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A leading Mormon official, who wowed General Conference listeners last spring with his impassioned plea urging Latter-day Saints to help refugees, is trumpeting that call again this time at a European Union summit.
Patrick Kearon, a general authority Seventy who oversees Europe for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took part in a high-level gathering of faith leaders in Brussels last week to discuss the migrating millions fleeing war-torn regions of the world and the challenges nations face in striving to integrate them.
"As leaders of faith, what we can do best is to encourage our own people to help and give a warm welcome. That will start to facilitate the acceptance of those values we hold dear," Kearon told European Commission officials, according to an LDS Church news release. "Being a refugee does not define who these people are. They are refugees for a season. It is so fulfilling to do something that has immediate value for those who are in such desperate need."
Kearon emphasized the one-on-one assistance everyday Mormons have offered refugees and how such encounters have graced the giver and the recipient.
"We've been encouraging our church members from 39 countries from the EU and beyond to get close to refugees, to feed them, to clothe them, to, where appropriate, provide shelter, and this has provided glorious opportunities for adherents to my own faith," he said. " … And they have been blessed as they have helped those who are in such dire need."
Kearon also noted that the Salt Lake City-based church, as an institution, has partnered with governments, nongovernmental organizations and other religions to combat the crisis.
Last year, the LDS Church unveiled a global initiative, dubbed "I Was a Stranger," to share ideas and information so Mormons could get involved in refugee relief.
The faith's governing First Presidency led the way, inviting "church units, families and individuals to participate in local refugee projects."
Many did as relief agencies saw a surge in donations and offers to help.
"We have learned that, for our own people, their attitudes toward refugees have been determined by the way they have reached out to them," Kearon said in the release. "When you interact with and help somebody, you grow to love them, and that is what has happened."