Mormons thanked for service, dedication to faith
Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY – The leader of the Mormon church thanked members Saturday for their dedication to their faith and service at the start of a two-day spring meeting that draws more than 100,000 to Salt Lake City.
“Thank you my brothers and sisters for your faith and devotion,” President Thomas S. Monson said. “You serve willingly and well and accomplish great good.”
The event comes days before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marks the 180th anniversary of its founding – April 6 – by Joseph Smith, Jr.
It is also the 25th year that the 13 million-member, Utah-based church has operated a worldwide humanitarian assistance program, which provides medical supplies, food, clothing, hygiene kits and other relief supplies. Since its start in 1985, the program has provided some $1.1 billion in aid in response to natural disasters, and to support initiatives that promote health and disease prevention, employment and other programs to ease poverty, according to a church Web site.
Over the past three months, the church has shipped disaster relief to aid to Haiti, Chile and a half dozen other locations in the U.S. and abroad, Monson said Saturday.
“We will always strive to be among the first on the scene of disasters, wherever they may occur,” Monson said.
Mormons gather twice yearly – April and October – to hear words of inspiration and guidance for daily living from the faith’s senior leaders. Five two-hour sessions are planned at the church’s 21,000-seat center in downtown Salt Lake City.
More than 100,000 attend the event in person, while millions more view the proceedings on satellite broadcasts, radio or via the Internet.
The broadcasts are translated into more than 80 languages.
A growing faith, the church has a presence in more than 170 countries.
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