We cannot and we will not shift this responsibility of caring for the poor to others. We cannot delegate it to our neighbor. —President Henry B. Eyring
SANDY — Referring to it as a "temporal representation of our spiritual commitment to fly to the aid of the Lord's poor," President Henry B. Eyring dedicated the LDS Church's new welfare facility in Sandy Wednesday evening as "a house of healing" and a place "designed to clothe, heal, comfort, teach and encourage" God's precious children.
The 58,656-square foot building is located at 825 E. 9400 South. The dedication drew some 700 invited guests and dignitaries who sat in the sales area of the new Deseret Industries thrift store, which is linked in the new facility with a LDS Employment Resources Center and a LDS Family Service Center.
"The transformational work performed in these welfare facilities is a noble endeavor," said President Eyring, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"(This work) is precious to the Savior," he continued. "He is mindful of those who support and sustain it. It is not trivial to him for, as he taught, it is the work that will ultimately influence our eternal fate."
The new Sandy Deseret Industries store opens Thursday morning at 10, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. At 27,500 square feet of space, it is one of the largest of the church's 42 Deseret Industries stores, and will have the capacity to train 140 employees at any given time.
The adjoining LDS Employment Resource Center is expected to help about 2,400 individuals find jobs or cultivate self-employment each year. Like the LDS Family Services Agency, it will serve church members from 52 nearby stakes as well as other members of the community who have been referred by LDS ecclesiastical leaders. Both of these facilities also open Thursday.
The new Sandy LDS welfare complex, President Eyring said, is "a modern monument to the idea that we cannot properly worship our God without 'remembering in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not his disciple'."
"We cannot and we will not shift this responsibility of caring for the poor to others," he continued. "We cannot delegate it to our neighbor."
Rather, President Eyring said, "it is our hope that we will be a source of strength and service to the people in these surrounding communities that both patronize and donate to these operations."
President Eyring noted that the dedication was taking place 75 years, almost to the day, since the church opened its first Deseret Industries building (then known as Welfare Industries but soon changed to its current name because church leaders were uncomfortable with the link between the word "welfare" and the government dole). He pointed out the racks of clothing that surrounded the dedicatory congregation, as well as the shelves filled with books and household supplies and the aisles of furniture both donated and new and observed that "for many, this is what Deseret Industries represents."
"But as with our other facilities, what you see on the outside is merely a shadow of the true purpose and reason for its existence," President Eyring said. "In this facility and others like it you will find some of the finest people this world has to offer. Often those who come here have journeyed through dark valleys of suffering and distress, persecution and failure. No matter the path they have walked, here they are offered safety and blessed hope — a place of understanding, nurturing and encouragement."
Deseret Industries, he said, "is a bridge to a better life."
Other speakers during the hour-long dedicatory service also referred to the lives that will be improved through the work performed at the three facility entities. Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Church's Presidency of the Seventy referred to the many wildernesses through which people travel during the course of their lives.
"Some are wildernesses that people create for themselves, and some are a consequence of the world in which we live," Elder Clayton said. "There are wildernesses of unemployment, wildernesses of addiction, wildernesses of immigration. There are so many things that can make life uneven and difficult.
"And then you come to a building like this," he continued, "and you see that the Lord has provided a way to confront and tame the wildernesses in which we live."
Linda K. Burton, general president of the LDS Relief Society, spoke intimately of ways in which the three entities — Deseret Industries, LDS Family Services and LDS Employment Resource Services — had blessed her family as well as the lives of people she knew. She said she has seen "darkness and despair give way to hope and happiness" through these welfare services, and she expressed gratitude that this new facility will be a place where people will find encouragement, confidence and healing.
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the church's Presiding Bishopric recalled being in Japan at the time of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and seeing how these welfare elements fit together to bless the lives of the Japanese people during a time of great need.
"I saw first-hand the response through the organization of the church," Bishop Stevenson said, quoting President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's statement that "the welfare principles of the church are not simply good ideas; they are revealed truths from God — they are his way of helping the needy."