Relief Society Lesson 13: Baptism

Guest Post by KMeldauc

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

The last couple of weeks The Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith manual has hit the topic of priesthood HARD. Honoring Priesthood Keys. Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. With priesthood being such a hot topic within the Church right now, I hope we all feel a little more familiar with what it is and how it works. Lets be optimistic and say that we did.

So now that we recognize all this great priesthood power and authority in our midst, what are we going to do with it?

Give Birth.

Wait. What?

Did you think I was going to say baptism? Baptism is the beginning of our new spiritual life. In that way, baptism is a birth.

Baptism is the third principle and first ordinance of the gospel, performed by immersion using the authority of the priesthood. Baptism is a richly symbolic ordinances with beautiful layers of meanings. It is symbolic of not only birth but also death and resurrection. So lets talk about these symbols.

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Relief Society Lesson Intro: The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith

260-Joseph F Smith coverThis section, “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith,” isn’t technically a lesson, but I think it provides helpful background and can prepare the class for the upcoming year of lessons and may be taught as a first Sunday lesson by the Relief Society presidency. The Historical Summary of President Smith’s life can be found here and is also helpful in giving us some background of his life.

Because this lesson gives an overview of President Smith’s life, there’s not a lot of need for innovation. Consider having various members of the class retell the stories in this section. Examine the chapters covered this year–Are President Smith’s messages different than the other prophets we’ve covered? If so, how? (The section in this chapter, “President of the Church” also indicates topics that were favorites of his to speak on.)

In these lessons, The Exponent blog works to bring out women’s voices and influence. Some points to note in this chapter:

  • President Smith’s mother, Julina Lambson Smith, was the second wife of Joseph Fielding Smith. She worked to support her children as a midwife. She delivered nearly 1000 babies in her career without ever having a mother or infant die in childbirth (
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Relief Society Lesson #23 The Prophet Joseph Smith

Every manual in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals has at least one lesson on Joseph Smith. Before going into the lesson, I’ll link to a few other RS lessons we’ve done here at the Exponent on Joseph Smith.

The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Spencer W. Kimball manual
The Prophet Joseph Smith, God’s Instrument in Restoring the Truth from the George Albert Smith manual
Relief Society Lesson 47: “Praise To The Man”: Latter-Day Prophets Bear Witness Of The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Joseph Smith manual

I would like to start with a quick personal story and some feelings I had while first skimming the lesson to get a sense of it.

Last year when I was meeting with my stake president to renew my temple recommend and going through the appropriate “yes” and “no” responses, there was one question where I stopped and said, “Well, I try…” The stake president looked at me and said, “I don’t want any answers other than ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” So I rephrased my answer into “yes” and was given a recommend. What was the question? “Are you honest in your dealings…?” The honesty question feels a bit like a trick question- who really is 100% honest in everything? Saying you are is obviously a lie! It’s a catch-22. I  am not honest with my fellow people at all times, though like I originally stated, I do try.

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Relief Society Lesson 22: Doing Good to Others

This lesson has a lot of potential. The trick will be to inspire your sisters to think big about ways they can serve others without leaving them feeling guilt-ridden if they can’t do a lot right now.


When you hear the term, “doing good to others” or the term, “service,” what people come immediately to mind and why?  (Mother Teresa, Jesus, Clara Barton, abolitionists, etc.)  After women have shared their answers, comment on the person that most inspires you in this category and why. Personally, I’d go with Mother Teresa. Make the point that these people serve in different ways, different capacities, different areas. Doing good to others is broad, and there are many ways to go about it, large and small.)


Be Friends To the World:

“To do unto others as we would have others do unto us.” This is according to the law and the prophets. [See Matthew 7:12.] These are principles we should and must learn. … We should be friends everywhere and to everybody. There is no Latter-day Saint that hates the world: but we are friends to the world, we are obliged to be, so far as they are concerned. We must learn to extend our charity and labor in the interests of all mankind. This is the mission of the Latter-day Saints—not simply confine it to ourselves, but to spread it abroad, as it of necessity must be extended to all mankind.”

I really liked this quote. I love the phrases, “we are friends to the world” and “we should be friends everywhere and to everybody.” There’s an expansiveness in Snow’s words and tone, and I appreciate the fact that he is emphasizing connections between all humanity. How does this notion that we are friends to the world jive with other commonly touted Mormon phrases, like “Be in the world but not of the world.” Is there a discrepancy between Snow’s attitude and that common phrase about not being of the world? How do we reconcile these two positions — being friends to the world but not of the world?


Everything Seems Illuminated When we Help Others:

“We should have before us a strong desire to do good to others.

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Relief Society Lesson 20: Temporal Salvation for Ourselves and Others

Relief Society Seal


Intro: This is the seal of the Relief Society. Why do you think these shafts of wheat were used as symbols of the Relief Society?

The most long-lived of the society’s economic enterprises was the wheat storage program directed initially by [Emmeline B.] Wells in 1876, after Brigham Young suggested the Relief Society store wheat against a time of famine. In 1906 the Relief Society donated several railroad cars of wheat and flour to the victims of the San Francisco earthquake. The Relief Society continued to gather and store wheat until the close of World War I (1918), when the Relief Society sold 205,518 bushels of their storage wheat to the U.S. government at its request.

Clearly Mormon women have been intensely involved in meeting their own temporal needs and helping those around them since the early days of Relief Society. This has been a founding principle of the organization.

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