The Prophet Joseph Smith organized Relief Society as an essential part of the Church. As a presidency, we hope we can help you understand why Relief Society is essential in your life.
We know that New Testament women showed faith in Jesus Christ and participated in His work. Luke 10:39 tells of Mary, who “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” In John 11:27 Martha bears witness of Christ: “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Acts 9:36, 39 speaks of “a certain disciple named Tabitha, … full of good works. … And all the widows stood by … shewing the coats and garments which [she] made.” Phebe, in Romans 16:1–2, was “a servant of the church” and “a succourer of many.”
These patterns of faith, testimony, and service continued in the latter-day Church and were formalized with the organization of Relief Society. Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, taught: “Just as the Savior invited Mary and Martha of New Testament times to participate in His work, women of this dispensation have an official commission to participate in the Lord’s work. … The organization of Relief Society in 1842 mobilized the collective power of the women and their specific assignments to build the Lord’s kingdom.”1
We accomplish our work as we focus on Relief Society’s purposes: to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those in need.
I testify that Relief Society was divinely organized to assist in the work of salvation. Each Relief Society sister has an essential role to play in accomplishing this sacred work.
Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
Sister Julie B. Beck has taught that “we know through the Prophet Joseph Smith that Relief Society was a formal part of the Restoration.”2 The process of restoration began with the First Vision in 1820 and continued “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12). When the Relief Society was formally organized on March 17, 1842, the Prophet taught the women about their essential place in the restored Church. He said, “The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.”3