Celebration will affect lives for generations

The Relief Society Sesquicentennial year may have concluded with the passing of 1992, but the ongoing effect of the celebration will be felt in lives of women and families for generations to come, said Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president.

In an interview with the Church News, Pres. Jack reflected on the Relief Society Sesquicentennial and the effect it has had on women throughout the Church."Women have always been known for service given in Relief Society, but I think the community service projects have added a new dimension, a new understanding of how they can reach out beyond what they have done before," she remarked.

"In this world I think it is increasingly evident the needs that so many people have - needs where they can't help themselves. There are circumstances in every country where someone has to reach out to one who can't help herself, to put her on solid ground."

It is not so much that Relief Society sisters are doing something new or different, Pres. Jack said. But as the needs of the world expand, their understanding is expanding and they are able to serve in ways they never could before.

"I think Latter-day Saint women are at a new level of spiritual maturity where they understand better than ever the need to live the principles of the gospel, to follow patterns of the Savior, and that makes it easier to reach out."

Pres. Jack challenged women throughout the Church to "make `Charity Never Faileth' a motto of such personal significance that the whole world will be blessed by us - daughters of God who are members of Relief Society."

While the heart of the celebration included community service projects, the Sesquicentennial also included a presentation of "A Society of Sisters," featuring the Relief Society history, an international satellite broadcast, a historical record compiled by each local unit, and a focus on literacy.

Pres. Jack noted that the international satellite broadcast on March 14, 1992, was the most visible part of the celebration and acted as a springboard for local celebrations, but above all it united women from throughout the world who have a joint belief in the gospel.

The histories highlighted in each unit will "help us understand more about individual women in other parts of the world as well as their accomplishments," Pres. Jack added.

"One of the most important parts of those histories is the acknowledgment of women from local units who are a part of the area's Relief Society history. Instead of looking to pioneers they have never known, women looked at living pioneers, those they know, whose work has developed Relief Society."

While some local units focused on literacy as part of their sesquicentennial celebration, literacy guidelines from Church headquarters are in the process of being mailed to make literacy and education an ongoing effort of Relief Society. (More information will be given in a future Church News article as the guidelines become available.)

Looking back on the past year, it has been "the reception of women in the field that has really made a difference," Sister Jack reflected. "Many remarked about the unity and bonding that has resulted. It has been the responses of women that have really been wonderful.

"Emma Smith said, `We are going to do something extraordinary' when the Relief Society was first organized," Pres. Jack concluded. "We too wanted to do something extraordinary and I think we did."

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