<The purpose of Relief Society as established by the Lord is to organize, teach and inspire His daughters to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life, said Sister Julie B. Beck.
"Our aim is to support the women of the Church in their individual responsibilities by ensuring that every meeting, every lesson and every activity we undertake helps them increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen their families and their homes, and serve the Lord and His children," said Sister Beck, Relief Society general president.
Speaking at the Church's General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 27, Sister Beck said the only way to accomplish the organization's purposes is by seeking, receiving and acting on personal revelation.
"The real power in this great worldwide sisterhood lies within each woman. Though we may see ourselves as weak and simple, we all share a noble heritage and can develop a faith that is equal to that of remarkable, faithful women who have gone before us. We have a vital role to play in helping build the kingdom of God and preparing for the Lord's coming," she said.
"In fact, the Lord cannot accomplish His work without the help of His daughters. Because of that, the Lord expects us to increase our offering. He expects us to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society as never before."
Sister Beck said it is impossible to understand why the Church has an organization for women without having an understanding of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Just as the Savior invited Mary and Martha of New Testament times to participate in His work, women of this dispensation have an official commission to participate in the Lord's work," she said. "The organization of Relief Society in 1842 mobilized the collective power of the women and their specific assignments to build the Lord's kingdom, just as the organization of priesthood quorums gave men specific responsibilities....
"We know through the Prophet Joseph Smith that Relief Society was a formal part of the Restoration and that a similar organization for women existed in the Church anciently."
Through Relief Society, women have an official role in the Church with great responsibilities, including working in the temple and teaching the gospel, Sister Beck said. Further, she added, Relief Society helps women increase their testimony, strengthen families and homes, attend to family duties and care for the poor.
But, she continued, the larger part of its work is to look after the spiritual welfare and salvation of all the female members of the Church.
Sister Beck said to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society, the Lord has commissioned each sister and the organization as a whole to:
1.Increase in faith and personal righteousness.
3.Serve the Lord and His children.
"Each one of these responsibilities supports and reinforces the other two," she said. "When we increase our faith, the result of that effort strengthens our family. When we serve the Lord and His children, our faith and capacity for righteousness also increases."
Increase faith, personal righteousness
Sister Beck said membership in the Church requires faith, which individuals nourish throughout their lives with great diligence, patience and long-suffering.
"In the common heritage we share, we have remarkable examples of faith in the early women of the Church," she said. "These remarkable women were not seeking fine clothing, greater leisure, large earthly mansions or more possessions. Like you, they had a conviction and a testimony that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was true and that the Lord needed them to do their part in establishing His kingdom on the earth. Their pursuit of personal righteousness was a daily effort to become more like the Savior through repentance, scripture study, prayer, obedience to commandments and through seeking after everything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy."
Relief Society should be organized, aligned and mobilized to strengthen families, said Sister Beck.
Recalling a time when her mother was moving far away, Sister Beck said she asked, "Who will be my mother?"
Sister Beck's mother replied, "If I'm never able to teach you another thing, you tie yourself to Relief Society. Relief Society will be your mother."
"Mother knew that if I was sick the sisters would take care of me, and when I had my babies they would help me. But my mother's greatest hope was that the sisters in Relief Society would be powerful, spiritual leaders for me. I began from that time to learn abundantly from women of stature and faith."
Serve the Lord and His children
"When we serve in another auxiliary, we are not released from the sisterhood of Relief Society," said Sister Beck. "Because we do not go in or out of Relief Society, we are always connected to the purpose and responsibilities of Relief Society and are blessed by all opportunities to be examples and faith-filled shepherds to our Father's children.
"Relief Society has within its commission some of the most remarkable service opportunities on earth, which are available to all sisters."
Sister Beck said women can do the work of the Lord in His way when they seek, receive and act on personal revelation. "Without personal revelation, we cannot succeed," she said. "If we heed personal revelation, we cannot fail."
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Following are participants in the General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 27.
• President Thomas S. Monson, presiding.
• President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, attending.
• President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaking.
• Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, speaking.
• Sister Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, speaking.
• Sister Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, speaking.
• Also attending were Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Bruce D. Hafen of the Seventy and members of the Primary and Young Women general presidencies.
• A choir of women from stakes in Alpine and Highland, Utah, under the direction of Merrilee Webb, provided music for the event. Linda Margetts was organist.
• Ann W. Farnsworth and Jana P. Staples, both members of the Relief Society General Board, offered the opening and closing prayers, respectively.