News Release

Church Members Encouraged to Assist Refugees

Sisters Linda S. Reeves and Carol F. McConkie are traveling the world to encourage members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to join with other organizations in their communities devoted to relieving the suffering of refugees and helping them find and adjust to new homes and surroundings. Sister Reeves is the Second Counselor in the General Presidency of the Relief Society, the Church's women's organization and Sister McConkie is the First Counselor in the General Presidency of the Church's Young Women's organization.

Monday 13th June they joined Melbourne area Relief Society presidents and other Church members at a luncheon to share ideas and experiences focused on the theme "I Was a Stranger."

Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were urged to respond to the plight of the more than 60 million refugees in the world today who have been forced from their homelands by war, political upheavals, economic disasters and other misfortunes.

The initiative was introduced with a video recounting the experience of early Latter-day Saints being driven from their homes in Missouri in the winter of 1838-1839 and being taken in by the citizens of Quincy, Illinois and provided with food, clothing and shelter until they could regroup and continue their journey to the site of the future city of Nauvoo, Illinois, 80 km up the Mississippi River. The kindness of the residents of Quincy literally saved their lives. The "I Was a Stranger" initiative seeks to emulate their good deeds.

Alice Watson, who works for the Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre in southern Melbourne introduced some of the opportunities for volunteers, such as tutoring school children and their parents in English, a task made more challenging because some refugees are not literate in their native languages. This was followed by several former refugees describing the perilous journeys that brought them from their homelands to Australia.

Attendees enjoyed lunch together and listened to each other's stories. “This organization is bringing hearts together in a new way. It's not about politics, religion, or boundaries. It's about opening hearts to all our brothers and sisters and doing good,” said Sister Reeves in her closing remarks.

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