The Relief Society is one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world. It was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois with the motto "Charity Never Faileth." Today it includes more than 5.2 million women in over 170 countries. All Mormon women age 18 and older are members of the Relief Society.
The Relief Society Declaration states:
We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Some of the objectives of the Relief Society are to build faith in Jesus Christ and teach one another the gospel of Jesus Christ. Relief Societies exist in every congregation and have their own presidencies and teachers. They perform many charitable and service oriented functions and provide an essential place for Mormon women to fellowship and strengthen one another.
- Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
- Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
- Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
- Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
- Delight in service and good works.
- Love life and learning.
- Stand for truth and righteousness.
- Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
- Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.
A large part of meeting these objectives is the Relief Society's Visiting Teaching program. In this program, two women are asked to look after and visit other women in the ward at least once a month. This usually involves some sort of spiritual message and a chance for the women to get to know one another and strengthen each other. Through Visiting Teaching, every woman has someone to watch over them and the bonds of sisterhood are strengthened.
The Relief Society meets each Sunday during regular Sunday worship services. Weekly lesson topics include messages from modern prophets and lessons planned by the local Relief Society presidency to meet local needs.
Relief Society sisters also gather four times a year for Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meetings. These meetings are organized and planned by local Relief Society leaders to meet spiritual needs in their locations. At Enrichment meetings, women strengthen each other in their common roles as wives, mothers, sisters in Zion, and daughters of God. One Enrichment meeting per year is held to commemorate the organization of the Relief Society.
Enrichment Activities are held as needs arise. They are planned by local Relief Society presidencies to meet the needs of specific groups within the Relief Society that share similar interests or needs. For example, a group of Relief Society sisters might meet together at an Enrichment Activity to exercise, have a child's playgroup, learn gardening skills, learn about estate planning, socialize, or do family history work. Visitors are welcome to attend Enrichment meetings or activities.
During one of the Relief Society's annual conferences, President Bonnie D. Parkin (2002-Present) had this to say about Relief Society:
Relief Society—the Lord’s organization for women. Relief Society is important to the Lord [...] He provided women a safe haven from the harshness of the world when He gave us Relief Society. From the beginning our association together and our direction from priesthood leaders have helped us come unto Christ. There was no greater cause then; there is no greater cause today.
Relief Society was not man-made or woman-made. It was, as President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) explained, “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and of men.” Bonnie D. Parkin, “Oh, How We Need Each Other!” (Ensign, Mar. 2004, 16)
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