Relief Society prepares for 180th anniversary by issuing invitation to serve

On March 17, 2022, the Relief Society will celebrate its 180th anniversary. Today, the Relief Society general presidency issued an invitation for women to prepare for that milestone by serving in their communities.

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and Latter-day Saint Charities president, posted on social media why Relief Society is valuable to her personally. She said it is a place where she can learn about repentance, prepare for the temple, receive help from experienced friends, and bring questions. It is also a place where people care about her, she is trusted and needed, and it brings Jesus Christ into her life.

“It may not always succeed on every front, but the potential of Relief Society is so huge that even the idea of a space like this existing for women everywhere makes me happy. WE are Relief Society, and we can be a powerful force for change in the world,” wrote Sister Eubank on Facebook and Instagram.

Invitation to serve

Sister Eubank issued a personal invitation for how women can each celebrate Relief Society this month:

1. Create a free account on JustServe.org.
2. Invite one friend to register on JustServe.org.
3. During the next 30 days, find a project in your community on JustServe.org and complete it with someone you love.

Sister Eubank said she would be doing the same, and asked others to use the hashtag #JustServe on social media to share their stories. If someone lives in an area of the world where JustServe is not active yet, she invited them to still do a local service project and post about it.

“What better way to honor its mission of extending the pure love of Jesus Christ into the world than by joining a service project in your community?” she wrote.

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, and Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor, echoed the invitation on their own social media pages, as well.

“Relief Society sisters have enormous potential to do good in the world. Join us this month as we celebrate 180 years of Relief Society by serving in our local communities,” wrote Sister Aburto.

Relief Society general presidency invites women to make Relief Society more inclusive and supportive

What is JustServe?

The JustServe.org website begins by asking people to put in their city, state or postal code, or choose the "volunteer remotely" option.
The JustServe.org website begins by asking people to put in their city, state or postal code, or choose the “volunteer remotely” option. Credit: Screenshot: JustServe.org

JustServe is a way to connect community organizations with volunteers. It is done through the website, JustServe.org, or the app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

Erin Longhurst, a JustServe specialist for the North America Northeast Area, explained how to get started in an interview with the Church News for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is also a national day of service.

“When you go to the website or app, type in your ZIP code and it will auto-populate the projects in your area,” said Longhurst. People can also select “volunteer remotely” instead of putting in a ZIP code.

Longhurst said using filters and key words can make JustServe a more personal experience. This narrows projects into age, skill, topic and many other helpful categories. The date-ranges filter can also be helpful, she said. So can filters for individual or group projects.

If someone wants to do something specific that they are not seeing on the app or website, Longhurst encouraged them to reach out to the local JustServe specialist for their stake. They can coordinate to find or create an appropriate project.

Service projects work best when they are community focused, said Longhurst. “We want it to be a project for a specific organization. Find organizations in the community that need help and where we are meeting their needs.”

The Relief Society anniversary

The Relief Society logo
The Relief Society logo Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Relief Society is the organization for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a global sisterhood — the largest and one of the oldest women’s organizations in the world. Its motto is “Charity Never Faileth.”

Last year, for the 179th anniversary, President Bingham, the 17th president of the organization, explained how Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society under the priesthood and after the pattern of the priesthood.  She told the Church News podcast that the organization was divinely organized and created through inspiration.

“I want people to know that Relief Society is an organization that has power, really, to change the world,” she said.  “Today, the Relief Society is full of ordinary women who do extraordinary things as they exercise faith in God and Jesus Christ. They are women who love and care about those in need, which of course can be anyone, including us, at any given time. And they’re willing to step up and serve and are willing to speak up in defense of the vulnerable.”

President Bingham said from the very beginning, when the first president, Emma Smith, said, “We are going to do something extraordinary,” Relief Society women working together have done some remarkable things.  

Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, served as the first president of the Relief Society, then called the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. She helped teach the women doctrine, and also helped provide physical relief.

Remembering Emma Hale Smith, the first president of the Relief Society

At the 50th anniversary in 1892, a jubilee was observed in various branches of the Relief Society throughout the Church. “One of the important lessons which this grand jubilee will possibly teach or is likely to impress upon all is that of love and union,” wrote the Woman’s Exponent of March 15, 1892. “Love is the great power that will lift mankind to a higher plane, true love, the love that brings out all the best and noblest qualities of the human soul. The love of God and the love of our fellow men.”

President Bingham told a BYU Women’s Conference audience in 2019, “You may not realize it yet, but Relief Society can help you accomplish extraordinary things.”

She went on to say, “It is a place of learning. It is an organization whose basic charter is caring for others. It is a safe place for sisters to bring their questions, and for those who are searching for identity and purpose….Wherever I go around the globe, from Scotland, to South Africa, or Chile, to the Czech Republic, or the Philippines, or Farmington, Utah, I know I can count on women of the Relief Society to welcome me as a sister. I have felt that throughout the world.”