Poll: Splitting Relief Society

Every once in a while, I find myself discussing the merits of splitting Relief Society into on group for older women and one for the younger ones, like the high priest group and the elders quorums are divided.

Do you like that the women all meet as one big group? Would discussions be better if we were split according to age? How would the dynamics chance? Vote below and put your thoughts in the comments section.


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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19 Responses

  1. Mhana says:

    I vote for not splitting. I think RS is such an awesome opportunity to make cross-generational friendships and I love it for that. Also, splitting by age wouldn’t work in our ward anyway because the vast majority of the younger women are serving in Primary or Young Women, so the handful who are able to be in RS (who aren’t out to change a diaper, or subbing in nursery etc.) would be a sad little lot indeed. Also I like having one presidency, not having to staff two that might have competing interests.

  2. Chris says:

    Please remember that some high priests are in the 20’s when they are ordained 🙂 Relief Society teachers are wise when they teach principles that are intergenerational and remember that not all sisters are married in the temple with children.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    I picked Other because I would like to do both.
    I love some of the older women in our ward, but think that we could have more open-minded lessons if we had just the younger group. Maybe one Sunday a month we do a combined older and younger RS.

  4. Corrina says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this during my time as RS president (current calling). We have about 50 sisters who attend RS weekly. My ward is good mix of old/young, stable families/high needs families, etc. It has really frustrated me that men get to be separated into 2 groups. I am sure most of this frustration stems from my memories of my dad (when he was in HP) telling us kids of the cool topics his quorum would talk about on Sunday. (For the record, I grew up in Pennsylvania, and Sunstone and Dialogue were around our house for as long as I can remember)…so I guess the idea of getting together with a bunch of ladies and having cool discussions like this (face-to-face) is what I really want. (Thank goodness for the bloggernacle! But I would love more face-to-face time for these discussions).

    I talked to my Bishop some months ago about my frustration that sometimes I feel like we have to water down our lessons/discussions sometimes for those sisters who aren’t interested in the “deeper” stuff. He encouraged me that I should keep the lessons as deep as possible–that some sisters will just have to “keep up.”

    But upon further thought, I think what I really want is smaller groups so we can have better discussions. Plus, I am sure there are sisters who do not contribute due to feeling intimidated or shy.

    If I had my way, this would be left up to the discretion of the Relief Society President of any given ward. She could choose to keep one class for RS or split the sisters in 2 groups. Opening exercises could be together as a group, and then we could split apart (kinda like in YW). The groups could be split alphabetically (A-M, N-Z) so as to keep a good mix of sisters in each class.

    I’ll never forget the first ward I attended after I was married (this was in UT). We had over 100 sisters in RS, and we had to use a microphone to make comments. I was thrilled to get called into the Primary, so I could escape RS–I hated the impersonality of it all.

    • Naismith says:

      But keep in mind that the men split by priesthood, not age. We’ve had a fair number of high priests under age 30 who are with the older guys. (If you were ever a counselor in the bishopric or on the high council, you are a high priest from then on.)

      Also, I am in one of those wards where many of us old ladies teach Primary, so I am not sure that RS splits out that way.

  5. CatherineWO says:

    I checked no. I have always enjoyed the mix of ages, whether I was one of the younger ones or one of the older ones. However, I have never lived in a ward where there were more than about 20-25 women in R.S. on any given Sunday, or in a building large enough to have two R.S. classes. If there were 50 or more, then yes, it would make sense to split into two groups to facilitate more discussion (the best part of R.S. I think), but I would hope that the ages would still mix. Also, it always surprises me when younger sisters complain about the older ones being more closed-minded. I believe I have become much more open-minded as I have aged.

    • Diane says:

      “also, it always surprises me when younger sisters complain about the older ones being more closed-minded.”

      I think your statement depends on two things. 1) the culture of the ward. The South Philadelphia Branch is a relatively young (conception wise) but, the members who participate with RS are old. There was one sister who was the oldest, (one of the first members) who was allowed to say whatever nasty thing she wanted,(because it was like that in her work life, she was a retired seamstress). No one ever corrected her.

      2) Depends on how progressive an area you live in.

  6. Diane says:

    While, I could see the benefit, I doubt splitting would work in smaller Branches. The population just wouldn’t be there.

  7. sartawi says:

    there are pros and cons all around. However, I do think that matching VTs closer to their own age, both for partners as well as those they visit is beneficial. I realize that the older generation may have much to teach the younger generation, but for the at-home visits, I much prefer a VT closer to my own age/life stage. I also prefer to go with other partners who can understand why my preschooler has to be with me on my visits, and will be a typical 4 year old when they come to visit me.

  8. Shelley says:

    So I’m pretty sure I’m about to be called to be a RS teacher for the third time. I just moved to a family ward which happens to be my first ward since BYU student wards. So I’m only used to teaching women my age and pretty much in my same situation (school, dating, etc.). I was asked to teach today and I was really nervous about teaching older women. I think I may have overcompensated by saying at the beginning that these women don’t need a 23-year old imparting wisdom to them, and I spent quite a bit of the lesson talking about how it related to the challenges of being a mom.

    I think it went pretty well, and I welcome more opportunities to foster a discussion among women in all different kinds of situations.

    • Shelley says:

      “talking about how it related to the challenges of being a mom.”

      Sorry, I meant to say getting a discussion going on the challenges of being a mom. I am quite inadequate to be able to talk about being a mom as I am not yet one.

  9. anon says:

    Relief Society is already split–the old ladies get to go to RS and the young ladies go to Primary and YW.

  10. JrL says:

    “If I had my way, this would be left up to the discretion of the Relief Society President of any given ward.” Isn’t that the case? The handbook doesn’t address the question, so it’s up to the RS president — and the bishop, who would have to call the additional teacher(s).

    But in our stake, I can’t think of a single unit where there enough women attend to have two classes make sense and yet there is an available room in which to hold the second class. The elders/high priest split already requires use of some place like the choir seats, stage, cultural hall, or overlflow.

    But the motivation is laudable — and maybe worth holding one class in a sub-optimal space. After all, a Relief Society teacher has a difficult task: To teach ALL the sisters in the ward — NOT just those who happen to show up on any given Sunday. Splitting the group would certainly make it easier to reach out to those we often miss. (The same is true of Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School.)

  11. Alisa says:

    I would hate being in a group with women my age (younger moms) since I am not a SAHM and that’s what everyone else my age does. I’ve noticed that in my particular ward, moms with teens and college students tend to also have jobs and other interests outside of mothering, and I rather be with women who are juggling multiple aspects of their lives (career, motherhood, grandmotherhood, dating, divorce) than women who are only in a one-size-fits-all stage of life. Give my the experience of older women! We need more diversity, not less.

  12. Joseph McKnight says:

    Speaking as a male current in the High Priest’s Quorum, I don’t like it at all that the “elders” are separated from us. Many in the HPQ have such wisdom to offer the younger men, and yet the don’t get the chance to. If the choice were just to stay as a single group, we should, and I think the women benefit in being one group. But, our two groups would not fit in one room (other than the relief society room, the only other big room in the building other than the chapel), so if there must be a division, I think it should be simply by alphabet or geography instead of by age. I also don’t think the difference between HP and Elder should be anything important, either.

  13. Danielle says:

    It’s natural to want to associate with people that look and act like ourselves. It’s not a problem necessarily but I think there is great value in befriending and learning to empathize with people of all different walks, and ages, of life. RS is one of those situations where we can learn that skill (and I do believe it is a ‘skill.’) I have met many an unlikely friends from RS.

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