“Using Relief Society Meetings to Teach and Inspire,” Ensign, Sept. 2010, 32–35
Sisters from around the world are finding that Relief Society meetings can help teach Latter-day Saint women and engage them in the Lord’s work of salvation.
In the Philippines, Relief Society leaders wanted to support the Area Presidency in their desire to have members prepare to attend the Cebu Philippines Temple after it was dedicated. They discussed ideas with their bishop. As a result, they held additional Relief Society meetings on temple preparation, modesty in dress, and the blessings of paying tithing.
In Mexico City, where flooding often occurs during torrential rainstorms, Relief Society leaders organized projects to help the sisters and their families be prepared to leave their homes quickly. In another ward with 20 widows, leaders organized a Relief Society meeting to help support and strengthen those sisters.
In California, USA, one Relief Society president used ongoing parenthood classes to strengthen and teach young mothers. They have now started these classes in Spanish.
In Moscow, Russia, sisters in one Relief Society wanted to focus on strengthening their families and homes by learning basic homemaking skills. They began classes on cooking, sewing, and making their homes lovelier.
Experiences such as these came as a result of Relief Society leaders implementing the new policy for Relief Society meetings, announced during the general Relief Society meeting on September 26, 2009.1
Relief Society is the largest women’s organization in the world. The fact that it works under priesthood direction makes it completely unique. It allows our worldwide Relief Society to work in all cultures.
Every bishop or branch president has the responsibility for his specific unit. Each Relief Society president is called to assist one bishop or branch president. Each priesthood leader and Relief Society presidency member has been set apart and blessed to receive inspiration for his or her particular responsibilities—and not for any other ward or branch or group of Relief Society sisters. As a result, all Relief Societies—whether in Chile, Hong Kong, Ghana, or elsewhere—can each plan what their sisters specifically need.
Following are examples of how two Relief Society presidents worked in partnership with their bishops:
A Relief Society presidency in Pleasant Grove, Utah, met with their bishop to discuss ward goals before planning Relief Society classes. Based on those goals, Relief Society leaders planned a meeting where a sister in the ward shared how she uses Preach My Gospel for family home evening. They also arranged several gardening workshops, including how to store food from one’s garden. Of the presidency’s meetings with the bishop, the Relief Society president says, “We feel our bishop’s love, knowing he is praying to the Lord in our behalf.”
A Relief Society president in Lehi, Utah, using information from reliefsociety.lds.org, proposed six months of meetings to the bishop. She says, “I encouraged my counselor to train our Relief Society meeting coordinator to focus on the purposes of Relief Society as they planned our monthly classes. When they met with the Relief Society committee members, they asked them to pray about how we could use the purposes of Relief Society to help meet the needs in our ward. The committee came back with many ideas. Then with the bishop’s input and approval, we finalized our plans.”
Relief Society presidents who get on their knees and ask Heavenly Father to tell them what they need to learn will have revelation pouring down to them in beauty and detail. One Relief Society president says, “The Lord knows the hearts and minds of each of our sisters. He knows their struggles and heartaches, their joys and their sorrows. And only He truly knows what will best help them. Thus, our solution is to ask in faith for direction.”
The purpose of Relief Society will take on a new strength for Relief Society leaders, the sisters, and their families. Relief Society meetings will be a place where sisters can be taught and inspired in ways that meet their needs and, in turn, the needs of the ward or branch.