News of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pittsburgh area, counsel from its leaders, and reflections from its members.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Purposes of the Church

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, "New LDS emphasis: care for the needy," reported that the new Church Handbook of Instructions, due out next year, will include a revision to the current description of the three-fold mission of the Church articulated by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball some 20 years ago.  The new statement of the "purposes" of the Church will add a fourth purpose: "to care for the poor and needy."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Call to Join LinkedIn --

This is your phone call! We need help! And those who give help, can obtain help as well!

The following quote was taken Bishop Richard C Edgley’s 2009 Conference talk, “This is your phone call”.

“Often, individuals who are not of our faith—members of other churches, relief organizations, governments, and the news media—comment on how quickly the Church is able to mobilize so many who are willing to help. They ask, “How do you do it?” The response to this question can be simply stated as “We are prepared, we have organization, we have empathy, and we have charity.” It usually just takes a few phone calls from presiding authorities to local leaders to mobilize hundreds and sometimes thousands of individuals to go to the rescue of their fellow brothers and sisters in distress.

Tonight I wish to speak of another challenge to which we have opportunities to respond, and brethren, this is your phone call. This challenge is not one of natural causes; however, its effects are real and are being felt globally. And while we are optimistic about the future, we continue—as we have for decades—to espouse the fundamental principle that we are our brother’s keeper.
Elder Robert D. Hales has recently observed: “The economic clouds that have long threatened the world are now fully upon us. The impact of this economic storm on our Heavenly Father’s children requires a gospel vision of welfare today more than ever before.”1 The unemployment and financial wakes of this storm are splashing over every stake and every ward throughout the Church. I suspect they have been felt in some way by each of us, whether personally—through members of our families or extended families—or through someone we know.

Brethren, there is no organization better able to respond to the challenges of humanity than the priesthood of the Most High God. We have the organization. Stake presidents, bishops, elders quorum presidents, and high priests group leaders—we now call upon you to mobilize our priesthood quorums in response to the employment and financial challenges facing our members. Consider this your personal phone call. Now is the time to rally around, lift up, and help the families in our quorums who may be in distress.

Opportunities abound, and yours is the opportunity and responsibility of marshaling the Lord’s resources. Among our quorum members, you will likely find those who know of job openings and others who are skilled at writing résumés or assisting in interview preparation. Regardless of titles or skills, you will find a brotherhood committed to bear one another’s burdens.”

The needs of members in regard to employment can be fulfilled in part, if necessary with the food stuffs in the Bishop’s Storehouse. However, The Bishops storehouse is not just the foodstuffs in the warehouse. The Bishops storehouse is also the time, gifts, and talents of the members of the Church! A Website called LinkedIn has been chosen by the church to be the tool by which we may organize this tremendous amount of information pertaining to the talents we as members of the Church have and can share. The Church recommends members join both the Church Wide group at LdsConnect at:

and a local Stake group, which for us is called, The LDS Pittsburgh Employment Stake Employment and Support Group. The URL is at:

In the spring of 2009, in an all area Employment Conference, Brother Douglas Malloy encouraged at minimum for the members in each ward and branch, of each Priesthood Executive Committee to register on LinkedIn. (More about LinkedIn to follow). LinkedIn is a computerized social media tool to help people network together in locating employment.

However, to achieve its highest potential I would like to invite ALL members of the Pittsburgh Stake to Join the LDS Pittsburgh Stake and Area Employment Support Group on LinkedIn.

These are the guidelines for the Group on LinkedIn. This group is a resource for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Greater Pittsburgh Region and or within the Boundaries of the Stake, who are participating in LDS employment networking. Members of this group who search for jobs use the site to identify other members who might be able to help with their job search networking efforts. Members may also use the site to identify other members in the area with similar interests. It is important to have as many members as possible participate in this group. By posting your own occupation, especially your resumes, other members belonging to the group can search the group database to find those who might be able to help with their job search networking. It may be someone applying for employment in the company where you work who is seeking a contact name or it may be someone who is looking for the names of companies where their occupation might be needed.

This group also supports people who are not necessarily having any particular training or in a profession, but need a "job". In occupations where resumes are not customarily used, please join LinkedIn by putting in your work history so that you can help others possible get employment where you work, or perhaps seek others that work in the same kind of company you desire to work in. Any one who works, and any one who needs work is invited to participate.In order to keep the information from being accessible to the general public, before a name is added to the group membership it will automatically be forwarded to me or other employment specialists for approval. To help us with the approvals, please enter your ward and stake under the "Groups and Associations" paragraph on the "Additional Information" section of your Profile.

All members of this group are expected to follow Networking Etiquette at the least of which would be, by BOTH HELPING others, and receiving help; not forgetting to say thank you; and to "return and report" your experiences to the person who helped you; and by maintaining contact by creating an enjoyable online community of neighbor helping neighbor who both give and receive support.

There is also a JOB tab for the group. Please add any LOCAL jobs in the Pittsburgh Stake. It would be wonderful for all members of the Stake to post the jobs they learn about in their local areas, to be used by members in that area, or other members residing in surrounding wards. Any jobs posted here, I will get added to the LDS Detroit job site. Any member of the group may add job listings.

It would be great if the membership of this support group grew FAR beyond just the PEC of each ward and branch. Hopefully we can get MANY 100's, if not 1,000s of members in the Pittsburgh Stake to sign up also so that employment concerns become a thing of the past.

Please look over these short videos on What LinkedIn is, and how to get a proper start with LinkedIn, how to maximize the use of it, and you can also get a sense of what help you can also be to others.

What is LinkedIn, and How to Join:

Using LinkedIn to find a Job:

LinkedIn and Your Job Search

Proper use of LinkedIn

How to Improve your LinkedIn Profile: Extreme Makeover

Setting up a professional Profile and explanations of various features of LinkedIn

Please initially just create your own account at In the beginning, please enter very minimal information and begin to explore the capabilities of LinkedIn. But it’s full potential will not be realized until you complete your online profile.

After putting minimal information to get started on LinkedIn, then go to this URL:

and request to join our local Stake Group. I will then approve you to join the group. Please join the group, and see what wonderful information is already displayed. You will see some job postings as a start to what other members could be adding, and many articles and discussions on employment topics. Please add interesting articles, and add to the discussion to help the group achieve its aim to serve its members. What you see when you join the group is just a start to what other people who belong in the group could add also. The possibilities are wonderful! AND job listings are automatically deleted by the system in 30 days so listings remain fresh. You can set up your profile to receive articles, jobs etc which are posted in the group website.

This group is also designed to be used for people who do not necessarily have specialized training or necessarily have a career, but instead, just need a job. If an applicant opens a LinkedIn account, enters their job history, joins the group, they can still connect with others: whether it be the CEO of Heinz, or the cashier or cook at McDonalds. It provides upward mobility for those who want to move up the economic ladder. It is wonderful as people can help people, and also can help themselves using this wonderful social networking tool. I look forward to receiving your requests to join the LDS Pittsburgh Stake and Area Employment Support Group on LinkedIn.

Please keep in mind after joining the group, about the standard in asking people to join your network. There are some privacy issues, and a great many ways to use this website very effectively. Warning: To maintain the integrity of 1st level contacts, something which should be inherent in networking, it is best for all concerned to link directly ONLY to those with whom you actually have a personal professional relationship. These 1st level links should be people you know well enough to confidently recommend or introduce to others within the network. By adhering to this standard you will not embarrass yourself nor damage your reputation by referring people to others whom you do not have a knowledge of their professional background and personality characteristics. The network works only if you use it correctly and maintain a level of trust among network members. You also want recommendation by people who know the value and professionalism of your work. Whenever you ask someone to join your network, you have the oppoturnity to share a short message. If you do not know well the person you are contacting, please, use the feature to ask that person to be in your netword, BUT in your message, please give your email address, so that the person you are requesting to join your network may respond to you outside of LinkedIn. If we approach networking in this way, we still can keep the integrity of 1st level contacts, and still be able to respond to each others request for help.

God bless each of each to fully utilize this great tool called LinkedIn, and to follow Heavenly Father’s admonition to be our brother's keeper.

Ken Soenen
Pittsburgh Stake Employment Specialist

Addiction Recovery Program Training

Sister Annette and Elder Kirk Lillrose of Kalamazoo, MI, working with our own Sister Debbie and Elder Ed Greenwald, hosted a training meeting yesterday for priesthood leaders and Addiction Recovery Program workers from the Pittsburgh Stakes and Brookville District. A few highlights follow:

Bro. Douglas LeCheminant of LDS Family Services reported that in 2009 there will be some 51,000 ARP meetings held worldwide, most in the U.S., with some 386,000 in attendance. The number of meetings has increased by 350% in five years.

The June 2009 edition of The Ensign included an excellent article explaining the Addiction Recovery Program by Lia McClanahan, "Addiction Recovery: Healing One Step at a Time."

Dr. Donald L. Hilton, Jr., a neurosurgeon, gave an outstanding presentation on redeeming the soul. Repentance and recovery work together to restore the soul: repentance heals the spirit, while recovery heals the body. Addiction is "a pathological but powerful form of learning." Recover is difficult because addiction resents the brain's powerful pleasure "thermostat" and damages the frontal area of the brain, where judgment occurs.

Elder Lillrose gave instruction for priesthood leaders. Prospective ARP workers should sit through a complete 12-week cycle before they are called. The most effective groups do not strive to save souls by teaching; rather they focus on giving hope for recovery through sharing of personal experiences. A priesthood leader assigned by the stake president in each stake—either a member of the stake presidency or a high councilor—should oversee the program and keep the stake president informed.

There is much we can do in PA to improve our performance, but we were counseled simply, "Do your best, and leave the rest to the Lord."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Arbor - November 2009

The leading article in the November issue of The Arbor is "Climbing over Step Four"—"Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself."  Patty O. tells how she found the strength to accomplish that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Families Supporting Adoption Area Conference

My daughter Amy and I attended the North America Northeast Area conference of Families Supporting Adoption.  We loved it.  We attended sessions on advocating for adoption, open communication between birth mothers and adopting couples, and financing adoption.  (The Church subsidizes adoptions done through LDS Family Services.)

One of the highlights of the conference was a panel of birth mothers, who told their unique stories.  Every one of the four women on the panel bore testimony of how God had supported them in making the difficult decision of placing their child for adoption and guided them to the couple that was right for their child.  They knew God had been involved, and they had no regrets for the decision they had made—pretty heroic.

We came home thinking that we would benefit greatly from establishing a sub-chapter of Families Supporting Adoption in Pittsburgh.

The Arbor - October 2009

Two articles in the October 2009 edition of The Arbor focus on how the Atonement help us to stay in the light, and how the Addiction Recovery Program can help us learn about and take advantage of the Atonement.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


In the hopes of providing sound guidance in trying times, Brigham Young University professor of Family Life Alan Hawkins and divorce attorney Tamara Fackrell have teamed up to write “Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out? A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Extreme Job Searches

Have you ever been desperate enough to hang a signboard around your neck to advertise that you're looking for a job? You can read about the outcomes of such extreme job search approaches in Joann Lublin's "Lessons of Extreme Job-Hunting"and Dana Mattioloi's "Brave or Brazen? Bold Tactics Don't Always Get the Job" in the September 1 edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Bottom line? "Recruiters say the best ways to stand out don't change with the unemployment rate: network, craft a well-written resume and cover letter, and be prepared during interviews."

The Arbor - August and September 2009

In the August issue of The Arbor Jessica Wesel explains why the Addiction Recovery Program can be called the Atonement Recovery Program.  The September issue includes testimonies on choice and Step 3, Trust in God.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Farewell, Tranquil Mind"

In D&C 38: 30 the Lord promises us that "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." Without such a promise we might well fear the disasters of the world in which we live. Andrew F. Krepinevich has written about some of the awful possibilities in 7 Deadly Scenarios, which Bret Stephens reviews in "Farewell, Tranquil Mind" in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Krepinevich's concern is with the worst that can plausibly happen to the U.S. . . . within the next decade. What's plausible?" He spins out possible scenarios involving nuclear bombs being detonated in U.S. cities, a global avian-flu pandemic that "sends a desperate human tide coming up from Mexico" and others.

The Lord has counseled us to prepare both spiritually and temporally. "Prepare ye, prepare ye, for that which is to come . . . ." (D&C 1: 12)

Danger to the Food Supply

A February 10 article by Jim Carlton in The Wall Street Journal documents that "Shrinking Water Supplies Imperil California Farmers." This is not good news for any of us who rely on California to produce much of our fresh produce. The article reports that "California is locked in the third year of one of its worst droughts on record, with reservoirs holding as little as 22% of capacity." As a result, "managers said they plan to sideline 9,000 of 11,000 acres they used to plant with tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and other vegetables."

This is the time to put a little food supply away in our homes if we have not done so already. Begin now to put aside the food your family normally eats until you have a three-month supply of those items. Then begin to think about longer-term storage items.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Arbor - March 2009

The March issue of The Arbor includes articles from two sisters who have overcome addiction through their reliance on the Savior and testimony from a priesthood of the efficacy of the Addiction Recovery Program.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Job Search Success Stories

It is fun to read the job search success stories the Church has now posted in the employment section of Even though some of them are from other parts of the world, the principles they illustrate are good anywhere, including here in the Pittsburgh PA Welfare Region.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Arbor - February 2009

The February edition of The Arbor includes articles on the importance of faith, repentance, and new year's resolutions.

Addiction Recovery Program group leaders may make copies for participants. Priesthood leaders may also make copies for people who would benefit, but The Arbor should not be posted on bulletin boards, other public viewing areas, nor handed out in general church meetings.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please send name and e-mail address to: In the subject line type “Additions to the Arbor Mailing List”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Indy Net

The Indiana Regional Bishops' Storehouse is one of the major storehouse that supplies smaller storehouses like the one in Brecksville, OH, which in turn supplies most of the Pittsburgh PA Welfare Region. Such regional storehouses contain supplies the Church sends to respond to major disasters. (The regional storehouse that would send supplies to address a disaster in the Pittsburgh Region is in Washington, DC.)

The Indiana storehouse sponsors a monthly "meeting" for ham radio operators who want to check in to test their contact with the storehouse for communication purposes in preparation for a disaster. The Indy Storehouse Radio Net meets the first Friday of each month at 7:00 AM Eastern Time, 1200 UTC, 3.875 Mhz, LSB. All those who are interested are invited to participate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Americans Fear

In her weekly column on the opinion page of today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wrote,
Lately I think the biggest thing Americans fear, deep down—the thing they'd say if you could put the whole nation on the couch and say, "Just free associate, tell me what you fear"—is, "I am afraid we will run out of food. And none of us have gardens, and we haven't taught our children how to grow things. Everything is bought in a store. What if the store closes? What if the choke points through which the great trucks travel from farmland to city get cut off? I have two months of canned goods. I'm afraid."
Come, listen to a prophet's voice.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Arbor - January 2009

The January issue of The Arbor includes articles about new year's resolutions and seeking forgiveness, testimonies, and a list of Addiction Recovery Program meetings in the Pittsburgh and Michigan regions, with contact information.