Origins of the Bishop Storehouse System – Why LDS Members Locate Bishop Storehouses

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The bishop storehouse became a trademark of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 1831 when Joseph Smith Jr. had a revelation from the Lord, in which he was told to store the food in order to give it to the poor and needy.

Since then, the storehouses evolved and became ever more popular. Nearly every LDS congregation has one – and most of them are physical storehouses in which goods are deposited. In the beginning, they stored only food – today however, they also store useful household items and a considerable workforce, ready to provide aid to those in need.

In a disaster scenario, the bishop or the president of the Relief Society will start managing distribution of goods from the bishop storehouse. People who need food, moral support and even a few extra helping hands – all can and will find comfort through the storehouse program.

Everybody knows that the LDS community has a much accentuated concern for preparedness. The Church strongly recommends that every household has at least 3 days’ worth of supplies of food and other crucial items, in case of a disaster scenario. But this is not a mandatory task – so of course there will be people who, due to varying circumstances, fail to meet these recommended standards. Luckily for them, the bishop storehouse is there and ready to provide the help they need to get them back on their feet. If possible, they are asked afterwards to give a helping hand at the storehouse, in compensation for the help they received.

The goods within the bishop storehouse are donated by the members themselves. This is not a requirement, but it is highly recommended in order to abide to the preparedness tradition of the LDS community. Not only do members prepare themselves at home, but they also donate food, items and money to the storehouse in order to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. After all, nobody can predict when disasters are going to happen – we all know they will happen sooner or later and it is best to have more than one management plan for the time of the crisis.

The bishop storehouse is exclusively managed by the bishop, along with the president of the Relief Society. It is only these two people that can take applications into consideration and decide whether a family or single person gets help and then what kind of help will they get. The first storehouse was built in Kirkland, Ohio.

There are however some LDS communities which do not have a physical location for the storehouse. These communities rely on their bishops to organize fast offerings, in which members of the community are asked to donate what they can for those in need. These fast offerings can be organized at anytime and anywhere, regardless if the community has or does not have a location for a storehouse. In most cases, the offering is organized in special cases – like for people who have special dietary restrictions.

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