“Relief Society has always been a strength to the Church,” says Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “It has always helped provide what was needed in each stage of the Church’s development. Today its contribution becomes more poignant because of the difficult times in which we live. It’s not a program per se. It is the gospel—the gospel in action in the lives of our remarkable women. In difficult times we realize it offers its members, and by extension the whole Church, just what we need to help us right now.”
Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ continually testify of the faithfulness of women and of their unique mission and identity during mortal life, in the Church, and in eternity.
A History of Faith
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, emphasizes the strength and diversity of the Relief Society sisters in the early days of the Restoration, and notes that present and future sisters can learn from their unity and determination. He says, “The history of the Relief Society is filled with accounts of such remarkable selfless service. In the terrible days of persecution and deprivation as the faithful moved from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and then across the deserts going west, the sisters in their poverty and sorrows cared for others. You would weep as I did if I now read to you some of the accounts in your history. You would be touched by their generosity but even more by your recognition of the faith which lifted and sustained them.”
He explains that the sisters came from a great diversity of circumstances but that all of them faced the universal trials and heartaches of life. “Their determination born of faith to serve the Lord and others seemed to take them not around the storms of life but directly into them,” President Eyring says. “Some were young and some old. They were from many lands and peoples, as you are today. But they were of one heart, one mind, and with one intention. They were determined to help the Lord build His Zion, where there could be the happy existence the Book of Mormon had described so vividly for them.”
Relief Society Blesses Families
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says, “The Relief Society has great significance for every member of the Church. All of us have been blessed through the example and service of its members.”
He remarks that he has received blessings through the Relief Society and the service of women in his family. “I am the beneficiary of at least four different generations of Relief Society service: my grandmother, my mother, my wife, and our daughters,” he says.
“The most vivid memories of my childhood include my grandmother all dressed up to leave the farm and drive into town, resolute and cheerful in her Relief Society service. My mother’s leadership in the Relief Society of one of the BYU stakes was influential in the lives of hundreds of young women being prepared for a lifetime of service in family, church, and community. I have met these women in many of my visits throughout the Church.”
“In Chicago, our children and I were schooled in Christian love and service by a mother and wife working in her calling as ward Relief Society president. Later, at BYU, we rejoiced as our daughters were called to leadership and service in the Relief Societies of their BYU branches. The entire family enjoys benefits and blessings through Relief Society service.”
Women of God
“My dear sisters, we believe in you,” says Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We believe in and are counting on your goodness and your strength, your propensity for virtue and valor, your kindness and courage, your strength and resilience. We believe in your mission as women of God. We realize that you are the emotional (and sometimes spiritual) glue that holds families and often ward families together. We believe that the Church simply will not accomplish what it must without your faith and faithfulness, your innate tendency to put the well-being of others ahead of your own, and your spiritual strength and tenacity. And we believe that God’s plan is for you to become queens and to receive the highest blessings any woman can receive in time or eternity. . . . Never lose your precious identity by doing anything that would jeopardize the promised eternal future your Heavenly Father has provided for you.”
Elder Ballard then says that a woman who knows her identity as a daughter of God can have great influence. He says, “Every sister who stands for truth and righteousness diminishes the influence of evil. Every sister who strengthens and protects her family is doing the work of God. Every sister who lives as a woman of God becomes a beacon for others to follow and plants seeds of righteous influence that will be harvested for decades to come. Every sister who makes and keeps sacred covenants becomes an instrument in the hands of God.”