This year, the 171st anniversary of the establishment of the first Relief Society falls on Sunday, 17 March 2013. With this, an opportunity is created for branches and wards throughout the world to have sacrament meeting on this day devoted to Mormon women and the Relief Society. What’s that you say? Mother’s Day is all about women? No. It is not. Mother’s Day is about mothers. Although all mothers are women, not all women are mothers. This is a chance for all church members to gather, teach and learn about the contribution of women who are devoted to Christ.
True to my conscience, I emailed my Relief Society president with this suggestion. She responded by asking my for listed talks and special musical numbers that I thought would be fitting. I was happily surprised that my email had been noticed so quickly, so spent a day asking what others thought about topics for talks about women. My response is included below, and although it is specific to my ward, the same topics can be adapted to any ward or branch in the church.
Please join us in encouraging leaders at a local level to enlist Sunday, 17 March 2013 with a Sacrament Meeting program dedicated to Mormon women of the Relief Society.
Dear President S,
I have been thinking all day and trying to be prayerful about suggested topics for a woman-focused sacrament meeting. Not an easy task! Especially the hymns! None the less, here are my thoughts:
It would be nice to have a program printed for the day, showing that it is an extra special day dedicated to recognising the faithful members of the Relief Society. (information such as who Zara Sabin is, and why singing to Now Let Us Rejoice sounds familiar but different, etc. could be included in the program in brevity). I also suggest that all of the speakers be women. I have two formats that I think would work well, 3 talks or 2 talks:
Charity Never Faileth as an over-riding theme- 3 talks:
5-10 minute talk: Zina Diantha Huntington Young, 3rd General RS President-she served when Lorenzo Snow was prophet, so I think the connection of her charity-inspired work in companionship to the scope of Lorenzo Snow would be important.
10 minute talk: (if it has not already been done, I can’t recall) a general overview of the Daughters in My Kingdom book. Men as well as women of the church should know that it is an important resource of church material celebrates the significant contribution of women in church history.
15-20 minute talk: Establishment of the original Relief Society, its focus on serving Christ through the support of women, and therefore families. The original meeting minutes of the first Relief Society meeting are here. Also, Women of Covenant is an excellent book to use as a resource (I have a copy, Daughters in My Kingdom quotes this text.) I also have a copy of Women of Mormondom about the women of the church and is a great resource.
Charity Never Faileth as an over-riding theme- 2 talks:
15-20 minute talk: Establishment of the original Relief Society, its focus on serving Christ through the support of women, and therefore families. The original meeting minutes of the first Relief Society meeting are here.
15-20 minute talk: The dedication of Australian women in establishing the church in Australia, look at the history of Relief Society in Brisbane and Australia (Southern Cross Saints is a good resource for this, I have a copy). I would suggest that someone younger who has some time to do this talk so they can ask some of the older women in the ward/stake about their memories of the first chapels in Brisbane (as a part of the 1958 building project and opening of stakes rather than missions by David O. McKay—there are women in the ward/stake who remember this, I love talking with them about it!) (I have an original copy of the 1942 100-year Relief Society anniversary celebratory poetry book. I don’t loan it out. Ever. BUT. There are 2 poems in there by an Australian Mormon Poetess that are awesome. I also have copies of many of the Relief Society Magazines- some of which it highlights Australian Mormon Women – as per was the custom of the mag at the time to highlight Mormon women often outside of Utah. Also a good resource for local info. Some of the magazines have been digitized here.)
Open: Have a Choir of sisters offer the opening hymn #311 We Meet Again As Sisters (in place of a congregational opening hymn- I have been in wards in the States that have done this for special program days).
Sacrament: #171 With Humble Heart (written by Zara Sabin)
Special Musical Number: #3 Now Let Us Rejoice, but sung to the tune of #2 The Spirit of God. The notes from the first Relief Society meeting indicate that the closing hymn for this very first meeting as Now Let Us Rejoice, but it was sung to the tune of The Spirit of God.
Close: #30, Come, Come Ye Saints (for an added feeling of enlistment and community at the end of the meeting)
What hymns and/or topics would you like to see presented in an all-female speakers, all Mormon Women and Relief Society themed Sacrament meeting?