`A worldwide sisterhood, a divine mission'

After relating the biblical account of Esther and her faith in saving a nation, new Relief Society Gen. Pres. Mary Ellen W. Smoot asked today's LDS women, "Do you suppose that you were chosen to be born for such a time as this?"

Conducting and speaking during the Relief Society general meeting Sept. 27 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the first time, Pres. Smoot continued: "Sisters, like Esther, we must prepare for our time, because our time has come. We must possess the spiritual strength to overcome our challenges, laying our faults on the altar, and giving our lives to the Lord."Pres. Smoot extended a special greeting to the women of the Church: "To each of you, no matter your nationality, race, social status, or individual talents, or whether you are married, single, or widowed, whether you were born into the Church or are a new convert and the only member of your family, I say: `Welcome home!' The Relief Society is your home, and you are an integral part of a worldwide sisterhood with a divine mission."

The new general president noted: "The Church estimates that by the end of 1997, the membership of Relief Society will exceed 4.1 million in 160 countries. Can you imagine the growth of the Relief Society over the next 10 to 50 years?"

She then announced six objectives of Relief Society:

Build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and teach the doctrines of the kingdom of God.

Emphasize the divine worth of the individual.

Serve, support and build every sister.

Exercise charity and nurture those in need.

Strengthen and protect families, and honor our heritage.

Become full participants in the blessings of the priesthood.

Continuing, Pres. Smoot spoke of the new Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum to be implemented in 1998. "The Relief Society presidency may use the first Sunday meeting to instruct sisters about the purposes of Relief Society and to share instructions from priesthood leaders discussed in welfare and ward council meetings. The presidency may schedule short discussions about gospel principles and could include examples to help sisters build their testimonies, strengthen their marriages and families, increase the bonds of sisterhood, learn skills for serving each other, and support the mission of the Church. Also, the sisters will be given the opportunity to bear testimony.

"On the second and third Sundays both the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society will study the Teachings of Presidents of the Church, beginning with President Brigham Young in 1998 and 1999. The lessons are inspired for our time. We will learn the doctrines, truths and promises given us, if we will live for them.

"The fourth Sunday of each month we will have lessons from the booklet entitled Teachings for Our Times, which includes topics chosen by the First Presidency. We are absolutely delighted about the faith, unity and vision that will be developed from this inspired material."

Pres. Smoot continued: "In Relief Society great promises are given to us if we will catch the vision of this organization and its potential influence on the world. We each have challenges in our lives, and those challenges are as varied as the sisters of Relief Society. But one thing is certain, the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ apply perfectly to your challenges and circumstances as well as to mine, if we have patience and faith. Each of us was born to face and overcome our challenges of a time such as this."

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