The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as the “Mormon Church” by those of other faiths) would not be complete without recognizing the influence and support of the Relief Society and thousands of amazing women who served quietly and faithfully. This history has recently been compiled into a beautiful book called Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society. A great deal of effort went into the compilation of this book because church leaders, both male and female, felt it would be a wonderful strength for Mormon women today.
The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1842, the Saints were working hard to build the Nauvoo Temple, and a small group of women wanted to help in the effort. They organized to provide the men working on the temple with food, clothing, bedding, and general supplies. They organized their own set of rules and presented them to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared them “the best he had ever seen.” However, he saw in their plans the potential for something even greater. On March 17, 1842, twenty women gathered to participate as the Prophet organized them in a divinely inspired way. God had a plan for the women of His church.
Since that time, the Relief Society (which is one of the largest women’s organizations in the world) has helped millions of people worldwide. Many are helped in the bounds of their own congregations, but immeasurable service is also contributed every year into making hygiene kits, baby blankets, leprosy bandages, and countless other items to help victims of natural disasters, war, and poverty around the world.
Relief Society General President Julie Beck said of the divine organization:
The purpose of Relief Society is to prepare daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life as they increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need.
Relief Society clarifies our work and unifies us as daughters of God in defense of His plan. In this day of mistaken identities, confusion, and distraction, Relief Society is meant to be a compass and guide to teach the truth to faithful women. Righteous women today seek an outpouring of revelation to resist distractions, fight evil and spiritual destruction, and rise above personal disasters by increasing their faith, strengthening their families, and providing relief to others (“Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society,” Julie Beck, Ensign, November 2011).
Those who compiled this book have several specific goals for its use. They recognize that “a study of this book can help women increase their appreciation for the past and their understanding of their spiritual heritage” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, p xii).
The stories of incredible women, their faith and commitment, and the wonderful things they have accomplished remind readers of their divine identity and the infinite worth and potential they possess as daughters of God. The book teaches through the history of Relief Society “Purposes, principles, and patterns” for women of God to practice in their lives which will bring them eternal happiness (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, p xiii).
One of the wonderful purposes of Relief Society is to provide a safety and a refuge for the sisters in it. Older sisters can teach younger sisters skills and spiritual truths which they have learned through experience. No woman is ever alone, no matter how close or far away her mother and family may be. Women pull together to take care of each other in times of trial and to share their joys with one another as well.
Reading experiences of so many strong, humble, faithful women will be a wonderful opportunity for women everywhere. It will bring strength into the lives of those who read it whether they have a connection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not.