Let us not quibble or complain

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Member Finances Fireside of the April 1990 Conference.
From what I gathered just reading these talks, this fireside was to announce, or explain, a recent change in church budgeting. I guess this was when the switch was made (for members in the U.S. and Canada, at least) from church members paying for their own ward buildings and activities, to those costs coming from the general tithing funds of the church. I didn't know this had happened so (relatively) recently—in the 1990's! I don't ever remember it being any other way.

What struck me, though, was how much this change in budgeting was tied to the church's wish to help families. It seems like such an obvious early step toward the "home-centered, church-supported" focus we've been talking about so much lately! Elder Packer said:
This change in budgeting will have the effect of returning much of the responsibility for teaching and counseling and activity to the family where it belongs. While there will still be many activities, they will be scaled down in cost of both time and money. There will be fewer intrusions into family schedules and in the family purses.

Church activities must be replaced by family activities. Just as we have been taught with temporal affairs, the spirit of independence, thrift, and self-reliance will be re-enthroned as guiding principles in the homes of Latter-day Saints.…

This decision will set a better balance between families being assessed time and money to support Church activities and Church activities complementing what families should do for themselves.
I also liked his reminder about the blessings that come from freewill offerings: 
For those who can and are willing, there comes the opportunity to make generous offerings. In leaving decisions to you, do you not see the fundamental doctrine of moral agency asserting itself? Do you not see the change from assessment to offering something of the testing which is fundamental to our mortal probation?
The primary responsibility for building testimonies and providing faith-building experiences in our members, including our youth, resides in the home. The Church should continue to support the determination of the family to do this. Priesthood leaders will wish to increase their efforts to build strong, gospel-centered homes.
I liked President Hinckley's thoughts as well:
In those days we would have thought the Millennium had come if we had received word that the Church would bear all of the costs of providing land, all of the costs incident to building construction, operation, and maintenance, let alone an activity and administrative budget allowance of forty dollars per year per individual, based on the number who attend sacrament meeting.

It is not the Millennium, but this long hoped-for and prayed-for day has come. Though I have been a party to its inauguration, I still stand in awe at what has happened.…
I had never really thought much about this aspect of the church—that buildings are provided without cost to us, etc.—because it's just so normal to me, I hadn't thought to be grateful for it! But it is pretty amazing that we have all that, as well as ward budgets for youth activities, etc., and no one has to be left out because they don't have enough. At the same time, I have always been in wards that have taken this advice seriously, and I'm so glad that I've seen this example from a young age:
What we have done is an act of faith. I believe it to be a tremendous act of faith. The Church is not so wealthy that it can indiscriminately scatter its resources. We must be extremely careful and wise, and I believe inspired, if this program, which involves many millions of dollars of added expense, is to function. We ask every stake president, every bishop, every branch president, every administrator of Church facilities, to teach our people principles of frugality. Watch the lights and turn them off when they are not needed. Watch the heating and cooling. Watch the sprinkling of lawns and telephone usage. We may be as free as we wish with our own funds, but not with the Lord’s.
And then I felt like this counsel could apply to so many things today, including Home Church, changes to Youth programs, and just the general weirdness of church amid the pandemic:
In working under [these changes] let us not quibble or complain. Let us not get bogged down in discussions over a division of dollars and dimes. Let us not worry and get all worked up about [things] that now may not be possible. …[We] are people of ingenuity who with faith and prayer can work out programs costing little in dollars that will yield tremendous dividends in wholesome recreation and faith-building activities. Perhaps we should be less concerned with fun and more with faith. …As with any new program, there will be a few items that will need to be corrected as we go along. There are still unanswered questions…Time and experience will provide the answers. Meanwhile, be grateful and prayerfully go to work to make it function. I promise you that you will be happy if you do so. Family life will be strengthened and faith will increase.

Other posts in this series:
Covering us financially—by Jan Tolman
Naturalism and Supernaturalism—by Nathaniel Givens

1 comment

  1. I don't know how much older I am than you, but I remember the "olden" days of ward budget fund raising, and building project fund raising. Lots of hard work, but lots of good times and testimony building too. Not only was this change to build families, but to equalize the programs of the church between old, established, wealthy wards in the "Mormon corridor", and the new, smaller branches and wards everywhere else. That was a huge blessing!


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