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Preparedness and Community in the Latter Day Saints

Let me reiterate my intention with this entire Holding Up Our Sign series:

We have had trouble finding a place where we feel comfortable. In many churches, there is a terrific theological alignment, but a disagreement over social and lifestyle issues. In other churches, we fit right in to the social norms, but there are doctrinal differences that we just can’t ignore.

I am attempting to present the ideas from a wide variety of denominations that we have encountered, which we found particularly valuable – or particularly troublesome. This will include any number of churches that we know we would never attend, and it not my intention to recommend them to you wholesale.

We’re piecing together the quilt of our Home Church belief system. You get a ringside seat for the process!

First, let me state that I have never been to a church service at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church. All my observations about these issues are based on my experience of them as an outsider.

The LDS Church seems to place a lot of emphasis on two values that are near and dear to our hearts: Thrift / Preparedness and Community.

Policy encourages all members to have a Food Storage reserve in their home. This will allow them to survive any disaster – natural or social; there are guidelines for a three-month supply, and a one-year supply.

What a great policy! If something horrible happens, the only groups likely to be able to hang in there are the Amish and the Mormons!

And, vitally, it isn’t just talk, or a “command from on high” – they’re actively involved in making it happen.

They have “Canneries” set up all over the country – they seem to be going more by names like “Family Home Storage Center” these days. At any rate, church members can order bulk products through there at amazing prices (wheat, oats, rice, pasta, dried milk, beans, etc.). They can get large quantities, or they can go there and use the facility to can those products into more manageable quantities.

The best part is that non-members can order the bulk items, too! The policies shift over time, and vary slightly by location. Some times or places you need to be accompanied by a church member. When I recently ordered, their policy was that I could order the large bulk items, but would need to come as a guest (with a member) if I wanted to do canning (which is also booked 6 months ahead).

[As a side note, this is similar to the benefits we can reap as non-members from being allowed to use the vast genealogy resource libraries that the LDS Church has created.]

I have not looked into it a great deal, but passing comments have led me to believe that some (many?) of the products are grown and packaged all within the church. What an accomplishment!

Some people may wish to argue that this is not trusting in God for our daily bread. On the contrary, I believe absolutely it is being a good steward of the bread He does provide. The Israelites and their manna was a single very specific situation, and a specific lesson for them. Are the chipmunk and the ant doing wrong by storing food for the winter? No. It is the natural order – harvest in season, and preserve the bounty for the lean times.

Several of my favorite cooking and food storage blogs, as it happens, are based on rotating and cooking with your food storage, from some delightful Mormon ladies.

And furthermore?

They have an offshoot of this which I believe is referred to as the “Bishop’s Storehouse,” which functions as a food pantry for those local church members experiencing challenges.

And when we went to pick up the bulk order a couple of weeks ago? Right there in the same building was an sign indicating that it was the home of the job placement assistance office!

Just wow!

For me/us, it seems like the modern “Mainstream Evangelical Church” has gotten a little preoccupied with evangelism.

Please don’t even start to tell me how important it is, or that Christ commanded it. I’m in no way denying or belittling that.

But Christ spent a lot more time telling the church to take care of one another. Feed My sheep. Bear one another’s burdens.

If we started by strengthening the church body, and supporting one another, we would be stronger and better able to spread the Good News!

So our Home Church’s belief system includes the idea that it is good stewardship to be prepared for what the broken world may have in store, as well as the oft-mentioned idea that the church should be extremely supportive and communal.

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