Relief Society to Celebrate 175 Years in 2017

Contributed By Sister Linda K. Burton, Sister Carole M. Stephens, and Sister Linda S. Reeves, Relief Society General Presidency

  • 20 January 2017

March 17 marks 175 years since the organization of Relief Society by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842. The Relief Society General Presidency is excited about this date because of the feelings and actions it will evoke in women worldwide.

Article Highlights

  • The Relief Society program will celebrate 175 years this March.
  • Rather than celebrating an “event,” reflect upon and prayerfully seek ways to honor and remember this special milestone.

“Relief Society will stand increasingly firm and strong, a beacon light and guiding star for women of all nations.” —Sister Belle Spafford, former Relief Society General President

March 17, 2017, marks 175 years since the organization of Relief Society by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842. We are excited about this date because of the feelings and actions we anticipate it will evoke in the hearts and lives of all our sisters.

Relief Society principles

Rather than being an “event,” we hope that each individual sister will reflect upon and prayerfully seek ways to honor and remember this special milestone, keeping the following principles in mind:

  • Our eternal identity, roles, and responsibilities as beloved spirit daughters of our Heavenly Parents.
  • The purpose and work of Relief Society in the work of salvation, which is: “Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and work in unity to help those in need.”
  • The great history of female discipleship.
  • All sisters belong to and are valued members of Relief Society—no matter what their current calling.
 

An Invitation

We would like to extend an invitation to sisters and leaders to prayerfully consider how you might incorporate these principles as you teach Relief Society and plan and participate in meaningful additional meetings.

We encourage the use of inspired resources, such as the scriptures, Daughters in My Kingdom, Handbook 2: Administering the Church, and applicable general conference talks to help facilitate inspiration.

Here are some examples of ideas that might help inspire other ideas for you to prayerfully consider:

  • Eternal identity: Reread President Nelson’s talk “A Plea to My Sisters” (and make a personal goal).
  • Increase faith: Memorize “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” or write your testimony or conversion story.
  • Strengthen individuals, families, and homes: Take a family name to the temple or help someone else make temple covenants.
  • Work in unity to help those in need: Continue to seek refugees to serve through “I Was a Stranger” and to “Light the World.”
  • Great history of female discipleship: Reread Daughters in My Kingdom, looking for some specific principles or examples of women whose stories inspire you.
  • All sisters belong to Relief Society: Reach out to one of your sisters working in Young Women or Primary or one of your “little sisters” in those organizations.

LDS family from Cebu, Philippines. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

A Relief Society sister from Tacloban, Philippines, walks with her children. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Montreal, Quebec. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Sister missionaries serving in Montreal, Quebec. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Near the end of her service, Sister Belle Spafford, who served as the Relief Society General President for nearly 30 years, expressed her feelings about Relief Society.

At the time (1966), the membership of Relief Society was nearly 300,000 women. Fifty years later (2016) there has been a 25-fold increase in our membership—now more than 7 million women! Sister Spafford testified with power and remarkable vision: “Relief Society will stand increasingly firm and strong, a beacon light and guiding star for women of all nations.

“It will continue to rise until it becomes a mighty bulwark against the forces of evil that would engulf women and threaten their homes and loved ones. It will bring peace to the soul and love into the hearts and lives of endless numbers of our Father’s daughters. … May the women of today and tomorrow cherish Relief Society, advance its work, and love one another” (History of Relief Society 1842–1966 [1966], 140).

Our presidency is grateful to you, our beloved Relief Society sisters, as you continue to follow our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ and love and strengthen each other. We look forward to hearing about the simple, meaningful, Spirit-filled ways that you individually and collectively remember 175 years of Relief Society.

LDS mother from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sisters from Manila, Philippines. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Anaseini Tabua and other members of the Nausori Fiji Stake gather at the LDS meetinghouse near their village. Many of their homes were destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Winston on February 20. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Peggy Plumb of LDS Charities walks with children in the Bajed Kandala 2 camp in northern Iraq. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sisters from Sapporo, Japan. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Ghafouri, a Muslim doctor, and Peggy Plumb of LDS Charities give a white dress to a Yazidi woman at the Bajed Kandala 2 camp in Iraq. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Sapporo, Japan. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sister from Sapporo, Japan. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Yoko Sato and Hideko walk near the Sapporo Japan Temple. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Relief Society sisters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.