SALT LAKE CITY — For the last 18 months, top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have worked to make the church’s partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a “high priority,” according to a news release from the church.
The two groups met in early 2018 and customized the church’s self-reliance materials and programs for education and employment initiatives across the United States. Presidents of both organizations then called for racial and ethnic harmony during a press conference following the meeting.
On Wednesday, the church announced that President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak Sunday at the 110th national convention of the NAACP in Detroit, Michigan.
“I’m honored to have (the church) stand in unity with the NAACP to advance equality and justice for all,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a prepared statement. “We must recognize and accept the importance of creating amity with those that are raising the consciousness of this nation — the church is committed to doing just that.”
A member of the Seventy, a top governing body in the church, spoke at the convention last year. In February, the church donated $2 million to the new International African American Museum to support the creation of the museum’s Center for Family History.
President Nelson “has made clear in word and deed his desire to be a bridge builder with all peoples, faiths, cultures and communities,” the news release reads.
“Only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of men and the true sisterhood of women. … That understanding inspires us with passionate desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation,” President Nelson said during a celebration of diversity that marked the 40th anniversary of a change in church policy.
In 1978, the church ended a 126-year-old policy that prohibited black male members of African descent from holding the priesthood — a privilege faithful members of the church believe is the power and authority to act in the name of God. The policy change also ended a restriction on black members from participating in certain Latter-day Saint temple ceremonies.