Additional coverage of the Relief Society meeting:
As each woman in the Church does her part to ensure that the purposes of Relief Society are fulfilled, "angels will be our associates and we will be participants in amazing miracles," said Sister Julie B. Beck.
Speaking Sept. 26 during the General Relief Society Meeting, Sister Beck called Relief Society a faith-based work.
"We know that the purpose of Relief Society as established by the Lord is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen their families and homes, serve the Lord and His children," said Sister Beck, general Relief Society president.
Women in the Church, she continued, need to know what sets them apart from every other women's group or organization. "Everything we do in Relief Society matters because Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, visited Joseph Smith and, through him, the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth."
Relief Society, Sister Beck explained, was part of that restoration.
"The prophet Joseph Smith defined the purpose of the Relief Society and instructed the sisters in their purpose, just as he taught priesthood leaders in Kirtland and Nauvoo their priesthood purpose and work. Ours is an organization that continues to be led today by prophets, seers and revelators."
Sister Beck said Relief Society is unique because it was organized after the pattern of the priesthood and operates on a general and local level under the direction of priesthood leaders.
"We work in partnership with priesthood leaders, who hold keys, which give them authority to preside in the name of the Lord. We operate in the manner of the priesthood – which means that we seek, receive and act on revelation; make decisions in councils; and concern ourselves with caring for individuals one by one.
"Ours is the priesthood purpose to prepare ourselves for the blessings of eternal life by making and keeping covenants. Therefore, like our brethren who hold the priesthood, ours is a work of salvation, service and becoming a holy people."
Sister Beck then spoke about how the faith-based work of Relief Society should be administered.
"One of the most precious commodities we all have is time. Most women have many responsibilities and never have sufficient time to do everything their hearts and minds want to do. We show respect for the Lord and the sisters when we use Relief Society time in an inspired way."
Sister Beck said weekly meetings on Sunday are held as part of the regular three-hour block. Additional Relief Society meetings can also be held to help sisters "learn and accomplish the charitable and practical responsibilities of the Relief Society."
She then announced that in response to concerns about the complexity of the title "home, family and personal enrichment meetings" — as well as the different interpretations about the purpose of those meetings – that the name will be discontinued.
"In counsel with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was determined that rather than give these additional Relief Society meetings a new title, all such meetings and activities will now be referred to simply as Relief Society meetings. Individual Relief Society meetings that are not held on Sunday will be called whatever they are: Relief Society service, classes, projects, conferences or workshops."
The additional meetings can be valuable supplements to Sunday instruction. However, she added, sisters should not feel that attendance is mandatory.
"These meetings are meant to be instrumental in teaching the skills and responsibilities of womanhood and motherhood in the Lord's plan. It is here that women learn and apply principles of provident living and spiritual and temporal self-reliance and they also increase in sisterhood and unity as they teach one another and serve together."
Sister Beck said most of the essential Relief Society work doesn't happen in meetings. "A sister has no other responsibility outside of her family that has the potential to do as much good as does visiting teaching."
Visiting teaching, she said, becomes a faith-based work when the focus is on people rather than percentages. "In reality, visiting teaching is never finished. It is more a way of life than a task. Faithfully serving as a visiting teacher is evidence of our discipleship."
Sister Beck said compassionate service and assistance with the welfare needs of individuals and families is an outgrowth of visiting teaching. "We can know with certainly that our Father in Heaven knows us personally because He sends us to be His hands and heart to those in need. As we do so, our faith in Him is strengthened."
Concluding, Sister Beck asked the worldwide congregation to realize the importance of Relief Society. "We live in a happy and exciting time of growth in the history of the Church, and Relief Society is part of making that history."