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History of Relief Society


Title: History of Relief Society Author: Vitor Family Last modified by: Vitor Family Created Date: 3/10/2008 3:27:48 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: History of Relief Society

History of Relief Society
  • In the spring of 1842, Sarah Melissa Granger
    Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook,
    discussed combining their efforts to assist the
    efforts of workers on the Nauvoo Temple. Sarah
    donated cloth to make shirts for the men working
    on the temple, and Margaret agreed to do the
    sewing. Shortly thereafter, some of Sarah's
    neighbors also desired to participate in the
    shirt making. During a meeting in the Kimball
    parlor, they determined to formally organize a
    Ladies' Society. Kimball asked Eliza R. Snow to
    write a constitution and by-laws for the
    organization for submission to Joseph Smith, Jr.
    for review.
  • After reviewing the notes, Joseph commented that
    "this is not what you want.... The Lord has
    something better for them than a written
    constitution. ... I will organize the sisters
    under the priesthood after a pattern of the
    priesthood." He further said, "The Church was
    never fully organized until the women were thus
    organized." (as quoted in History of Relief
    Society 1842-1966, p. 18)

  • Eighteen women gathered on Thursday, 17 March
    1842 in the second story meeting room over Joseph
    Smith's Red Brick Store in Nauvoo, Illinois.
    Joseph Smith, John Taylor, and Willard 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 John Taylor
    opened the meeting with prayer. Joseph Smith then
    organized the women in attendance.
  • Joseph Smith stated "the object of the
    Societythat the Society of Sisters might provoke
    the brethren to good works in looking to the
    wants of the poorsearching after objects of
    charity and in administering to their wantsto
    assist by correcting morals and strengthening the
    virtues of the community, and save the Elders the
    trouble of rebuking that they may give their
    time to other duties, c, in their public
    teaching." (History of Relief Society 1842-1966,
    p. 18)

  • The prophet also proposed that the women elect a
    presiding officer who would choose two counselors
    to assist her. Joseph's wife, Emma Hale Smith,
    was elected unanimously as president. She chose
    Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as
    her two counselors. John Taylor was appointed to
    ordain the women and did so. After discussion, it
    was unanimously agreed that the name of the
    fledgling organization be changed to "The Female
    Relief Society of Nauvoo."
  • Joseph Smith then offered five dollars in gold to
    commence the funds of the Society and the men
    left the room.
  • Eliza R. Snow was unanimously elected as
    secretary, Phebe M. Wheeler as Assistant
    Secretary, and Elvira A. Coles, 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 John Taylor and Willard
    Richards also made donations. After singing "Come
    Let Us Rejoice," the meeting was adjourned to
    meet on the following Thursday at 10 o'clock.
    John Taylor then gave a closing prayer.
  • Later in his journal, the Prophet 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" (History of
    Relief Society 1842-1966, p. 61).

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  • As sisters in Relief Society today, we have a
    rich and faithful heritage. One hundred sixty six
    (166) years have passed since the Prophet Joseph
    Smith met with a small group in Nauvoo, Illinois,
    to organize the women of The Church of Jesus
    Christ of Latter-day Saints. We now number over
    five and a half million Relief Society sisters in
    170 countries across the earth. Like those who
    preceded us, we stand today united in faith,
    steadfast in following the living prophet, and
    committed to building the kingdom of God.
  • Those founding sisters came from different
    circumstancesthree of them were in their late
    teens, some were raising families, and others
    were single. Then and now, as women of all ages,
    marital statuses, and cultures, we consecrate
    ourselves to the cause of Christ through our

  • The next slides are organized by the period of
    service of each of the Relief Society general
    presidents, chronicles some joyful milestones of
    the organizations legacy and some Church and
    historical events. As Relief Society sisters
    today, we too rejoice in the Lords organization
    for women, which helps us as we strive daily to
    keep our covenants, exercise charity, strengthen
    families, and ultimately come unto the Savior
    Jesus Christ.

184244 Emma H. Smith
We are going to do something extraordinary. We
expect extraordinary occasions and pressing
calls (Relief Society, Minutebook 1842 Mar.1844
Mar., entry made Mar. 17, 1842, 12, LDS Church
Archives). Relief Society sisters received the
Prophets charge to save souls and look to the
poor and needy. The Prophet declared, All I
shall have to give to the poor, I shall give to
this society. He offered five dollars in gold to
Emma Smith. Joseph Smith martyred, 1844. First
public telegraph transmitted, 1844.
Eliza R. Snow
No sister is so isolated but what she can do
a great deal towards establishing the Kingdom of
God upon the earth (Womans Exponent, Sept. 15,
1873, 62). Relief Society sisters engaged in
sericulture (the production of raw silk) and
other projects to help provide for their
families. First temple in Utah, the St. George
Temple, completed, 1877 General presidencies
established for Relief Society, MIA, and Primary,
1880. Telephone invented, 1876 Light bulb
invented, 1879.
1888-1901 Zina D. H. Young
May we as women of Zion, ever know and honor our
true position (Womans Exponent, Apr. 15, 1889,
173). Relief Society sisters in the United
States supported the national womens suffrage
movement. The first general board was organized
in October 1892, made up of stake Relief Society
presidents. Salt Lake Temple dedicated, 1893
Utah received statehood, 1896 First single
sister missionaries called, 1898. First moving
picture shown in public, 1896.
190110 Bathsheba W. Smith
Cease not while life lasts to study diligently,
for the knowledge which is of greatest worth
(Womans Exponent, Jan. 1906, 41). Relief
Society adopted a course of study with mothers
classes on marriage, prenatal care, and child
rearing. Relief Society sent clothing, bedding,
and wheat for national and international
relief. Church became free of debt,
1907. Wright brothers launched first airplane,
1903 Henry Ford introduced Model T automobile,
191021 Emmeline B. Wells
I want the sisters to study the scriptures.
Let them be holy books unto you (Relief Society
Magazine, Aug. 1919, 439). Charity Never
Faileth became the Relief Society motto. Relief
Society Magazine first published, 1914 United
States government purchased more than 200,000
bushels of wheat from Relief Society,
1918. World War I, 191418 Panama Canal
completed, 1914 Womens suffrage granted in
United States, 1920.
192128 Clarissa S. Williams
We have been given such blessings as have never
been given to women in any other age, and we
should in every way endeavor to live up to them
(Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1921,
696). Monthly visiting teaching messages first
included in the Relief Society Magazine. Improved
health and education for families
emphasized. First radio broadcast of general
conference, 1924. Lindbergh transatlantic
flight, 1927.

192839 Louise Y. Robison
Go where youre needed do what you can (as
quoted in Belle S. Spafford Oral History, LDS
Church Archives). Relief Society worked under
the direction of priesthood leaders to help
implement the Churchs new welfare plan. Singing
Mothersstake and ward Relief Society
chorusesorganized. Churchs 100th stake
organized, 1928 Deseret Industries began, 1938
Church centennial celebrated, 1930. The Great
Depression, 192939 World War II, 193945.
194045 Amy Brown Lyman
Little did the original members of the
organization realize how great their beloved
Society would become (Relief Society in Action
Today, Relief Society Magazine, Mar. 1944,
139). Relief Society welfare work expanded to
help the priesthood meet wartime needs. Focus of
visiting teachers broadened to serve families and
to assist priesthood leaders in evaluating family
needs. Wartime restrictions curtailed Church
activities. United States entered World War II,

194574 Belle S. Spafford
There is within this society a great life-giving
element , binding together women of all
nationalities (The Spirit of the Gospel, the
Soul of Relief Society, Relief Society Magazine,
Mar. 1949, 148). Relief Society became an
international organization as Church membership
expanded worldwide. Church membership reached
one million, 1947 General conference telecasts
began, 1949. Korean War, 195053 Berlin Wall
built, 1961.
197484 Barbara B. Smith
Women can begin with their little children at
home, among adult friends, in their extended
families, and in their professions to reach out
in love to serve someone every day (Service
Makes the Difference, Tambuli, Aug. 1984, 12
Ensign, Mar. 1984, 17). The Nauvoo Monument to
Women, with statues showing many facets of a
womans life, dedicated. Revelation on the
priesthood, 1978 Consolidated meeting schedule
began, 1980. Personal computers introduced, 1981.

198490 Barbara W. Winder
I feel for the sisters of the Church this love,
and sense the worth of each individual. I want
so, and desire so, that we be unified, one
together with the priesthood, serving and
building the kingdom of God (I Love the Sisters
of the Church, Ensign, May 1984, 59). New
scripture-based lessons introduced and correlated
with the Gospel Doctrine course of study. Church
Family History Library dedicated, 1985. Berlin
Wall dismantled, 1989.

199097 Elaine L. Jack
Our joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ and our
place in His plan will draw people to us and
change lives. We will lift and inspire a world so
desperately in need of goodness (A Small
Stone, Ensign, May 1997, 75). A
sesquicentennial broadcast linked five continents
and an international sisterhood of 3.2 million
women. The Family A Proclamation to the World
issued, 1995 The majority of Church members live
outside the United States, 1996. USSR dissolved,
1991 Public Internet era began, 1993.
19972002 Mary Ellen W. Smoot
May we be exemplary women and stand boldly for
truth (Come, Let Us Walk in the Light of the
Lord, Liahona, Jan. 1999, 109 Ensign, Nov.
1998, 91). Home, family, and personal enrichment
meeting replaced homemaking meeting. Visiting
teaching message format composed of scripture
references and quotations from Church
leaders. Church membership reached 10 million,
1997 Smaller temples announced, 1997 Conference
Center dedicated, 2000. Terrorists attacked New
York City and Washington, D.C., 2001.
20022007 Bonnie D. Parkin
If I could have one thing happen for women in
this Church, it would be that they would feel the
love of the Lord in their lives daily (Feel the
Love of the Lord, Liahona, July 2002, 95
Ensign, May 2002, 84). Emphasized the successful
transition of young women into adulthood. Taught
sisters to feel they belong toas well as
attendRelief Society. Nauvoo Illinois Temple
dedicated, 2002 Three Apostles called to serve
outside the United States as Area Presidents,
2002, 2004.
2007 Julie B. Beck
Julie B. Beck was serving as the first counselor
in the Young Women general presidency at the time
she received her call to direct the Relief
Society. As a child she learned to speak
Portuguese when she lived in Brazil with her
parents and 10 brothers and sisters while her
father served as mission president. In the Church
she has served on the Young Women general board,
as ward Young Women and Primary president, as
counselor in a stake Relief Society presidency,
and at the Missionary Training Center in Provo,
Utah. She is a graduate of Dixie College and
Brigham Young University. Sister Beck was a
full-time homemaker prior to being called to the
Young Women general presidency. She lives in
Alpine, Utah, with her husband, Ramon, and they
are the parents of three children and eight
The Relief Society Building - A Home for the
Relief Society
In March of 2006, President Gordon B. Hinckley
joined Relief Society general president Bonnie D.
Parkin in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the
refurbishing of the 50-year-old Relief Society
Building. After reflecting back upon those
faithful women who contributed of their means to
building this home for the Relief Society,
President Hinckley looked to the future as he
stated God bless the women of the Relief
Society. May they go forward in strength and
power, in virtue and capacity, and move forward.
From the Nauvoo days, the Relief Society sisters
had a dream of having a building of their own in
the shadow of the temple. In a letter to Sister
Belle S. Spafford dated September 16, 1947, the
First PresidencyPresident George Albert Smith,
J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKayapproved the
details for the fundraising campaign for the
building. Under the inspired direction of Sister
Spafford, the Relief Society general president at
the time, and with the approval of the First
Presidency, a financial plan was created in which
each Relief Society sister throughout the world
was asked to contribute five dollars to cover a
total of half of the buildings construction
costs. Within one year the faithful sisters of
Relief Society had exceeded that goal. In the
fall of 1956, the building was dedicated to the
sisters exclusive use by the prophet David O.
McKay. As part of the dedicatory prayer, he
said To make more effective their service to
the needy and suffering to those in the Church
and in the World, the Relief Society has erected
with the aid of the Church membership this
beautiful Relief Society home in which the
Presidency and members of the General Board may
function more effectively in instructing,
guiding, and rendering helpful aid to the Stakes,
Wards, and Missionary Branches wherever
organized. Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1956,
789 italics removed
The Relief Society Today The Relief Society
meets each Sunday (excluding conferences) during
regular Sunday worship services. Weekly lesson
topics include messages from former prophets,
current Church leaders, and lessons planned by
the local Relief Society presidency to meet local
needs. Relief Society sisters also gather four
times a year for Home, Family, and Personal
Enrichment Meetings. These meetings are organized
and planned by local Relief Society leaders to
meet spiritual needs in their locations. At
Enrichment Meetings, women strengthen each other
in their common roles as wives, mothers, sisters
in Zion, and daughters of God. One Enrichment
Meeting per year is held to commemorate the
organization of the Relief Society. Enrichment
Activities are held as needs arise. They are
planned by local Relief Society presidencies to
meet the needs of specific groups within the
Relief Society that share similar interests or
needs. Visitors are welcome to attend Enrichment
meetings or activities. Groups of several
Relief Societies meet together twice annually for
Stake Enrichment Meetings planned by stake Relief
Society leaders. One of these meetings
corresponds with the annual Relief Society
General Broadcast, when the Relief Society
General Presidency and a priesthood leader
address Mormon women 18 and older by satellite
The Relief Society Declaration
We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our
lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a
worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our
devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and
Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision,
and charity who Increase our testimonies of
Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the
promptings of the Holy Ghost. Dedicate
ourselves to strengthening marriages, families,
and homes. Find nobility in motherhood and joy
in womanhood. Delight in service and good
works. Love life and learning. Stand for
truth and righteousness. Sustain the priesthood
as the authority of God on earth. Rejoice in
the blessings of the temple, understand our
divine destiny, and strive for exaltation
"There is not enough darkness in the entire world
to put out the light of the smallest candle"
  "We are blessed to know that we are daughters
of God. And we are blessed to belong to an
organization, the Relief Society, which teaches
us that as daughters of God our lives have
meaning, purpose and direction. Now, think of
just one way that YOUR life has meaning, purpose
and direction. When everyone at your table has
thought of something, light up your candle and
show us your light. " As a Daughter of God, you
are a beautiful light. And as you unite with your
Savior, and as our hands reach out and we unite
as a Ward and Worldwide Sisterhood our light
together, just as these candles, becomes brighter
and stronger. Our Heavenly Father will give us
love and understanding. Our eyes will be lifted
and our hearts will be changed. We will be one in
faith and have the strength to stand for who we
are...Daughters of God.  Women of Faith, Virtue,
Vision and Charity. The Light of the world."  
(No Transcript)
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