Sunday Meetings and the Anniversary of the Relief Society

As the final day in our series dedicated to International Women’s Day and women of the first Relief SocietyDaughters in My Kingdom, we find this Sunday, 17 March 2013, is the 171st anniversary of the establishment of the Relief Society.  Last January, we made a common-sense suggestion to invite all to celebrate the Relief Society anniversary by asking your ward or branch to host a sacrament meeting dedicated to women (not necessarily mothers) and the Relief Society with all talks given by women, and flanked with hymns written by and for women. After all, Mother’s Day is for mothers, so it makes sense to have a meeting aimed at celebrating the accomplishments, testimony and dedication of biblical and Mormon women, if only to displace some church traditions which exclude women as final speakers in sacrament meeting.

So- what happened in your ward or branch today? Did you have a meeting all about women? or was it all about motherhood, disguised as women? Or something else? Share!



Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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29 Responses

  1. cking says:

    I made a request to our bishopric, but I had it easy because my husband is in charge this month. It is high council Sunday so he had to keep that but he asked the R. S. presidency to find the first speaker and had me put the musical # together. We are singing a medley of As Sisters in Zion and Awake and Arise. Beautiful!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Not a word. High council meeting. Plan of salvation..redemption of sins…evil in the world..hellfire and damnation. The missionary just told mission stories.

  3. Kirsten says:

    I had asked my bishop back in January if we could dedicate today’s sacrament mtg to the anniversary of the Rekief Society. His answer was that he’d “have to see what the Stake decided to do.” And, it ended up that he did nothing. As YW president, I decided to have a special lesson for my Laurels on the history, mission, and opportunities of the Relief Society.

  4. kjoh says:

    I approached my Relief Society president about this back when it was first suggested on The Exponent. We had a lovely meeting. There was a little flier in the bulletin giving some brief history about the Relief Society. All three talks were given by sisters and we each spoke about one of the three purposes of the RS — I spoke on how RS helps us to increase our faith and personal righteousness, another sister spoke about how RS helps her strengthen her family and home, and our RS president spoke about how RS helps her reach out and serve those in need. The opening and closing hymns were written by women, we had a trio sing a great rendition of As Sister in Zion (although their accompanist was a man?!). The sacrament hymn was not written by a woman — does such a hymn not exist? Following the block of meetings we had a Linger Longer where sisters brought in “birthday” cake to help celebrate the birthday of the RS.

    We did have someone from the stake high counsel sitting on the stand (I’m not sure if this was his normal Sunday to drop by, as he did not conduct any stake business), there was a member of the Stake RS presidency also in attendance (but she has a daughter in my ward), and the Stake President (whose home ward meets in the same building after my ward’s sacrament meeting) came in and sat in the back row. I’m not sure if the Stake members were spying on us (ha!) but the high counselor approached me during class switch and said he thought it was a great meeting and a great idea, and the Stake RS presidency member said she tried to get her home ward to do something similar, but her RS president wasn’t interested in approaching the bishop.

    For me, this was a great experience, and I’m thankful that I have a RS president who’s willing to go along with such “hair brained” ideas 🙂

  5. TopHat says:

    We had ward conference, so the schedule for talks was completely determined by the stake. No RS mention, but it was still very good. Also, we had a Linger Longer with corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

    • Petra says:

      I was pretty disappointed that the stake RS presidency didn’t mention the RS birthday in their lesson…and even more disappointed that the lesson came around to telling us we were “princesses in training.”

  6. Rachel says:

    My ward had High Council Sunday, with two high councilman speaking. No mention of Relief Society. No third speaker.

    Relief Society was not even mentioned in Relief Society, which disappointed me. It was mentioned in Sunday School twice, because of me. It worked because one of the sessions covered was D&C 125, on and to Emma. I told the story of how Joseph Smith read the entire section out loud at the very first Relief Society meeting and focused on the part that said Emma could exhort scriptures and teach the church, and added that Joseph added that that was a right of every woman in the church.

  7. Esther says:

    After your proposal I did my best to get the word out. The major problem I encountered in my stake is that the third Sunday a member of the great counsel come and give a talk. The stake RS Pres. didn’t dare asking the great counsel to come another week. So we didn’t had a all women sacrament meeting. However all the talks were on RS. I think however that next year if we are earlier to make the proposal it will work. This is for Ottawa. I passed also the word to my sister in Montreal, and on her side it was a success, she convinced the RS Pres. And bishopric to have a all women RS sacrament. My mother serves a mission in Madagascar and she convinced her whole stake to have special RS sacrament. I’m waiting to hear back from her. All of us, my mom, my sister and I gave talked today in our own ward. It was really special feeling for us to be united this way. We exchanged ideas and unorthodox topics such as women laying on of hands for the sick and how priesthood is for all were mentioned. Overall the reactions were positives. My sister was asked to give a special class to RS following her remarks to elaborate more the points she brought.
    Also in Ottawa we had an Awesome RS celebration on Saturday , beyond my expectation. Me and a group of women from my ward danced a cumbia for the whole stake (moving our hips like any good Latin dancer) and people loved it! stake RS asked if we could perform again! Than second part we had the temple president and his wife, the matron, talking equally but more than that, talking about priesthood how it is for everyone man and woman, that it can be use in parthership and saying that the way the temple preach about women to be queen and priestess is the perfect way priesthood should work and at the end they talked for quite a while about our Heavenly mother and they made us close our eyes and imagine the sentiment and the overwhelming joy we will have when we see her again at last and that we will feel that we owe her all that we have. Wow! It was really beautiful to look at the audience, women deeply touched, some weeping by the promise to see agaib our Heavenly Mother. It was a very emotional week end, I am exhausted but really happy and I feel like I made a change.

    • spunky says:

      Your comment has made my day! Thank you so much! I am so pleased all went so well for you! Thank you for sharing what a success you had in building sisterhood and celebrating Mormon womanhood!!! I am seriously jealous about the cumbia! I wanna be in your stake!!!

      • Esther says:

        We had a wounderful week end and a wind of change came in Ottawa but my stake as still a way to go. Montreal is more progressive, my sister’s ward won by far for the best RS sacrament meeting and the temple matron and president that talk to us were from the Montreal temple.

    • Rachel says:

      Very beautiful. So happy for you. And your sister. And your mom.

  8. Big L says:

    It was high council Sunday, so we only had him and one other speaker. The other speaker was the Relief Society president for our branch who was just released last week. She spoke about the history and purpose of Relief Society. The high councilor also spoke on the theme of women and Relief Society. Both of them based their talks largely off of DIMK. The men of our branch sang as a “choir” in honor of the women. It was very nice.

  9. E.D. says:

    Not a peep in any of the three meetings.

  10. Jess says:

    I was happily surprised: both speakers were sisters today. The second speaker in particular was great: she made some really great points about not letting the worlds views of women get mixed up in church doctrine. This could have easily turned in to a lecture about how important traditional gender roles are. Instead the speaker used examples from Daughters in My Kingdom and the scriptures to show that God wants and encourages us to reach our potential, no matter whether it that fits in to cultural expectations or not.

  11. de Pizan says:

    High Council Sunday for my ward as well. All talks were on missionary work, talks and prayers were all given by men, the musical number was the Primary singing a song to the bishop. Not one mention of Relief Society.

  12. MissRissa says:

    Not a word. Kicking myself for not suggesting it to the bishop and RS pres. It was a great topic though- Trusting The Lord.

  13. Ashley says:

    I’m so excited with how today turned out! I sent the original Exponent post with this idea to one of the RS counselors last month, and then just let the idea go. But it turns out that she forwarded the post to the RS President, who forwarded it to the Bishop, who then allowed the RS President to pick all three speakers.

    The RS President gave the opening prayer, there were three amazing talks by women about the Relief Society (one of whom recently came out as gay and talked about how her visiting teachers have sat with her during the low points), and three out of four hymns were written by women, including the essential “O My Father”.

    The Sunday School lesson happily even fell on Emma’s section in the D&C.

    Our poor bishop! He’s pretty traditional and I think he’s totally lost on how to deal with our awesome pants-wearing feminists.

  14. lmzbooklvr says:

    So I had suggested to the music chairman a number by women for today; however, with mission farewells (twin girls :)) she didn’t feel like we would be able to. I was a bit disappointed, but the fact she was open was nice.
    Then today was high council Sunday. We had a returned senior missionary from Nauvoo, and that was interesting. Unfortunately, I was zoning out when the high councilor stood to speak. I heard some things about tithing and returning to live with God…..and then it happened….I heard him start a quote that I associated with Heavenly Mother. And then he started talking about Heavenly Mother and Father and how we would want to do what we could here to return to live with them both again…..It was amazing. I waited to see if anyone would say anything (we have a 70 in our ward) and no one did. So while we didn’t have a meeting focused on Relief Society or with any women speakers, we had a high councilor refer openly to Heavenly Mother….I’m taking that as a big WIN!

  15. When I read about the suggestion, I sent an email to my Bishop, telling him I would be glad to be a resource. He thought the suggestion was great, and hadn’t even realized the anniversary was coming up. He asked me and the RS President to give talks. The sisters all came up to sing “As Sisters in Zion.” I had given the pianist a nice arrangement and the sisters just sang impromptu, but it sounded lovely.

    My talk is posted here: Sam Gamgee and the Relief Society.

    I also was intrigued by something I found while researching, and it ended up in this post:
    Revolutionary Sisterhood.

  16. ellen patton says:

    I’m the RSP and the last few years to celebrate the anniversary of the Relief Society I’ve invited women to talk about “What Relief Society means to me” and yesterday’s meeting was wonderful. A small group of women sang “O My Father” and then ALL the women came up to the stand and sang “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise” as the closing song. It was SO inspiring. The talks were all excellent and it was one of my best Sundays ever. We also had a Visiting Teaching conference (the YW and men in the ward took care of nursery and primary so almost all the women were able to attend). I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback — it was an amazing day!

  17. Suzette Smith says:

    I was pleased with the way our Sacrament meeting went. I suggested to the Bishop and RS Pres back in January that we acknowledge the day.

    The sister who spoke on the Relief Society did a great job and quoted from DIMK, which made me happy.

    We did have a high counsel speaker that followed her. Next year, I think I’ll suggest that they assign their High Councilmen to address the RS on this day.


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