On 181st birthday, Relief Society general presidency invites women to reflect

‘In what ways has your life been blessed by being a part of this worldwide sisterhood?’ asks President Johnson

Marking the 181st anniversary of the Relief Society, the organization’s general presidency invited women around the world to celebrate this year by sharing things they have loved and appreciated about Relief Society.

Looking at the number 181, Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and her second counselor, Sister Kristin M. Yee, asked in a post on Facebook and Instagram: “What can happen in 181 seconds (or just about 3 minutes)? A text, an email, or a kind word? What can happen in 181 minutes (or a bit more than 3 hours)? A wonderful personal visit or a beautiful gathering?

“What can happen in 181 hours (or just over a week)? Or what could happen in 181 days (which is about half a year)?

“What HAS happened in 181 years? Inspired women and men and a society focused on providing relief throughout the world have changed lives in beautiful and countless ways through following the Savior’s example of love and service,” wrote President Johnson and Sister Yee.

The post ends with an invitation to celebrate the commemoration by helping create at least 181 comments “sharing things you have loved and appreciated about the Relief Society — officially organized just 181 years ago.”

President Johnson posted a video with her first counselor, Sister J. Anette Dennis, saying the Relief Society has “stood united for a greater cause” for the past 181 years.

“Women across the globe have used their time and talents to help provide support and relief in various forms. We have stood as examples of the scripture that is stated on our Relief Society emblem, ‘Charity never faileth.’”

President Johnson and Sister Dennis asked, “In what ways has your life been blessed by being a part of this worldwide sisterhood?”

Other women leaders also shared a message about belonging to Relief Society — the largest women’s organization in the world. Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, reflected on the first time her daughter, Elisa, attended Relief Society.

Sister Craig said as they sat by an older woman in their ward in the chilly room, the woman immediately noticed Elisa, said hello and welcomed her to Relief Society.

“It wasn’t long before I saw Joanna do something that spoke volumes and really is what we are all about as Relief Society sisters,” Sister Craig wrote on Facebook and Instagram. “Joanna took the shawl off her frail shoulders and gently placed it around the shoulders of my daughter. That’s what we do! Our service does not need to be on a grand scale — we simply do our best to connect, to observe needs and then do what we can.”

The first president of the Relief Society organization, Emma Smith, remarked in the first meeting, “We are going to do something extraordinary.” Sister Craig said she sees the extraordinary in the lives of Relief Society sisters all the time, both in times of crisis and in the ordinary of everyday living.

“Relief Societies the world over are filled with such extraordinary women and disciples of Jesus Christ,” she said.

Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, wrote about moving across the country with her new husband one month after getting married.

“As we pulled into a large city, my heart began to sink as I realized just how far we were from the familiar. Familiar family, familiar friends, and familiar surroundings,” Sister Wright posted on Facebook and Instagram.

But when they walked into the chapel on Sunday, everything instantly felt familiar, as if she were home.

“Then, later, as I walked into the Relief Society room, that same feeling of familiarity enveloped me, but this time with the added comfort of relief,” Sister Wright wrote. “I was welcomed by an army of women who almost immediately began to fulfill the role of grandmother, mother, sister and friend.”

Sister Wright said Relief Society allows her to link arms with extraordinary women throughout the world who “expound scriptures,” “exhort the church,” lift hearts and “cleave unto the covenants [they have] made” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:7, 13).

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