LDS Relief Society launches newly updated website for women
Female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been given a post-conference boost with the launching of a completely redesigned and updated Relief Society website.
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the General Presidency of the Relief Society, announced the launch of the website Tuesday in a post on her Facebook page.
“It’s here! All the resources for Relief Society in one place,” Eubank posted. “The Relief Society website has been updated with regular messages from the general presidency, ministering ideas, updates from Relief Society sisters in action around the world, articles about women in the Church making history and much more.”
The website also includes podcasts and blogs on subject matter of interest to Latter-day Saint women.
The updated website shares information under five subheadings: work and purpose, my calling, inspiration for women, hope and help and women making history.
Under the sub-heading “inspiration for women” there is a message from the general presidency with links to podcasts, talks from BYU Women’s Conference and a closer look at the women on the General Board of the Relief Society, including a video.
Under “hope and help,” the website offers information and special links to other church websites on topics including abuse, suicide, divorce and finances.
In each case they presidency asks for feedback and additional information from members that may have insight to the topics discussed.
Women who have callings in their local relief societies can find job descriptions and help for their particular call be it on a stake (area) or ward (local congregation) level.
“I like to organize things so I can easily find what I need; that helps me function better,” said Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president on her Facebook page. “We’ve done the same thing with our Relief Society website. Now you can access resources for hope and help, see what sisters around the world are doing and listen to inspiration for women on podcasts.”
Bingham invites women to take a moment to look, and then leave a comment on what they think and what else they’d like to see on this website.
The women’s session at this October’s semiannual general conference focused on many of the same topics that are found on the website like mental illness, women and the priesthood and messages from the First Presidency of the church.
For information or to look at the renovated and updated website visit https://churchofjesuschrist.org/callings/relief-society-organization.
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Relief Society is the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to help prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and work in unity to help those in need.
All adult women in the Church are members of Relief Society. Through Relief Society, sisters “receive a vision and assurance of their identity as daughters of God” with lives of purpose and direction (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society , 171). Sisters also increase their self-reliance, enlarge their talents, expand their knowledge, strengthen families, and reach out to those in need. These ministering, leadership, and teaching opportunities strengthen women in their efforts to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
The First Presidency stated, “We testify that the Lord has restored the fulness of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that Relief Society is an important part of that restoration” (Daughters in My Kingdom, ix).
The Relief Society was organized in March 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was originally called the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, and Emma Hale Smith, the wife of Joseph Smith, was selected as its first president. Shortly before Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society he explained that the sisters would be organized “after the pattern of the priesthood.” He also taught, “The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 451).
“While little is known about a formal organization of women in the New Testament, evidence suggests that women were vital participants in the Savior’s ministry” (Daughters in My Kingdom,3). Paul wrote to the Roman Saints, saying, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also” (Romans 16:1–2).
Historical records of the Church in our dispensation describe the devotion of early Relief Society women as they bore testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and served the sick and poor among them to build up the kingdom of God. Relief Society provided opportunities for Latter-day Saint women to expand their influence and to bless their families, wards, stakes, communities, and nations. Throughout its history, members of the organization have spoken up regarding relevant issues of their time. Relief Society continues to provide such opportunities for women today.
Scripture Study Resources
Messages from Church Leaders
Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society
“The Work of Salvation in the Ward and Stake,” Handbook 2, section 5
“Relief Society,” Handbook 2, section 9
“I Was a Stranger—An Effort to Serve and Include,” IWasAStranger.ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“The Work and Purpose of Relief Society,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Relief Society Callings,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“The First Fifty Years of Relief Society,” The Church Historian’s Press
“Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book,” The Joseph Smith Papers
“An Outpouring of the Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, March 2017
Maryssa Dennis, “Junior Relief Society,” Friend, March 2017
“The Purpose of Relief Society,” Ensign or Liahona, January 2017
“Progression into Relief Society,” Ensign or Liahona, March 2016
“More Alike Than Different,” Ensign or Liahona, March 2016
In the News
“Charity Helps Us Become What We Are ‘Supposed to Be,’” Church News
“‘Hearts Knit Together’—Ward Combines to Strengthen Families,” Church News
“Women’s Divine Roles Include Nurturing Others,” Church News
“Relief Society Presidency,” Newsroom
“Relief Society History,” Newsroom
Teachings of Presidents of the Church
Gospel Solutions for Families, Latter-day Saints Channel
Church Releases New Relief Society Website
Now sisters can find all the Relief Society resources, messages, and inspiration in one place.
"The Relief Society website has been updated with regular messages from the general presidency, ministering ideas, updates from Relief Society sisters in action around the world, articles about women in the Church making history, and much more," Sister Sharon Eubank says of the new website.
Sister Jean B. Bingham adds, "I like to organize things so I can easily find what I need; that helps me function better. We’ve done the same thing with our Relief Society website. Now you can access resources for hope and help, see what sisters around the world are doing, and listen to inspiration for women on podcasts."
The website features recent messages as well as the sections titled "Work and Purpose," which outlines the purpose of the Relief Society; "Instruction for My Calling," which provides guidance and resources based on different callings within the organization; "Inspiration for Women," which connects sisters to prophetic messages, advice from the general Relief Society presidency, blogs, podcasts, BYU Women's Conference resources, and ministering messages; "Hope and Help," which connects sisters to important conversations covering everything from abuse, divorce, and death to adoption, finances, and physical health; and "Women Making History," which provides podcasts and articles about how Latter-day Saint have and are changing the world.
About these different sections of the website, Sister Reyna I. Aburto says, "I particularly like the Hope and Help section—when you’re down, stressed, or overwhelmed you can take a look at the resources available to you."
What do you think of the new website? What suggestions could you add? Sisters Bingham, Eubank, and Aburto all asked for feedback to make this website as helpful as possible to sisters around the world. Explore the new website, find uplifting inspirations, and leave a comment on their Facebook pages detailing your experience with the new Relief Society website.
Lead image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org
By Maureen Ursenbach Beecher
Relief Society leadership, 1916
Relief Society is the women's organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every adult female member of the church is considered a Relief Society member, a total in 1991 of three million women in more than 14,500 church units in 135 countries. Founded as the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo in 1842, the organization has operated as a charitable, educational, and religious sisterhood for most of the 150 years since its establishment under the direction of Latter-day Saint prophet Joseph Smith.
Its beginning in the Illinois Mormon community of Nauvoo was prompted by the attempt of Sarah M. Kimball, a young LDS matron, to create a sewing society to provide for men involved in building the Mormon temple. Inviting those founding members and others to participate, Smith reorganized the group after the same pattern and with similar functions to those of the existing male quorums of priesthood. The Society's presidency, consisting of Smith's wife Emma, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, and Sarah Cleveland, were to "preside just as the Presidency, [sic] preside over the church," and to "appoint and set apart" officers "as Deacons, Teachers &c. are among us" to do the work of the society, according to the Nauvoo Relief Society minutes of 17 March 1842.
From its beginning with twenty members the society grew rapidly. Within six months more than a thousand women of the 12,000 total population had voluntarily enrolled. Meeting only during summer, the Nauvoo society declined in activity in 1843. Four meetings were held in March 1844, but because of Emma Smith's stance against plural marriage, and her use of the society as a forum for her protests, further meetings were proscribed. In Utah during the 1850s there was a grassroots resurgence of relief societies, which met with church president Brigham Young's approval and support. At his direction every bishop was to inaugurate a society in his ward. Several complied, but the threatened Utah War disrupted most of them.
In December 1866, coincident with the reorganization of the Mormon "Schools of the Prophets," Young called his wife and former Nauvoo society secretary Eliza R. Snow to reinstate the society in each community of Latter-day Saints. Aided by a circle of "leading sisters," she supervised the founding of more than 300 local societies before her death in 1887.
Snow's twenty-year administration saw the expansion of the society's work into various areas. Under her direction the women purchased properties and built Relief Society halls; they also established cooperative and commission stores, set up a grain-storage program and built granaries, provided scholarships for women to attend medical schools, and operated schools for nurses and midwives in the Intermountain area, operated a hospital, founded a newspaper, staged mass meetings to express their views on political issues, and promoted women's suffrage.
Eliza R. Snow was succeeded as Relief Society president by Zina D.H. Young, whose administration consolidated the programs set in place by Snow. Incorporation of the National Relief Society in 1892 continued the slow process which would extend the Nauvoo conception and modernize its programs. Bathsheba W. Bigler Smith, who followed Young in 1901, saw the society expand to include a centrally developed educational program with lessons for the weekly or biweekly meetings. Nursing courses expanded; however, they caused friction with the newly professional career nurses, and so the Relief Society gradually dropped its nurse training program.
By the time of her designation as general president in 1910, Smith's successor, Emmeline B. Wells, had for thirty-five years edited and published the Woman's Exponent, a semimonthly magazine for Mormon women and quasi-official organ of the Relief Society. Wells had also served as secretary of the society, whose central board meetings were traditionally held in her editorial offices. In those two roles, she had for decades kept a constant finger on the Relief Society pulse worldwide. Her presidency, however, coming as it did in a time of upheavals created by progressivism and World War I, saw the abandonment of many of the society's nineteenth-century programs, including the Exponent itself, the cooperative stores, the Relief Society halls, and the grain-storage project which she herself had piloted. When she died in 1921, the last personal link of the Relief Society with its Nauvoo antecedents was severed.
The 1909 move of the society's general offices into a Main Street edifice signalled the increasing business orientation of the society. The present Relief Society Building, which now also houses the Primary and Young Women's organizations of the church, was constructed in 1956 on the same site.
The Relief Society under its twentieth-century leaders adapted its programs to developing professional methods of social work and medical practice. Adoption agencies, programs for unwed mothers, and expanding social services departments replaced the less formal locally administered aid. Courses established by Amy Brown Lyman trained many women in the new techniques. By the 1960s nearly all of the Relief Society's welfare functions had been assimilated into general church programs, using professional staff members under priesthood direction.
The thirty-year administration of Belle S. Spafford (1945-74) solidified the society's businesslike decorum, which had been strengthened during the tenures of Clarissa Williams (1921-28), Louise Y. Robinson (1928-39), and Amy Brown Lyman (1940-45). Spafford was followed in office by Barbara Smith (1974-84) and Barbara Winder (1984-90). Local Relief Societies gradually were incorporated into general ward administration, and returned then to an original emphasis, the spiritual development of church women. The visiting teaching program and the involvement of the local Relief Society president with the bishop in ward welfare work echoed early and mid-twentieth-century programs.
In 1971, when by fiat all female adults in the church were deemed Relief Society members, the Relief Society's traditional weekday weekly meeting was replaced in each ward by a Sunday meeting sandwiched into a three-hour block with Sunday School and the main worship service. Also, one daytime or evening meeting per month was devoted to practical homemaking skills. The woman-to-woman monthly visiting program remained, as did the injunctions to individuals to practice compassionate service to others.
The 1992 sesquicentennial celebration of the Relief Society's founding promoted an outward direction of charitable efforts. Directives from the central administrators, headed by Elaine L. Jack (1990-present), require each local group independently to undertake an ongoing program of community service. This move acknowledges a diversification of Relief Society efforts, enabling local units to address local problems.
Society lds.org relief
New Schedule for 2019
Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.
“Charity Never Faileth” stems from the first Relief Society meeting. The sisters were asked by the Prophet Joseph Smith to assist the brethren “in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants.” The sisters took this call to heart and became a society devoted to seeking out the poor and needy. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 452.)
The Relief Society is a philanthropic and educational women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, United States, and has more than 7 million members in over 188 countries and territories. The Relief Society is often referred to by the church and others as "one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world."
The motto of the Relief Society, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:8, is "Charity never faileth." The purpose of Relief Society reads, “Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and work in unity to help those in need.”
See also: List of General Presidencies of the Relief Society
In the spring of 1842 Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook, discussed combining their efforts to sew clothing for workers constructing the Latter Day Saints' Nauvoo Temple. They determined to invite their neighbors to assist by creating a Ladies' Society. Kimball asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution and by-laws for the organization for submission to President of the ChurchJoseph Smith for review. After reviewing the documents, Smith called them "the best he had ever seen" but said, "this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord, and He has something better for them than a written constitution. ... I will organize the women. .. after a pattern of the priesthood."
Twenty Latter Day Saint women gathered on Thursday, March 17, 1842, in the second-story meeting room over Smith's Red Brick Store in Nauvoo to discuss the formation of a Ladies' Society with Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. Smith, Taylor, and Richards sat on the platform at the upper end of the room with the women facing them. "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning" was sung, and Taylor opened the meeting with prayer. The women present were Emma Hale Smith, Sarah M. Cleveland, Phebe Ann Hawkes, Elizabeth Jones, Sophia Packard, Philinda Merrick, Martha McBride Knight, Desdemona Fulmer, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Leonora Taylor, Bathsheba W. Smith, Phebe M. Wheeler, Elvira A. Coles (Cowles; later Elivira A. C. Holmes), Margaret A. Cook, Athalia Robinson, Sarah Granger Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, Sophia Robinson, Nancy Rigdon and Sophia R. Marks. The women present were proposed as the initial members and the men withdrew as the motion to accept all present was considered. The motion was passed and the men returned. Then another seven names were proposed by Joseph Smith for admission. They were: Sarah Higbee, Thirza Cahoon, Keziah A. Morrison, Marinda N. Hyde, Abigail Allred, Mary Snider, and Sarah S. Granger. The men again withdrew as the women considered and passed the motion. Smith then proposed the society elect a presiding officer and allow that officer to choose two counselors to aid her. They would be ordained and would preside over the society. In the place of a constitution the presidency would preside and all their decisions should be considered law and acted upon as such. At appropriate times, the body of the society should vote and the majority opinion of the sisters would be honored as law. The minutes of the meetings would serve as an additional guide to their governance. Whitney motioned and it was seconded that Emma Smith be chosen president and this passed unanimously. Emma Smith then chose her two counselors, Cleveland and Whitney. At that time Taylor, who had been presiding over the meeting, vacated that honor to Smith and her counselors. The men then again withdrew as Smith chose a secretary and treasurer. The three members of the Presidency were then ordained and blessed by Taylor.
Smith stated "the object of the Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties, &c., in their public teaching."
It was proposed that the organization go by the name "Benevolent Society" and with no opposition the vote carried. However, Emma Smith made a point of objection. She convinced the attendees that the term "relief" would better reflect the purpose of the organization, for they were "going to do something extraordinary," distinct from the popular benevolent institutions of the day. After discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the fledgling organization be named "The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo". Joseph Smith then offered five dollars (worth $134 today) in gold to commence the funds of the Society. After the men left the room, Eliza R. Snow was unanimously elected as secretary of the Society with Phebe M. Wheeler as Assistant Secretary and Elvira A. Coles as Treasurer. Emma Smith remarked that "each member should be ambitious to do good" and seek out and relieve the distressed. Several female members then made donations to the Society. The men returned, and Taylor and Richards also made donations. After singing "Come Let Us Rejoice," the meeting was adjourned to meet on the following Thursday at 10 o'clock. Taylor then gave a closing prayer. Of his experience Joseph Smith recorded: "I attended by request, the Female Relief Society, whose object is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes. ... [W]e feel convinced that with their concentrated efforts, the condition of the suffering poor, of the stranger and the fatherless will be ameliorated".
The new organization was popular and grew so rapidly that finding a meeting place for such a large group proved difficult. Under Emma Smith's direction, the Society was "divided for the purpose of meeting" according to each of the city's four municipal wards. Smith and her counselors continued to preside over the groups. Visiting committees were appointed to determine needs in each ward. Young mother Sarah Pea Rich, wife of Charles C. Rich, recalled, "We then, as a people were united and were more like family than like strangers." By March 1844, membership totaled 1331 women.
The last recorded meeting of the Relief Society in Nauvoo was held on March 16, 1844. Smith had often used the Relief Society as a pulpit to express her opposition to plural marriage. However, several of the society's members and leaders were themselves secretly in plural marriages, including to Smith's own husband, who himself counseled the society against exposing iniquity. These inner conflicts led Joseph Smith to suspend all meetings of the organization. After the death of Joseph Smith in June 1844, Brigham Young assumed leadership of the majority of Latter Day Saints. Desiring to continue plural marriage, Young disbanded the Relief Society before leaving Nauvoo for the Salt Lake Valley.
See also: Mormon pioneers
When Relief Society secretary Eliza R. Snow joined the Latter Day Saints in their exodus west in 1846, she carried the Relief Society Book of Records with her. Although they no longer met in an official capacity, women continued to assemble informally; the care and nurture of the needy continued without a formal Relief Society organization.
As Saints established homes in the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding settlements, formal meetings for women gradually emerged. A Female Council of Health was established in 1851. On January 24, 1854, in response to Brigham Young’s call to Saints to assist neighboring Native Americans, women from several Salt Lake City wards decided to organize "a society of females for the purpose of making clothing for Indian women and children." Two weeks later, on February 9, 1854, they formally organized an association remembered as the "Indian Relief Society." Matilda Dudley was elected president and treasurer, Mary Hawkins and Mary Bird as counselors, Louisa R. Taylor as secretary, and Amanda Barnes Smith as assistant secretary. Twelve other women were listed as charter members. Though the Latter-day Saint women were poor in material goods, they felt the need of Native Americans exceeded their own. Over the next four months, their efforts to clothe Indian women and children continued in earnest. In June 1854, Brigham Young encouraged women to form societies in their individual wards. Members of the first Indian Relief Society disbanded to help establish organizations in their own wards, many of them becoming leaders. Matilda Dudley, for example, became president of the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society with Augusta Cobb and Sarah A. Cook as her counselors and Martha Jane Coray as secretary. Records are limited but show that by 1858 over two dozen organizations had formed in some twelve Salt Lake City wards and in other outlying settlements such as Ogden, Provo, Spanish Fork, and Manti, Utah.
Each Relief Society operated independently within its ward in cooperation with the local bishop. Ward societies were not interconnected by central women's leadership, though many of them engaged in similar activities such as sewing clothing for Indians, caring for the poor, especially emigrants, and weaving carpets for local meetinghouses.
In 2004, historian Carol Holindrake Nielson documented the organization, activities and membership of the Salt Lake City Fourteenth Ward Relief Society. The Fourteenth Ward included Temple Square and eleven residential squares to the south and west. This section contained the homes of many church leaders. Among others, the ward Relief Society roll included the names of Leonora Taylor and Jane B. Taylor, wives of John Taylor; Elizabeth B. Pratt, Kezia D. Pratt and Phoebe Soper Pratt, wives of Parley P. Pratt; and Phebe W. Woodruff, Emma Woodruff, Sarah Woodruff, Sarah Delight Woodruff, Phebe A. Woodruff, Susan C. Woodruff, Bulah Woodruff, wives and daughters of Wilford Woodruff.
Interrupted by the 1858 Utah War, no more than three or four of these independent ward organizations survived the temporary move of much of the Latter-day Saint population south of Salt Lake County.
Reorganization and expansion
In December 1867 church presidentBrigham Young publicly called for the reorganization of Relief Society in every ward. Eliza R. Snow provided a historical account of the society and described its purpose to seek "not only for the relief of the poor, but the accomplishment of every good and noble work." Young again addressed the need to establish local Relief Society units at the church's 1868 April general conference, stating: Now, Bishops, you have smart women for wives, many of you. Let them organize Female Relief Societies in the various wards. We have many talented women among us .... You will find that the sisters will be the mainspring of the movement. Snow was assigned to assist local bishops in organizing permanent branches of the Relief Society. Using the minutes recorded in the early Nauvoo meetings as a Constitution, Snow created a standard model for all local wards that united women in purpose and provided a permanent name and structure to their organization. She and nine other sisters began visiting wards and settlements in 1868, and at the end of the year, organizations existed in all twenty Salt Lake City congregations and in congregations in nearly every county in Utah.
Ward units of the Relief Society performed a variety of functions. Women helped the bishop of the ward assist the poor by collecting and disbursing funds and commodities. They nursed the sick, cleaned homes, sewed carpet rags for local meeting houses, planted and tended gardens, promoted home industry, and shared doctrinal instruction and testimony.
Snow provided central leadership both before and after her call as General President in 1880. She emphasized spirituality and self-sufficiency. The Relief Society sent women to medical school, trained nurses, opened the Deseret Hospital, operated cooperative stores, promoted silk manufacture, saved wheat, and built granaries. In 1872, Snow provided assistance and advice to Louisa L. Greene in the creation of a woman's publication, the Woman's Exponent, which was loosely affiliated with the Relief Society. Emmeline B. Wells succeeded Greene and continued as editor until its final issue in 1914.
Under Snow's direction, Relief Society sisters nurtured young women and children. Heeding Brigham Young's 1869 call to reform, Snow, Mary Isabella Horne, and others established the Ladies' Cooperative Retrenchment Association from which the Young Ladies' Department of the Ladies' Cooperative Retrenchment was formed (later called the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association and now the Young Women). Snow also worked with Aurelia Spencer Rogers to establish the first ward Primary Association in 1878. By 1888, the Relief Society had more than 22,000 members in 400 local wards and branches. In 1891, the Relief Society became a charter member of the National Council of Women of the United States and it was called the National Women's Relief Society.: 114
Early Relief Society meetings were generally held semi-monthly. One meeting per month was devoted to sewing and caring for the needs of the poor. At meetings members might receive instruction, discuss elevating and educational topics, and bear testimony. The women were also encouraged to explore and develop cultural opportunities for their community.
The 20th century
Stakes began circulating outlines for lessons in 1902. The first standardized lessons were published by the General Board in 1914 in the Relief Society Bulletin, later renamed the Relief Society Magazine in 1915.
By 1942, membership in the organization was approximately 115,000 women, growing to 300,000 members in 1966.
In June 1945, the General Board changed the organization's official name to "Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".
The church-wide implementation of Priesthood Correlation in the 1960s "radically transformed" the Relief Society. These changes assisted in preparing the Relief Society for an era of a worldwide church; correlated lessons and materials were easier to translate and applicable to a broader audience. A side-effect of these changes was that the Relief Society lost much of the autonomy that it once enjoyed, notably around its budget.
The Relief Society Magazine's last edition was December 1970, after which it and several other church magazines were replaced with the Ensign.
Structure and meetings today
In the LDS Church today, every Latter-day Saint woman on her 18th birthday, or within the coming year, and women under 18 who are married, advance into Relief Society from the Young Women. Additionally, unwed teen-aged mothers who are 17 or older and who choose to keep the child are advanced into Relief Society. There are no fees or membership dues for joining the Relief Society.
In each local congregation of the church, a member of the Relief Society serves as the local President of the organization. The president selects two other women from the congregation to assist her as counselors; together the three women make up the local Relief Society Presidency. The Relief Society Presidency acts under the direction of the bishop or branch president in presiding over and serving the women in the congregation. Additionally, stake or district Relief Society presidencies exist to supervise five or more local Relief Society Presidencies.
Following changes made in 2019, Relief Society holds meetings twice per month that last approximately fifty minutes. During these meetings, an educational lesson is presented by a member of the Relief Society Presidency or another woman who has been asked to serve as the Relief Society instructor. From 1997 to 2016, the curriculum was composed primarily of Teachings of Presidents of the Church. As of 2019, recent general conference messages now largely comprise the curriculum. The Relief Society also leads the LDS Church's efforts to teach basic literacy skills to those members and non-members that lack them.
According to the church, as of February 2020, the Relief Society has over 7 million members in 188 countries and territories, having grown from about 6 million in 170 territories in 2009.
Three women are selected by the First Presidency to serve the entire LDS Church as the General Relief Society Presidency. Although these women are not considered general authorities, they are based in Salt Lake City and are considered to be "general officers" of the church and are the highest ranking women in the LDS Church's hierarchy. Similar to other general authorities and officers in the church, they serve under the direction of the church's First Presidency. Since April 2017, the General Relief Society Presidency has been composed of Jean B. Bingham, president; Sharon Eubank, first counselor; and Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor. They are assisted and advised by a Relief Society General Board drawn from women in the church.
From the 1970s to 2013, the Relief Society held a general meeting in Salt Lake City, annually in late September, which was broadcast around the world via television and radio, and later the Internet. This meeting was an opportunity for the General Relief Society Presidency to address the entire body of the Relief Society. Typically a member of the church's First Presidency also spoke to the women of the church.
In 2014, such meetings (along with the March General Young Women Meeting) were replaced by a biannual women's meeting held in March and September, one week before the other sessions of general conference. The meeting is for all women of the church ages eight and older. The first of these meetings was held in March 2014 and the general presidents of the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society General Presidencies spoke along with Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Beginning in 2018, the annual Women's Session of the church's general conference is held in October, in the evening, as part of the regular Saturday schedule.
Relief Society Building
In Salt Lake City, the Relief Society occupies its own headquarters building known as the Relief Society Building, which is separate from the other administrative offices of the LDS Church. While the Quorum of the Seventy had a building in Nauvoo in the 1840s, the Relief Society is the only auxiliary organization in the LDS Church today which has a completely separate facility. This building is also the closest of any building to the door of the Salt Lake Temple.
Main article: Ministering
In every LDS congregation, each member of the Relief Society is paired with another member; this companionship is then assigned by the Relief Society Presidency to be ministering sisters of one or more other members of the Relief Society. Ministering sisters strive to make regular contacts with the women assigned to them. Sometimes this contact is a personal visit in the member's home. If this is not possible, the member may be contacted by telephone, letter, e-mail, or a visit in a location other than the member's home. Ministering sisters are encouraged to look for opportunities to serve the individuals to whom they minister.
On April 1, 2018, during the Sunday Afternoon Session of the 188th Annual General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced that the similar program of visiting teaching, along with the priesthood's home teaching, would be retired, to be replaced with the "ministering"-brethren-and-sisters program, with its dual components under the direction of the ward's elders quorum and Relief Society's respective leaderships.
Along with the bishop or branch president, the Relief Society President is the key person in the ward in ensuring that the temporal and emotional needs of the members of the congregation are met. The Relief Society Presidency is responsible for helping the women of the congregation learn welfare principles such as work, self-reliance, provident living, personal and family preparedness, and compassionate service of others. In many congregations, the Relief Society will ask a woman to serve as the Compassionate Service Leader, who is responsible for organizing service activities and responses to members' needs in times of emergency or hardship.
An evening Relief Society meeting is usually held quarterly on a week-night in each congregation of the church. At this meeting women learn a variety of skills, participate in service projects, and enjoy time together. Local congregations may also choose to hold monthly or weekly meetings for women with similar needs and interests. These extra meetings are informal, and local congregations have a wide discretion in determining what activities will be part of these meetings. These meetings were originally called "Homemaking", and on January 1, 2000, the name changed to "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment", or "Enrichment" for short. In September 2009, due to the complexity of the name and different interpretations of the meeting's purpose, the separate name for the extra weekday meetings was discontinued and all meetings of the Relief Society began to be referred to simply as "Relief Society meetings".
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2009)
In April 2005, the Relief Society received the American Red Cross "Heroes 2004 Award" for its service in the Greater Salt Lake area.
In 2010, Catholic Community Services honored Julie Beck, the general president of the Relief Society, where she was named Community Partner.
- ^ abc"Relief Society to Celebrate 175 Years in 2017 - Church News and Events".
- ^Sally H. Barlow and Allen E. Bergin, "Religion and Mental Health from a Mormon Perspective", in Harold George Koenig (ed.) Handbook of Religion and Mental Health (San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 1998) pp. 225–44 at 233.
- ^"Churches, others help BelAir Family Center"Archived 2010-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, The Times-Herald [Newnan, Georgia], 2010-01-06.
- ^"4 Functions of the Relief Society", ComeUntoChrist.org.
- ^"Utah.com". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^Brooke Adams, "LDS women urged to strengthen connections, avoid judging", Salt Lake Tribune, 2010-09-25.
- ^Smillie, Dirk (July 23, 1997). "Mormon Trek Now Has a Global Reach". Christian Science Monitor.
- ^Harvey Shepherd, "Mormon growth sparks a building boom in Quebec", Montreal Gazette, 2006-11-25, p. K10.
- ^ ab"9. Relief Society", Handbook 2: Administering the Church, LDS Church, 2010
- ^"The Purpose of Relief Society". ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- ^Sarah Granger Kimball, "Auto-Biography,"Woman's Exponent vol. 12, no. 7 (September 1, 1883): 51.
- ^Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
- ^"Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, Page 6". www.josephsmithpapers.org.
- ^Minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, 17 March 1842, p. 6, Church History Library; Relief Society, Charity Never Faileth: History of the Relief Society, 1842-1966 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1967), 18.
- ^Minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, 17 March 1842, p. 11, Church History Library.
- ^Minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, 17 March 1842, p. 12, Church History Library.
- ^Joseph Smith, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, vol. 4, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1972) pp. 567–68. See also "Ladies' Relief Society,"Times and Seasons, vol. 3, no. 11 (April 1, 1842): 743; Joseph Smith, 17 March 1842,The Papers of Joseph Smith: Journal, 1832–1842, ed. Dean C. Jessee, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1992) p. 371.
- ^Minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, 7 July 1843, p. 92, Church History Library.
- ^Rich, Sarah DeArmon Pea (July 4, 1885). "Journal of Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich 1814-1893". typescript, BYU. Retrieved September 14, 2009. paragraph 91
- ^Maurine Carr Ward, "'This Institution is a Good One': The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844," Mormon Historical Studies, vol. 3, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 86-203. 
- ^Jill Derr, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1992) p. 62; Barbara W. Winder, "Relief Society in Nauvoo," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, Robert J. Matthews, and Charles D. Tate Jr., et al. (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1992) pp. 1207–08; Jill Mulvay Derr, "Relief Society," in Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, ed. Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2000) pp. 992–97.
- ^Carol Cornwall Madsen (2004). "The "Elect Lady" Revelation (D&C 25): Its Historical and Doctrinal Context". Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants. BYU Religious Studies Center. ISBN .
- ^ abMartha Sonntag Bradley; Mary Brown Firmage Woodward (2000). "Chapter 5. An Ordered Life: Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young in Nauvoo, 1839-46". Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier. Signature Books. pp. 120–23. ISBN .
- ^ abMaureen Ursenbach Beecher (1992). "The 'Leading Sisters': A Female Hierarchy in Nineteenth-century Mormon Society". The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Mormon Past. Signature Books. p. 160. ISBN .
- ^Bruno, Cheryl L. (Fall 2013). "Keeping a Secret: Freemasonry, Polygamy, and the Nauvoo Relief Society, 1842-44". Journal of Mormon History. 39 (4): 170–77. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
- ^Jill Mulvay Derr (2000). "Relief Society". Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History. Deseret Book.
- ^Richard L. Jensen (Spring 1983). "Forgotten Relief Societies, 1844-67"(PDF). Dialogue. 16 (1): 121. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- ^David J. Whittaker (2011). "Mormon Administrative and Organizational History: A Source Essay". A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration. Deseret Book, BYU Religious Studies Center. ISBN .
- ^Richard L. Jensen, "Forgotten Relief Societies, 1844–67,"Dialogue, vol. 16, no. 1 (Spring 1983):105–25; Jill Derr, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant: The Story of the Relief Society (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1992), 68.
- ^Jensen, "Forgotten Relief Societies," 107.
- ^"Record of the Female Relief Society Organized the 9th of Feby in the City of Great Salt Lake 1854," Louisa R. Taylor Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Jensen, "Forgotten Relief Societies," 109.
- ^Jensen, "Forgotten Relief Societies," 109.
- ^Jensen, "Forgotten Relief Societies," 109–18.
- ^Carol Holindrake Nielson, The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857 (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2004).
- ^William G. Hartley, "Common People: Church Activity During the Brigham Young Era," in Nearly Everything Imaginable: The Everyday Life of Utah's Mormon Pioneers, ed. Ronald W. Walker and Doris R. Dant (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1999), 262.
- ^"Female Relief Society," Deseret News, April 22, 1868.
- ^Journal of Discourses, 12:201.
- ^"The Women of Utah Represented at the International Council of Women at Washington, D.C.,"Woman's Exponent 16 (April 1, 1888): 164–65.
- ^ abLamb, Connie (Spring 2013). "Symbols of the LDS Relief Society"(PDF). Mormon Historical Studies. 14 (1): 111–127.
- ^Smith, Barbara B; Cannon, Janath R; Boyer, Marian R; Miltenberger, Mayola R (March 1977). "A Conversation with the General Relief Society Leaders". Ensign. p. 32. Retrieved September 14, 2009. paragraph 3
- ^The Relief Society General Board Association, History of Relief Society 1842-1966, 1966
- ^Hatch, Tina. ""Changing Times Bring Changing Conditions": Relief Society, 1960 to the Present"(PDF): 95. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
- ^ ab"9.1.4: Membership". Handbook 2: Administering the Church Section 9: Relief Society (27(2) ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church. 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- ^"10.12.4: Young Women Who Are Pregnant out of Wedlock or Who Are Unwed Mothers". Handbook 2: Administering the Church Section 10: Young Women (27(2) ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church. 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- ^"Introduction to Relief Society", churchofjesuschrist.org.
- ^"Leadership and Church Organization |Church Leaders".
- ^"First Presidency Announces New Relief Society General Presidency: New member of Primary General Presidency also called", Newsroom, LDS Church, April 1, 2017
- ^"First Presidency Announces New General Women's Meeting", churchofjesuschrist.org, Church News and Events, 4 November 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- ^See Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, pp. 116–28 for meeting proceedings.
- ^"Relief Society Building". LDS Church. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- ^"The Purpose of Visiting Teaching", churchofjesuschrist.org.
- ^"'Ministering' to Replace Home and Visiting Teaching". www.mormonnewsroom.org. April 1, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- ^"LDS home, visiting teaching programs change; 7 new temples planned - KSL.com". ksl.com.
- ^"Frequently Asked Questions". www.lds.org. Archived from the original on April 1, 2018.
- ^Virginia U. Jensen, "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment,"Ensign, November 1999, p. 95.
- ^Julie B. Beck, "Relief Society: A Sacred Work,"Liahona, November 2009, pp. 110–14.
- ^"Relief Society sisters lauded by Red Cross as 'heroes'". Deseret News. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- ^"Catholic Community Services Honors". Church Newsroom. November 6, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, and Janath Cannon, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1992.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay et al. (eds.) The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women's History. Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian's Press, 2016.
- Nielson, Carol Holindrake. The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857: Stories of the Relief Society Women and Their Quilt.University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2004.
- Peterson, Janet and Gaunt, LaRene. Elect Ladies: Presidents of the Relief Society. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Books, 1990.
- Relief Society, Charity Never Faileth: History of Relief Society, 1842-1966, Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.
- Scott, Patricia Lyn and Linda Thatcher, editors. Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox?Utah State University Press, Logan, Utah, 2005. ISBN 0-87421-625-7.
- Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2011
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