlasting pants
worn by the boys were getting thin in spots, and even some holes had developed.
These boys were often on their knees when at prayers, or when weeding in
the garden, but not much time was spent sitting down. Why was this unusual
wear on the seat of the pants? When the elders saw the boys going in groups
to the shed where the grindstone was housed, they became suspicious and
investigated. Yes, the boys were wearing out their pants on the grindstone.
The elders protested and then capitulated. A load of wool was dispatched
to Washington Mills to trade for cloth. The tailor shop was a busy place.
The boys were hard at work. The pants rebellion was over!" (Great
Basin Kingdom, p336)
By the late 1880's these orders faded and private enterprise became almost
universal throughout the settlements.
One of the significant achievements of the various orders was the construction
of the four Utah temples.
The Welfare Program.
As the depression deepened in the early 1930s, Church leaders became concerned
about the Saints that were unemployed and needing the necessities of life. This need was greatest in more urban areas.
In 1932, the Liberty Stake in Salt Lake City, began a program which would
provide hundreds of Latter-day Saints with wood, blankets, quilts, clothing,
and canned peaches and tomatoes.
This stake project provided work for dozens of men recommended by
Leonard Arrington & Wayne K. Hinton: "Others
were given work renovating chapels and cutting wood. Some persons were
given the opportunity of helping farmers harvest crops in return for produce
to be used for relief purposes. The Bamberger Electric Train Company Warehouse
in Salt Lake City was rented, at a cost of $100 a year, in order to store
goods which were donated to the stake. Some of these goods were given outright
to the needy. The surplus was sold to members in the stake who could afford
to pay, and the money received was used to buy blankets and quilts for
the poor." (BYU Studies, v5, #1, p71)
Similar efforts spread to other stakes in Salt Lake City. The Pioneer
Stake, with Harold B. Lee as president, established a storehouse.
In 1933, the First Presidency declared: "Reported
conditions in the state and nation suggest that a considerable burden may
rest upon our Church Relief activities in the near future. While it seems
our people may probably look, as heretofore, for relief assistance from
governmental and perhaps other sources, it cannot now certainly be foretold
either what or how fully sufficient this assistance will be, and we must
therefore prepare ourselves to meet the necessities that may fall upon
us. . . . No one must be permitted to starve or freeze in our midst."
In 1936, the Church announced the establishment of the Church Security
The Church was concerned about members that had been participating in government
relief programs that would soon be ended.
"The Church Security Program, as outlined in April
1936, was designed to help out the 'worthy poor' by establishing agricultural
and factory enterprises which would provide work for the unemployed and
produce goods which could be used by the poor; and by establishing a chain
of 'storehouses' to which goods produced by these projects would be taken,
and where food would be made available to the poor or to their bishops.
The central agencies in establishing and managing these production and
distribution enterprises were those which had long been set up to look
after the temporal welfare of the Mormons: the ward bishoprics, the men's
'priesthood quorums,' and the women's Relief Societies. Contributions were
to consist primarily of donations of labor and supplies to the various
wards and stakes. The regular sources of tithes and fast offerings were
of particular importance. The surplus foodstuffs and other products raised
in one area were to be transported to deficit areas, which in turn produced
other surplus crops for exchange. Indeed, through this form of labor and
commodity donation, some 70 percent of all Church Security requirements
were produced by the church, and only 30 percent had to be purchased through
commercial channels. Every attempt was made to keep dollar
costs at a minimum. No cash value was placed upon labor: A man was paid
according to his needs; i.e., a man with dependents would be given more
than a man with no dependents." (Ibid., p77)
The three main objectives of the Church Security Plan:
To supply food, clothing, and shelter to those who were unable to otherwise
obtain these necessities.
To find employment for all able-bodied members who were unemployed.
To improve the conditions of employed members whose meager incomes provided
only the bare necessities of life.
President Heber J. Grant: "Our primary purpose
was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which
the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished,
and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established
amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help
themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives
of our Church membership." (CR, Oct 1936)
In 1938 the Deseret Industries was established. "Using
discarded goods and reprocessing them at church-owned and operated plants
and factories, the goods were marketed at church-owned Deseret Industries
stores in the more populated areas at less than normal retail prices for
such items. Deseret Industries also provided employment for the unskilled
and handicapped." (BYU Studies, v5, #1, p83)
The Church Security Program has continued to evolve over the years, changing
to meet the needs of an ever changing Church membership.
In 1983, the Church announced significant changes to the Welfare program.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "The changes of program
or method were extensive. The annual storehouse commodity budget cash assessments
(paid by each stake through production projects or cash payments) were
discontinued. The commodity program would now be funded by voluntary fast
offering (cash) contributions. The financing of storehouses and production
projects would now be provided by general church funds, without local contributions.
Existing production projects would be evaluated with a view to combining,
trading, or reassigning them to provide greater efficiency. Only those
properties that would produce welfare goods needed within the system would
be retained as welfare projects. Others would be sold or managed as taxpaying
"Under this major change
of method, the number of production projects was significantly reduced,
most notably in areas without large concentrations of membership. Many
production projects and most storehouses remained, but their functions
were rolled back to the original purposes of producing and distributing
commodities directly for the relief of the poor and providing work opportunities
for those assisted and for significant numbers of the general membership.
When these objectives could not be served by a project, assistance of the
poor and needy was to be administered on a cash basis." (The
Lord's Own Way, p129)
Elder Oaks quoted from the Leader's Guide to Welfare regarding our responsibility
as members and families: "Latter-day Saints have
the responsibility to provide for themselves and their families. Individual
members, however, may find it necessary to receive assistance beyond that
which the family can provide, in which case they may turn to the Church
for help. In some instances, individual members may decide to receive assistance
from other sources, including government. In all such cases, members should
avoid becoming dependent upon these sources and strive to become self-reliant.
Where possible, they should work in return for assistance rendered."
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the principles discussed in this lesson. What can
you do to increase your own self-reliance and that of your family? How can you
reach out to assist those in need?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Discourses of Brigham Young.
Gospel Standards by Heber J. Grant.
Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard Arrington.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley.
Teachings of Harold B. Lee.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
The Lord's Own Way by Dallin H. Oaks.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
23 July 2017