“Come, Let Us Rejoice!” Ensign, Mar. 1992, 44
At the close of the first Relief Society meeting in Nauvoo on 17 March 1842, the sisters sang, “Come, let us rejoice in the day of salvation.”* (Hymns, 1985, no. 3.) The Spirit of God had distilled upon the Saints in great abundance, and all present knew something of great importance had happened. It is likely that none but the Prophet Joseph Smith realized the significance of the day. Yet all had witnessed the dawning of a new day for women everywhere.
The original Relief Society minute book contains references to central gospel themes that were taught in the following days, and that have continued to the present: faith in Christ, nurturing, compassion, sisterhood, community betterment, and developing individual gifts and talents. These values are a framework through which we may view Relief Society and are also the basis of a current exhibit, “Come, Let Us Rejoice! A Sesquicentennial Celebration of Relief Society, 1842–1992,” at the Museum of Church History and Art. As Relief Society continues to shine forth with renewed brilliance, these values are equally vital today. Yes, come, let us rejoice!
Faith is the chief cornerstone of all that the gospel encompasses. Faith in Christ and commitment to a Christlike life through making and keeping sacred covenants are at the center of our spiritual lives.
Nurturing is the most basic charge given to all women, as part of our heritage as Eve’s daughters. It is the responsibility to be “the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20; Moses 4:26.) We nurture when we strive to help all those in our own spheres of influence grow to their full potential.
Compassion represents sympathetic help given to the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those in need. These needs include everything from care of those suffering from illness to aid in times of war or natural calamities.
Sisterhood is rejoicing in the unity we enjoy. The gospel brings individuals together across all divisions that normally separate women: time, place, age, race, social, economic, and educational differences.
Community Betterment has been a Relief Society goal from the very first meeting of the society in Nauvoo. The projects undertaken have reflected the diversity of interests of Relief Society sisters: suffrage, social work, maternal and infant health care, legislative efforts, beautification of surroundings, and other worthwhile activities.
Developing Gifts and Talents of individual women is encouraged so that “all may be edified.” (D&C 88:122.) Many quiet gifts shared in small circles may ultimately make large contributions in a person’s life.