“The Purpose of Relief Society,” Ensign, January 2017
The purpose of Relief Society is to “prepare women for the blessings of eternal life,” says Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President.1 It is through faith, family, and relief that we engage in our “vital part in the work.”2
Relief Society “is a temporal and spiritual work,” says Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. “That is what the women did in the Savior’s day, and that is what we continue to do.”3
As we look to the Samaritan woman at the well, who left her water pot and ran to tell others that Jesus was a prophet (see John 4:6–42), or to Phebe, who joyfully served others throughout her life (see Romans 16:1–2), we see examples of women in the Savior’s day who took an active part in coming unto Christ. It is He who opens our way to eternal life (see John 3:16).
As we look to our pioneer sisters in Nauvoo, Illinois, who gathered in Sarah Kimball’s home in 1842 to form their own organization, we see God’s plan for bringing Relief Society into being and in line with the priesthood. After Eliza R. Snow wrote a constitution, the Prophet Joseph Smith reviewed it. He realized that the Church was not fully organized until the women were organized. He said that the Lord accepted their offering but that there was something better. “I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood,” he said.4
“The Relief Society was not just another group of women trying to do good in the world. It was different. It was ‘something better’ because it was organized under priesthood authority. Its organization was a necessary step in the unfolding of God’s work on earth.”5