“Welcoming Young Women: An Open Door,” Tambuli, June 1992, 48
Lisa, eighteen years old, stood apart from the cluster of women chatting at church. These sisters were so much older; they were not her peers. Could she feel comfortable in this Relief Society setting? She paused, thinking, “Maybe I’ll come next week.” But then the Spirit urged her on. As she neared the door, the Relief Society president saw her and reached out a hand. “Oh, welcome, welcome! We’re glad you’re here. We’ve been waiting for you.”
All over the world these young adults, who have learned leadership skills and have given service in the Young Women program, are making an important transition in their lives. They come to the lifelong sisterhood of Relief Society bringing gifts of energy, enthusiasm, spirituality, and religious commitment.
The door to Relief Society needs to be wide open. Like the disciples at the Waters of Mormon, we want our “hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). These new Relief Society sisters will feel unity and love as we value their perspectives and put their vitality to use.
What spirit and talents do young women bring to Relief Society? How can we open our hearts to them?
At the first meetings of the Relief Society in 1842, women of all ages and experience joined together—grandmothers, mothers, single women, and young sisters in their late teens. They shared spiritual experiences. They rendered charitable service. One of them was nineteen-year-old Bathsheba Smith. Sixty years later, Bathsheba became general president of the Relief Society. In the tradition of Relief Society, there is room for all, and we learn from one another.
A modern Latter-day Saint woman, Ruth Morgan of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, describes her years in Relief Society: “I have grown from an unsure young adult to a young wife and mother and then to a sister of experience in my middle years. At the age of nineteen, I sat next to a sweet grandmother and learned to knit. She also was learning to knit. … I learned of a Heavenly Father who loves me and a Savior who showed the way. I learned to teach, to hug, to lead, and to follow. I have become a Relief Society sister, standing tall as a much-loved daughter of my Heavenly Father.”
How do we today help prepare young sisters for their futures?
In every ward and branch, young sisters are influenced by the example of those who love them. Role models inspire commitment.
Women of varying ages can support and strengthen each other. We know of Ruth and Naomi’s mutual regard and service. Later Mary, the mother of Jesus, sought counsel from her older cousin Elisabeth before the births of their sons. They shared their testimonies and perhaps planned for the future. The young Mary’s dedication to the Lord is a pattern for sisters of all ages: “My soul doth magnify the Lord,
“And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46–47).
We invite all to welcome these sisters coming from the Young Women program into Relief Society, where we can enjoy one another’s talents and share activities and testimonies.
What can we do to fortify young sisters through Relief Society?