"We've been emphasizing (caring for the poor) as strongly as we've known how from the beginning of the church," said Bishop Richard C. Edgley, first counselor in the church's Presiding Bishopric.
Media reports and blog posts earlier this week suggested that "to care for the poor and the needy" would receive elevated emphasis in the next edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, to be released in 2010. The manual contains directives, responsibilities and information for local and general LDS Church leaders worldwide.
In the upcoming handbook, caring for the poor and the needy will be listed as one of the purposes of the church, along with tenets from its well-recognized three-fold mission — to proclaim Christ's gospel worldwide, to perfect the Saints through their receiving ordinances and instruction en route to gaining exaltation, and to redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances for them.
"Caring for the poor and needy is one of the ongoing purposes of the church," said Bishop Edgley of caring for the poor and the needy. "Including language about caring for the poor and needy as one of the purposes of the church recognizes the long-standing practices of the church. I don't think you're going to see anything change, but we're always trying to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be better at delivering relief."
In a Friday afternoon interview with the Deseret News, Bishop Edgley cited Christ's teachings and admonitions for charity and compassion for others, which have been repeated by ancient prophets and the church's latter-day leaders.