Auxiliary Perspectives

From the Relief Society General Presidency


Strengthening Families through Relief Society

Recently President Gordon B. Hinckley challenged us to strengthen our families: “It is in the home that we learn the values by which we guide our lives. That home may be ever so simple. It may be in a poor neighborhood, but with a good father and a good mother, it can become a place of wondrous upbringing. … If anyone can change the dismal situation into which we are sliding, it is you. Rise up, O women of Zion, rise to the great challenge which faces you” (“Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 99).

As daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, our duties vary, but there are things we all can do to meet the prophet’s challenge: learn more about the gospel and teach and apply its principles in our families.

Helping sisters learn the gospel and share it with their families is one of the major purposes of Relief Society. Relief Society’s programs include the following opportunities for learning and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • The Sunday lessons in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young can serve as a framework for family instruction and unity.

  • First-Sunday Relief Society lessons include gospel instruction and can include ideas for sisters to share with their families.

  • In addition to other Homemaking activities, Homemaking nights can be used to share ideas for improving family home evening, studying the scriptures, having family history activities and family traditions, teaching the gospel in the home, and preparing to attend the temple.

As we learn and teach the doctrines of the gospel, we will reflect righteousness and be happier. At the same time, we will help establish places of “wondrous upbringing” where righteous children flourish. These homes and the women who help establish them will be much-needed lights to a troubled world.

[photo] Photo by Welden C. Andersen

Balanced Young Women Program Strengthens Families

Young Women leaders can strengthen youth in their family relationships by providing them with a balanced Young Women program.

Sunday lessons. The new Young Women Resource Guide will be produced annually and distributed through priesthood leaders. This guide contains resources for updating Sunday lessons in Young Women Manual 3, the lesson manual for 1999. The resources referenced in the guide come from recent Church publications that are generally available. The guide also recommends the sequence in which Sunday lessons are taught and provides examples of how to apply the references suggested.

Mutual. Varied and balanced activities can help young women become well rounded. Activities could include service, home arts, music, speech, drama, dance, literary arts, visual arts, camp, sports and physical fitness, and Personal Progress. These kinds of activities will help young women develop talents and skills and appreciate fine music, literature, and visual art. Young Women leaders may ask specialists to assist when necessary.

Personal Progress. The new handbook emphasizes the leaders’ role to assist parents as they help young women grow spiritually. Parents, who have the primary responsibility for their children, can use Personal Progress to encourage private religious behaviors such as personal prayer and scripture study. Such behavior strengthens young women against the adversary and builds stronger family relationships. Using Personal Progress, a father, a mother, or both could help a daughter set goals, work on those goals, and then report back on the experiences she is having.

Events. Through yearly events Young Women leaders help parents by teaching them how to strengthen their righteous leadership in the home. Parents help Young Women leaders by suggesting how Young Women activities can best support and supplement their family activities. Leaders should strive to schedule Young Women activities and events on only one night during the week to avoid overscheduling families.

Strengthen Families

Those of us who serve in Primary have the sacred opportunity to bless and strengthen families, both the families of those we serve and our own families. We encourage Primary leaders and teachers to meet together and find ways your Primary can help families. Share your ideas in ward or stake council meetings.

Please consider how to help:

  • Children learn gospel principles and live those principles.

  • Primary leaders and teachers strengthen their own families.

  • Children share with their families what they have learned in Primary.

  • Parents understand and reinforce the principles taught to their children in Primary.

  • Primary leaders minimize the time that parents who serve in Primary are required to be out of their homes to fulfill their callings.

In discussing ways your Primary can strengthen families, consider these questions: What can we do to better teach the gospel to children and help them live it? How can we encourage children to strengthen their families? How can we help parents understand what principles are being taught in Primary? How can we protect the time of families?

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “In Church we are taught the Great Plan of Happiness. At home we apply what we have learned. Every call, every service in the Church brings experience and valuable insights which carry over into family life” (“Parents in Zion,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 23). Primary’s simple gospel curriculum and the Holy Ghost’s influence can strengthen every Primary leader and teacher. In turn, we can share those blessings with our families. Let us each identify ways our callings can bless our families.

Primary leaders and teachers fulfill an important responsibility in the Lord’s Church. They love and teach those who are the future mothers and fathers in the kingdom of God on earth. May we all be strengthened in our callings and in our families.

[photo] Photo by Craig Dimond

The Next 50 Years

On a bitter cold Sunday morning in 1849, Richard Ballantyne gathered 29 children into his small home. They were seated on split logs supported by wooden pegs before a roaring fireplace. There, this great teacher taught the children the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. “I felt that the gospel was too precious to myself to be withheld from the children,” he said (quoted in Conway B. Sonne, “The Legacy of Richard Ballantyne,” Instructor, Jan. 1949, 4).

This event has been celebrated every 50 years since to remind us of the importance gospel instruction plays in our lives. In 1949—the year of the Sunday School centennial celebration—Sunday School leaders encouraged members to rededicate themselves to the principles of “teach[ing] one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) and “teach[ing] the children of men … by the power of my Spirit” (D&C 43:15). Today, 50 years later, let us follow the lead of our predecessors and rededicate ourselves to improving teaching in the Sunday School.

The most important place for gospel teaching and leadership is in the home (see Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28). The Sunday School organization assists families by providing an opportunity to gather on Sunday to study the principles of the gospel in their simplicity and by encouraging families and individuals to study the scriptures, obey the commandments, receive ordinances, and keep the covenants they have made with the Lord.

In 1999, as we look forward to the next 50 years, we envision a Sunday School filled with inspired people who seek the Spirit, who follow the Savior’s example, and who strive to teach as He taught.

[illustration] Teach the Children of Men by the Power of My Spirit, by Greg K. Olsen