Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why You Won't Want to Miss the General Women's Meeting this Weekend

I am so excited for the FIRST ever General Woman's Meeting this Saturday. For the first time women from the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary will all be meeting together for the first session of General Conference.

It is going to be a historic meeting!

When I heard that that they were going to change the meeting to include all women (ages 8 and older) it made me so happy. About a year ago I was asked to give a presentation on women in the scriptures to a group of Young Women. As I was praying about what I should speak to them about it really struck me that these young women needed to know that they were already  a part of Relief Society. I felt really strongly that they needed to know that Young Women's was NOT something separate from Relief Society but that it was preparing them to assume the responsibilities that God expected them to perform as members of the  Relief Society. I also felt that they needed to know that  the Relief Society-- like the priesthood quorums of the church-- was an ancient organization.

As I have been studying the New Testament I have realized that we have lots of evidences that when Christ organized his church on the earth he also organized the women-- an ancient Relief Society-- whose purpose was to develop holy women and to help bring forth the great priesthood mission of the earth. In fact, the prophet Joseph Smith taught that,
“The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.” (Sarah Granger Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 1, 1883, p. 51.) 
Sister Eliza R. Snow, the second president of the Relief Society, repeated this teaching when she said,
  “Although the name may be of modern date, the institution is of ancient origin. We were told by our martyred prophet that the same organization existed in the church anciently.” (Eliza R. Snow, “Female Relief Society,” Deseret News, Apr. 22, 1868, 1)
Not only is Relief Society an ancient organization, patterned after the way Christ organized women in his church, but it is, in fact, the female quorum of the church.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ,
“The Relief Society is the Lord’s organization for women. It complements the priesthood training given to the brethren.”  
and Sister Julie B. Beck taught,

"The word society has a meaning nearly identical to that of quorum. It connotes “an enduring and cooperating . . . group” distinguished by its common aims and beliefs. When Joseph Smith organized the sisters, he told them that “there should be a select society, separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous, and holy.” President Joseph F. Smith taught that Relief Society has its own unique identity and that it was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and men.” (from "Why we are Organized into Quorums and  Relief Societies")

The Young Women's organization is the preparatory program to enter Relief Society, just like the Aaronic priesthood organization is preparatory for the young men to enter Elder's quorum. In fact, if you think back to what the ancient Relief Society would have looked like it certainly would have included young women. Right now our definition of when a young women enters Relief Society is based off her turning 18, the age in many Western societies when children are considered adults. Yet, anciently women were married around age 14, and by the age of 18 might already have had a husband and several children. This means that Relief Society of Christ's time probably would have included both young women and mature women.

So it is exciting to me to see that General Conference this year is expanding to include both the Young Women and the Relief Society women (and the primary girls!) in one meeting-- and unified under one purpose.

 It will truly be a meeting of all God's holy women. 

I promise you won't want to miss it! 

If you want you can watch it live on Saturday by following this link


  1. So interesting. I never thought about relief society being formed anciently. Loved this.

  2. I loved this for so many reasons. Thank you.

  3. I don't know about the Primary children being included before, but in the past, from 1984 to 1993, the women's meeting included both the RS and YW. (See

    Still should be a good meeting, and probably 'historic' for included the Primary girls, but mostly it's just going back to what we used to do. Not to negate your enthusiasm--I think it will be good!--but I do think a lot of people see this as historic for moving forward in equality or something, and that's not really the case.

    1. That is really interesting that they use to include YW and RS together. I wonder why they changed it?

      I still think this is a pretty neat meeting, not necessarily because of equality reasons, but because I think it is really going to help our Young Women better understand their role and responsibilities in God's kingdom. I think way too many of us grew up not understanding that well enough and so this type of meeting is exciting to me! I also hope we will see YW and RS become more unified in their purposes as well. I think if we did that we wouldn't have the disconnect between getting YW to transition into Relief Society. Because they are really parts of the same organization!

  4. "The Young Women's organization is the preparatory program to enter Relief Society, just like the Aaronic priesthood organization is preparatory for the young men to enter Elder's quorum." So profound! Wonderful thoughts as always :)

  5. Fascinating insights about the ancient order of RS. Thanks Heather!