Following is an interview with President Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president, about the focus of this year’s 150th anniversary of the organization of Relief Society in March 1842.
Ensign: Some important events, Churchwide as well as local, are well underway for the celebration.
President Jack: In fact, these events are divided primarily into five parts—a “Celebrate through Service” project to be done on the local level; local presentations of “A Society of Sisters,” which features life stories of local Relief Society sisters; local Relief Society histories by the sisters; an international satellite broadcast; and a Churchwide focus on literacy skills. We will announce more about the literacy project later this year.
Ensign: These “Celebrate through Service” projects seem to have captured the interest of many people—both members of the Church and those of other faiths.
President Jack: They are the heart of the whole celebration!
Ensign: It is a thrilling concept that the world’s largest women’s organization, whose motto is “Charity Never Faileth,” is celebrating its 150 years of service by doing more service! What is the general nature of these projects?
President Jack: Rather than discuss details yet—but won’t that make a great story when we receive all the reports!—we asked sisters Churchwide in the nearly nineteen thousand Relief Society units to look at the needs in their own communities. We asked them to involve everyone in Relief Society in this discussion of community needs, then to prayerfully select a project that can make a difference in the community. Then, as women come to understand why they are doing their particular project, they will come to know for themselves that as they serve others through these projects, they are serving the Lord. Because of their closeness to the Lord, sisters will know what he wants them to do—what each can do to help. We hope each sister will be free of any sense of comparison or guilt because she will know that she is lovingly doing what she can from the purity of her own heart. We have a saying that applies here: If you’re doing just a little, you’re doing a lot.
Ensign: You have visited various parts of the Church since your call as general president of the Relief Society in 1990. What are some of your impressions from those experiences?
President Jack: What I really remember are the faces—whether in Ghana, Africa, or Alice Springs, Australia, or Los Angeles, California! Joyful faces of sisters who have testimonies, who know they are daughters of God! They feel that relationship; they know they matter to the Lord.
Next, the problems and challenges in their lives—they are real! These challenges may result from economic stress or feeling undervalued sometimes. But one cannot be with them without seeing and feeling that the gospel of Jesus Christ is often the major solution to their problems, and always—always!—a great strength to them. What a blessing to be numbered among them.