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CHURCHES ACROSS U.S. LAUNCH RELIEF EFFORTS

Churches nationwide have banded together in an ecumenical relief effort for those affected by the bombing in Oklahoma City.

"The big issue is people's grief and how to deal with it," said Malin Foster, communications director of the Episcopalian Diocese of Utah. "Churches can help a lot in that area."The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided rescue workers with food from the Oklahoma City bishop's storehouse, according to LDS Church spokesman Don LeFevre.

Staffed by local members, an LDS meetinghouse will serve as a temporary shelter for residents of apartments or homes near the federal building that were damaged by the explosion. Church members also responded to the call for blood donations, and LDS Social Services was asked by the American Red Cross to help provide counseling for victims and their families.

The Rev. Peter VanHook of the Episcopalian Diocese of Utah recently went to Oklahoma City to set up an immediate support program for families affected by the bombing, Foster said. He expects the clergyman to stay there for at least one more week.

In addition, the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief donated $25,000 to the Episcopalian Diocese of Oklahoma, and "there will undoubtedly be more (donations) as needs become apparent," Foster said.

"Like all Americans, we want to do what we can," said Julie Anderson, communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

"We urge all of our Catholics to donate to the Red Cross, to Catholic charities and to pray."