Relief Society is the Lord’s organization for women. Through Relief Society, women have an official role in the Church. When the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society, he taught that this organization was part of the Restoration (see Daughters in My Kingdom , 7). The purpose of Relief Society, as established by the Lord, is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.
Who Participates in Relief Society?
- All adult women in the Church are members of Relief Society (see Handbook 2, 9.1.4).
- There are approximately six million women in Relief Society.
- Relief Society has spread throughout the world into nearly 170 countries.
Women in Relief Society today have a rich and faithful heritage. More than 170 years have passed since the Prophet Joseph Smith met with a small group in Nauvoo, Illinois, to organize the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those founding sisters came from different circumstances. Three of them were in their late teens, some were raising families, and others were single.
Who Relief Society Sisters Are
Now as then, women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints represent a vibrant and diverse array of nationalities, races, cultures, and experiences. They are married and single; they are mothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters. They work in the home and out of the home and live in large cities and remote villages. They are strong, purposeful, faithful Latter-day Saint women.
Women are united in Relief Society by their love for Jesus Christ and His gospel. In the Church, women work in unity with men to build up the kingdom of God on the earth.
What Relief Society Sisters Do
Women of the Relief Society live lives of faith, seeking daily to draw closer to God and serve others as He would. Women work alongside men who hold the priesthood. Women fill many roles within the Church organization. They serve in leadership roles, share the gospel, provide service, teach, train, and deliver sermons. “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’” (Handbook 2, 9.1.2).
Why Relief Society Sisters Do It
All members of the Church make covenants, or promises, with God. At baptism and in holy temples, members covenant to love God, serve Him, and serve His children. They strive to become disciples of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Church is to help all people make and keep these covenants in order to return to Heavenly Father after this life and live with their families forever.
Women play a vital role in this work. The Lord, His Church, families, and communities need the influence of righteous women. Each new responsibility is an opportunity not only to serve others but also to strengthen their own talents and abilities. They learn what God would have them learn, and they become what He would have them become. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “every sister in this Church who has made covenants with the Lord has a divine mandate to help save souls, to lead the women of the world, to strengthen the homes of Zion, and to build the kingdom of God” ("Women of Righteousness," Ensign, Apr. 2002, 70).
Relief Society Motto and Seal
The Relief Society’s motto is “Charity never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). This principle is reflected in its seal and is an important part of Relief Society’s heritage. 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 , 185).
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