Education loans give LDS members big leg up

To many Mormons, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley's March 2001 announcement of the Perpetual Education Fund carried the weight of divine revelation. Members who had served missions in Third World countries cheered the proposal of a churchwide program to help needy Mormons secure an education.

But to Elder John Carmack, a soon-to-be-emeritus LDS general authority, Hinckley's revolutionary announcement brought a blend of excitement and anxiety.

A few months earlier, Hinckley had called Carmack to ask him to head up the new department. Hinckley had offered few specifics, save that the program would be based on LDS principles of self-reliance and that all funds would go directly to the recipients, not to a top-heavy Apondi Suzan Kumanyi, recipient of a PEF loan in Uganda. (Apondi Suzan Kumanyi) bureaucracy.

Though he had no experience in international loans or educational scholarships, Carmack soon realized this new program would have a profound effect on the present and future of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"PEF would impact virtually every LDS department and function, including accounting, controlling, financial, treasury, priesthood, fund-raising, information management, welfare, auditing, public affairs and investing," Carmack wrote in his 2004 book, A Bright Ray of Hope: The Perpetual Education Fund . "It would change the landscape of the church in areas where it was implemented."

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