“How does the Young Women program prepare girls for Relief Society?” Ensign, Aug. 1977, 40–41
Ruth Hardy Funk, general president, Young Women I was in South Africa recently and had the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject—the Young Women program and its six areas of focus—to an audience of Relief Society sisters at a stake and mission conference. After the meeting, the stake Relief Society president told me that she had felt a renewed witness of the inspiration of the Relief Society program. She asked, “Is it by happenstance or design that the principles of the Young Women program are almost identical to those of the Relief Society?”
Of course it’s by design, divine design.
The Young Women program has four goals: (1) to help each girl become personally converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) to help her fulfill her divine potential as a daughter of God, (3) to help her gain an understanding of the priesthood and live worthy of its blessings, (4) to help her enjoy in wholesome ways her youthful vitality. The Young Women program provides experiences and motivation through six years of lessons and activities to help each young woman prepare to become a great and noble woman, ready both for challenges and blessings.
Progression is a process, and Young Women helps it happen by teaching each girl how to set and accomplish goals to meet her personal needs. Six areas of focus are spiritual awareness, service and compassion, homemaking arts, recreation and the world of nature, cultural arts and education, and personal and social refinement. Young women also learn to establish standards of personal worthiness, attend Church meetings regularly, participate in seminary, and follow the admonition of President Kimball to keep a journal.
The kind of character this program is designed to help nurture is beautifully compatible with the Relief Society’s desire to develop the whole woman. All women of the Church have a pattern of very basic needs, needs that remain the same always. Only the time line, the degree of need, the level of understanding, and the individual’s ability to perform make up the difference.
Our young women are better prepared to participate in Relief Society than ever before because they are not just preparing to lead—they are leading. They are not just preparing to be—but being. We’re so pleased to see their exuberance for life expressing itself in the efforts of finding fulfillment now, reaching worthwhile goals, measuring performance, then stretching toward new horizons. All parents, including our Heavenly Parents, rejoice to see their daughters achieving eternal growth, respectful of their own capabilities and eager to expand them. That’s our goal, too—to see them become well-balanced, happy daughters of God. They are preparing to “do his will” and “keep [his] commandments.” (John 7:17, John 14:15.)
For example, through participation in the Young Women program:
—personal sacrifice became real—and fun—for one young woman who patiently helped her little brother learn to read;
—one girl gained a testimony of priesthood power and authority during her service as a class president;
—homemaking became a gift of love and a challenging set of problems to be solved when one young woman took the responsibility for family dinners while Mom was recuperating in the hospital;
—the goal of participating in a volleyball game lifted another young woman’s spirits, added vitality to her crippled body, and gave her confidence in other areas;
—family culture and heritage became vibrant realities to a young woman who set the goal of researching four family group sheets—and did it!
In the Young Women program, each girl has some growing years to learn ways to fulfill her special mission and become worthy to live in the presence of the Lord. The special challenges and blessings of the Relief Society are something she’ll welcome joyfully.