News Story

Latter-day Saints Celebrate 175th Anniversary of Women’s Organization

Celebrating its 175th anniversary on March 17, 2017, the all-female Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1842 under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was intended for “the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes” (see Relief Society Presidency).

Honouring its roots, members of the Relief Society today are counselled to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and provide relief by seeking out and helping those in need. Its mission is to look after the spiritual welfare of all female members of the Church (see “Daughters in My Kingdom” [2011], 7).

Monthly social gatherings to learn new skills, participate in compassionate service in the community or simply enhance relationships all contribute to the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members of Relief Society. In less than four months, over 1,700 newborn hats were knit or crocheted by women in the Sudbury Ontario Stake of the Church and distributed to nine hospitals in the area, with a 90-year-old woman knitting over 100 hats for the hospital in Moose Factory.

Julie B. Beck, 15th Relief Society general president, taught: “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” (“What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable,” October 2007 general conference).

Throughout its history, the Relief Society has always been a place where women could learn and grow together, while working to meet the needs of others. Belle Spafford (Relief Society general president from 1945 to 1974) once said that Relief Society “will continue to rise until it becomes a mighty bulwark against the forces of evil that would engulf women and threaten their homes and loved ones. It will bring peace to the souls and love into the hearts and lives of endless members of our Father’s daughters. … May the women of today and tomorrow cherish Relief Society and advance its work, and love one another” (History of Relief Society 1842–1966 [1966], 140).

Contributed by Samantha Smith-Bird

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