Objectives outlined for Relief Society meetings
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Using Relief Society meetings appropriately will increase the ability of the Relief Society to work in powerful ways with priesthood leaders in every ward, said Sister Julie B. Beck during the General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 26.
Sister Beck noted that for the past number of years, Church members have called weekday Relief Society meetings "home, family and personal enrichment." That name will now be discontinued, she said.
All future weekday Relief Society meetings are to be called what they are: Relief Society meetings, she said.
These meetings, Sister Beck explained, can be valuable supplements to Sunday instruction, especially for sisters who serve in Primary or Young Women or who are unable to attend Sunday meetings. They are also a good place to bring friends of other faiths or to include those sisters who do not actively participate in the Church.
During her address, Sister Beck outlined numerous objectives and procedures for weekday Relief Society meetings. Following is a list of guidelines for additional meetings as outlined in Sister Beck's talk:
The ward Relief Society president should oversee all Relief Society meetings.
The Relief Society president should counsel regularly with her bishop regarding how these meetings can meet the needs of individuals and families in the ward.
Plans should be consistent with current policies about activities, including policies about finances.
Meeting plans should be approved by the bishop.
At least one member of the Relief Society presidency should attend all meetings.
The Relief Society president should oversee the meetings, but may ask the first or second counselor or recommend a sister in the ward be called to be coordinator of the meetings.
The Relief Society presidency prayerfully determines how often to hold these meetings and where they should be held.
Meetings generally should be held monthly. The bishop and the Relief Society president determine the frequency of the meetings. Efforts should be made to hold the meetings at least quarterly.
Meetings should be held at a time other than Sunday or Monday evening.
Sisters should not be made to feel that it is mandatory to attend all these meetings.
When planning meetings, the Relief Society presidency should take into consideration time commitments of sisters, family circumstances, travel distance and cost, financial cost to the ward, safety and other local circumstances.
Meetings, under the direction of the bishop, can be used to address spiritual and temporal needs of individuals and families and to strengthen unity.
Meetings should accomplish the "charitable and practical responsibilities" of Relief Society. They should increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes and provide service.
In planning meetings, the Relief Society presidency should give priority to topics that fulfill Relief Society purposes, such as marriage and family, homemaking, provident living and self-reliance, compassionate service, temple and family history, sharing the gospel, and other subjects requested by the bishop.
Meetings can focus on one topic or be divided into more than one class or activity.
Generally, teachers should be members of the ward or stake.
One meeting a year may commemorate the founding of the Relief Society and focus on its history and purpose.
"When we plan, we ask what the Lord needs us to learn and become in order to be prepared for eternal life," Sister Beck said. "In the wisdom of the Lord, every ward has its own unique characteristics, which no other ward shares. This can be compared to the DNA that identifies every human being as unique.
"Every bishop has the responsibility for his specific ward," Sister Beck continued. "Each ward Relief Society president has a calling to assist one bishop. Each bishop and Relief Society presidency have had hands laid on their heads to receive inspiration for their particular responsibilities, and not for any other ward or group of Relief Society sisters."
As a result of operating this way, the Relief Society can help prepare families for emergencies and help sisters and families to prepare for the temple. They can share the gospel and teach and improve homemaking skills, she said.
Sister Beck's talk will serve as the "current official policy" regarding additional Relief Society meetings. "Should you have questions regarding anything we have taught here after studying this message, please counsel together in your own wards and stakes to discover the solutions you need," she said.