Finding the Soul in the Soil: How Welfare Farms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Create Spiritual Communities
The current version of this paper is available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/116/
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, but its connection with agrarian themes is found in all of LDS canonized scripture, implying a sense of antiquity from the time of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Scriptural examples and teachings of LDS leaders build the foundation of the Latter-day Saint agrarian theology. Valuing this connection to the land remained constant during the Church’s early development, but diminished in theological focus years before the Great Depression. During the Depression, the Church proactively created a Church Security Plan (later renamed the Church Welfare Plan) to aid Church members’ temporal and spiritual needs. Welfare projects provided relief through Mormonism’s concepts of independence, self-reliance, stewardship, and welfare. The application of the Church Welfare Program encouraged the development of these doctrinal principles, and resulted in the creation of spiritual communities on Church welfare farms as the needs of the community were met, both LDS and non-LDS. Welfare farms, created during the Great Depression, establish an environment for the application of the agrarian theology that has existed within Mormonism since its beginnings, and acts as an ideal setting for the creation of spiritual communities.