In a powerful and inspiring event at the United Nations, Jean Bingham, General Relief Society President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined in a panel titled “Finding a New Home: The Role of Faith-based Organizations in Refugee Assistance and Resettlement.” This subject could not have been more important for this newly called General Relief Society Presidency, considering the plight of the world’s 23 million refugees and also noting that her first counselor, Sharon Eubank, is the Director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the church.
Towards the end of the session, Sister Bingham testified of the “I Was a Stranger” initiative and in response, Barbara Day, Domestic Resettlement Division Chief, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, U.S. State Department enthusiastically declared:
I want to give a shout out to the LDS (just because!) … the LDS Church came to us and said, “How can we help?” And we have embarked with them on the most incredible journey. You should be proud of the work that LDS Church has done. I speak on behalf of the resettlement agencies and all the local programs who have benefited from the generosity, the outpouring of support from the LDS Church. … They had a special Sunday across the world to raise funds [they] raised so much—so many millions of dollars. They came and said, “How can we distribute this money?” They came to a meeting with all the resettlement agencies and started talking about everything that they had to offer and jaws dropped! Somebody said, “You know, we have people who come and they need wheelchairs.” Not only does the LDS Church say, “We can give you money for wheelchairs.” No, they say, “We make wheelchairs! And we will drop ship them!” “Oh, you need food? We grow and can our own food. How much do you want?” I mean, it was unbelievable and was so freely given, so thank you!
The audience erupted into applause on several occasions during both Sister Bingham and Barbara Day’s stories of working together on humanitarian projects. Other points noted in the Mormon Newroom include:
- Sister Bingham touched briefly on the exodus of the Mormon pioneers to the West in the 1840s to flee persecution and the establishment of the Church’s global humanitarian work that was formalized in 1985 to respond to a famine in Eastern Africa. Since 1985, LDS Charities has provided $1.89 billion in assistance in 189 countries.
- LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, has assisted the nine U.S. federally authorized refugee resettlement agencies, including six faith-based organizations.
- Sister Bingham said, “While our beliefs and convictions may vary, we are united with other faiths in our commitment to a higher cause that transcends our personal interests and motivates us to give of our substance, our time, and our energies on behalf of our fellow men and women.”
To listen to the entire panel discussion, visit webtv.un.org.
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