Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

Relief Society

The Relief Society is an auxiliary to the priesthood. All auxiliary organizations exist to help Church members grow in their testimonies of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel. Through the work of the auxiliaries, members receive instruction, encouragement, and support as they strive to live according to gospel principles.

 

9.1 Overview of Relief Society

 9.1.1

Purposes

Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.

 9.1.2

History

The Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society on March 17, 1842. He taught that the Relief Society was organized for “the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 452). In addition, he taught that the Relief Society was “not only to relieve the poor, but to save souls” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 453). The larger part of the work of Relief Society today is “to look after the spiritual welfare and salvation … of all the female members of the Church” (Joseph F. Smith, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 185).

The Relief Society was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God” (Joseph F. Smith, in Teachings: Joseph F. Smith, 184). It operates under the direction of priesthood leaders.

 9.1.3

Motto and Seal

The Relief Society’s motto is “Charity never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). This principle is reflected in its seal:Relief Society Seal

 9.1.4

Membership

All adult women in the Church are members of Relief Society.

A young woman normally advances into Relief Society on her 18th birthday or in the coming year. By age 19, each young woman should be fully participating in Relief Society. Because of individual circumstances, such as personal testimony and maturity, school graduation, desire to continue with peers, and college attendance, a young woman may advance into Relief Society earlier than her 18th birthday or remain in Young Women longer. Each young woman counsels with her parents and the bishop to decide what will best help her remain an active participant in the Church.

Young Women and Relief Society leaders work together to make the transition into Relief Society successful for each young woman.

Adult sisters who serve in Primary, Young Women, or other callings that prevent them from attending Sunday Relief Society meetings continue to participate in Relief Society. Visiting teachers are assigned to them, and they are assigned to serve as visiting teachers. They may also be given assignments to provide compassionate service and to teach classes at other Relief Society meetings when such assignments do not impose an undue burden on them.

Women under 18 who are married are also members of Relief Society. For other exceptions, see 10.12.4.

Women of other faiths who attend Relief Society are warmly welcomed and encouraged to participate.