Religion & recession: Churches help people find jobs

With typical pragmatism and organizational zeal, Mormons created a worldwide program to combat unemployment.

Every congregation in the nearly 14 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expected to assign one of its members to serve as "employment specialist." The idea: Build networks in every field and match job seekers with potential employers.

"Here's how you go about getting a job," Val Markos, employment specialist for an Atlanta LDS stake, tells people. "It may take a long time, but it will work."

Markos, a retired executive with BellSouth, has a vast array of job contacts, professional relationships and Mormon experts he can tap. He has years of experience as a manager and in human resources and has had much success in aiding workers.

It's at least $2,000 worth of free advice, a recipient said recently.

"This is a very rewarding calling for me," Markos says. "It's amazing the number of good, qualified people who are looking for work. I see this [assignment] as very much tied to our role in helping our brother."

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