“Sisters Reach Out in Service,” Ensign, May 2018
Exemplifying the Relief Society motto, “Charity never faileth,” General Officers from the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary have been involved in a variety of community service and humanitarian activities throughout the world. They have also spoken out in defense of religious freedom.
In a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, titled “Women in Faith: A Freedom of Religion or Belief Perspective,” Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, said that religious freedom is a critical right for empowering women, who are “a potent force for creating a society where peace, religious freedom, and human rights can truly thrive.” She was accompanied by Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency.
At the World Women’s Interfaith Conference in Wales, Sister Bingham said that women—and men—of faith have the responsibility, as well as the blessing, of serving those in need. “We find that uniting in good works is not only beneficial to others but is ennobling to the soul,” she said. Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, who also attended, said it was important for LDS leaders to participate in the event “to share our faith and values, as well as to demonstrate our support for the good works of other women of faith.”
Sister Bingham and Sister Jones, as well as Carol F. McConkie, then serving as First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, met with community members of all faiths in British Columbia, Canada, at the Church-sponsored Fraser Valley Community Awards. The event honored organizations and individuals who have made positive contributions to the area in support of family values, who have provided humanitarian service to those with physical and mental challenges, and who have demonstrated faith in God. Sister Jones encouraged others to seek ways to “lift others’ burdens” and shared personal experiences of finding joy in service.
Sister Eubank, who also serves as director of LDS Charities, addressed legal scholars and leaders of faith-based organizations at a religious freedom conference on the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame in Australia.
“Humanitarian acts rooted in the sincere desire to heal and listen and cooperate and respect are the most potent transformational agent for change as anything I’ve experienced,” she said. “This isn’t just something we do because it’s noble or it helps society. It’s something that we must do because of our deeply held belief that we’re all brothers and sisters.”
Sister Jones also spoke at a meeting of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography in Utah, USA. “If we are going to have any hope of eradicating this plague from the world, love must be both at the forefront and the foundation of all our efforts,” she said.
In addition, Sister Jones visited victims of wildfires in California, USA. On a Facebook post after the visit, Sister Jones, who used to live in the Santa Rosa area, said, “A scripture from Isaiah came to my mind as I prepared for this visit: ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (Isaiah 61:3). The Spirit testified to me the truth that the Savior will literally give beauty for ashes. That is His promise.”
In England, Sister Eubank also participated in a roundtable discussion about religious persecution. Sponsored by the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, “the meeting underlined the urgent need to address the severe conditions of the Yazidi people of Iraq who have been victims of persecution, sexual violence, and other violations,” Sister Eubank said.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, visited areas devastated by two major earthquakes in Mexico. She shared her own story of surviving an earthquake in her native country, Nicaragua, when she was a child. “I told the sisters that we can raise ourselves from the rubble,” she said. “We should not look at ourselves as victims, but as survivors.”
While on assignment to meet and worship with local members and leaders in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Sister Eubank and Sister McConkie also visited with Peru’s First Lady, Nancy Lange Kuczynski. The women talked about LDS youth who recently served as Mormon Helping Hands volunteers.
“She is so grateful for their service,” Sister McConkie said. “Most remarkable for her was to see their enthusiasm and unity in their work. She hopes that all of the youth of Peru can feel that kind of joy and satisfaction in their work and in service for others.”