As many will attest, some of the strongest relationships and bonds are forged between those who have been yoked together in the service of the Master.
In no setting is that truer than among those who have served over the years on the general boards of the auxiliaries. Each year, former Relief Society general board members gather for a luncheon, scheduled as nearly as possible to the anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Ill., on March 17, 1842.
This year's event occurred on the very day of the anniversary with a gathering at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Attending were former Relief Society board members who served under the administrations of Amy Brown Lyman (1940-45), Belle S. Spafford (1945-1974), Barbara B. Smith (1974-84), Barbara W. Winder (1984-90) and Elaine L. Jack (1990-97).
"We all enjoy seeing each other again," said Sister Smith, who chaired this year's gathering. "These women have done so much good worldwide. If they had not done what they've done, they would not understand the Relief Society as well as they do. They've had the privilege of going all over the world and have given support to priesthood leaders, because that's what they were taught."
Sister Smith addressed the luncheon, as did her successors, Sister Winder and the current general Relief Society president, Mary Ellen W. Smoot.
Sister Jack was the only surviving former president not in attendance; she is serving as temple matron at the Cardston Alberta Temple, where her husband, Joseph E. Jack Jr., is president.
Among those given particular recognition at the luncheon were Leona Winch, one of two surviving members of Sister Lyman's board (the other is Gertrude Garff), and 100-year-old Ellen Barnes, who served on the board under the administrations of Sister Spafford and Sister Smith.
The luncheon-goers were entertained by Sunshade N Rain, an LDS vocal trio consisting of Dan Whitley, Mel Teeples and Jeff Gregerson. The group achieved popularity through its performances and recordings throughout the 1970s, but forsook the spotlight for other jobs so each man could focus more closely on his family. They have recently reunited to perform on a limited basis, spreading the same musical message as they did in the '70s: "Families are forever."
An interesting moment occurred before the luncheon commenced as group member Whitley and the trio's pianist, Stan Seale, met Joanne Doxey, who served as second counselor to Sister Winder. Sister Doxey co-wrote the well-known Primary song, "Where Love Is." Early in its career, Sunshade N Rain recorded the song; it was a staple in the group's performances, but the members had never before met its writer.
The featured speaker at the luncheon was Paul Sandberg, project engineer for the new Conference Center which is nearing completion and is expected to be ready for the upcoming April general conference. He spoke on various aspects of the building's design and construction.