At the risk of sounding like a nag (otherwise known as my job as a wife, mother, and woman), I revisit this daunting topic…Relief Society Meetings.
Many of us are still struggling with what to do about these meetings. Sis. Beck, in her most recent talk on the subject, was pretty specific on what NOT to do, and we are stumped on what we CAN do.
Sis. Beck has suggested that we think differently than we have in the past. That means we can’t use what we have done in the past as a marker, because it will stunt our creativity. We need to think anew.
In the past, we have held our additional Relief Society Meetings once a month. Sis. Beck says, “They are generally held monthly, but the RS presidency may recommend that the meetings be held more often or less frequently.” So, if we throw out the idea of “once a month meetings”, what are some outside-of-the-box meeting ideas?
- Sharing thoughts and ideas on-line (and not meeting at all)
- Interested groups meeting weekly for a series of lessons for a short period of time
- An ongoing group project
- Planning, learning, and laboring toward a specific goal
- Organized ward-wide effort working toward the Bishop’s goals
Looking at things differently, we need to start here with Sis. Beck:
“Every bishop has the responsibility for his specific ward. Each ward Relief Society president has a calling to assist one bishop. Each bishop and Relief Society presidency have had hands laid on their heads to receive inspiration for their particular responsibilities and not for any other ward or group of Relief Society sisters.”
Most bishops set ward goals at the beginning of the year. As a Relief Society, we would be wise to take those goals and help ward members accomplish them. Break them down into manageable activities, challenges, interests, etc.
Our purpose, as the Relief Society, is no longer to entertain, or fill a quota. It is, however, to work with the Priesthood in saving souls. If your activity does not spiritually strengthen your sister in some way, you shouldn’t be wasting her time.
When we think of service, humanitarian service is the first thing that comes to mind. There is much more service that can be done.
- In the home: strengthening marriage, families, the individual, raising skill levels
- In the neighborhood: community, civic, widows, neighbors
- In the temple: family history, sharing temple cards, maintaining high moral standards
- In the last days: preach and teach true doctrines, prepare for hard times and disaster
- In the world: there are countless ways to give humanitarian service, as well as battle moral issues
If you meet together as sisters in the gospel with a purpose, socializing will happen automatically, and at a much deeper level.
“The Relief Society president should oversee the meetings, but may ask the first or second counselor or recommend a sister in the ward be called to be coordinator of the meetings.” Don’t let this mandate scare you. Enlist the help of the entire presidency, including the secretary and Meeting Coordinator. Allow sisters in the ward to take on some of the responsibility. Involve as many sisters as are willing to help. Use all the talents, skills, and abilities that are available to you. The president isn’t there to DO everything, she is there to “organize, teach, and inspire sisters” that all may fulfill the work of the Lord.
After pondering the bishop’s goals, decide how to set up your goal plan and timeframe. Help your sister accomplish the goal whether it is cooking, working on her marriage, food storage, getting a temple recommend, learning better the gospel, etc. Some goals may take two months, four, six, or an entire year. Through consistency, mini-goals, and much encouragement, each family in the ward will be blessed as the sisters accomplish these goals, strengthening themselves and their families, and fulfilling the true purpose of the Relief Society—Saving Souls.
Encourage sisters to start neighborhood groups that don’t quite fit the purposes of Relief Society. Sisters enjoy getting together for Book Clubs and Lunch Groups. But recognize that these gatherings don’t support the purposes of the Relief Society. Set your Relief Society Meetings apart for spiritual growth and relief from the world, and all its intrusions.
There are certain areas all of us need help in, and there are certain areas that only a few sisters need help in. One meeting per month no longer fits our needs as sisters. In order to fulfill each precious sister, we want to cater to her by helping young mothers, older widows, time-starved workers, lonely home-bounds, every single sister under our care. Each sister’s life must be touched to fulfill her desires, her needs to serve, her responsibilities, her purpose in life. Many of us will find that we are very much alike in some needs. We will find that some can help others in surprising ways. We will discover in one another buried gifts and talents. We will discover why God loves each and every one of us.
By fulfilling our true purpose, we will understand, and be more like, our earlier sisters in the gospel.