Poll: RS history

With such a fascinating and enlightening history as we have of the early Relief Society, it was exciting to hear President Beck mention in the last General Relief Society meeting, that we would be including more history of the organization in our church education this year. There was mention of a resource that will be available to us at some point, while we currently have tidbits included in the VT messages.

How do you feel about this new addition to our learning? Do you feel that it will enhance understanding of our larger purpose as an organization of women? How would you like to see these lessons formatted? Do you think it will be worth while to have whole lessons dedicated to history? How much do you already know about the brave and faithful women that formed the early church? What individuals and time periods would you like to see covered in this resource? Do you think the church will give enough coverage of the more controversial moments that defined who we are as a group today, or do you think it will be selective in what we are officially encouraged to learn about and discuss? Would you like some supplemental ideas and material that give more insight and background on the lives of the women that built and served and led the organization?

Please, share your thoughts with us in the poll and comments this week. This is a wonderful opportunity to look back at where we’ve been in order to see where we’re going, and we encourage everyone to make the most of this new direction and material. President Beck’s full talk is here.


Corktree is exploring life and spirituality in new ways and new environments while studying midwifery, reiki, yoga, homeopathy, herbology and evolutionary nutrition. She has 3 daughters and one son, which add up to what now feels like an enormous family of 6.

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17 Responses

  1. Angie says:

    I still remember the RS sesquicentennial in 1992, how it felt to realize the privilege of belonging to this great organization. Hopefully, this focus on the RS’s history will open my/our heart/s to the same feelings.

  2. Jenne says:

    I was disappointed to find how that the RS history lessons would be through the VT messages. I feel that there can be very little depth there and the focus will be on happy endings and perfect guilt inducing women. My hopes of actually covering women’s historical role in blessing the sick have completely gone out the window. I would be very surprised if there were able to treat the topic in the 2 columns of the VT message in a way that supported the current church practice and still was uplifting and inspiring to women. I just don’t think its possible.

  3. Janell the Great says:

    I wish that the history lessons weren’t taking over the visiting teaching column. First, that implies that the history of the RS is only relevant to adult woman. Second, that column lacks depth and relies on the teacher to provide background, application, and explanation; that works for generic, inspirational topics, but most women are unfamiliar with the history of the RS beyond the basics about Emma Smith.

  4. Sylvia says:

    Thanks so much for following up! Looking forward to the results.

  5. CatherineWO says:

    I was happy to hear the statement from President Beck, but also disappointed to see the VT message as the (so far) only presentation of this information. I would love to see full RS lessons on the history, especially if Mormon Enigma (the Emma Smith bio), the full minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, and other primary sources (or research using primary sources) are used as resource material. I am of the opinion that history should not be whitewashed. My own extensive research into the history of my female Mormon ancestors has convinced me that full disclosure is, in the long run, not only more interesting, but more faith-promoting and personally satisfying.
    Almost a year ago, the Church History Library announced the upcoming publication of a multi-volume history of LDS women (the Women of Faith series). It has now been decided that Deseret Book will be the publisher, with the goal of one volume a year, I believe.
    In the process of doing research last fall, I read through the original Nauvoo RS minutes (available on disc at the BYU library). Very interesting, especially looking at a holograph, not a transcript.

  6. TopHat says:

    I really hope there is more than the visiting teaching message. Anyone here any rumors of if there will be more material?

    • Corktree says:

      As far as what Pres. Beck said, there should be *something* coming out and it is implied (somewhat vaguely) that this would be used for lessons in addition to the VT messages.

      I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not a completely new lesson plan in the yearly rotation though. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was learning about all the wonderful women and moments together? I wish a whole manual was going to be dedicated to it. There’s just so much that I have come to understand and see more clearly about the path of the church by studying the Relief Society’s roots. I don’t think we can hope to gain perspective of our role now without knowing what it looked like before.

  7. Sarah says:

    I am excited to learn more about Relief Society’s history in general. I am concerned though about whitewashing, about not giving it due time it deserves about just having the lessons be given to the Relief Society, but not the male population of the Church, making it seem like the Relief Society is for “just the women” and not the “perfecting of the saints” as is the impression I get when I read Joseph Smith’s teachings about the Relief Society. I want it to be Church wide, and not just some published book that millions of women couldn’t get their hands on because of how poor they are. I pray that the Lord instructs his leaders in how to present this information that doesn’t marginalize, or only speak of the good things, but highlights the struggles, the questions, the good and the bad and makes it seem as complex as in reality it is. If the Church wasn’t fully organized until its women where organized, then the teachings aren’t fully taught if it does not include many stories about faithful women in all capacities of life, married single, divorced, and widowed.

    Given that. I am one excited woman for the History to be published. I can not wait, and I want to buy every single volume I can.
    I also thought about this: This relief society history will ultimately give me something I have desired as a feminist. What of women, how are women contributing to the Kingdom of God, what are we doing as equals unto men?

  8. Well, I’m not planning on waiting for a (watered-down) manual. I’m the RS Meeting Coordinator in my ward, and I’m going to ask our lesson/devotional person to start researching now for a presentation on RS history for our RS birthday party in March. I know I’ve got at least Mormon Enigma somewhere in my library, and we can probably track down Women of Covenant.

    • spunky says:

      Do a tree-planting ceremony too! I know I am a tree-hugging nerd, but I loved the 100 year anniversary plan to plant trees as the war made an international celebration difficult. We did tree-planting when I was in Enrichment a few years ago, complete with a time capsule of the women in our ward. I am biased, but I thought it was great- because it recognised the value of the women today (as well as part) as an important part of the history of the church. Plus, its a tree!! A relief society tree for your very own ward (Just like in 1942)! Who doesn’t love a tree?

  9. spunky says:

    To be very frank, I LOVE it. I especially LOVE that one of the quotes this month was from Women of Covenant (in my mind, it was a shout out to the Exponent II and her writers!)

    Yes, I am disappointed that it is limited to visiting teaching, but at least it is something. I wanted to suggest and submit a guest post in regard to the VT message every month… a historical analysis of it, per the latest history message- sort of in fashion of the ExII RS lesson plans… but have been inundated with the floods/displaced families staying with us. In my next life, I will be superwoman and will do everything I hope!

    (dontcha hate it when people use excuses for lack of action? I do, and here I am using one! I swear, I am a pedantic Visiting Teacher as it is the only part of “modern” RS in which I have a testimony….and I am even behind this month, much to my chagrin! Oh, well… this was an “action” VT month for me– so sad, because I LOVE the history!)

  10. Jessawhy says:

    When my VTers gave me the lesson this month, they talked about all the diverse women present at the founding of RS.
    I snarkily replied that many (most?) were married to Joseph at the time. . .

    Mormon Enigma really opened my eyes to the RS founding. I hope that we get real history, but I have little hope that we will.

  11. Ana says:

    Oh, thank you for the tree planting idea! I love it! Here’s hoping we get a ground thaw in time for our March RS Birthday celebration. If not, maybe we can present the tree at that time and plant it a couple of months later.

    I am really excited for this celebration actually – I get to be the primary planner. We are going to focus on our *local* RS history by having past RS presidents speak about memorable moments from the times they were serving in that calling. We’ll eat local delicacies and work on some sort of service project (I delegated that part).

    I think certainly our attention to RS history doesn’t have to stop with what comes from HQ. If you want more, go get more! How about a local angle for you and your RS sisters?

    • spunky says:

      I love the your idea of your ward’s personal relief society history. Might I suggest you record this as detailed as possible (even if audio recordsing) and donate it to the Church history library? The church has not always been diligent at keeping auxillary records, and some Mormon women’s historians will thank you for eternity for adding to the historical place of women in the church. I can put you in touch with the donations people, if you like.

  12. amelia says:

    I have to agree with Jessawhy on this one. I’d love to learn the history of the RS–the real history. But the chances of getting anything but a disgustingly white-washed, smarmy, make everyone feel good fiction are pretty slim.

    Someday the church will learn that it does it’s members no good and a hell of a lot of bad by fictionalizing its history. I can’t wait for that day. In the meantime, more good people will leave the church as they discover the truth and can’t help but feel like they’ve been lied to for most of their lives.

  13. Marjorie Conder says:

    I expect it will be good news/bad news. I expect to see Women of Covenant “lite”–It will be way more than most Church members are familiar with, but not as comprehensive as Women of Covenant–to say nothing of all the other sources it would be nice if more people were familiar with (like the minutebook)
    But I think it will be more than has commonly been available or known, and I rejoice for that–line upon line. I also hope it can be the RS/PR lesson manual for at least a year.

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