“‘Relief Society is the Lord’s organization for women.’ (Spencer W. Kimball, “Relief Society—Its Promise and Potential,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 4.) In his capacity as a prophet, Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society on March 17, 1842. The small, diverse group at that first meeting were dedicated women, similar to Relief Society sisters today. ‘The youngest were three teenagers, and the oldest, a woman in her fifties. Eleven of the women were married, two were widows, six were unmarried, and the marital status of one is unknown. Their education and backgrounds varied greatly, as did their economic circumstances. Their diversity would be magnified many times as the organization’s membership continued to grow, but they were and would continue to be one.’ (Jill Mulvay Derr, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant (1992), 28.) ~Excerpt from the January 2011 Visiting Teaching Message
The following are two women’s thoughts on the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.***
Why I Love Relief Society
~by Heather L.
It is like being in a neighborhood of wonderful women of diverse experiences and backgrounds who come together at least weekly to learn, listen, laugh, and love. It buoys my spirits, and feeds my soul. It has been a constant and a comfort from the time I first went when I was 18 to now when I am “maturing” :-). Each time I go to our Relief Society meetings, or visit with my Visiting Teachers, or go to see the women I visit teach, I am amazed at how well Heavenly Father knows each of us. He places us in each others’ lives for a reason — often many reasons.
This quote by Lucy Mack Smith embodies what I feel when I attend: “We…cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.”
I know that the Relief Society program was established by God because of His deep love for His daughters, and I am forever grateful!
Edify And Rejoice Together
~ by Brenda
I remember the first day I went to Relief Society. It was August 1994 and I was a freshman in a student ward at BYU. My roommates and I filed into a classroom at the JKHB building on campus that had amphitheater style seating. All our church services were held on campus that year. We had already had a few fun ward activities and met with our student new Bishop individually so we knew many of the people in our ward. We had sustained a Relief Society Presidency in sacrament meeting prior to this third hour of instruction and my very own roommate was called as the education counselor. I remember seeing my Bishop’s wife sitting at the back of the classroom that first Sunday. No other adults, men or women, attended us. Our new Relief Society President, Rebecca, was an 18 year old with long strawberry blonde hair and a very sweet disposition. She lived on the first floor of our building. Rebecca conducted and introduced herself and her counselors. I don’t remember who gave the lesson that day but I remember feeling part of something amazing. I really got the sense that we were expected to know how to do this, how to give and take, accept callings, lead and instruct, visit teach, and love one another. I had been in leadership positions in my ward as a youth (there weren’t many girls in my ward my exact age) but nothing felt quite like this, it was like the reigns were being passed and we were expected to make good on all those years our teachers and leaders from church had unselfishly poured into us as children and teenagers. It was our turn to give back.
The next week my roommate Lindsey called me to serve as a Relief Society teacher. Not by herself, our Bishop actually asked me to serve, but I knew who gave him my name. I remember teaching for the first time and being nervous, but cognizant that the Holy Ghost was working on me and with me to write my lesson. I could tell by the way the other girls in my ward watched me and listened, laughed and sometimes even cried with me that I was able to hold their attention. After the lesson many of them came up to tell me how much they enjoyed the lesson. I don’t have a lot of natural talents so it was stunning to have such positive feedback. I felt like a key had been unlocked inside my soul and I finally understood what it meant to have a spiritual gift. Thank you Lindsey (and God!) for giving me that opportunity.
I still use two scriptures as my guides to gospel teaching from that year as a Relief Society Teacher. They were both contained in the forward to the manual I used.
D&C 42:14 If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
D&C 50:22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
Since that year at BYU most of my callings at church have been teaching callings. I’ve enjoyed them all and I’m currently serving as a Relief Society teacher in my family ward. I’m happiest when I’m teaching because I feel the peaceful contact with the Spirit of the Lord prompting me and teaching me how best to reach the members of my ward and stake. Relief Society opened that window of communication for me and for that I will be forever grateful.
Happy Birthday to the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so thankful for my membership.
To you who are Mormon women, please comment and share your thoughts on what it means to you to be part of Relief Society.
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Editor’s note: Today marks the anniversary of the organization of the Relief Society. You can read more about the Relief Society in the following lds.org articles/talks:
- “Relief Society: A Call To Minister” — LDS Church News article about Sister Julie B. Beck’s recent visit to Idaho to talk to 10,000 people (mostly women) about the Relief Society
- Jeffrey R. Holland, “Charity Never Faileth”: A Discussion on Relief Society“, Liahona, March 2011, 28–31
- Henry B. Eyring, “The Enduring Legacy of Relief Society,” Liahona, Nov. 2009, 121–25
- L. Tom Perry, “The Past Way of Facing the Future,” Liahona, Nov. 2009, 73–76
- Julie B. Beck, “‘Daughters in My Kingdom’: The History and Work of Relief Society,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 112–15
- Julie B. Beck, “Relief Society: A Sacred Work,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 113
- Silvia H. Allred, “Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching: A Work of Ministering“, Ensign, March 2011, 18–21
- Dallin H. Oaks, “The Relief Society and the Church,” Ensign, May 1992, 36.
- Sheri L. Dew, “Something Extraordinary”, Ensign, Mar. 1992, 51
- Julie B. Beck, “Relief Society: A Sacred Work,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2009, 111.
For more information on Mormon Women: Who We Are about the LDS Relief Society, see the following links:
Information on the History of LDS Relief Society
The History and Purpose of the Mormon Relief Society
Mormon Men’s Thoughts on Relief Society
Ayundando a otros en nuestra comunidad entender acerca de la Sociedad de Socorro
*** This post has been updated from it’s original posting.