Relief Society Lesson: The Life and Ministry of Lorenzo Snow
I think there’s a lot to be hopeful about in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow manual. First of all, it’s encouraging to see notations like this one:
“President Snow often used terms such as men, man, or mankind to refer to all people, both male and female. He frequently used the pronouns he, his, and him to refer to both genders. This was common in the language of his era. Despite the differences between these language conventions and current usage, President Snow’s teachings apply to both women and men.”
I’d like to think that this gives us a bit of license to demonstrate what gender inclusive language would look like when working with this text.
We also see in Lorenzo Snow’s timeline that two of his wives are mentioned. We’ll see a few more in Chapter 5, which is an improvement…Brigham Young’s first two wives are the only ones mentioned in his manual and the second one is his wife after the first one’s death. Sadly, President Snow’s last five wives are not mentioned anywhere in the manual. I hope we’ll see continue to see more of our prophets’ wives and their stories woven into these manuals in the future.
I am thrilled to see that Eliza is mentioned and cited frequently in her brother’s manual—she’s in nearly every chapter (want to use her and him in relation to Relief Society more? Don’t forget to use Daughters in My Kingdom as a companion to this Teachings of Presidents of the Church manual.)
As the only prophet to have a sister as a General Relief Society president, the prophet most persecuted for polygamy, and the one to receive the revelation on tithing, Lorenzo Snow’s manual promises to be an interesting one. The Life and Ministry of Lorenzo Snow has quite a few heart-warming and interesting stories about Lorenzo Snow’s life. I only want to highly a few places where I have found some additional information that I hope brings women a little more fully into this picture.
In this chapter, we see Lorenzo’s conversion story as well as excerpts from the letters between Eliza and he as he studied the Gospel. We know that Eliza was the first one converted to the Church in their family. She was taught by Joseph Smith and after 4 years of study and prayer, was baptized. It’s fun to see his letter to her where he puts off coming to see her in Kirtland while bragging a bit about his discussions with others about the Church when he writes, “It is true I have not made many converts, as I am not one myself, yet I have made some of them almost confess they perceived some [wisdom] in your doctrines.”
This playful and intellectual piece indicates what scholars, like Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, have noted, “None but her father seems to have filled her need for intellectual companionship until Lorenzo, her brother born when she was ten, who, like Eliza, was often ‘shut up with his book.’ The two developed a closeness which lasted to her death.”
I found Lorenzo’s mission and connection to Italy touching. I wanted to add one interesting story I found by Carol Cornwall Madsen that shows the relationship that George Albert Smith had with both Lorenzo and Eliza.
In 1873, for example, George A. Smith, then a member of the first presidency, travelled with a party of Mormons, including Lorenzo Snow, his sister Eliza, Feramorz Little and others, to the Holy Land. At a stopover in Bologna, Italy, he felt ill. “I became fatigued and dizzy,” he wrote in his diary. “I got into a carriage and returned to the hotel. On arriving at the hotel I found myself so unwell that I requested Bros. Snow and Little and Sister Eliza to lay hands on me.”
In this same article, Cornwall Madsen points out that Lorenzo Snow, like a few other prophets emphasized the interconnection of the priesthood and the Relief Society when he exhorted the sisters to take an interest in their societies for they were ‘of great importance. Without them, the Church could not be fully organized.’”
Because Lorenzo Snow lived during the time when the fight for suffrage was intense (and he was surrounded by Mormon suffragists like Emmeline Wells and Zina D.H. Young), I hope we’ll hear more about his thoughts on women and equality during the year.
What resources do you plan on using to enhance your study as you prepare to teach this year? What do you hope these lessons will teach us?
As we prayerfully prepare lessons throughout the year, here are some books that I hope to incorporate into future lessons:
Women of Covenant: the Story of Relief Society covers both Zina D.H. Young’s (who was the General Relief Society President while Lorenzo Snow was prophet) and Eliza R. Snow’s presidencies
Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume 1 gives excellent biographical information about Eliza R. Snow; it was my primary source for this post (I can’t wait to read the Zina D.H. Young chapter in the soon-to-be-released Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume 2)
Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Eliza didn’t live to see Lorenzo become prophet, but she penned this biography, which is cited frequently in this Teachings of Presidents of the Church manual.
Unfortunately, I lent my copy of Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow to someone, but given Maureen Ursenbach Beecher’s Dialogue articles, “The Eliza Enigma” and “Inadvertent Disclosure: Autobiography in the Poetry of Eliza R. Snow“, I would bet there’s a couple Eliza and Lorenzo stories in there.
4 Zinas: a Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier is a book I don’t yet own, but I’ve heard great things about it and hope it might fill in the relationship between President Zina Young and President Lorenzo Snow
And, I think it would just be cool to own this.