Before leaving for Uganda, I stopped at the warehouse of LDS Humanitarian Services hoping to garner some medical supplies — bandaids bandages, braces, masks, gloves, surgical equipment — for an orphanage. I had heard that is possible to get up to $1,000 of assistance without a great deal of paperwork.
On arrival at the warehouse, I was welcomed warmly and I was given everything on my “want” list that they had in stock. This assistance was greatly appreciated by both myself and the physician’s assistant that I delivered the supplies to. I was very proud of my church. This support for NGOs was inspiring.
While in Uganda, I had time to think about how my personal beliefs compare to official actions and pronouncements of the LDS Church. I realized that there were several points of serious divergence: work for the dead, expensive construction programs, subsidies to BYU, etc.
Over the next few decades, the LDS Church will evolve from a middle-class white organization to an ecclesiastical institution with the majority of its members living in 3rd world countries, many living well below the poverty line. I wondered if we, as a church, are moving fast enough to come to grips with this reality? Shouldn’t we be worrying more about the living than the dead?
I doubt that anyone would argue that the church is a top-down organization. So how do you influence leadership?
I have heard that during an Ethiopian famine years ago, the Church hierarchy requested donations. And that they received a lot more money than they were, at the time, prepared to dispense. And that this event help give impetus to the current LDS Charities/Humanitarian program. I now wonder, what if interested members decided that they would start their own allocation program on the tithing forms. What if members gave 10 percent, but “assisted” the leaders with decisions as to where to spend the money? How about giving a significant percent to “Fast Offerings,” “Humanitarian Assistance,” and the “Perpetual Education Fund?” Would Bishops and Stake Presidents bend the rules? Probably not, but it might be worth a try.