Elaine L. Jack, 12th general president of the Relief Society, recognized that she couldn’t solve every woman’s problems but that she could remind them of their greatest source for strength and power—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Despite trials, worldly confusion, and caustic voices, we can trust in the Lord and go forward with happy hearts, knowing that with every challenge or problem, there’s the strength to go on. Why?” she asked. “Because we know His promises are real, that He does know us by name and has a plan for each of us. He will help us learn what it is and give us joy in doing it.”1
A personal testimony of Jesus Christ is the key to happiness, and Elaine wanted every sister to have one. “The first point [of Relief Society] … is to build personal testimony,” she said. “That is the foundation for everything else we do.”2
Sister Jack’s desire was magnified in 1992 when the Relief Society launched the gospel literacy effort, a worldwide service effort to help sisters learn to read. “The ability to read is more than just an earthly skill. It’s important to our eternal progression as well,” said Elaine. “If we’re going to bring souls to Christ, they must be able to understand the basic commandments and gospel principles that are in God’s word—the scriptures.”3
Subsequently, women and their families were blessed as Relief Society sisters volunteered in schools, set up literacy programs, and taught their visiting teaching sisters how to read.
“We are part of a grand whole,” Sister Jack said. “We need each other to make our sisterhood complete. When we reach out to clasp the hands of our sisters, we reach to every continent, for we are of every nation. We are bonded as we try to understand what the Lord has to say to us, what He will make of us. We speak in different tongues, yet we are a family who can still be of one heart.”4
Testimony of Elaine L. Jack
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One of four children, Elaine Low was born March 22, 1928, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, to Church stalwarts Sterling Oliver and Lovina Anderson Low. Her childhood home was less than a block from the Cardston Alberta Temple.5 Her parents were among the first couples sealed in it, and her patriarch grandfather worked on it from start to finish. She played the organ in Sunday School6 and transcribed patriarchal blessings for her grandfather.7
Education and Marriage
After becoming her high school valedictorian, Elaine majored in English at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. There she met her husband, Joseph E. Jack, a senior medical student. They married September 16, 1948, in the Cardston Alberta Temple. The couple lived in New York, Massachusetts, and Alaska before returning to Utah. They reared four sons.
Highlights of Church Service
Before being called into the Relief Society general presidency, Elaine served as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency under Ardeth G. Kapp. Relief Society marked 150 years in 1992. In celebration, Sister Jack encouraged sisters to participate in service projects in their communities. Sisters did everything from sweeping a path to the water hole to painting homeless shelters to collecting books.8 Additionally, the general presidency organized the Relief Society Sesquicentennial Satellite Broadcast on March 14, 1992. Sisters felt a great spirit of unity as they participated in the Church’s first live broadcast to sisters in 10 major cities around the world in addition to those in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.9 From 1997 to 2000, the Jacks served as president and matron of the Cardston Alberta Temple.
Full Interview of Elaine L. Jack
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- Elaine L. Jack, “Charity Never Faileth,” Ensign, May 1992, 91.
- Elaine L. Jack, “The Mission of Relief Society,” Relief Society open house talk, Sept. 27, 1990, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
- In Julie A. Dockstader, “Goal of Learning to Read: To Expand the Horizons of Gospel Understanding,” Church News, Oct. 1, 1994, 4.
- Elaine L. Jack, “Charity Never Faileth,” 91.
- See Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Faith, Hope and Charity (2008), 224.
- See Peterson and Gaunt, Faith, Hope, and Charity, 224.
- See Jill Mulvay Derr, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society (1992), 403.
- See Peterson and Gaunt, Faith, Hope, and Charity, 233.
- See Derr, Cannon, and Beecher, Women of Covenant, 415.