“Priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers strive to help others become true followers of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 18:18–30). To assist individuals and families in this effort, they:
- Teach and testify of the pure doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Strengthen individuals and families in their efforts to keep their sacred covenants.
- Provide counsel, support, and opportunities for service” (Handbook 2, 1.2.2).
“Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service” (Handbook 2, 9.1.1).
“President Lorenzo Snow, the fifth President of the Church, said: 'You have ever been found at the side of the Priesthood, ready to strengthen their hands and to do your part in helping to advance the interests of the kingdom of God; and as you have shared in these labors, so you will most certainly share in the triumph of the work and in the exaltation and glory which the Lord will give to His faithful children.' As women participate in Relief Society, they serve as valiant disciples of Jesus Christ in the work of salvation. Like the women in the ancient Church, they work alongside men who hold the priesthood to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those in need” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 7).
“All ward and stake auxiliary organizations operate under the direction of the bishop or stake president, who holds the keys to preside” (Handbook 2, 2.1.1).
“As the Lord’s prophet, Joseph Smith held all the keys of priesthood authority on the earth. Therefore, when he organized the Relief Society to function under his overall direction, he unlocked opportunities for the women of the Church to play vital roles in the work of the Lord’s kingdom” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 15).
Build Unity and Harmony
“The Lord has said, 'Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine' (D&C 38:27). Presiding officers encourage unity by seeking counsel from the men and women who serve with them. Members of presidencies and councils help establish unity by sharing their honest feelings and ideas, communicating clearly, and listening to one another.
“When leaders of Church organizations follow their priesthood leaders and when members of presidencies and councils are unified, they can receive guidance from the Holy Ghost and lead according to the Lord’s will” (Handbook 2, 3.3.2).
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'All must act in concert or nothing can be done.' And he set an example by working in concert with others. Sister Eliza R. Snow remembered and cherished this example all her life. She shared it with local Church leaders when the Relief Society was reestablished in Utah. She taught that bishops were to 'have the same relation' with ward Relief Societies as Joseph Smith did with the Relief Society in Nauvoo. She also taught that 'each society … could not exist without [the bishop’s] counsel' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 139-40).
Ward Council Meetings
“A council is a group of church leaders…in a ward or stake level who council together for the benefit of individuals and families. Council members also plan the work of the church…and unify their efforts in responding to individual, family and organizational needs.” (Handbook 2, 4.1).
“Council members are encouraged to speak honestly, both from their personal experience and from their positions as organization leaders. Both men and women should feel that their comments are valued as full participants. The bishop seeks input from Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary leaders in all matters considered by the ward council. The viewpoint of women is sometimes different from that of men, and it adds essential perspective to understanding and responding to members’ needs” (Handbook 2, 4.6.1).
“Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: 'We believe in and are counting on your goodness and your strength, your propensity for virtue and valor, your kindness and courage, your strength and resilience. We believe in your mission as women of God. … We believe that the Church simply will not accomplish what it must without your faith and faithfulness, your innate tendency to put the well-being of others ahead of your own, and your spiritual strength and tenacity' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 172).
Elder Quentin L. Cook shares an example of how a ward council functions.
The Work of Salvation
“Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are sent forth 'to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men' (D&C 138:56). This work of salvation includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation, of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel” (Handbook 2, 5).
“President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, said, 'This organization is divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and of men' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 7).
Member Missionary Work
“Member missionary work is most effective when ward council members are fully engaged in the missionary effort. In quorums and auxiliaries, they encourage members to participate in missionary work in the following ways:
- Find and prepare people to be taught.
- Assist the missionaries when they teach (in members’ homes, if possible).
- Fellowship investigators.
- Prepare themselves and their children to serve as full-time missionaries” (Handbook 2, 5.1.2).
“President Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth President of the Church, [said]: 'Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 95).
“New Church members need the support and friendship of Church leaders, home teachers, visiting teachers, and other members. This support helps new members become firmly 'converted unto the Lord' (Alma 23:6)” (Handbook 2, 5.2).
“ 'You are going to save souls, and who can tell but that many of the fine active people in the Church today are active because you were in their homes. … You are not only saving these sisters, but perhaps also their husbands and their homes' ” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 117).
“Ward priesthood and auxiliary leaders strive continually to help less-active members return to Church activity. The Savior said, 'Unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them' (3 Nephi 18:32)” (Handbook 2, 5.3).
“ 'President Joseph Smith said this society was organized to save souls. What have the sisters done to win back those who have gone astray?—to warm up the hearts of those who have grown cold in the gospel?—Another book is kept of your faith, your kindness, your good works, and words. Another record is kept. Nothing is lost' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 83).
Temple and Family History
“Priesthood and auxiliary leaders teach ward members about basic responsibilities in temple and family history work. …
“They encourage members to receive their own temple ordinances and help immediate family members receive theirs. Leaders teach members that the purpose of the endowment is to prepare for exaltation, not merely to prepare for marriage or a mission.
“Leaders encourage each endowed member to hold a current temple recommend and go to the temple as often as circumstances and family needs allow. Leaders also encourage unendowed adults and youth ages 12 and older, including new members, to have limited-use temple recommends and go to the temple often to be baptized and confirmed for the dead. …
“Priesthood and auxiliary leaders teach members to participate in family history work by identifying their ancestral family members, requesting temple ordinances for them if needed, and providing these ordinances in the temple themselves if possible” (Handbook 2, 5.4).
“Sarah M. Kimball and Margaret Cook … wanted to help prepare a temple for the people. Under the inspiration and guidance of a prophet and other priesthood leaders, they and their sisters ultimately helped prepare a people for the temple. This work continues today. Guided by the principles Joseph Smith taught, Relief Society sisters work together to prepare women and their families for God’s greatest blessings” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 25).
Teaching the Gospel
“Priesthood and auxiliary leaders strive to teach the gospel effectively. They are also responsible for efforts to improve learning and teaching in their organizations” (Handbook 2, 5.5.3).
“President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:
“ 'The Relief Society works under the direction of the Melchizedek Priesthood, for “all other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.” It was organized “after the pattern of the priesthood.” …
“ 'The Brethren know they belong to a quorum of the priesthood. Too many sisters, however, think that Relief Society is merely a class to attend. The same sense of belonging to the Relief Society rather than just attending a class must be fostered in the heart of every woman.'
“Priesthood quorums organize men in a brotherhood to give service, to learn and carry out their duties, and to study the doctrines of the gospel. Relief Society accomplishes these same purposes for the women of the Church. All women in the Church belong to Relief Society, even if they have other responsibilities that make it difficult for them to attend all Relief Society meetings. They continue to be watched over and taught through the sisterhood of Relief Society” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 138-39).
“Sister Snow hoped that sisters would ‘perceive a difference in their houses’ after a visit. She counseled visiting teachers to prepare themselves spiritually before they visited homes so they would be able to ascertain and meet spiritual needs as well as temporal ones: 'A teacher … should surely have so much of the Spirit of the Lord, as she enters a house to know what spirit she meets in there. … Plead before God and the Holy Ghost to get [the Spirit] so that you will be able to meet that spirit that prevails in that house … and you may feel to talk words of peace and comfort, and if you find a sister feeling cold, take her to your heart as you would a child to your bosom and warm [her] up' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 108).
Welfare Principles and Leadership
“Welfare is central to the work of the high priests group, the elders quorum, and the Relief Society. In meetings of the high priests group leadership, the elders quorum presidency, and the Relief Society presidency, leaders plan ways to teach principles of self-reliance and service and to address welfare needs. Under the direction of the bishop, these leaders help members become self-reliant and find solutions to short-term and long-term welfare concerns” (Handbook 2, 6.2.4).
“President Young, the second President of the Church, expressed a desire to reestablish Relief Societies throughout the Church. The following year, President Young felt increased urgency to assist bishops in their responsibility to seek out and help those in need. Initiating an effort to reestablish Relief Society in every ward, he shared the following counsel with bishops: 'Let [the sisters] organize Female Relief Societies in the various wards. We have many talented women among us, and we wish their help in this matter. Some may think this is a trifling thing, but it is not; and you will find that the sisters will be the mainspring of the movement. Give them the benefit of your wisdom and experience, give them your influence, guide and direct them wisely and well, and they will find rooms for the poor and obtain the means for supporting them ten times quicker than even the Bishop could' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 41).
“President Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth President of the Church, said, 'There is a power in this organization [of Relief Society] that has not yet been fully exercised to strengthen the homes of Zion and build the Kingdom of God—nor will it until both the sisters and the priesthood catch the vision of Relief Society' ” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 142).