Sunday, January 08, 2012
For those not familiar with it, just to give you a quick run-down -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (afterwards referred to as LDS Church) has three hour-long meetings a Sunday. One is sacrament meeting, in which we take the sacrament (similar to communion) and hear talks from members of the congregation about church doctrine. One is Sunday School and emphasizes study of the scriptures. The third is separated between women and men. The women attend Relief Society, starting when they are 18 (younger women go to a class called "Young Women." Pretty straightforward, that). On Sundays, there is a lesson, and during the week, there are sometimes other activities planned, designed to help the women of the Relief Society live happier, fuller lives. Some examples that I have been to lately include: a Christmas service gift exchange (I got a free haircut, which was awesome), a fitness night where we did yoga and then made smoothies, and a service project where we painted wooden blocks to give to children in an orphanage. The Relief Society can also be mobilized on a church-wide level to help provide relief (get it?) and service to those in need. In fact, it was organized when the women of the LDS Church got together to make clothing and bedding for men working on the LDS temple in Nauvoo in 1842.
As I recently finished going through this book, I thought I would highlight it for a few reasons: first of all, for those already familiar with the Relief Society who haven't read it -- it is full of interesting and moving stories of strong women who were able to accomplish a lot of good when they came together. I also wanted to highlight it for those not familiar with the Relief Society who have the mistaken belief that the LDS church is discriminatory towards women -- it is more than half comprised of women, and women are highly respected and valued, as this book and my own personal experience make abundantly clear.
I think my favorite thing that I learned in reading this book was about women in the LDS Church being encouraged to study nursing and medicine in order to help the sick. As a nurse-in-training myself, it was exciting to me that this was encouraged over 100 years ago in the same organization I participate in today. The Relief Society even provided financial aid to women studying nursing, midwifery, and medicine.
I would recommend this book for any member of the Relief Society of any age -- I think no matter how long you have been familiar with it, you will learn something new. I also recommend the book for anyone curious about the role of women in the LDS Church. Reading it was an edifying experience to me, and I plan to refer back to the book in the future.