Relief Society Lesson 1: The Restoration of the Gospel—The Dawning of a Brighter Day
The beginning of the lesson talks about men who helped pave the way for the Restoration of the Church during the time of the Great Apostasy. At The Exponent, we want to make sure we add women and their stories to these lesson plans as much as possible. Consider talking about Hildegard von Bingen, a Benedictine abbess in the 12th century (fun fact: President Uchtdorf’s mother is also a “Hildegard”) or Joan of Arc (you can use an excerpt from “A Glimpse of Glory,” a talk from emeritus member of the Presiding Bishopric, H. Burke Peterson). Consider adding your own historical favorites.
Ask the class how these women and men helped build a way for the Restoration to come forth in the latter-days.
I love this quote in the manual, “Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its root in the First Vision of the boy prophet.”
Ask the class, “How is the First Vision a part of your testimony?”
Consider inviting someone to do a musical performance of “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.”
The next section in the manual gives a nice summary of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood and its keys.
The next section outlines the beliefs in our church that distinguish us from others. I always like to involve as much class participation as possible. Here are two options I would do:
Ahead of time, ask a few members of the class to talk about the doctrine and bear their testimony about it in 2-3 minutes.
Another possibility, though more unpredictable, is to list the topics on the board and go through them one by one, having members in the class define them and then, having other class members talk about their testimony of that point of doctrine.
- The Godhead
*Though not mentioned in the manual, be aware that our belief in Heavenly Mother may come up here
- The Book of Mormon as a companion witness with the Bible
- Priesthood authority and Church organization
- The family
*Though the manual’s description is broad, please be sensitive to the fact that some (many?) members of the class are not a part of the cultural Mormon ideal we often depict in church.
- The innocence of little children
- Salvation for the dead
- The nature, purpose, and potential of God’s children
*This is one of my favorite aspects of the gospel. I would spend a lot of time focusing on this.
- Modern revelation
I would end with this quote by President Hinckley’s wife, Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley, as a way to close with my testimony of my gratitude for the gospel.
Wouldn’t life be terrible without the gospel? It wouldn’t be worth the hassle; really it wouldn’t. If it weren’t for the gospel we just couldn’t face it. There is so much of hardness to face that if it weren’t for the gospel I don’t know what would become of us. The gospel’s true. I’ve seen too much and experienced too much in my life to ever deny it. Everyone needs the gospel. (from Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley)