9.4 Ward Relief Society Meetings
Sunday Relief Society Meetings
In Sunday Relief Society meetings, Latter-day Saint women learn doctrines and principles of the gospel that will help them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.
A member of the Relief Society presidency conducts Sunday meetings. Each meeting begins with a welcome by a member of the presidency, a hymn, a prayer, and brief announcements about opportunities to serve, upcoming events, illnesses, and other appropriate information. Maximum time is reserved for a gospel lesson. The meeting closes with a hymn and a prayer.
Each month, the Relief Society presidency plans Sunday meetings according to the following pattern.
A member of the ward Relief Society presidency teaches on the first Sunday. She uses the scriptures, the teachings of latter-day prophets, and approved Church materials. Relief Society leaders use this meeting to teach the doctrines of the gospel and help sisters become actively engaged in the work of Relief Society.
Members of the Relief Society presidency seek the guidance of the Spirit as they determine subjects to teach. The Relief Society president may also counsel with the bishop about subjects he would like the sisters to discuss. Subjects may include women’s roles and responsibilities in the gospel, strengthening marriages and families, visiting teaching, service, missionary work, convert retention, activation, spiritual and temporal welfare, temple and family history work, and the history and purposes of Relief Society. Time may be given for sisters to share their testimonies.
Second and Third Sundays
On the second and third Sundays, the lesson is taught by a member of the Relief Society presidency or a Relief Society teacher. She uses the current Relief Society manual. Lessons are generally taught in the order they are presented in the manual and on the same Sunday they are taught in elders quorum and high priests group meetings.
The Relief Society presidency sees that all women in the ward ages 18 and older receive a copy of the Relief Society manual for their personal study, regardless of whether these members are able to attend Sunday Relief Society meetings. Leaders encourage those who attend to bring their copies of the manual and, where possible, their personal copies of the scriptures.
On the fourth Sunday, the lesson is taught by a member of the Relief Society presidency or a Relief Society teacher. The teacher uses messages from the most recent general conference. The stake president or bishop selects the messages.
On a fifth Sunday, the bishop determines the subject to be taught, the instructor (usually a member of the ward or stake), and whether Relief Society sisters and Melchizedek Priesthood holders meet separately or combined.
Additional Relief Society Meetings
To supplement the instruction in Sunday meetings, Relief Society sisters may participate in additional meetings. These may include service, classes, projects, conferences, and workshops. In these meetings, sisters learn and accomplish the charitable and practical responsibilities of the Relief Society. They learn and practice skills that will help them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen their families and make their homes centers of spiritual strength, and help those in need. They learn and apply principles of provident living and spiritual and temporal self-reliance. They also increase in sisterhood and unity as they teach one another and serve together.
All Relief Society sisters, including those who serve in Young Women and Primary and those who do not actively participate in the Church, are invited to attend. Sisters may also invite their friends of other faiths.
Sisters should not be made to feel that attendance at these meetings is mandatory.
The Relief Society president oversees all Relief Society meetings. As part of this responsibility, she counsels regularly with the bishop about how the meetings can help meet the needs of individuals and families in the ward.
Although the Relief Society president oversees the meetings, she does not need to attend all of them. However, at least one member of the Relief Society presidency should be in attendance at every meeting.
Frequency and Location of the Meetings
The Relief Society presidency prayerfully considers how often they should hold additional Relief Society meetings and where they should hold them. When they have made a decision, the Relief Society president seeks approval from the bishop.
These meetings are usually held at a time other than on Sunday or on Monday evening. They are generally held monthly, but the Relief Society presidency may recommend that they be held more often or less often. Efforts should be made to meet at least quarterly.
In determining the frequency, location, and length of additional meetings, the bishop and Relief Society presidency consider time commitments of sisters, family circumstances, travel distance and cost, financial cost to the ward, safety, and other local circumstances.
Planning the Meetings
Relief Society leaders prayerfully counsel together about the topics that will strengthen sisters and their families and about the best ways to teach those topics.
The Relief Society president ensures that plans for all Relief Society meetings are approved by the bishop. She also ensures that all plans are in accordance with the guidelines in chapter 13.
Although the Relief Society president oversees these meetings, she may ask her first or second counselor to assume the responsibility for planning them and carrying them out. She may also recommend another sister to be called as Relief Society meeting coordinator to fulfill this responsibility (see 9.2.5).
Meetings may focus on one topic or be divided into more than one class or activity. Generally, teachers should be members of the ward or stake. Each year, one meeting may commemorate the founding of the Relief Society and focus on its history and purposes.
In planning these meetings, Relief Society leaders give special attention to topics that the bishop has asked them to address to help meet local needs. Leaders also give priority to the following topics:
Marriage and family: preparing for marriage and family, strengthening marriages, motherhood, early childhood education, preparing youth for future responsibilities, encouraging and preparing for family home evening, and strengthening extended family relationships.
Homemaking: learning and improving skills for the care of the home and family, such as cleaning and organizing, home beautification, cooking, and sewing.
Self-reliance and provident living: finances (budgeting, debt relief, and employment qualifications); education and literacy (studying the scriptures and learning the gospel, teaching others to read, tutoring children and youth, choosing children’s literature, using computers and other technology, and developing cultural awareness); health (physical health, fitness, addiction prevention and recovery, social and emotional health, and preventing illness); gardening; food production and storage; and emergency preparedness.
Compassionate service: care of the sick, elderly, homebound, disabled, and poor and needy; support for new mothers and babies; and humanitarian and community aid.
Temple and family history: collecting and preserving family history information, writing family histories, preparing for the temple, and doing temple work.
Sharing the gospel: member missionary efforts, fellowshipping new and less-active members, neighborhood outreach, activation and retention, welcoming new sisters into Relief Society, and preparing for full-time missions.
A children’s class may be held to allow mothers of young children to attend meetings held on days other than Sunday. With the approval of the bishopric, the Relief Society presidency asks Relief Society sisters or other ward members to supervise and teach this class. If Relief Society sisters teach the class, the Relief Society presidency rotates this responsibility so all the sisters can have the opportunity to attend the meetings. If men teach the class, the Relief Society presidency follows the guidelines in 11.8.1.
Teachers for the children’s class plan age-appropriate activities that teach children about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They may use Primary manuals and other Primary materials to teach the children.
If food is provided in the children’s class, leaders first consult with the parents of each child about any dietary restrictions due to conditions such as diabetes or allergies.