Auxiliary Perspectives

From the Relief Society General Presidency

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Who We Are

There is something ennobling, motivating, and reassuring about knowing who we are, where we came from, and what our ultimate potential is. The Declaration announced at the 1999 general Relief Society meeting reaffirms principles taught in the scriptures regarding our purpose and potential and emphasizes the important roles of family and motherhood. To those who are curious about the sisters of the Church, it is a statement of who we are as daughters of God. For Relief Society sisters striving to live as Saints, it is a document of reassurance and remembrance, a guide designed to help us live as we should live (see page 71 of this magazine).

One sister wrote recently: “I read the Declaration often, and it speaks to the tender places in my heart. What a blessing to have such a personal guide for us as women. I have found myself repeating out loud the phrase that I am a ‘beloved spirit [daughter] of God’ whose life has ‘meaning, purpose, and direction.’ Those words alone have given me energy and courage.”

This document has many uses: Individual sisters may want to use it to remind them of the ideals of faithful Latter-day Saint women; Relief Society presidents may want to devote a first Sunday message to the concepts it contains; convert sisters or young women may want to use the Declaration to help make the transition into Relief Society; and parents may want to devote a family home evening lesson to themes contained in the Declaration. Truly, as the words of this statement sink into our hearts and souls, they will provide additional motivation and direction as we strive to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

This document reemphasizes the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said to the sisters of the Church: “Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with a divine birthright. … I bear testimony before the entire world of your worth, of your grace and goodness, of your remarkable abilities and tremendous contributions” (“Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 67, 70).

Young Women Worldwide Celebration

Young women in every part of the world are commemorating the year 2000 with the special theme, Stand as a Witness. In Sunday instructions and at other Young Women activities this year, special attention will be given to this theme.

Counsel with your priesthood leaders to integrate activities centering on this theme into your existing program. The following suggestions could be used in Mutual:

  • Invite the young women to study 2 Nephi 25:21–26 [2 Ne. 25:21–26]. Help them learn the value of keeping sacred records. Encourage them to write a letter to their families sharing their personal testimonies of the Savior. These testimonies can be preserved for future generations.

    Participating in family history activities can bless a young woman’s life now and influence for good her future family. Through this work, young women gain eternal perspective and recognize that they are a link between their ancestors and their posterity.

  • Invite young women to express their witness of Jesus Christ through the arts. Provide opportunities for them to develop their creative talents through art, music, writing, and in other ways.

  • Encourage young women to follow the Savior’s example of service. Perhaps those with computer skills could help their families and others learn to use the computer and the FamilySearch® Internet Genealogy Service.

  • Help young women prepare family names for temple work and, when possible, perform proxy baptisms at the temple. This work will help them prepare to make and keep sacred temple covenants.

A highlight of the yearlong celebration will take place in November. Young women throughout the world will perform, on a stake or district level, a musical tribute to the Savior, with every young woman joining in chorus to sing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” From the four corners of the earth, young women will come together in spirit to testify of the living Christ.

[photo] Photo by Matt Reier

Improving Gospel Teaching in Primary

Children need to learn of the Savior and the doctrines of His gospel to be able to fully exercise their agency in righteousness. For this reason, parents, leaders, and teachers have a sacred responsibility and opportunity to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we teach diligently, the Lord has promised, “My grace shall attend you” (D&C 88:78).

Children want to hear gospel truths. They are curious; they want answers. How can we become better teachers of children? We will improve as we do the following:

  • Humbly and prayerfully study the Savior’s life and teachings to learn to teach as He taught.

  • Love children. They usually respond when they feel loved.

  • Teach by the Spirit. Bearing testimony invites the Spirit to witness to the children of the truth of gospel principles.

  • Set an example. The best way to teach about praying regularly, searching the scriptures, and listening for the still, small voice is to pray, search, and listen ourselves.

  • Improve teaching skills. Teacher improvement can be a regular part of Primary leadership meetings. Teachers who take advantage of these meetings will improve their teaching skills. The Church has also provided the following new resource materials to help all become better teachers: “Gospel Teaching and Leadership,” section 16 of the Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders; Improving Gospel Teaching: A Leader’s Guide; and Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching.

  • Bear testimony of Jesus Christ often.

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, has said: “The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself. This is because God is the ultimate source of power” (“Acting for Ourselves and Not Being Acted Upon,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 47).

Teachers are encouraged to continue presenting well-prepared, warm, varied, and enthusiastic gospel lessons that help prepare children to make righteous decisions based on gospel principles.

Nourish with the Good Word of God

The First Presidency recently announced “a new effort to revitalize and improve teaching in the Church.” The purpose of this renewed emphasis is “to improve gospel teaching in homes and in Church meetings and help nourish members with the good word of God” (First Presidency letter, 15 Sept. 1999).

Stake and ward Sunday School presidencies should ensure that teaching in Sunday School is effective and doctrinally sound. With support from stake Sunday School leaders and the ward teacher improvement coordinator, ward Sunday School presidencies can help improve gospel teaching by doing the following:

  • Counsel together about how to improve gospel teaching and learning. These discussions could include regularly reviewing the material in Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching.

  • Implement the suggestions in Improving Gospel Teaching: A Leader’s Guide, especially the section “Providing Ongoing Support for Each Teacher.”

  • Meet with the ward council to discuss the quality of teaching in Sunday School and to recommend individuals to participate in the Teaching the Gospel course.

  • Meet with the teacher improvement coordinator and the member of the bishopric responsible for Sunday School to discuss teaching concerns and evaluate teacher improvement efforts.

  • Arrange with teachers to visit their classrooms regularly.

  • Help new teachers carry out their responsibilities, and meet with each teacher at least quarterly.

  • Ensure that teachers have and use the appropriate Church-produced materials.

  • Help plan and conduct quarterly teacher improvement meetings.

  • Participate in teacher improvement meetings, and encourage teachers to attend.

  • Be especially attentive to the needs of new converts and newly activated members.

The Lord said: “I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you” (D&C 88:77–78). The Lord will bless the efforts of Sunday School presidencies as they strive to improve the quality of gospel teaching.

[photo] Photo by Steve Bunderson