CEDAR CITY, Utah
The services provided in a new Deseret Industries facility will contribute to the “real long-term objective” of the Church’s welfare plan, which is “to transform souls,” said Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé.
Bishop Caussé dedicated the new expanded retail store in Cedar City, Utah, on Wednesday, April 19. Local Church, community and other religious leaders attended the dedicatory services for the new 48,000-square-foot facility.
The Deseret Industries chain of thrift stores offers the sale of gently-used secondhand items, including clothing, shoes, dishes, furniture, home decor, books, toys, tools and other merchandise. Donations not sold in the store are used for world humanitarian relief or recycled.
But the facilities’ donation processing and retail services are only some of many valuable features. In addition, the facilities offer vocational training to employees, many of whom need help in finding steady employment. The Cedar City store will employ five job coaches to assist its 75 store associates in developing skills and achieving certifications to enable them to pursue a career and maintain full-time employment.
The new Southern Utah store will also house an LDS Family Services office which provides resources for individuals facing social and emotional challenges.
Bishop Caussé remarked during the dedicatory services that both Deseret Industries and LDS Family Services are “powerful tools” to assist in the responsibility of caring for the poor and needy.
He also noted the joyful anticipation of many local members for the completion of the Cedar City Utah Temple, which will be dedicated later this year. “While the opening of the temple this fall may generate more public attention than the opening of this new welfare complex, the two events are not unrelated,” he said.
Where was the Savior when He was not found in the temple teaching? Bishop Caussé asked. The answer comes from the words of Isaiah read by the Savior in a synagogue in Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, ... [and] to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).
“And thus we can see that both the new temple, where the glorious plan of salvation will be taught, and this new welfare facility, where many will find healing and deliverance from a variety of challenges and afflictions, are both central to the mission of the Savior and His Church,” Bishop Caussé said.
The Savior’s work of redeeming and exalting souls takes place in both the temple and a Welfare Services facility, he continued, and promised that “all who come to labor in any way within these walls will be participants in the Lord’s work and will have the opportunity to partake of His Spirit.”
Recognizing Cedar City as the home of a nationally renowned Shakespeare festival, Bishop Caussé spoke of a character from Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear. Edgar, a young nobleman, fearing for his life, flees his home and poses as a beggar for most of the play. Only in the final act is he reconciled to his father and restored to his rightful station.
Bishop Caussé also used the example of Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Jean Valjean, a hardened and embittered ex-convict, is brought before the bishop of Digne following an unsuccessful attempt to rob him of a basket of silverware. To Valjean’s amazement, the bishop dismisses the authorities and presents the silver to him as a gift, saying, “Jean Valjean, my brother, ... it is your soul that I buy from you ... and I give it to God.”
“Brothers and sisters, metaphorically, this new welfare facility will become the stage upon which these classic stories will be reenacted in real life and with real children of our Father in Heaven,” Bishop Caussé declared.
Like Edgar of King Lear, many individuals will come to the new welfare complex in the midst of great personal challenges. “Through the intervention of caring job coaches, development counselors, or LDS Family Services counselors, they will rediscover — or perhaps discover for the first time — their divine potential.”
Like Jean Valjean, some may come in the midst of recovery from prolonged hardships, harmful habits or economic difficulties, Bishop Caussé continued, and like the bishop of Digne, priesthood and Relief Society leaders will be able to discern each person’s capacity to build a brighter future.
“By partnering with those who serve in the welfare operations, leaders can help lift these individuals to temporal and spiritual self-reliance, as former thought patterns and behaviors give way to gospel-based practices that facilitate their ability to maintain a livelihood and also to lead a productive and joyful life,” Bishop Caussé said.
The Church’s welfare plan is not just about clothing bodies and furnishing homes, Bishop Caussé said, but about transforming souls. “Souls who, like Shakespeare’s Edgar, Hugo’s Valjean, or even members of our own wards, may have lost sight of their own worth and capacity, and are in need of those who, in the words of J. Reuben Clark, can ‘rescu[e] all that is finest down deep inside of them, and [bring] to flower and fruitage the latent richness of [their] spirit[s], which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.’ ”
The new Cedar City Deseret Industries opened on Thursday, April 20, with a three-day grand opening celebration that included a ribbon cutting, live music, giveaways and a visit by the local university’s mascot — Southern Utah University’s Thor the Thunderbird. Deseret Industries has had a presence in Cedar City since 1974 and relocated to the new facility at 1460 S. Providence Center Dr.