Sunday, September 27, 2009

LDS Women Reminded Of The Purpose Of Relief Society And Asked To Be More Charitable At The September 2009 General Relief Society Meeting

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' General Relief Society Meeting was held in Salt Lake City on Saturday September 26th, 2009, and there were no real surprises except for an announcement that Relief Society meetings would be simplified somewhat in the future. The message to the sisters was to be more charitable. The speakers also touched on different aspects of the history and administration of Relief Society, the LDS Church's organization for women which was founded in 1842.

If you missed it, you can listen HERE.

For a complete perspective on the event, read stories in the Mormon Times, the LDS Church News, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and KSL Channel 5. Bloggernacle reaction posted by ByCommonConsent and Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Addressing the worldwide congregation of LDS women, 19,000 of who were personally in attendance at the Conference Center, were Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, and her counselors, Silvia H. Allred and Barbara Thompson. A member of the LDS First Presidency, Henry Eyring (first counselor), delivered the closing address. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

Sister Beck kicked it off by reminding the audience that the purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen their families and homes, and serve the Lord and His children. LDS women need to know what sets them apart from every other women's group or organization. "Everything we do in Relief Society matters because Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, visited Joseph Smith and, through him, the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth." Relief Society was part of that restoration.

She then announced the discontinuance of the title "home, family and personal enrichment meetings." Sister Beck stated, "In counsel with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was determined that rather than give these additional Relief Society meetings a new title, all such meetings and activities will now be referred to simply as Relief Society meetings. Individual Relief Society meetings that are not held on Sunday will be called whatever they are: Relief Society service, classes, projects, conferences or workshops." She added that although the additional meetings can be valuable supplements to Sunday instruction, sisters should not feel that attendance is mandatory.

Silvia H. Allred was next up. Sister Allred said Relief Society is vital to the welfare of every Latter-day Saint home and family. "Every husband and father should encourage activity in Relief Society. Every woman should come and learn the opportunities Relief Society offers. Every righteous woman has a significant role to play in God's plan and the building up of His kingdom. Relief Society needs you, and you need Relief Society." She also said the deepest desire of the general Relief Society presidency is to help each woman in the church "prepare to receive the blessings of the temple, to honor the covenants she makes and to be engaged in the cause of Zion."

Third up was Barbara Thompson, who spoke of gaps many people will have during their experience in life. The three gaps most commonly experienced by LDS women, according to her:

-- The difference between merely believing you are a daughter of God vs. knowing in your heart and soul that you are a precious, beloved daughter of God.
-- The difference between merely completing the Young Women program vs. becoming a fully participating member of Relief Society.
-- The difference between merely believing in Jesus Christ vs. being valiant in one's testimony of Jesus Christ.

Sister Thompson's counsel, though useful, was a bit more subtle than it should have been. Most of her audience probably didn't relate to the example she cited in "minding the gap" when boarding a train on the London Underground. One should be careful to cite cultural references more universally recognized when addressing a worldwide audience.

The meeting was then capped with President Eyring's address. President Eyring asked modern LDS women to be charitable. "Charity is born of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and is an effect of his Atonement working in the hearts of members," said President Eyring. "There are many benevolent groups of women who do great good. There are many who have overpowering feelings of sympathy for the unfortunate, the sick and the needy. But [the Relief Society] is unique and has been from its start."

President Eyring also recounted the history of the Relief Society, created by church founder Joseph Smith in 1842. While hard circumstances led to its inactivity for nearly four decades in the pioneer era, it was reorganized in 1880. The Relief Society was instrumental in creating the church's worldwide humanitarian program and in founding LDS Hospital. It began programs that evolved into the worldwide social services program, founded the church's Primary for children and the Young Women's program. His speech is covered in much greater detail in LDS Church News.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported reaction by two sisters who attended, 21-year-old Emily Kranendonk and 18-year-old Amelia Kranendonk. They both attend Utah State University, where they participate in their ward's Relief Society. Amelia said after the meeting that many young women look at it as for the 'old women' and not for the younger generation. She noticed, though, that when she began attending Relief Society meetings at her family's ward in Salt Lake City this summer, her friends followed suit. Emily said she loves the power and sisterhood found in the women's organization.

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