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NEW YORK CITY – The humanitarian efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the sole focus of a United Nations meeting Thursday.
The meeting was part of the U.N.’s Nongovernmental Organizations Relations and Advocacy section’s Focus on Faith series. Titled “Discovering Mormonism and Its Role in Humanitarian Assistance,” the meeting brought together representatives of the church and U.N. members to talk about the work the church has done throughout the world.
“Charity is more than aid,” said Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities. Referring to a story about the church’s humanitarian efforts after World War II, she said, “It emphasizes dignity, human worth, cooperation, unity, sacrifice and the assurance that no one is too poor or too disabled or too marginalized to contribute something of value.”
LDS Charities, which is self-funded by donations and relies mostly on volunteers, provided $84 million in assistance to people in 130 countries in 2013, according to Eubank. The program reaches millions of people worldwide through its vision care, wheelchair distribution, immunization, neonatal resuscitation, and clean water programs, to name a few.
The church partners with other NGOs like Rotary International, Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, World Health Organization and U.N. High Commission for Refugees, among others.
“Faiths and religions are central to achieving common goals and transformational change,” Eubank said.
Elder Phil Colton, a government relations representative to the U.N. for LDS Charities, said the meeting was part of the organization’s efforts to watch for issues that might impact the church and its members throughout the world and build bridges with U.N. ambassadors.
“I wanted to tie in what we do — LDS Charities and our global initiatives — with what the UN does,” Colton said.
The granting of NGO status to LDS Charities was a big step for the organization because it allowed it to present in such U.N.-sanctioned venues and give input to U.N. ambassadors when appropriate. At the Focus on Faith event, Colton discussed U.N. humanitarian programs that parallel the efforts of LDS Charities.
“(It’s to) take our goals and objectives and introduce them into the world hoping the world will become a better place,” Colton said.