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Research on Religion Podcast Discusses Volunteer Participation Within the Church

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grows worldwide, public interest in the Church expands as well. This means increased attention not only from journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders, but from scholarly circles as well.

Research on Religion — a weekly podcast devoted to the social scientific study of religion, sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion — recently posted a one-hour discussion about the Church and its efforts to meet the welfare needs of its membership through organized volunteer efforts.

Host Tony Gill, who is not a member of the Church, related a personal story of how he was inspired to see Church members help one another in a time of crisis.

“[I am amazed] at how tightly knit these communities are and how they respond to one another,” Gill said. “I was in Provo, Utah, giving a talk at BYU several years ago. I had a friend down there and asked him if we could go to a basketball game. He got us tickets. I was supposed to be picked up at the hotel and he gave me a call on my cell phone and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a little bit late.’ He explained that there was an automobile accident for one of the members in the ward (congregation), and the whole community just rallied around this person.

“It was just such an amazing thing to see. You see this in other churches, but I don’t think to the extent that the Latter-day Saints can do this. It’s quite amazing that they are able to do this.”

Podcast guest Michael McBride, a professor of economics at the University of California–Irvine, spoke of the Church’s pattern of giving members a calling, or Church office or responsibility, to help them learn and grow.

“Everyone gets a chance to participate, and they get lots of experience and have opportunities to contribute their time and their talents in various ways,” McBride said.

Listen to the entire podcast at the Research on Religion website.

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