Church News and Events

Julie B. Beck Speaks about Relief Societies and Priesthood Quorums at BYU Devotional

  Contributed by Lok Yi Chan, Church News and Events

  • 26 January 2012

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, spoke on the topic “Why We are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies” during a Brigham Young University devotional on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

She described the purposes of priesthood quorums and Relief Society, and listed five reasons why members of the Church are organized in this way.

Purpose of Priesthood Quorums and Relief Societies

Sister Beck said many members of the Church have mistaken a priesthood quorum or a Relief Society as merely a class or a place to sit during Church meetings.

“The purposes of Relief Society are to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and provide relief for those who are in need,” she said, quoting Handbook 2: Administering the Church.

“The quorum is to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, instruct quorum members in the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and watch over the Church,” she continued.

She emphasized that being part of Relief Society or a priesthood quorum is a designation in which Church members are to serve for a lifetime—even when callings and assignments from other auxiliaries come.

“What the Lord envisioned regarding quorums and Relief Societies has not yet been fully utilized,” she said. “Many quorums and Relief Societies are at present much like sleeping giants waiting for you to breathe new life into them.”

She then explained why priesthood quorums and Relief Societies are organized.

Why Members of the Church Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies

1. To Be Organized after the Pattern of the Priesthood

“Our God is a God of order, and all that He does to build His kingdom is done through His priesthood patterns,” Sister Beck explained.

These patterns include the organization of wards and stakes, with a bishop who holds the keys to guide his ward; the formation of presidencies; members sustaining those who are called to lead; and the ability of all members to receive personal revelation.

“The quorum and Relief Society leaders are seen by the bishop as undershepherds who magnify, enhance, and distribute his watchcare,” she said.

“I have seen humble Relief Society and quorum presidencies in many parts of the world leading with great and inspiring ability because they are organized under the priesthood and after the order of the priesthood. They follow the pattern that allows them to get revelation for the work they have been set apart to do.”

2. To Focus Heavenly Father’s Sons and Daughters on the Work of Salvation and to Engage Them in It

The work of salvation includes missionary work and retaining in activity those who are converted, temple and family history work, the responsibility to teach the gospel and exemplify righteous living to one another, improving our temporal and spiritual self-reliance, and ensuring that the needy and the poor are cared for, Sister Beck explained.

“We are to do all we can to bring back into activity those of our group who have weakened in their faith,” she emphasized. She added that this work is often “long-suffering and patient” and “can seem thankless” because it is not recognized publicly. However, she assured students that such work will be rewarded in heaven.

“The work of salvation is guided by the Spirit, who confirms our actions, assures us of the Lord’s approval, and supplies the true joy that comes with an affirmation of our success,” Sister Beck said.

3. To Help Bishops Wisely Manage the Lord’s Storehouse

Sister Beck said, quoting Handbook 2: Administering the Church, section 6.1.3, that the Lord’s storehouse includes Church members’ “time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means.”

“Bishops have charge of the Lord’s storehouse, and they depend on the quorums and Relief Societies to help them seek out and care for all in their wards,” she said.

She then elaborated on watchcare being carried out through home teaching and visiting teaching. “Visiting teaching and home teaching become the Lord’s work when our focus is centered on people rather than on percentages,” she said.

Visiting teaching and home teaching are calls from God, she said. True success comes only with the confirmation of the Spirit and when those being taught feel that their home teachers or visiting teachers help them grow spiritually and care about them and their families, and when they know that their teachers will always respond when problems occur.

4. To Provide a Defense and a Refuge for Heavenly Father’s Children and Their Families in the Latter Days

Members of the Church are living in “perilous times” (see 2 Timothy 3:1) in which they are faced with all kinds of sins and temptations, Sister Beck said. However, she continued, Church members can always find safety within Relief Society and priesthood quorums.

“As our times become ever more difficult, the faithful brothers and sisters in the quorums and Relief Societies are to protect the homes of Zion from the shrill voices of the world and the provocative influence of the adversary,” she explained. “It is in the sisterhood of Relief Society and the brotherhood of the quorums that we should find refuge and protection from the storms and calamities of the latter days.

5. To Strengthen and Support the Sons and Daughters of God in Their Family Roles and Responsibilities

According to Sister Beck, priesthood quorums and Relief Society are to teach the children of God and inspire them to prepare for the blessings of eternal life, help current and future family leaders establish patterns and practices of righteous behavior and covenant keeping in their lives, and help everyone become who Heavenly Father needs them to become.

“Therefore, everything we do in quorums and Relief Societies is to help the Lord with His mission of preparing His children for the blessings of the eternal life He envisions for us,” she said. “In these settings we are meant to learn how to become part of our Heavenly Father’s eternal family.”

In closing, Sister Beck testified of the divinity of the organization of priesthood quorums and Relief Society.

 “We are ‘called by the voice of the Prophet of God to do it,’” she said, citing Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, chapter 10. “And as we do so, ‘the angels cannot be restrained from being [our] associates.’”

An audio file of this speech is available for free download at the BYU Speeches website.