When Barbara W. Winder was called to be the 11th general president of the Relief Society, she said, “I want so, and desire so, that we be unified, one together with the priesthood, serving and building the kingdom of God here today and spreading the joy of the gospel to those who are so in need of it. This is His kingdom. We have a great responsibility to share it.”1
The controversy over the proposed Equal Rights Amendment of the 1970s had divided American women. The 1980s brought more tolerance. “It is a time to heal,” said Sister Winder, “a time to bond women to women and women to men. We can have unity in diversity and diversity in unity. We don’t have to be like one another to enjoy sisterhood.”2
Barbara learned early through her own experience the value of Relief Society visiting teaching and how its emphasis on serving each other could bless lives. She had been married 11 months when her first baby was born. “One day, just after we had brought the baby home,” she recounted, “I had a very high fever. Richard was at work. I had no car, no phone, and I was terrified.” Thankfully, her visiting teachers stopped by and were able to get her the help she needed.3
“It is vital that each sister have visiting teachers,” Sister Winder taught, “to convey a sense that she is needed, that someone loves and thinks about her. But equally important is the way the visiting teacher is able to grow in charity. By assigning our women to do visiting teaching, we give them the opportunity to develop the pure love of Christ, which can be the greatest blessing of their lives.”4
Testimony of Barbara W. Winder
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Barbara Woodhead was born May 9, 1931, in Midvale, Utah, to Marguerite Hand and Willard Verl Woodhead. She was the oldest of four children. Because her mother had to work, she often babysat her siblings. Barbara credits her parents with teaching her compassion as they took in and cared for family members as she was growing up. Although Barbara’s parents were not active in the Church until she was an adult, they encouraged her to go to church and she wanted to go. It was a Primary teacher who took her to church and to her baptism.5
Marriage and Family
Barbara was majoring in home economics at the University of Utah when she met Richard William Winder. Less than three weeks later, they were engaged. They married on January 10, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple. Nineteen cousins lived on the same road on which the Winders raised their four children. “It was a real source of strength to have each other,” she said.6 Their second child, Susan W. Tanner, served as the 12th general president of the Young Women.
Relief Society Highlights
During Barbara’s administration, the general offices of the Young Women and Primary were moved into the Relief Society Building. The auxiliaries would no longer work separately but together through the priesthood to address the needs of the children, young women, and adult women of the Church. The presidents of the auxiliaries traveled together to other countries for the first time. In difficult circumstances, letters and telephone calls became acceptable methods of visiting teaching.
Barbara was released as general president when her husband was called to be the president of the new Czechoslovakia Prague Mission from 1990 to 1993. The Winders served as the leaders of the Family History Center missionaries and later as the first president and matron of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple from 2002 to 2004.
Full Interview of Barbara W. Winder
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- Barbara W. Winder, “I Love the Sisters of the Church,” Ensign, May 1984, 59.
- In Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Faith, Hope, and Charity (2008), 218.
- See Jan Underwood Pinborough, “Barbara Woodhead Winder: A Gift of Loving,” Ensign, Oct. 1985, 30.
- Barbara W. Winder, in “Striving Together: A Conversation with the Relief Society General Presidency,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 12.
- See Peterson and Gaunt, Faith, Hope, and Charity, 204–7.
- Gerry Avant, “A Woman with Purpose,” Church News, May 6, 1984, 14.
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