When my sister and I recently discussed her release as Relief Society President, she remarked, “I don’t think the women (or men) in my ward realize the work that the Bishop and I accomplished together.” And I said, “You should have been on the stand with him.”
I have often felt that ward and stake Relief Society Presidents (and/or their counselors) should be on the stand. I can think of five positive things it would do for the ward/stake:
- It would show respect and regard for the calling.
- It would allow ward members to see that the Bishop and the President are working as partners.
- It would give women and girls a role model they can actual see – and assure them that they are represented.
- It would remind ward members that the Relief Society President is set apart as a leader and has stewardship over the women in the ward.
- It would assure women and girls that their President is part of the decision making processes in the ward.
Many Bishops tell me that they counsel often with their Relief Society President and rely on her wisdom – and yet, she seems to remains in the shadows. The Relief Society President is often used as a rebuttal answer to feminists who point out that women have no leadership roles in the church – and yet, she has limited authority. A male friend of mine commented (as I shared the text of this post with him), “I don’t see my ward Relief Society President with any real power. I think she just tends to the welfare needs.”
When I wrote to my Stake Relief Society President about Stake Conference, I commented that I hoped she would be on the stand where I could see her – and that it was inspiring to me as a woman to have her up there. Here reply email started, “Oh, you’re cute …” Cute? I was dismayed by this response. I continue to feel that Relief Society Presidents do play a vital role for the wards and stakes they serve in – and should be sitting on the stand.