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Women, Relief Society and being LDS


Wants2know

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I'm starting this topic as a result of dialogue on another thread that was associated with women in the church. A poster wrote her opinion regarding the curriculum of the relief society being written by men, and stating that she felt the curriculum should be written by women. Firstly, I'm interested in knowing more from women members of the church regarding their feelings of having no authority in the church. Where I've considered the LDS church to be patriarchal, I wonder how women experience their "place" in the church. Also, what exactly is relief society? What do women do in this? What are typical roles and responsibilities? I'd like to know if women find participation in Relief Society enjoyable? A chore? Gossipy? Supportive? And finally, what are thoughts on the relief society curriculum? Would it be improved if it were written and developed by women for women?

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I'm starting this topic as a result of dialogue on another thread that was associated with women in the church. A poster wrote her opinion regarding the curriculum of the relief society being written by men, and stating that she felt the curriculum should be written by women. Firstly, I'm interested in knowing more from women members of the church regarding their feelings of having no authority in the church. Where I've considered the LDS church to be patriarchal, I wonder how women experience their "place" in the church. Also, what exactly is relief society? What do women do in this? What are typical roles and responsibilities? I'd like to know if women find participation in Relief Society enjoyable? A chore? Gossipy? Supportive? And finally, what are thoughts on the relief society curriculum? Would it be improved if it were written and developed by women for women?

What I love most about Relief Society is the Visit Teaching program. I love to visit the sisters on my route.

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What I love most about Relief Society is the Visit Teaching program. I love to visit the sisters on my route.

Would that be what is considered a "calling" or simply an expectation of membership. What is it that you love about it? What's the purpose of the Visiting Teacher program?

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The motto of the Relief Society is 'Charity never faileth' so a large part about being a member of the relief society is to provide relief to those who are in some kind of need. Usually this service is for members of the church but there is a lot of service done for nonmembers as well.

Relief society is an organization but it's also one of the three meetings that women attend on sundays (usually the last 45 minutes of the three hour block). While the women are attending relief society the men attend priesthood meetings. There are also other enrichment meetings during the month that focus on different topics depending on what the members of a particular relief society want to focus on. In ours we have a cooking club that meets once a month, a writing club, a book club, a gardening club, a quilting club, playgroup for stay at home moms with kids, and some other ones that i can't remember. We also have lunch together as a relief society once a month (potluck usually).

These are individual groups that the sisters can choose to join or not-no one has to attend any of them if they don't want to and no one keeps track of who's going to what.

Every three months there is usually one big meeting where all the relief society sisters meet together to have some kind of larger activity-there is usually a meal served and then a lesson on some topic as well and then crafts or service projects (for our last one we sewed handpuppets for orphanages overseas-before that it was making baby and receiving blankets i think).

Along with these scheduled service projects there are usually many other 'every day' service that is provided such as providing meals for a week to mothers who have had new babies and to those who are ill or suffering (such as with the loss of a loved one). Our relief societies in our town also provide meals for the doctors that do the community free health clinic every week (along with other churches as well) and also help out a bit with habitat for humanity (though usually the men are more in charge of that service project).

The lessons and curriculum for relief society are exactly the same as the lessons and curriculum for priesthood (we use the same book and the same lesson is being taught in both classes on the same sunday). I don't think there's any need for women to solely work on the relief society curriculum anymore than i think the men should solely work on the men's curriculum. I really like knowing that both sexes are getting the same lessons but are coming at the topic from their unique perspectives at the same time. It makes it interesting to discuss the topic with my hubby when we get home.

I really enjoy relief society myself, especially being a stay at home mom who moves around a lot. I really enjoys having an instant support group no matter where we end up. I have been a member of two relief socities that have struggled because there was a lot of contention among the sisters and hard feelings. Both times it was because the relief societies were small (only a handful of members) and the women had lived in that area for decades together and had a lot of history combined with a couple sisters that took offense easily. It was really embarrassing to see women acting like they were still in middle school but it does happen. We all have weaknesses and sometimes personalities don't mesh well.

Visiting teaching is a kind of both a calling and an expectation. The president of the relief society and her two counselors will ask all the women if they would like to be (and receive) visiting teachers, so it's completely a choice, but it's expected that active sisters will want to do it. Visiting teaching is when two women are paired up by the relief society leaders and then assigned a few (from 2 to 4 usually) sisters in their ward that they will visit each month, with a short message, and also be in charge of seeing to their immediate needs and in getting other people invovled to help when the need is to big to handle with just two.

What is great about relief society is that it get's women who otherwise probably would not have much in common together and helps create a sisterhood that otherwise is difficult to foster. I know that my best visiting teaching experiences have been being assigned to be partners with women i otherwise would not have ever gotten to know and being able to teach women that would have been the same, such as women much older than me or in different circumstances than i had ever been in.

Hope that helps answer your questions a bit.

:P

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I'm starting this topic as a result of dialogue on another thread that was associated with women in the church. A poster wrote her opinion regarding the curriculum of the relief society being written by men, and stating that she felt the curriculum should be written by women. Firstly, I'm interested in knowing more from women members of the church regarding their feelings of having no authority in the church. Where I've considered the LDS church to be patriarchal, I wonder how women experience their "place" in the church. Also, what exactly is relief society? What do women do in this? What are typical roles and responsibilities? I'd like to know if women find participation in Relief Society enjoyable? A chore? Gossipy? Supportive? And finally, what are thoughts on the relief society curriculum? Would it be improved if it were written and developed by women for women?

Relief Society is broken down into basically three areas: 1. Sunday instruction 2. Visiting teaching and 3. Enrichment. The Visiting teaching part is really the heart of it. Each woman has a teaching partner and several sisters that they must visit/contact monthly. This is to help the Relief Society President assess any needs that may be present among the sisters in the ward. We give them a short, spiritual message, take dinner or give child care when necessary, whatever they need help with. Most sisters grow to love this program, although I found it much harder to do when I had young children. I absolutely love it now that my kids are older.

Enrichment is a regular social activity for the women. It can be weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the demographics of the ward. It is usually a fun but spiritual experience and can be service oriented, but not necessarily. It is many of the women's social outlet.

Sunday Relief Society is the facet of Relief Society that I was addressing in the other thread. It is the forty five minute meeting that takes place every Sunday. It is intended as the spiritual instruction of the sisters. Not all sisters are able to attend this meeting as many of us teach a class during that part of church (or, like me, teach the young children's music.) The manual used to include lessons that are specific to women, but we now share a manual with the Priesthood and the lessons are much more generic. Some of the lessons are such that a gifted teacher can make them interesting, but very few of them address the issues that we LDS women face in the 21st century. I feel that the older manuals were a much more useful tool, although I imagine that the leadership envisioned these types of issues being addressed during Enrichment or Visit teaching visits rather than in the Sunday meeting. If I had my druthers, I would distribute a worldwide anonymous survey of LDS women (every few years) asking them what issues they struggle with that Relief Society could address and add some lessons and General Conference talks (by women) that specifically address any topics that seem to cross all cultural boundaries and seem to be specific to the women in our church. Heck, they should do that with the men too! People are much more willing to speak their minds if there is no fear of chastisement.

Overall, I think Relief Society is a wonderful organization. I have benefited from the support and love that can be found there and have formed many lasting friendships through it. As in any organization, there are people who seem to think that no sister has a right to complain about any aspect of it, but I think it is good and healthy to discuss what is good and what could use improvement. Leadership generally consists of the very most organized and "together" members of the church because they get the most done but unless they ask and listen, they probably don't know what issues plague the more ordinary, less accomplished members.

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It sounds like a social work agency!! (That's not a bad thing :P )

Well its named relief society so that is a lot like a social work group even by name. It was created with that, in part, in mind I am sure.

I love the Relief Society and especially visit teaching. Right now I can't go visit teaching but I miss it a huge amount. It was a chance to do service and to learn to love more sisters in the church. I remember one time we were given a sister to go visit that I did not like at all. It was very upsetting and I had to do some praying to even grit my teeth to go see her. I decided to give it a chance after talking to the relief society president by going a couple of times. We discovered we had some things in common, like gardening, and had some very good visits including some excellent lessons. (where I learned a lot. Hopefully she did as well) After a year or so we were switched from this sister but I am very grateful to have had the chance to know this sister which would have never happened without visit teaching.

Having them come to visit me is also as beneficial. I am not a social person. I also do not like sharing my problems at all. Having them come to my home seems to help break down those barriers. It is also a great time to learn more about the gospel as it relates to women, which most of the lessons seem to be directed to.

All in all win win. ;)

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KtG summarized the Relief Society (RS) nicely. Permit me to add my wife's great experience with the program and the role it played.

When my wife was a new member with little ones, she had difficulty in doing what she needed to keep the Sabbath holy and her 1st husband wasn't being to helpful. Her VT's provided extra help that was needed on Saturdays so that everything was caught up so that she could properly keep the Sabbath holy. That's a main function of the VT program, to give help as needed to those sisters they visit. It definitely gave my wife the extra help she needed in order to be a better member.

Of course, not everyone wants monthly visits. Last year my wife found it difficult to go out on regular visits. She was able to correspond with her assigned sisters via monthly mail that only wanted to be contacted that way. From my viewpoint, it worked out well. Even though she did her assignments via mail, her visiting teachers still came by the house monthly. After my wife's schedule freed up a bit, she got a new partner and has started her own monthly visits to other sisters. The flexibility of the program is great.

So it's not just a social system for women, it literally is a support system as well.

My 2 cents

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Would that be what is considered a "calling" or simply an expectation of membership. What is it that you love about it? What's the purpose of the Visiting Teacher program?

I suppose it is an expectation until you "get it" then it turns into a blessing. I learn to love the women I visit, get to know them and appreciate them. And as someone said earlier I doubt I would have anything to do with them otherwise. I would say the purpose is to get to know different personality types and learn to get along and work together. Because it is women...there are challenges and ample opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth.

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I would like to "call for references" that indicate that the Relief Society curriculum is "written by men".

Is not the Relief Society overseen by a "Presidency", a presidency of "Women"???

Seems to me they have a direct hand in the curriculum of the women of the Church.

As one example from the beginning, what did Emma Smith do in relation to the Relief Society, the first Hymn Book, etc.??? SHE created the stuff, not some other "man".

This idea that women are somehow "less" or have less authority in the Church or their family's is malarkey. I once left the Church for one of the main reasons being women not having the Priesthood. But, I was ignorant of the Church and God's Works, thinking from a modern politically correct standpoint, rather than a divine providence standpoint. People who think women are somehow "missing out" on not having the Priesthood "officially" are thinking the Priesthood is about power and authority over people, and thus woman are "kept down" by not having it. It's simply not that way in this Church.... The Priesthood is something completely different. And women still have authority and power in the Church by other means, as teachers, as leaders, etc. Thus, this is a non-issue.

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There was a time when RS had separate lessons. One week they would have Out of the Best Books, another week Spiritual Enrichment, another Cultural Refinement etc. I really liked those lessons.

It's funny, because even though we get the same lessons as Priesthood, we do not get the same lessons! My DIL tells her hubby all the thins they talk about in RS and he says he wants to go to RS they didn't talk about any of that.

RS really is about service. There is nothing like having to move in a hurry and having a bunch of extra hands to help pack and clean. Or being so sick you can't get out of bed and having someone watch the kids and bring dinner.

I know when I was in the Presidency we had a lot of say about what we did. In fact the RS Pres often advises the Bishop. Don't you guys know the church wouldn't run without the women behind the scenes?

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Sorry, I wanted to know where the Visiting Teaching lessons come from.

The Home Teacher lessons cycles through the 1st Presidency so you normally hear from President Monson every three months with the counselors providing the other months.

Who and where do the Visiting Teachers lessons come from?

Thanks

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Sorry, I wanted to know where the Visiting Teaching lessons come from.

The Home Teacher lessons cycles through the 1st Presidency so you normally hear from President Monson every three months with the counselors providing the other months.

Who and where do the Visiting Teachers lessons come from?

Thanks

Ah--the Visiting teaching message comes from the Ensign. It's on the church website just below the home teaching message.

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.....or the Liahona I'm assuming since that is where this months lesson is from. Any other sources?

The Liahona is actually all three church magazines rolled into one for international distribution. I'm not sure what you are looking for. This is always where the Visiting Teaching message comes from. Twice a year, we select our favorite General Conference talk and design our own lesson from it.

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The Liahona is actually all three church magazines rolled into one for international distribution. I'm not sure what you are looking for. This is always where the Visiting Teaching message comes from. Twice a year, we select our favorite General Conference talk and design our own lesson from it.

I think that covers it. Thanks

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Hello W2K...

Bluebell and KtG, and others, have given good overviews of Relief Society... so, I thought you'd like to see our "statement" as women of RS...

The Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

WE are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision and charity, who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

I love Relief Society, and being a strong, Latter-Day Saint woman...

from the beach... Garden Girl

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Relief Society is the largest and longest running women's organization in the world. No matter who writes the lesson material, women teach it to women. We are free to take the lesson any direction we feel is needed. No man sits in on our meetings to supervise what is taught.

It was interesting to me, as I toured Nauvoo Illinois a few years ago, the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) church was conducting a tour of the building where the Relief Society was organized. I asked the guide if his church has a similar organization today. He said no.

Can women in RS be gossipy? Of course, we're imperfect women. But we are taught charity. Charity is the highest of all qualities. It's learning through service, to love as God loves.

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The Relief Society is administered by a General Relief Society presidency featuring a RS gen pres, and two counselors, with headquarters in Salt Lake. In addition, there is a Rel Soc board that is comprised of a number of women (I think about a dozen), all of whom have input into the RS program along with the RS gen presidency. The RS presidency works closely with the gen church presidency in administering this very large organization.

I always loved Pres Hinckley's response to a reporter who asked him about the role of women in the Church... and Pres Hinckley (paraphrasing here) said something to the effect... we just get out of their way...

Ha! I wish I had the exact quote as it was great.

GG

EDIT TO ADD: Personal Experience this past month.

As most of you know... I just went through knee replacement surgery. I could not have made it if it hadn't been for my ward sisters in RS, who provided service to me in many ways... from the dear sister who came and stayed in my home and took care of Charlie-cat for six days (she could come and go during day of course), to those who drove me to the hospital near Portland, to those that picked me up and drove me back to Lincoln City to the rehab center, to those who volunteered to bring in meals (I didn't need this as I prepared ahead of time and had plenty of meals in freezer), to those who ran to the store for me when I needed a few items (and cat food)... to those who sent cards and called me (even some on this board sent cards), to my home teachers who came to the rehab center and administered the sacrament (what a wonderful, sweet moment)... I could never have made it through without the RS and my dear ward sisters who gave of their time and service... and a bishop who checked on me several times. I may be alone...but I am not alone. My ward family rallied round to help me through this time...

GG

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Another reason I love Relief Society...

While my husband was in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska I became good friends with a woman...our kids were the same age and each have a kid with autism. After 2 years our husbands got orders...mine to DC, hers to Japan. We were in the temporary quarters at the same time. The day before I left I told her when she gets to Japan she should find a Mormon woman and become friends. I told her she didn't have to go to church or take the discussions or anything like that but just become friends and she will make sure your needs are met(she had baby #3 six weeks earlier). She didn't take me seriously.

When she and her husband were back stateside, a couple of years later, she came for a visit and told me the rest of the story:

When she arrived in Japan to her new quarters her neighbor welcomed her and offered to help any way she could. This neighbor was a BIG help to my friend. Nine months later this neighbor told my friend that she was taking her kids back to the states for a visit and hope my friend would be ok for the month she would be away. My friend asked her where she was going....she said "Utah". My friend had no idea this neighbor was LDS until that moment.

I found out later this good wonderful sister was primary president in her branch.

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I'm curious what the underlying interest is in your questions. It sounds like you have some pre-conceived notions of what women in my church experience, since you use talk about the church being patriarchal and wonder what I feel my "place" is.

But, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I see Relief Society as this lovely organization that allows women in our church to do what comes naturally, which includes, but is not limited to, serving and nurturing others in all kinds of settings, listening to and empathizing with other women, and sharing spiritual experiences in a nurturing setting.

Being a member of Relief Society (although I don't attend the meetings on Sundays as I work with the children) has been a great opportunity for me, especially as I've raised my children. I'm always encouraged to be the best mom I can be, the best wife I can be, and the best friend I can be. I've been given wonderful opportunities to serve people outside my family on a neighborhood, community, and even global level. And the nice thing about sharing spiritual experiences with women is that getting emotional is okay, and even normal.

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