At the ninth meeting of the Relief Society in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith quoted the Savior: “Said Jesus, ‘Ye shall do the work, which ye see me do.’ These are the grand keywords for the society to act upon.” (History of the Church, 5:20.)
During his ministry, the Savior preached in the synagogues on the Sabbath, taught in the temple, and fed the multitudes. But his ministry was not limited to the Sabbath, places of worship, or even to the masses. He was concerned every day about individuals and their needs.
To the woman at the well he gave living waters that would spring up “into everlasting life.” (John 4:14.) To the woman taken in adultery he gave hope: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11.) To Martha he gave comfort and counseled her to choose “the good part, which shall not be taken away.” (Luke 10:42.)
How can the Relief Society, emulating the example of the Savior, touch the lives of individual sisters? One way that is receiving renewed emphasis is through optional midweek enrichment activities. This program can be an important and exciting part of Relief Society.
The purpose of the midweek activities is to provide more opportunities for sisterhood and for learning experiences. In its role as a supplement to, not a substitute for, regular Sunday and homemaking meetings, the midweek program is planned to meet the needs of sisters who feel a lack of learning or social experiences in their lives and who want the additional direction this program can provide.
All optional midweek enrichment activities are under the direction of the Relief Society presidency as it functions under the guidance of the bishop or branch president. The presidency prayerfully considers the needs and interests of each sister, then, with the bishop’s approval, makes plans to meet those needs.
Midweek activities are exciting! The possibilities are limitless. Consider the following:
—A ward Relief Society president learned that a group of sisters in her ward wanted to get together each week to do genealogy work. They had willing hearts and a desire to learn more about it. The presidency invited a sister who was an enthusiastic genealogist to direct their midweek activities. The group enjoyed their times together at her home, at the genealogical library, and at the temple.
—A young sister moved into a new ward and expressed a desire to learn about gardening and canning. The Relief Society presidency was aware of an elderly sister in the ward who, out of habit, always planted a garden far too large for her to care for herself. The young sister and the elderly sister were “given” to each other—one to be taught and the other to be assisted. Together they planted the garden, pulled the weeds, and tenderly cared for the crops. Together they canned beans, tomatoes, corn, and the other products of their labors. What a blessing it was to see the full bottles lining the shelves after a bountiful harvest! But the greatest blessings were the times they spent together, the love and sisterhood they shared as each sister helped meet the other’s needs.
—A Relief Society president in Puerto Rico realized the need for sisters in her area to improve their reading skills. With the approval and support of her priesthood leaders, she developed a midweek reading program. Sisters who had limited reading abilities were soon reading the scriptures, studying their lessons, and understanding the gospel as they never had before.
—A “Great Expectations” class for those expecting their first baby is offered in another area. The “Children Who Learn Differently” class is designed to help parents who have children with learning disabilities. “Caring for Elderly Parents” teaches home nursing skills and gives support to those with this responsibility.
The possibilities for midweek activities are endless. Studying the scriptures, taking swimming lessons, picnicking, attending cultural events, learning about the interests of others, writing in journals, and doing a myriad of other activities can bring sisters enrichment and friendships. Flexibility is the key to success, and under the prayerful, watchful eye of the Relief Society presidency, with the bishop’s approval, midweek enrichment activities can help sisters learn and serve as they follow in the footsteps of the Savior.