New Instructions and Programs

“New Instructions and Programs,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 142–43

New Instructions and Programs

Several policy changes announced at the Relief Society Conference will affect the workings of the stake and local Relief Societies. They are:

1. The Relief Society Handbook of Instructions has been replaced by a revised, updated, and larger-sized Relief Society Handbook, which gives details on the policy changes and instructions that were discussed at the conference.

2. All officers and teachers should attend each prayer meeting.

3. At stake leadership meetings, the presidencies should plan to meet together only for the first part of their departmental session. Then the counselors and president should separate into their own groups for their own discussions.

4. Visiting teaching is now defined to include, as part of its purpose, “to assist in the fellowshipping and in the missionary program of the Church.”

The visiting teachers “report” meeting has been changed to the “visiting teachers preparation meeting.” Reports will still be made, but the main purpose of this meeting is preparation.

The Relief Society president can now authorize visits somewhere other than the sister’s home where local conditions make home visits inadvisable. These meetings must be prearranged and include significant private conversation before they can be considered a visit.

“Not at home” visits no longer count as visits.

A visiting teaching district should ideally include no more than five sisters to be visited.

The Relief Society president will hold personal oral reports quarterly with her visiting teaching teams.

5. Special sessions of Relief Society may be established where there are sufficient numbers of Young Adults, Young Special Interests, women in nursing homes, women unable to attend the regular daytime meeting, or other groups with special needs.

Each special session is presided over by the ward Relief Society president but is conducted by two leaders, an education leader and a homemaking recreation leader, who are chosen by the bishop in consultation with the Relief Society president. They report to the Relief Society president through the education and homemaking counselor, respectively.

In Young Adult/Young Special Interest sessions of Relief Societies, the homemaking/recreation leader is also the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA female ward representative.

6. A Relief Society recreation leader may be appointed permanently or for a single activity, by the stake president on that level, and by the bishop for a ward. She correlates with either the ward or stake athletic/recreation director, depending on her appointment, and may be invited to attend stake Relief Society board meetings and conduct a department as the president wishes. She is not a member of the stake board.

Competitive sports are not encouraged for married women nor should nursery services be provided for mothers. Such activities as music appreciation, creative writing, home physical fitness programs, outings, etc., could be planned by the recreation leader. The recreation leader reports to the homemaking counselor.

7. Attendance should be recorded at Relief Society socials and special programs. Visitors should not be counted on the rolls but included in the minutes.

8. Compassionate service is recorded when it is assigned by the Relief Society president.

9. The ward nursery leader is called by the bishop and serves, until she is released, as a member of the ward officer and teacher board. She may be assisted by sisters on special assignment if the number of children warrants it.

10. Ward Relief Society inservice meetings will no longer be held. The inservice concept will be taught and demonstrated in every department by all stake board members at the stake leadership meeting. Only the education counselor’s department will receive the inservice lessons.

11. A brochure, “Welcome to Relief Society,” is available through the Distribution Center. Every member of the Relief Society should receive one, and each new member should be personally presented with a copy as she becomes a member. They will also be suitable for use at visitors centers, open houses, and Church displays.

12. Sisters who don’t want to choose between mother education and social relations lessons will want to learn to adjust. “Undoubtedly,” said Sister Barbara B. Smith, “there will be more class options in the future.”

13. The homecraft program of Welfare Services is operated in conjunction with Deseret Industries in areas where they exist. The homecraft program can also be used in teaching the homebound and the handicapped.

14. United States Relief Society sisters are encouraged to participate appropriately in bicentennial celebrations.

15. The Relief Society will participate in the First Presidency’s request for a reverence program. Suggestions are: to teach reverence by example and precept, stop visiting when entering the chapel or Relief Society room, listen attentively to the entire meeting, respond to prayers and talks with audible “amens,” participate in congregational singing, sit near an exit if you have small children, and teach respect for sacred things.

Cramming a whole manual of visual aid suggestions into one session, these sisters demonstrate lesson supplements for cultural refinement and homemaking education.