Getting Started

Orientation and Training for Relief Society Leaders


Purposes of Relief Society

You have been called of God to serve in the Relief Society—the Lord's organization for women. Through Relief Society, women have an official role in the Church.

The Relief Society has been established by our Heavenly Father to organize, teach, and inspire His daughters and prepare them for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those in need.

  • Learn how to accomplish these purposes in Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 9.1.1.

As you seek to accomplish the purposes of Relief Society, consider the following:

Do I understand that my role as a leader is helping to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life?

How am I seeking to help each sister:

  • Increase in faith and personal righteousness?
  • Strengthen family and home?
  • Help those in need?

How can I use each of the following settings to accomplish the purposes of Relief Society?

  • Sunday Relief Society meetings
  • Other Relief Society meetings
  • Visiting teaching
  • Welfare
  • Compassionate service

Increase Faith and Personal Righteousness

"We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, . . . that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26). Faith must be nourished with great diligence and patience (see Alma 32:41, 43). We live in a time when an increase of faith and personal righteousness is critical to strengthen women and prepare them for challenges that lie ahead.

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 3.)

Strengthen Families and Homes

Never at any time in the history of the world have we needed stronger families and stronger homes. It is out of the homes and families that the next generation comes. Relief Society should be organized and mobilized to strengthen families and help our homes to be sacred sanctuaries from the world. Our homes can be a refuge in a world of evil influences.

Whether married or single, old or young, we all have a duty to defend and practice the truths found in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 9.)

  • Learn more about families and the Church in God's plan in Handbook 2, 1 1.1.

Seek Out and Help Those in Need

In the Savior's mortal ministry, He set the example of seeking out and helping those in need. Relief Society has within its commission some of the most remarkable service opportunities on earth, and they are available to all sisters. People will have trying experiences, and the network of help offered through the Relief Society can provide strength and support.

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapters 6 and 7.)

  • Learn more about ministering to others in Handbook 2, 3.2.3.

Charity Never Faileth

The motto "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 [2007], 452.)

"I have always loved your Relief Society motto: 'Charity never faileth' (1 Corinthians 13:8). What is charity? The prophet Mormon teaches us that 'charity is the pure love of Christ' ("Moroni 7:47). In his farewell message to the Lamanites, Moroni declared, 'Except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God' (Moroni 10:21). I consider charity-or 'the pure love of Christ'-to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient" ("Charity Never Faileth," general Relief Society meeting, Sept. 25, 2010).

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 5.)

Leadership Principles

Prepare Spiritually

Your ability to effectively serve will require the help of the Lord. He can strengthen you as you prepare yourself to be an instrument in His hands.

The scriptures teach us that becoming an instrument through which the Lord can work miracles requires spiritual preparation. In the Book of Mormon we read that the sons of Mosiah "had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God" (Alma 17:2-3).

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, pages 45-46.)

As a Relief Society leader:

  • Prepare to receive revelation. (See Handbook 2, 3.2.1.)
  • Pray, study the scriptures, fast, attend the temple, live worthily, and prepare in other ways. (See Hand­book 2, 3.2.1.)
  • Learn about the purpose, history, and work of Relief Society. (See Handbook 2, 9.1.1, 9.1.2, 9.4, 9.5, 9.6, and 9.7.)


"Prioritizing Our Lives" Image Gallery
View an image gallery from the Relief Society resource room. “How does one increase faith, strengthen families, and provide relief? How does a woman in our day find answers to her own questions and stand strong and immovable against incredible opposition and difficulty?“

Participate in Councils

Elder M. Russell Ballard taught: "This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit! When we support one another in Church councils, we begin to understand how God can take ordinary men and women and make of them extraordinary leaders. The best leaders are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single-handedly; the best leaders are those who follow God's plan and counsel with their councils" ("Counseling with Our Councils," Ensign, May 1994, 26).

Counsel with your bishop to:

  • Learn his vision, direction, and priorities. (See Handbook 2, 9.2.1.)
  • Recommend counselors, a secretary, teachers, and others to assist you as needed. (See Handbook 2, 9.2.1, 9.2.2, and 9.2.5.)
  • Coordinate the type and frequency of gather­ings that will help sisters prepare for eternal life by increasing faith and personal righteousness, strengthening families and homes, and helping those in need. (See Handbook 2, 9.4.2.)
  • Fulfill assignments as directed by him. (See Hand­book 2, 9.4.2, 9.6, 9.6.1, and 9.6.2.)
  • Participate in councils to help assess challenges and opportunities, determine priorities, explore solutions, and identify resources to assist the individuals and families in your ward.

As a leader in Relief Society you will have the opportunity to participate in councils in a ward or stake setting.

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 8.)

  • Learn about participating in councils in Handbook 2, 3.2.2, 4.1.
  • Learn about counseling within your ward in Handbook 2, 9.3.
  • Learn about counseling within your stake in Handbook 2, 9.8.

Minister to Each Woman

While in the Americas, Jesus Christ taught his newly called Church leaders, "That which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do" (3 Nephi 27:21). Among the many examples Jesus gave these leaders was the example of ministering to others individually (see 3 Nephi 17:7-9).

As a Relief Society leader, you have the blessing of ministering to the sisters in your ward. Look to the example of the Savior as you seek out individual sisters and as you train other Relief Society sisters to do the same. Ministering to others is described in Moroni 6:4 and Luke 10:30-37.

As a Relief Society leader:

  • Know, love, strengthen, and watch over all sisters. (See Handbook 2, 9.5.)
  • Seek out and help those in need (See Handbook 2, 9.2.5, 9.5.1, 9.6, 9.6.1, 9.6.2, and 18.6.2.)
  • Help prepare all sisters to receive temple ordinances and covenants. (See Handbook 2, 1.2.2, 2.1.3, and 5.4.)

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 7.)

  • Learn about ministering to others in Handbook 2, 3.2.3.
  • Learn about ministering through visiting teaching in Handbook 2, 9.5.
  • Learn about ministering through welfare and compassionate service in Handbook 2, 9.6.
  • Learn about ministering to new Relief Society sisters in Handbook 2, 9.7.
  • Learn about ministering to sisters who have special needs in Handbook 2, 9.10.1.

Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ

In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord told Emma, "And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit" (D&C 25:7). Relief Society leaders and teachers are also called to teach the doctrines of the restored gospel by the power of His Spirit. As you use the approved teaching materials, inspire your sisters to be "actively engaged in the work of Relief Society" (Handbook 2, 9.4.1).

As a Relief Society leader:

  • Ensure that the sisters are taught the doctrine. (See Handbook 2, 9.2.2, 9.4.1, 12.1, and 17.1.3.)
  • Teach by the Spirit (see D&C 50:13–22). (See Hand­book 2, 5.5 and 5.5.4.)
  • Inspire sisters to apply gospel principles in their lives. (See Handbook 2, 9.4.1 and 9.4.2.)


(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 1.)

  • Learn more about teaching the gospel in Handbook 2, 3.2.4.
  • Learn more about teaching in Relief Society in Handbook 2, 9.4.1.
  • Visit the Teaching the Gospelsection of to find resources for preparing talks or lessons and for teaching in any setting.

Administer Relief Society

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Relief Society was "not only to relieve the poor, but to save souls" (History of the Church, 5:25). Under the direction of the bishop, you oversee the work of Relief Society and its efforts to save souls by building faith, strengthening families, and providing relief for individuals and families in the ward.

As you seek to save souls, use the Relief Society organization. This includes planning Sunday Relief Society meetings, planning and organizing additional Relief Society meetings, organizing visiting teaching, overseeing welfare and compassionate service, strengthening new Relief Society sisters, and training Relief Society leaders and teachers.

As a Relief Society leader:

  • Under the direction of your bishop, you oversee the work of Relief Society and its efforts, gatherings, and meetings to ensure they build faith, strengthen families, and provide relief for individuals and families in your ward. As part of this effort:
  • Organize and delegate the work of Relief Society to counselors, the secretary, and other leaders and teach­ers, giving all sisters opportunities to minister to one another. (See Handbook 2, 3.3.4 and 9.2.)
  • Oversee and ensure the effectiveness of:
  • Sunday Relief Society meetings. (See Handbook 2, 9.4.1.)
  • Visiting teaching. (See Handbook 2, 1.4.1, 2.3, 3.2.3, 4.3, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 5.2, 5.2.4, 5.2.5, 5.2.8, 5.3.3, 6.2.2, 6.2.4, 7.4.3, 9.2.2, 9.3.1, 9.5, 9.7.2, 9.9.1, 16.3.3, 16.6.4, 17.2.2, and 19.1.1.)
  • Compassionate service. (See Handbook 2, 6.2.2, 6.2.4, 9.2.5, 9.5.1, 9.6, 9.6.1, 9.6.2, 9.10.3, and 18.6.2.)
  • Welfare. (See Handbook 2, 6.2 and 9.6.)

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, pages 41-44.)

  • Learn more about the Relief Society organization in Handbook 2, 9.
  • Learn more about additional Relief Society meetings in Handbook 2, 9.4.2.
  • Learn more about new Relief Society sisters in Handbook 2, 9.7.

New Relief Society Sisters

The Relief Society presidency has a responsibility to watch over each new sister with love and concern and help each one to continue in activity and faith (see Handbook 2, 9.7.2). The history book, Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, is one of the approved resources you can use to teach new sisters about Relief Society and their roles and responsibilities in it.

Relief Society sisters who would like help in setting worthy personal goals may consider using Pursuit of Excellence as a guide.

Learn more about who the new sisters in Relief Society are, why they need special care, how to orient and teach them, and what resources to consider giving to them.

(See Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 10.)