Purpose/Importance of Relief Society

Please note that quotes regarding one purpose, Relief Society Prepares for Eternal Life, have been placed on a separate page.

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“One came in the October 1856 general conference as President Brigham Young announced to the congregation that handcart pioneers were still on the trail and late in the season. He declared: ‘Your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, … otherwise your faith will be in vain.’

“We remember with grateful admiration the men who headed off to rescue those suffering Saints. But what did the sisters do?

“ ‘Sister [Lucy Meserve] Smith recorded … that after President Young’s exhortation, those in attendance took action. … Women ‘[removed] their petticoats [large underskirts that were part of the fashion of the day and that also provided warmth], stockings, and every thing they could spare, right there in the [old] Tabernacle, and piled [them] into the wagons to send to the Saints in the mountains.’ ’

“Several weeks later, President Brigham Young gathered the Saints again in the old Tabernacle as the rescuers and the handcart companies got closer to Salt Lake City. With great urgency, he pleaded with the Saints—especially the sisters—to nurse the sufferers and feed them and receive them, saying: ‘Some you will find with their feet frozen to their ankles; some are frozen to their knees and some have their hands frosted. … We want you to receive them as your own children, and to have the same feeling for them.’

“Lucy Meserve Smith also recorded:

“ ‘We did all we could, with the aid of the good brethren and sisters, to comfort the needy. … They got their hands and feet badly frosted. … We did not cease our exertions [un]til all were made comfortable. …

“ ‘I never took more satisfaction and, I might say, pleasure in any labor I ever performed in my life, such a unanimity of feeling prevailed. …

“ ‘What comes next for willing hands to do?’ ”

 
Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President
I Was a Stranger,”April 2016 General Conference

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“On the day Relief Society was organized, Emma Smith declared: ‘We are going to do something extraordinary. … We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.’ Those pressing calls and extraordinary occasions presented themselves frequently then—as they do now.”

Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President
I Was a Stranger,”April 2016 General Conference

 

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“Every day, Relief Society sisters around the world experience the entire range of mortal challenges and experiences. Women and their families today live face to face with unrealized expectations; mental, physical, and spiritual illness; accidents; and death. Some sisters suffer loneliness and disappointment because they do not have families of their own, and others suffer from the consequences of poor choices made by family members. Some have experienced war or hunger or natural disasters, and others are learning about the strain of addictions, unemployment, or insufficient education and training. All of these difficulties have the potential to bleach the bones of faith and exhaust the strength of individuals and families. One of the Lord’s purposes in organizing the sisters into a discipleship was to provide relief that would lift them above ‘all that hinders the joy and progress of woman.’ In every ward and branch, there is a Relief Society with sisters who can seek and receive revelation and counsel with priesthood leaders to strengthen each other and work on solutions that are applicable in their own homes and communities.”

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President
What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Understand about Relief Society,” October 2011 General Conference

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“The purpose of Relief Society is to prepare daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life as they increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need.

“Relief Society clarifies our work and unifies us as daughters of God in defense of His plan. In this day of mistaken identities, confusion, and distraction, Relief Society is meant to be a compass and guide to teach the truth to faithful women. Righteous women today seek an outpouring of revelation to resist distractions, fight evil and spiritual destruction, and rise above personal disasters by increasing their faith, strengthening their families, and providing relief to others.”

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President
Daughters in My Kingdom: the History and Work of Relief Society,” October 2010 General Conference

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“The purpose of Relief Society, as established by the Lord, is to organize, teach, and inspire His daughters to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life.”

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President
Fulfilling the Purpose of Relief Society,” October 2008 General Conference

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“Through Relief Society we practice being disciples of Christ. We learn what He would have us learn, we do what He would have us do, and we become what He would have us become. When we gather with this focus, the work of Relief Society is relevant whatever your circumstance—whether you are 18 or 88, single or married, have children or not, or whether you live in Bountiful, Utah, or Bangalore, India.”

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President
What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable,” October 2007 General Conference

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“My belonging to Relief Society has renewed, strengthened, and committed me to be a better wife and mother and daughter of God. My heart has been enlarged with gospel understanding and with love of the Savior and what He’s done for me. So to you, dear sisters, I say: Come to Relief Society! It will fill your homes with love and charity; it will nurture and strengthen you and your families. Your home needs your righteous heart.”

Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society General President
How Has Relief Society Blessed Your Life?” October 2004 General Conference

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“Yes, Relief Society can be more fun, more joyful, more unifying. Our burdens can be lightened, our loads lessened. Relief Society’s not perfect, because not one of us is. But we can work on it; we can perfect it together as we take our own steps forward. How? By just changing our attitudes: How we talk about Relief Society affects how others feel about Relief Society—especially young women.”

Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society General President
Belonging is Our Sacred Birthright,” October 2004 General Conference

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“This organization for all women of the Church is for the purpose of helping to bring us to the Savior and assisting one another in helping the sick and the poor. Relief Society sisters will put their arms around the new members and make everyone feel needed and nurtured, no matter what their status of life is at this time. They will welcome the new young women as they arrive and make them an integral part of every activity. Use them. We cannot afford to lose them. Everyone will be lifted and loved.”

Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society General President
Steadfast and Immovable,” October 2001 General Conference

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“To illustrate the second part of our formula—namely, fill your heart with love—I turn to a beautiful account recorded in the book of Acts which tells of a disciple named Tabitha, or Dorcas, who lived at Joppa. She was described as being a woman ‘full of good works and almsdeeds.’…
 
“To me the scriptural reference to Tabitha, which describes her as a woman ‘full of good works and almsdeeds,’ defines some of the fundamental responsibilities of Relief Society; namely, the relief of suffering, the caring for the poor, and all which that implies.”
 
Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor, First Presidency
Be Thou an Example,” October 2001 General Conference

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“The first objective of Relief Society is to build faith in Jesus Christ and to teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom of God. Through Relief Society lessons, activities, and shared experiences, you can gain a testimony or you can strengthen the testimony you already have. When it comes right down to it, that may be the single most important thing we do in Relief Society, for the spiritual strength and secure testimonies of the women of the Church are absolutely vital—to themselves, to their families, to their branches and wards, and to the world itself.”

Virginia U. Jensen, First Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency
Come to Relief Society,” October 1998 General Conference

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“So if we desire to walk in the light of the Lord, we put one spiritual foot in front of the other. We follow the path of spiritual preparedness as it is set forth in scripture and by our living prophets. We take full fellowship in the Relief Society organization. This society, established and directed by our prophets through divine inspiration, is not just a Sunday meeting. It is an organization to bring sisters and their families unto Christ.”

Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society General President
Come, Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord,” October 1998 General Conference

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“The very name ‘Relief Society’ describes our purpose: to provide relief. While we often have the desire and the natural tendency as women to fix what’s broken, we are not the ‘solution society.’ We are the Relief Society. We understand the power and strength of the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. We can soothe a suffering heart when we can’t eliminate the trouble. We can bring reassurance and support, kindness, and calm.”

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” October 1995 General Conference

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“The purpose of the Relief Society organization of the Church, stated in our handbook, is to help women and their families come unto Christ. This means bringing the influence of Jesus Christ into our homes. It means we focus on his gospel and we find joy in living his commandments. It means we reexamine our time commitments, and give emphasis to becoming a family that is united and at peace.”

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” October 1995 General Conference

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“Sisters, I testify to you that one of our most important roles as Relief Society members is to strengthen each other, so all of us are better able to help our families. We come together. We learn from each other. We go home and strengthen our families. It’s that simple, yet how profound it is that we have this organization to be our balm of Gilead.”

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” October 1995 General Conference

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“The fifth general president of Relief Society, Emmeline B. Wells, described the influence of the sisters when she said, ‘The sun never sets on the Relief Society.’ ”
 
Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” October 1995 General Conference
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“From the beginning—150 years ago—Relief Society has offered women ways to strengthen their own lives and ways to help them strengthen the lives of others. The others might be our own family, our neighbor, or the stranger who has come to our awareness. The ways sometimes come by assignment and often come from personal initiative. The needs are everywhere, and the key to our ability to meet them is Christ’s admonition that we love one another as he has loved us.”

Aileen H. Clyde, Second Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency
The Mission of Relief Society,” April 1992 General Conference

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“From its beginning, the Relief Society has led out in charitable work. At the first meeting, President Emma Smith said, ‘Each member should be ambitious to do good.’ ”
Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Relief Society and the Church,” April 1992 General Conference

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“The emotional support and strength that you Relief Society sisters can provide one another can be as important, or more so, than food or shelter.”

Marian R. Boyer, First Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency
Relief Society in Welfare,” October 1981 General Conference

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“The Relief Society organization is prepared by the Lord to help us—his daughters—as we walk step by step toward perfection. Relief Society can be a guide, a strength, a light, a direction. Relief Society can teach us how to develop a love that never ceases. It provides us opportunities to demonstrate love by our actions. Relief Society will help us sort out truth from error in our modern world, of what Lehi called a compound of good and evil.”

Barbara B. Smith, Relief Society General President
The Bond of Charity,” October 1980 General Conference

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“Stake and district Relief Society presidencies everywhere should plan what to teach so that ward and branch presidencies will more fully understand and carry out their welfare duties efficiently and effectively. Specifically, they should teach how a ward Relief Society president—
1. Assists the bishop in determining and matching needs and resources.
2. Makes visits to the family and follows up as assigned by the bishop.
3. Directs the use of Relief Society resources in providing compassionate services.
4. Instructs visiting teachers in ways they can assist.
5. Keeps strictly confidential all matters relating to each case and encourages others to do likewise.
6. Becomes familiar with bishops storehouse items or items which must be purchased commercially and counsels with the woman in the home as to what to buy and how to use her resources.
7. Becomes familiar with acceptable community resources and makes effective use of them.
8. Consults with her counselors on their welfare duties.
9. Correlates, under the direction of the bishop, all welfare activities assigned to the Relief Society.
As Relief Society presidents perform these functions they will be fulfilling a primary purpose of the Relief Society as laid down by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said that an objective of the Relief Society is ‘the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes.’ “
Barbara B. Smith, Relief Society General President
A Call to Action,” April 1977 General Conference
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