Disaster Recovery & Resiliency
“The poor feel the effects of environmental degradation first and perhaps most keenly, but these are pressures that affect us all.” – Sister Sharon Eubank
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints champions principles of environmental stewardship and care for those in vulnerable circumstances. It’s not just a directive; it’s an ethos that permeates our faith, reminding us that we are all stewards of the earth and its inhabitants. This sense of responsibility is especially poignant when considering the welfare of those most exposed to the harmful effects of environmental degradation.
Reflecting on this duty, David Osborn candidly explores the intersection of environmental stewardship and social responsibility in his article “Rattlesnakes and Beehives: Why Latter-day Saints Should Support Ecologically Sustainable Development”. He draws our attention to the painful reality of environmental degradation and the subsequent suffering it can inflict upon our neighbors. “Letting one’s neighbor languish in abject poverty (including environmental poverty) or stealing or deliberately or even negligently causing harm to another person or group of people are all evils,” he observes, urging us to act decisively in preserving our natural world and safeguarding our neighbors from the negative impacts of environmental harm.
“Environmental degradation is such a situation, and the Latter-day Saint community should seek ways to prevent or repair damage to the natural environment. Letting one’s neighbor languish in abject poverty (including environmental poverty) or stealing or deliberately or even negligently causing harm to another person or group of people are all evils.” – David Osborn
But it’s not just about protection—it’s about understanding the complex, far-reaching effects of our actions. Sharon Eubank brings this notion to light with her assertion: “The poor feel the effects of environmental degradation first and perhaps most keenly, but these are pressures that affect us all.” Her insightful commentary underscores the inseparable connection between environmental issues and social justice, highlighting the urgent need for Latter-day Saints to commit to environmental restoration and protection as a matter of moral imperative.
This concept of environmental action isn’t simply an exercise in responsibility—it can also be a source of communal growth and spiritual fulfillment. Elder Gerrit W. Gong presents a vivid picture of this in the October 2020 General Conference, describing a community that plants trees collectively: “This united effort provides shade, conserves soil, abates future floods…If you ask Haitians who will harvest the fruit from these trees, they say, ‘Whoever is hungry.’” Through his words, we see the transformative potential of environmental stewardship, not just in providing physical nourishment, but in nurturing the soul and strengthening the community fabric.
Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance Position
We are profoundly committed to supporting those rebuilding their lives after devastating disasters. But we understand that our duty extends beyond mere reactive aid; we have a profound responsibility to promote and encourage disaster preparedness and resilience within our communities.
Through fostering readiness for these calamities, we are in fact working towards building Zion, a place of safety, unity, and love. This engagement solidifies our role as stewards and underscores our collective and individual responsibilities in managing the Lord’s creations.
“Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here…Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion.” – President Ezra Taft Benson
Recognizing the disproportionate impact of these disasters on marginalized and disadvantaged communities is a critical aspect of our mission. We must relentlessly advocate for these vulnerable populations, and while humanitarian aid is invaluable, it is equally crucial to address and combat the environmental catastrophes brought about by years of neglectful stewardship.
In a sobering article found in the November 1980 Ensign, President Ezra Taft Benson warned of the consequences of complacency towards potential disasters: “Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here…Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion.” His words ring as a wake-up call, urging members to anticipate and prepare for various forms of disaster, including those environmental in nature.
The divine stewardship entrusted to us by the Lord extends beyond safeguarding our environment or merely fulfilling our assigned duties. It involves creating resilient, robust communities that are grounded in moral and environmental principles. As we work towards building such communities, we will be faithfully practicing our divine stewardship, staying true to our covenant responsibilities, and aiding in the establishment of Zion on Earth.
What Can You Do?
- Promote Resilient Planning: Advocate for sustainable urban development which includes green spaces and natural defenses against climate disasters. Let nature be our ally.
- Create Change within Organizations: If you’re part of an organization or business, push for them to adopt policies and practices that support disaster resilience. Change can start from within.
- Community Mobilization: Form or join local disaster response networks to enhance shared information and resources. Remember, strength comes in numbers.
- Establish Social Equity: Stand up for policy changes that ensure the most vulnerable communities have the resources they need to recover from and adapt to disasters. Everyone deserves protection.
- David Osborn “Rattlesnakes and Beehives: Why Latter-day Saints Should Support Ecologically Sustainable Development,” in Stewardship and the Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment, eds. George B. Handley, Terry B. Ball, and Steven L. Peck (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center), 155–64.
- Sharon Eubank, LDS Earth Stewardship 2019 Fall Forum
- Gerrit W. Gong, All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues, October 2020 General Conference,
- Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare for the Days of Tribulation” November 1980 Ensign,
- GSDRC: What is Disaster Resilience?:
- Public Health Emergency: Community Resilience
- Center for Disaster Philanthropy: Resilience