personal progress

Finally Hitting Pay Dirt with Personal Progress

I have a confession to make.  It’s a true confession — and a sad one.

I am terrible at encouraging Personal Progress.

Yeah, I have my medallion thanks to the zealous efforts of my young women leaders back home in Mississippi, but I’m truly awful at encouraging PP among the young women I lead now.  I have lots of reasons — I’m terrible at anything that requires stead state or rote reminders, I am not motivated by reward systems, I am over Laurels and they are (often) over personal progress, it’s been a lot of work to get class presidencies, BYC, our presidency meetings, camp, lessons, together with all the other stuff I have to do related to just life….  All good reasons.  But none of them good enough!

It’s been well over a year since we had anyone in our unit earn their Young Womanhood Recognition award and medallion.  And yeah, bishop pointed it out to me…  So there was that. :-/

Luckily my counselors excel at the areas where I am weak, and they have really taken the reigns for personal progress in our unit.  I’ve been in since September, and it’s taken until now for us to really see the fruits of our labors. Here are some of the things we’ve learned and done that have helped with personal progress:

Summer is the best time for Personal Progress

I have been YW president for an entire school year now, and despite encouraging PP as much as possible, we weren’t seeing much movement … until Summer.  Keep in mind that girls are busy, and you may have to wait until school is on break to see the resutlts of your encouragement.  Summer is a small window of opportunity, with camp, EFY, youth conference, vacations, etc.  Your consistent efforts to encourage PP during the school year will pay off in Summer.

Utilize Sunday lessons for Personal Progress

I’m sure you’ve noticed in the Come Follow Me curriculum that some months note value experiences that coordinate with the lesson material:

It’s one of my pet peeves that PP wasn’t built right in to Come Follow Me.  Actually, the near-total lack of coordination between programs and goals is my biggest pet peeve about the church.  Fix that, Salt Lake.

Because CFM seems to have attached PP to itself as an afterthought, you’ll have to do a little bit of legwork to substitute scriptures or add writing activities to your lesson in order to include personal progress in some lessons. Don’t worry — it can definitely be done. If I’m teaching and can add in a PP value experience, I don’t tell girls that they’re earning PP as we study.  I wait until the end of the lesson to tell them they’ve completed a value experience, and they almost always cheer with joy!

Make-Your-Own value experiences while teaching

One thing I’m particularly proud of is how we work one-on-one with young women to prepare lessons for Sundays.  Instead of saying “call me if you need help”, we have set up our classes to expect that they will work with either a president, counselor, or adviser to prepare their lesson. Beehives may be ready to teach part or most of a lesson, but they need closer supervision.  By the time I get girls in Laurels, most of them have had opportunity to teach and are capable of preparing a reasonably decent lesson.  I find that I end up giving tips about how to increase class participation, asking good questions, and how to handle it when no one answers your questions.  Occasionally I have to redirect someone away from a distracting story or something, but usually the girls do a pretty good job.  We love the personal interaction with the girls, and this method helps us fulfill our handbook mandates:

Lessons are usually taught by members of the Young Women presidency or by Young Women advisers. Presidency members and advisers may divide this responsibility as needed. Young women may assist in teaching from time to time. When young women give instruction, a member of the Young Women presidency or an adviser helps them prepare. (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, 10.6.2)

Priesthood and auxiliary leaders carefully observe the learning and teaching during Sunday classes and other lessons. … Leaders ensure that teachers use the scriptures, the teachings of latter-day prophets, and the approved curriculum materials (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, 5.5.3)

Because preparing and teaching a lesson takes a significant amount of time and effort, we have our girls count lesson teaching as one of the value experiences that you make yourself.  They choose the value, and we put it in the computer at for tracking.  We talk about selecting a value experience during class and follow up with the girls to help keep PP on their minds.

Personal Progress incentive program

We are often counseled to avoid competitions, so one of my counselors came up with a great idea to encourage PP.  We made a puzzle out of an image of our local temple (Washington DC), and each week during opening exercises, anyone who has done work on PP during the week explains what they did and can add a puzzle to the image.  When the puzzle is complete, we will provide some sort of party or surprise for the entire group and begin again.

Our first puzzle has about 25 pieces in it so that we can get momentum going fast.  The next one may have a few more or less depending on how long it takes to complete this first one.  We have 23 active girls and started the puzzle in April. I think we will be done before the end of the summer.

Incentive programs like this don’t motivate all girls, but some girls really love it.

Use big activities as 10-hour projects

One of the more difficult part of PP is planning and completing the 10-hour projects. In our unit, we select girls who need help with PP and ask them to be on committees to help with Young Women in Excellence and New Beginnings. Those activities take at least 10 hours of planning from start to finish.

Make a fuss

Because PP has been pretty much dead in our unit for some time, we try to make a big deal when someone earns a ribbon.  We don’t give her anything except the ribbon and emblem (don’t want to diminish the award), but we do stand and talk about the great accomplishment and let the girl share what she’s learning inasfar as she’s comfortable doing so.

Play off their enthusiasm

Our Mia Maid class got so excited two weeks ago after some girls earned ribbons, that they planned their own activity to jump start PP the following day.  The girls got together at the counselor’s home and worked for about 4 hours together and were able to get several of The Short Ones completed and passed off in their books.

When the girls get excited, go with that.  Drop what you’re doing, and go with their ideas.  PP is personal, and if personal means personally planning a group activity — do it.

 The big payoff…

I drove some girls to Trek last week. One of the Laurels said something that wasn’t nice, and the Mia Maid girls who had been at the PP activity earlier in the week said, “Hey, no judging!” which made the other Mia Maids laugh.  The Laurel asked what was going on, and the Mia Maids got to talk about how they’ve been working on PP together and they were working on not judging. The Laurel then started talking about how she needed to work on her PP….  Peer-to-peer encouragement is the Celestial Kingdom of PP for me.

What’s more, our first YW received her medallion on Sunday.  She was a recently graduated senior who squeaked in during the last several weeks before she moved away from home. She told me that even though her PP had been rushed toward the end, she felt like she was leaving home “super-charged” and ready to use the skills and traits of womanhood she had developed by doing PP as she strikes out on her own.

And that, my friends, is what PP is about: studying about and practicing traits that will make us better women, better servants of the Lord.  It’s a boatload of work!  But seeing a girl catch the vision of it makes it all worth.


Guess I should update on c25k.  The pain in my knees just kept getting worse, so I decided to take a couple of weeks off running to see if that would help, especially since the weather was getting cold.  In the meantime, I hired a friend who is a personal trainer to help me develop a program to help me learn to do a chin up and develop some overall strength.  I mentioned my problems with running, and she set out to fix the problem with my IT band.  So since about November I’ve been working with Lisa to lift more.  It turned out that the problem with my IT band was weak hip flexors, and she has been able to strengthen those significantly.  Yesterday I did 1 minute run/walk splits for 20 minutes during the cardio part of my routine with no problems.  I’ve not run outside on the track yet, but I’m hopeful that I will be able to do that on the days I’m not lifting at the gym.

Seriously — why did I ever stop lifting?  I just love it so much.  And having a routine to work from makes it so much more fun.  Both kids signed up with Lisa in December, and it’s been really fun to lift with them (barring sickness).  It’s been especially fun to shame my teenage son since I can out bench him.  I outran him during our first fitness test and gloated for weeks!  I don’t think that will ever happen again in my lifetime :-)

The exercise has been really helpful lately, especially since my stress level has been pretty much off the charts. I’ll have to write about it sometime before I forget it all, but wow.  You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.


young women bracelet

A New Gig

Just about the time I thought that leading the music during sacrament meeting would kill me off with boredom, I was called to be the Young Women president in our ward. Bored no more.

Apparently the stake and the ward got in a turf war over me, and I am thrilled that the ward won, tbh. I’d have been Stake PR secretary.

At any rate, we’ve done a few things now that I think are worth mentioning

Extreme Calendaring

Though we were called in mid September, our YW presidency was able to pull off an amazing planning meeting on General Conference Sunday. We invited all the class presidencies, advisors, and our presidency together along with our Bishopric rep to have a brief leadership training session. Then we planned and calendared 6 months – YES SIX MONTHS – worth of activities.

We couldn’t have done it without two things: a printout of the ward calendar for each person, and the activities page at The calendar was very helpful for planning since not everyone had a smart device that could see the calendar at And the new activities planning section at is simply amazing. You can choose from a list of activity ideas, or use the form to make your own. Then you put the activity into your “planner” where you can move around activities or check to see if there’s a conflict with another class. From the planner, you can paste all the important activity information right into the ward or young women calendar, including assignments, primary contact, and purposes. It is amazing. Our ward has gone nuts over it. The bishopric knows where we are at all times in the building if they need to track us down. The bishopric can look over activities to ensure they are meeting their requirements and expectations. The mommas love to know what’s going on at mutual, and they can see if their kid has an assignment. You can sync the calendar to any calendar program – I use Google Calendar – which means changes are automatically pushed to your device. Anyone with access to the calendar can see the upcoming activities.

Having the activities calendared well in advance means that we can catch conflicts easily as they arrrive. No one is asking “what are we doing?” at young women or during class presidency meetings. Our class presidency meetings are streamlined so that we spend less time planning activities (all we have to do is verify assignments) and more time ministering.

So, now you want to know how long it took us to accomplish this Herculean feat of awesomeness, right? Two hours. Yep. It took us two hours to eat breakfast, hold leadership training, and plan 6 months worth of activities. Since general conference doesn’t start until noon here, we started our meeting at 9 am and went until 11am. Now, because of the food, this time I’m recommending that we go 2.5 hours to be sure we have plenty of time since things got sort of rushed at the end of our meeting. But our extreme calendaring has been a huge success. You have got to try it.

YW work on New Beginnings and YWIE for 10 hour projects

We used the YW who needed help with their ten hour projects for personal progress as helpers for planning these major activities. This was a really great idea that came from one of my counselors.

Girls camp in Palmyra

We have planned our girls camp this year to be in Palmyra in keeping with the mutual theme of James 1:5–6.  Our girls will be tent camping at the church’s Seneca Falls camp, which is blocked out for booking by everyone but girls camp groups through February of each year.  We didn’t get any cabins sadly (stakes get first dibs) but we were able to secure tent sites.  We are so, so, so excited about this campout.  Even the mommas and ward members are excited and have been begging for ways to go with us.  Our girls camp director is fantastic, and she has planned three days of awesome.

So far the breakout looks like this:

  • Day 1: Drive to Palmyra (8-9 hours), Set up camp
  • Day 2: Church history sites, Sacred Grove, Palmyra pageant in evening
  • Day 3: Camp certification
  • Day 4: Hike at Watkins glen, pool, cooking outdoors
  • Day 5: Return home with rest stop at Priesthood Restoration Site

We have reserved 15pax vans to transport the girls and will bring up a third vehicle for gear and men.  The plan is to get camp started in the vans on the way up, watching movies and making plans, doing training, etc.  I am ridiculously excited.  In fact, I’m so excited I may have oversold camp a slight bit, and we expect to have an amazing turnout this year.  Good thing I booked that extra tent site. Our ward has had a series of terrible camps — floods, mini tornadoes, etc — that have demoralized the girls.  I’m really hopeful this can be a good experience for everyone.

C25k Week 3 Day 1

Despite advice to the contrary , I went ahead and ran without a rest day today. I feel okay, and I plan to run tomorrow night as well in order to get my three runs in for the week. I don’t want to fall behind!

Today’s run was fine.  I didn’t make it all the way through the last 3 minute run, sadly.  It was kind of lame because I stopped just 7 seconds shy of the 3 minute mark.  I wish the app counted down some way to let you know how much time you have — I’ve had so many technical snafus that I don’t trust it to alert me when to stop, so I try to count it off myself or go by distance.  I stayed on track for the run, and by my estimates I was about 2 minutes ahead of yesterday’s pace.  I was about 1 minute behind my normal spot on the track when I got to the “1 minute left” warning, and since this run is only 28 minutes instead of 31, that puts me 2 minutes ahead.  Yay!

Today I managed to take a selfie before I ran! I’m looking a little grim — probably because it’s before 8am!  I’m glad I went out early though.  Today it’s supposed to be 97 degrees with a head index of 103.  Yipe!

I haven’t been experiencing any knee pain since I started running on the balls of my feet, but I have been feeling pain in the bottom of my right foot.  I did some research, and it turns out that my right foot overpronates.  I put on my old running shoes that are supposed to correct for that as it turned out, but my left knee started hurting.  I think I will stick with the Kinvaras since the pain in my foot is nowhere near as intense as what happens in my knees with the stiffer shoes. If I keep having the pain I may buy an insert for that shoe to see if it helps, but I think a different pair of shoes is unnecessary.

C25k week 2 day 2

I got up early and did my run today before taking the kids and friends to Kings Dominion. This time no technical difficulties.

My calves were a little bit sore, but I had no joint pain. I tied my shoelaces the way the guy at Virginia Runner showed me, and my right foot did feel more stable. That foot feels vaguely wobbly to me somehow…..

Everything went well. My running distance tracker said I only ran 2.02 miles.  Annoying. I hope that the track isn’t shorter than the sign says, because if so my times are very very slow.

C25k Week 2 Day 1 – Arg!

Today I went for my run but again had technical difficulties. I got the app set on the wrong day — twice — and ended up running way more than needed. I did over 4 minutes the first go until I realized I was on the 20 minute (!) day in week 5. Then when I reset I was on week 3 day 1.  Turns out I’m not ready for 3 minute jogs yet. And my little fanny pack thing is stretchy and really hard to get my phone in and out of. I can’t decide if I like it or not.

The errors are my fault because I had been reading up on the days and looking ahead, but arg. I had such goals!

Anyway, there were was nobody on the track today except me at noon. Nice.

Again forgot my selfie, so here’s a picture of my shoes. Aren’t they pretty?  When it comes to sneakers I just buy whatever color is cheapest in my size, but these happen to be really nice. I went with the Saucony Kinvaras because Saucony is the brand the running store fitted me with years ago and the Kinvara is popular.

I figure I ran about 10 minutes all told today. Still did the 2 1/4 miles, but I was disappointed in that because I was really hoping to get a little farther on the track. Maybe Friday, but I’ll have to go early….

C25k week 1 day 3 : Technical difficulties

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s technically week two but I’m still on week 1. That’s what happens when you start on Wednesday. Hate on.

I am thrilled to report that I had almost 0 pain after Saturday’s run! I wasn’t stiff, no sore ligaments in my knees, and even the owies on my Achilles’ tendon eased up. So, yep, form is key.

I did the run/walk today, but somehow the app locked itself and I didn’t manage to actually start it until I had walked over half a mile. Then once I did start it I somehow started week 5, and my first run segment ended up being at least twice as long as necessary. So then I restarted again and figured out how to fast forward on the right day to get the sets mostly back on track. I was under a time constraint because I had gotten to the track at 4 but the band family picnic was at 5, so really it was a mess. I feel comfortable with what I did — it just wasn’t exactly what the app suggested.

Today the track was filled with high school aged kids — probably 60 of them — all practicing for some kind of sport. I have to admit it was kind of intimidating. Plus two random dudes tried to talk to me. And did I mention it was HOT? I think I will avoid the park at 4pm from now on.

And sorry no picture — I was too busy racing home to change for the picnic. Hopefully next time.

Anyway, 2 1/4 miles again in I-have-no-idea-how-much time. I ran pretty hard the last two sixties, and so I was puffing by time it was over. My face was still red an hour and a half later at the picnic and a friend mentioned it. I was too embarrassed to tell him what I was doing (he’s military), so I just said I get red when I’m hot, which is of course true.

So I felt a little bit stupid today, but overall good because I ran successfully again. By the end of this week I will know if I can hold up with this injury-wise, but I’m pretty confident I can complete the program!

C25k week 1 day 2

Not gonna lie — after the last run I thought I might not make it. I was so sore Wednesday and Thursday nights I actually had trouble sleeping. I had been so excited!  Friday was my scheduled run day but I was still sore and decided to put off the run until today.

I mentioned that I had never run before and that I knew my form was bad, so I did several hours of research on how to improve. The main thing I learned was to run on the balls of your feet with feet under the body. Apparently if you hit the ground with your heel first it actually interferes with your momentum and caused injuries. One guy said it should feel like you’re pawing the ground like an animal. That was probably the best advice.

The number two thing I learned was to start slowly to conserve energy for the last leg, which is hopefully a sprint to the finish.

The number three thing I learned is that my old shoes were worn out and I needed new ones. I ended up getting a pair of Saucony Kinvaras.

With these tools in hand, I went back to the park and ran.  Within a few strides I realized that although I thought I was already running on the balls of my feet I was not! I lifted my heels slightly and — poof — instant relief! I couldn’t believe the difference! I actually felt like I was flying or floating. It was actually kind of FUN!  I worked hard to jog at the beginning, and for the last 60 second spurt I actually had the energy to really run. In fact, I actually ran 45 seconds extra!!! Last time I ran I was dying by the end. This time I could have pushed even farther!

I did have that mid-point struggle again on rep 4, but it wasn’t as difficult this time and I did all 60 seconds.

And I traveled very slightly farther this time in the 30 minutes, but it ended up being a run/walk of 2 1/4 miles again.

So after being disappointed that I was so hurt after the first run, I am hopeful again. It will depend on how sore I am tomorrow, but I’m feeling confident again.

The picture is of me after the run and after I changed clothes to run errands. I always turn freaky shades of red when I exercise. Not cute. But I did it!



C25k week 1 day 1

Back in October (when my 40th birthday was pending) I finally decided to get serious about getting in shape. I signed up for Weight Watchers because of their FitPoints program, which I thought would help me get motivated to exercise regularly. Well, WW users know that in December they scrapped FitPoint for some other dumb thing that leaves you with no “reward” for exercising. I was cranky. Very. Cranky. Plus I had just gotten used to WW itself and it was working! Why did they have to go and change it (penalizing chocolate so badly)???

My goal was to stick with WW until April, knowing the exercise would not be a part of the program, so even though I was angry about the new program, I stuck it out. I’m glad I did. I hit my goal weight in March just before our trip to Europe, and I’ve stayed there or close so far. I’m now lifetime, and I still go to meetings, but I only weigh in the first week of each month. Jared is doing WW now, too, and he’s within 6lbs of his goal weight.

Anyway, after the WW activity thing was a bust, I knew that I still needed to work on my body. I was the right weight but in very bad shape. I figure I’ve got at least another 40 years on this body so I better get it in to shape! After some research and decided to try the new HICT workouts before I signed up for another gym membership that I don’t use. I ended up starting with Carrot’s Seven minute workout — HILARIOUS!!!!! — and ended up with Seven by Perigee. I love the zen master voice! I’ve done that 7 minute HICT workout 2-3x week since May now. It took me a while, but I’m now up to 3 circuits. I’ve not done 3 circuits 3x in one week yet, but I hope to next week.

For the record, Seven has changed the way my body looks significantly already. My legs are more cut, I’ve sprouted some abs, my triceps look awesome, and my butt has lifted noticeably. Al my major muscles are firmer. I’m pleased with those things, but I notice I’m not wobbly when I get up or down from the floor now and I certainly feel stronger — not like when I used to lift, but like things aren’t going to give out.

Did I mention I was in really bad shape?

Seriously, my step tracker showed that on an average day I only get 3000 steps. When I went to the park to walk 3 miles I still would only get 7-8000. It’s bad.

Most exercise isn’t good for weight loss, and Seven is no exception. While it isn’t going to help you loose weight, but it is GREAT for general fitness, and it does help with maintenance. But HICT is not good for everything. You still need cardio, which I hate.

So over the past few weeks I’ve been doing more research. It turns out that steady state cardio for more than 45 minutes at a time is actually detrimental to weight loss. It causes blood sugar to drop, making you hungrier, and if you go too long it makes your body switch over into eat-itself mode, destroying any muscles gains. This makes total sense to me! Look at all the people huffing on the treadmill at the gym for hours at a time with no change. They are overdoing their cardio.

How Much Cardio Is Too Much? Things No One Has Told You about Cardio

So, that’s how I decided to do C25k. The program gets you from being a nonrunner (actually I’m anti-running) and ready for a 5k in 8 weeks. This sounds impossible to me. I watched some video blogs online and got inspired. Some of these folks are really, really out of shape but they end up able to complete a 5k by sticking with the program.

This girl, Vaya, was particularly helpful:

So I’m trying it.

My goal is to run a 5k in October sometime.

So today I decided to start the program.  Today the run/walk was 60 minutes of “running” and 90 minutes of walking.  I ran the first 60 and felt great.

Second 60 also good.

Third 60 tried to pace myself a little better because I was getting fatigued and I could see I was going a lot faster than the run-a-couple-of-miles-at-lunch dudes at the park.

Fourth 60, I had to stop half way and walk.  Bummer.  I was getting discouraged and thought I might not make it.

Fifth 60.  Did fine.

Sixth 60.  Also fine.

I was so shocked when the “One Minute left” alert came up — how could this be?  Sure enough, I had in fact done the whole course and survived!

The track near my house is 3/4 mile, and I did 3 circuits, or 2 1/4 miles running/walking.  I am still flabbergasted.

Now, it was difficult.  Very difficult.  I need to learn to pace myself and relax my shoulders.  And I could NOT have done it without the playlist I spent an hour making this morning.  But, wow, I did it.  Maybe there is hope that even I could run a 5k!

Observations on the minutes of the first meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

My kids are growing older and in a few years my youngest will be out of the house. I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the next 40 years or so of my life. It’s no easy task. I have a lot of interest in many things, but I haven’t worked in the field of my degree for nearly 15 years now. I have interests in design and diplomacy, but I’m not really sure if I want to pursue those or not. The one thing I have steadily studied since high school is church history and doctrine, even through college and babies and moves and family difficulties. The University of Virginia set up a Chair for Mormon Studies, and I am starting to think maybe I’ll pursue a Masters Degree there. The hubs is also considering an MBA or Masters in Technology Management. Maybe we will take off a few years and be students for a while….

Anyway, I picked up a copy of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, and I have been reading it and writing all over it. I’ve been following up on the footnotes and reading up on little tidbits that strike me as interesting, too. I’ve decided that I might blog about my observances to see if this is really something I’m interested in pursuing a Masters in or not. I’m not really interested in starting a dialogue, so comments will probably stay off, but I figure the writing practice might give me an indicator whether this pursuit is for me or not.

I’m going to record my observations regarding at least some of the first meetings of the Relief Society minutes to try getting my feet wet. Though I’ve blogged on and off for years, I don’t expect anyone to actually read this material but I do want to make some attempts at expressing my thoughts in writing.

Also I need to figure out how to do footnotes in WordPress……..

Observations on the minutes of the first meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

A Record of the

Organization, and Proceedings of

The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.

Nauvoo Lodge Room

March 17th 1842.

The Lodge Room was located in Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store. This building was completed 1841 and had only recently opened for business on 5 Jan. 1842. It was a large assembly room used for both religious and civic purposes, such as theatrical productions and municipal court. In this room just two days earlier, on 15 March Joseph Smith had become a Master Mason (equivalent to a 33rd degree, see About six weeks later on 5 May, the a partial endowment — a precursor to the full temple ritual — was given to nine men. (See and

Occasionally critics decry and members are surprised by Masonry’s influence on Mormonism. While these influences definitely exist, they are often overstated. Joseph was probably not ever an active Mason is only known to have attended three meetings at the Masonic temple in Nauvoo. Though he had friends and family who were Masons like John C. Bennett, his father, brother Hyrum, Orson Whitney and others (See, Joseph chose to go through the ritual himself to become a Mason. Why? Had Joseph wished to lift the Masonic ritual for use in the temple, he could have pressed his relations for information, claimed it was “inspiration” from an “apostate endowment” in which he had never participated, and revealed such to his membership. Further, why the additional building requirement? The full Masonic rituals could be performed in his lodge. Why wait for a temple? And why include women? Joseph had never needed authority outside of God for starting his own church or writing his own book of scripture. Why did he now require the Masonic Lodge to be set up by local Masons? The arrogant, demagogue Joseph of critical literature would have just started his own Lodge, added some Josephisms, invited the women, and moved on. This didn’t happen, so again, why Masonry?

I surmise that Joseph had known for some time that temple ordinances were pending and was anxious to have them revealed. He had learned from Masonic friends and family that Masonry claimed linked to Solomon’s ancient temple, that Masonry united men in fraternities, and that powerful men outside of Mormonism were Masons. All of these, no doubt, combined to make Joseph interested in Masonry. His lack of interest in Masonic ceremonies thereafter might be supportive of the argument that Joseph believed that Masonry does actually have an apostate form of endowment — had he believed anything else (that the fraternization aspects would be useful or that the connection to Solomon’s temple was real or close) I would expect him to have participated more frequently. Certainly Joseph’s lack of Masonic experience weakens the argument that he learned or memorized the ritual and then reproduced or adapted it for the temple endowment ceremonies. Joseph was elevated “on sight” to the degree of Master Mason. This is a high honor and unusual event (, usually offered to men who have been Masons for many years. Though bestowed this high rank, Joseph did not have the experience, knowledge, or understanding typical of a Master Mason.

One could argue that Joseph’s inexperience with Masonry led to the adaptations for the temple endowment — he didn’t know the symbols or their meaning and perverted them. That is every bit as reasonable an argument as mine that his inexperience shows a lack of interest once he had experienced the Masonic ritual. Unfortunately there isn’t clear evidence either way. Joseph may have decided afterward to adapt Masonic ritual forms for the presentation of the endowment, but … so?

Irrespective, Joseph’s temple endowment (which which emphasizes male-female cooperative eternal exaltation) far surpasses the Masonic ritual (which emphasizes male fraternity for enrichment through commerce) in scope.

Though Joseph attended only three Masonic meetings, he attended nine meetings of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, participating in six. It would be difficult to say for certain, but based on his training of the women he seemed to place a heavy emphasis on the role of the Society in the a group as a collection of morally upstanding women who actively sought to stamp out immoral behaviors. The training emphasis on morality — and later secret-keeping — during his presentations to the Society seems to show that Joseph saw the Relief Society as something preparatory for the coming temple endowment.

Present— President Joseph Smith, John Taylor, Willard Richards, Emma Smith and others.

Elder John Taylor was call’d to the chair by Prest. Smith, and elder W. Richards appointed Secretary,

Meeting commenced by singing “The spirit of God like a fire is burning” &c.— Prayer by elder Taylor.

The meeting was called to order by Joseph Smith. Prayers and the majority of speaking were done by men. The very structure of the meeting and the location emphasizes that this group is being organized under the authority of the priesthood. The minutes correlate with Sarah M. Kimball’s 1883 autobiography recorded in the Women’s Exponent thus: “In the summer of 1843 a maiden lady Miss Cooke was seamstress for me and the subject of combining our efforts for assisting the Temple hands came up in conversation. She desired to be helpful but had no means to furnish. I told her I would furnish material if she would make some shirts fey the workmen. It was then suggested that some of our neighbors might wish to combine means and efforts with ours and we decided to invite a few to come and consult with us on the subject of forming a Ladies’ Society. The neighboring sisters met in my parlor and decided to organize. I was delegated to call on Sister Eliza R. Snow and ask her to write for us a Constitution and By and submit them to President Joseph Smith prior to our next Thursday’s meeting. She cheerfully responded and when she read them to him he replied that the Constitution and By-laws were the best he had ever seen. But he said ‘this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord and he has something better for them than a written Constitution. I invite them all to meet with me and a few of the brethren in the Masonic Hall over my store next Thursday afternoon and I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood.’ He further said’ The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.’ He wished to have Sister Emma Smith elected to preside in fulfillment of the revelation which called her an Elect Lady.” (The Woman’s Exponent 1883-09-01 vol. 12 no. 7)

When it was mov’d by Prest. Smith and seconded by Mrs. Sarah Kingsley Cleveland, that a vote be taken to know if all are satisfied with each female present; and are willing to acknowledge them in full fellowship, and admit them to the privileges of the Institution about to be formed.

This emphasis on good feeling between members hearkens to the future endowment.

The names of those present were then taken as follows

Mrs Emma Smith

Mrs. Sarah M. Cleveland Bathsheba W. Smith
Phebe Ann Hawkes Phebe M. Wheeler
Elizabeth Jones Elvira A. Coles
Sophia Packard Margaret A Cook
Philinda Merrick Athalia Robinson
Martha Knights Sarah M. Kimball
Desdemona Fulmer Eliza R. Snow
Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney Sophia Robinson
Leonora Taylor Nancy Rigdon

Sophia R. Marks

Prest. Smith, & Elders Taylor and Richads withdrew while the females went into an investigation of the motion, and decided that all present, be admitted according to the motion, and that

Mrs. Sarah Ward Higbee
Thirza Stiles Cahoon
Kezia A. Morrison
Miranda N. Johnson Hyde
Abigail Allred
Mary Snider
Sarah Granger

should be admitted; whose names were presented by Prest. Smith.

At the Society’s organization, none of the founding women were yet plurally married to Joseph Smith.

Women present who later became plural wives were Sarah Kingsley Cleveland, Eliza Rocxy Snow, Elvira Annie Cowles, and Desdemona Fuller. Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde was not present at this meeting but is listed as a founding member. She later became a plural wife of Joseph Smith as well. (See Brian Hales’ Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Volume 2: History, Evidence of Plural Marriages, Appendix B)

You could draw a reasonable conclusion that some women from the Relief Society who proved their mettle were then brought in to the holy order of marriage based on their comportment in these preparatory meetings. Though men received endowments as early as May 1842, Emma Smith and other women did not receive them until September 1843 (

Prest. Smith, & Elders Taylor & Richards return’d and the meeting was address’d by Prest. Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society— that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor— searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants— to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c. in their public teaching.

Prest. Smith further remark’d that an organization to show them how to go to work would be sufficient. He propos’d that the Sisters elect a presiding officer to preside over them, and let that presiding officer choose two Counsellors to assist in the duties of her Office— that he would ordain them to preside over the Society— and let them preside just as the Presidency, preside over the church; and if they need his instruction— ask him, he will give it from time to time.

Contrast this instruction with the instruction to men ordained to Priesthood in D&C 20. Where there is a clear comparison between instructions I have tried to indicate it below:

Society Priesthood Office
the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor

11 Therefore, verily I say unto you, that it is expedient for my servants Edward Partridge and Newel K. Whitney, A. Sidney Gilbert and Sidney Rigdon, and my servant Joseph Smith, and John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, and W. W. Phelps and Martin Harris to be bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression, except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships—

12 To manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion and in the land of Kirtland; (D&C 82:11–12)

searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants

46 The priest’s duty is to … visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties. (D&C 20: 46–47)

to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community


teach the female part of the community


expound scriptures to all

53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;

54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;

55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.

59 They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ. (D&C 20: 53–53, 59)

46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,

47And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties. (D&C 20: 46–47)

save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c. in their public teaching

41 An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons;

40 And to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—

41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;

42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;

43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;

44 And to take the lead of all meetings.

45 The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.

61 The several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint;

62 And said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time. (D&C 20:41–45, 61–62)

the Sisters elect a presiding officer to preside over them, and let that presiding officer choose two Counsellors to assist in the duties of her Office— that he would ordain them to preside over the Society

An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; (D&C 20:39)

Note in the above the differing assignments given to women in the Society and to those holding priesthood office. Where priesthood minister to “the church”, “each member”, and “all”, members of the Society are instructed to direct their attention to assist the Elders “by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community”. Regarding charitable works, however, while priests are instructed to minister to each member, women are under no such restriction. They may seek out object of charity in any place, in or out of the church.

The presiding officer chooses counselors, but they are ordained by Joseph himself, not by other members of the Society or its officers. It is clear from this that the officers were not see to have authority to ordain others to equal or lesser office, even within the Society, unlike Priesthood holders.

Let this Presidency serve as a constitution— all their decisions be considered law; and acted upon as such.

Following the pattern of the priesthood for the Relief Society organization, instruction was given that leader instructions were given primacy, rather than a written constitution. The decisions of the presiding officers are to be followed “just as the [First] Presidency preside over the church”.

If any Officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the Institution, let them be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers &c. are among us.

This sentence does not mean that female deacons and teachers are among us, but that Deacons and Teachers are present in Nauvoo and can be called upon to set apart officers in the the group as needed.

Noting the hierarchy of priesthood leadership in D&C 20, the fact that Deacons — the lowest office in the lower priesthood — can ordain women to office in the new society indicates its place in the relative hierarchy of the church structure. This may be offensive to some, however, it’s consistent from all evidence I can find that the new organization was intended to operate under or outside of the lower priesthood. This is consistent with the quotation above from Sarah M Kimball’s Auto-Biography: “[Joseph] will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood.”

The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon— your Constitution and law.

This instruction seems to indicate that once a decision has been made by presiding leaders, that is considered precedent for future actions, much as in a common law system. The Wikipedia describes this concept well: “A ‘common law system’ is a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law, so that consistent principles applied to similar facts yield similar outcomes. … In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, judges have the authority and duty to make law by creating precedent. Thereafter, the new decision becomes precedent, and will bind future courts.” (

Society leaders were expected to study the minutes of earlier meetings to determine how to handle future events consistently.

He then suggested the propriety of electing a Presidency to continue in office during good behavior, or so long as they shall continue to fill the office with dignity &c. like the first Presidency of the church.—

Motioned by Sister Whitney and seconded by Sister Packard that Mrs. Emma Smith be chosen President— passed unanimously—

Mov’d by Prest. Smith, that Mrs. Smith proceed to choose her Counsellors, that they may be ordain’d to preside over this Society, in taking care of the poor— administering to their wants, and attending to the various affairs of this Institution.

The role of counselor is to preside over the society in taking care of the poor and administering to their wants. They also administers to the various affairs of the Society.

The Presidentess Elect, then made choice of Mrs. Sarah M. Cleveland and Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Whitney for Counsellors—

President Smith read the Revelation to Emma Smith, from the book of Doctrine and Covenants; and stated that she was ordain’d at the time, the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.— The 2d Epistle of John, 1st verse, was then read to show that respect was then had to the same thing; and that why she was called an Elect lady is because, elected to preside.

The relevant verses are D&C 25:3: “Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.” and 2 John 1:1: “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.”

Emma was instructed to expound scriptures to all and teach the female part of the community. These blessings are not limited to her alone, but others may also have the same.

Elder Taylor was then appointed to ordain the Counsellors— he laid his hands on the head of Mrs Cleveland and ordain’d her to be a Counsellor to the Elect Lady, even Mrs. Emma Smith, to counsel, and assist her in all things pertaining to her office &c.

Elder T. then laid his hands on the head of Mrs. Whitney and ordain’d her to be a Counsellor to Mrs. Smith, the Prest. of the Institution— with all the privileges pertaining to the office &c.

He then laid his hands on the head of Mrs. Smith and blessed her, and confirm’d upon her all the blessings which have been confer’d on her, that she might be a mother in Israel and look to the wants of the needy, and be a pattern of virtue; and possess all the qualifications necessary for her to stand and preside and dignify her Office, to teach the females those principles requisite for their future usefulness.

Note that Emma was not ordained, unlike her counselors. Emma had already been ordained to this office as an Elect Lady in 1830 as recorded in D&C 25. She does not need to be ordained to an office that she already holds, but she receives an additional blessing to aid her in carrying out the responsibilities of that office.

Prest. Smith then resumed his remarks and gave instruction how to govern themselves in their meetings— when one wishes to speak, address the chair— and the chairman responds to the address.

Should two speak at once, the Chair shall decide who speaks first, if any one is dissatisfied, she appeals to the house—

When one has the floor, occupies as long as she pleases.

Proper manner of address is Mrs. Chairman or President and not Mr. Chairman &c.

A question can never be put until it has a second

When the subject for discussion has been fairly investigated; the Chairman will say, are you ready for the question? &c.

Whatever the majority of the house decide upon becomes a law to the Society.

Above Joseph offers the Society a brief training on Parliamentary procedure, which should govern the proceedings in Society meetings.

Prest. Smith proceeded to give counsel— do not injure the character of any one— if members of the Society shall conduct improperly, deal with them, and keep all your doings within your own bosoms, and hold all characters sacred—

The Society is not to deal with impropriety publicly. They should keep even the character of evil-doers sacred. Today we’d say, “no gossiping”.

It was then propos’d that Elder Taylor vacate the chair.

Prest. Emma Smith and her Counsellors took the chair, and

Now that the new officers have been installed, they take the leadership position, or chair. This means that all communication is now directed to the chair by the Parliamentary procedures described above.

Elder Taylor mov’d— secd by Prest. J. Smith that we go into an investigation respecting what this Society shall be call’d— which was

carried unanimously

Prest. Smith continued instructions to the Chair to suggest to the members anything the chair might wish, and which it might not be proper for the chair to put, or move &c.

Emma and counselors are trained a bit more in Parliamentary procedure.

Mov’d by Counsellor Cleveland, and secon’d by Counsellor Whitney, that this Society be called The Nauvoo Female Relief Society.

Elder Taylor offered an amendment, that it be called The Nauvoo Female Benevolent Society which would give a more definite and extended idea of the Institution— that Relief be struck out and Benevolent inserted.

Prest. Smith offer’d instruction on votes— The motion was seconded by Counsellor Cleveland and unanimously carried, on the amendment by Elder Taylor.

The Prest. then suggested that she would like an argument with Elder Taylor on the words Relief and Benevolence.

In the above discussion, Sister Cleveland suggested a name for the Society, The Nauvoo Female Relief Society. Elder Taylor suggested a different name, The Nauvoo Female Benevolent Society, because he thinks that the word benevolent gives a more definite and extended idea of what the Society is to accomplish. Sister Cleveland, in the way of women, agrees, seconds Taylor’s motion, and the vote is unanimously carried.

But wait! Emma doesn’t like the phrasing and wants more discussion on the terms relief and benevolent. It is possible that Emma, new to rules of order, did not know when to express her disagreement. She may have decided after hearing the name aloud that it was not a good one. Either way, she desired more discussion on the topic.

Prest. J. Smith mov’d that the vote for amendment, be rescinded, which was carried—

Modeling Parliamentary procedure, Joseph helps Emma rescind the vote so that more discussion can ensue.

Motion for adjournment by Elder Richards and objected by Prest. J. Smith.—

Everytime I read this I want to laugh out loud! No doubt anticipating a fight, Elder Richards calls for the meeting to be adjourned, but Joseph objects. He, too, prefers the word benevolent, but he is willing to entertain discussion on the matter. I think this speaks to Joseph and Emma’s relationship — while Joseph knows that Emma is firm, he also knows that she can be counted on to conduct herself with deportment and propriety. He does not fear her or her ideas. He is also modeling for the women how to deliberate in a meeting when multiple opinions are expressed.

Prest. J. Smith— Benevolent is a popular term— and the term Relief is not known among popular Societies— Relief is more extended in its signification than Benevolent and might extend to the liberation of the culprit— and might be wrongly construed by our enemies to say that the Society was to relieve criminals from punishment &c. &c— to relieve a murderer, which would not be a benevolent act—

Let’s compare the 1828 Webster’s dictionary definitions of the words benevolent and relief.

Benevolent has but one definition: having a disposition to do good; possessing love to mankind, and a desire to promote their prosperity and happiness; kind. Relief, on the other hand, has several meanings. The relevant ones with their position in the dictionary are listed below:

1. The removal, in whole or in part, of any evil that afflicts the body of mind; the removal or alleviation of pain, grief, want, care, anxiety, toil or distress, or of any thing oppressive or burdensome, by which some ease is obtained. Rest gives relief to the body when weary; an anodyne gives relief from pain; the sympathy of friends affords some relief to the distressed; a loan of money to a man embarrassed may afford him a temporary relief; medicines which will not cure a disease, sometimes give a partial relief A complete relief from the troubles of life is never to be expected.

2. That which mitigates or removes pain, grief or other evil.

3. The dismission of a sentinel from his post, whose place is supplied by another soldier; also, the person who takes his place.

7. A remedy, partial or total, for any wrong suffered; redress; indemnification. He applied to chancery, but could get no relief He petitioned the legislature and obtained relief

(Okay, maybe #3 is a stretch, but I like it in terms of the Relief Society — the Society is ready to stand in for someone who has tired in performance of their duty so that they can return to their post rested and ready to fight/defend again.)

Joseph and Elder Taylor have a point about the word relief. Given Joseph’s extensive experience with the law, he is probably sensitive to the use of the term. He may fear that people will think he has organized a society to help him escape the law or avoid punishment for any of the many lawsuits and criminal proceedings in which he was frequently involved. Though this is not the most common, or even sixth-most common, use of the word, Joseph’s objections indicate how the word has been most often used in his experience.

Consider, though, that while benevolent indicates a character trait, relief describes an action.

Prest. Emma Smith, said the popularity of the word benevolent is one great objection— no person can think of the word as associated with public Institutions, without thinking of the Washingtonian Benevolent Society which was one of the most corrupt Institutions of the day— do not wish to have it call’d after other Societies in the world—

I’m pretty confident that Emma refers here to the temperance movement called Washingtonians. The goal of that group and its societies was the reform of drunkards and helping their families. The group was distinctly a-religious and did not invite pastors or other religious leaders to participate because the religious element kept potential converts away. Meetings of the societies were testimonial style, similar to the Alchoholics meetings of today. Women’s benevolent societies often cropped up in connection with Washingtonian societies. The movement was probably beginning its decline in 1842. It’s unclear what Emma’s objections to the group were, but the groups were loosely organized and enjoyed limited success. “Some societies take none but those who have lately made, sold, or used intoxicating liquors – others receive all except children under a certain age – others receive even children with the consent of their parents or guardians.” ( ) Members of the Washingtonians often traveled from city to city as missionaries to recruit members and were not of the more desirable elements of society. Some of the members could not maintain their total abstinence pledge, despite being officers in the Society. At least one member who relapsed committed suicide ( In 1844, a member remarked that “The open infidelity, and radicalism, and abuse of ministers, by some reform-speakers had kindled up in many minds an opposition to all temperance effort, especially on the Sabbath”. There is an exhaustive library of information regarding the Washingtonians at

Some have speculated that Emma was referring to the Washington Benevolent Society, which was an electioneering group formed by the Federalist Party to influence votes in the early 1800s. I find it more likely Emma is referring to the contemporary Washingtonians, which would have been making news in the press of the day.

Prest. J. Smith arose to state that he had no objection to the word Relief— that on question they ought to deliberate candidly and investigate all subjects.

Joseph may not be married to the word relief, but he is married to Emma :)

Counsellor Cleveland arose to remark concerning the question before the house, that we should not regard the idle speech of our enemies— we design to act in the name of the Lord— to relieve the wants of the distressed, and do all the good we can.—

Sister Cleveland revisits her preference to relief, emphasizing the action implied by its use.

Eliza R. Snow arose and said that she felt to concur with the President, with regard to the word Benevolent, that many Societies with which it had been associated, were corrupt,— that the popular Institutions of the day should not be our guide— that as daughters of Zion, we should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which had been heretofore pursued— one objection to the word Relief is, that the idea associated with it is that of some great calamity— that we intend appropriating on some extraordinary occasions instead of meeting the common occurrences—

Perhaps predictably, Eliza supports Joseph’s use of benevolent. It’s interesting that she objects to the word relief because it implies too much action. She seems to fear that the group will step outside its bounds and insert itself into major catastrophes and neglect the smaller acts of kindness.

Prest. Emma Smith remark’d— we are going to do something extraordinary— when a boat is stuck on the rapids with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief— we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls—

Fearless, and perhaps influenced by some of the big thinking her husband frequently enjoins, Emma welcomes the challenge of an emergency or crisis. She expects these things and plans for the Society to be prepared to meet them.

Elder Taylor arose and said— I shall have to concede the point— your arguments are so potent I cannot stand before them— I shall have to give way—

Prest. J. S. said I also shall have to concede the point, all I shall have to give to the poor, I shall give to this Society—

One can only imagine the fervor with which Emma must have spoken that convinced the men to follow her preference. Joseph shows his confidence in her leadership by committing to give all the funds he has to give to the poor to the Society for its use.

Counsellor Whitney mov’d, that this Society be call’d The Nauvoo Female Relief Society— second. by Counsellor Cleveland—

E. R. Snow offer’d an amendment by way of transposition of words, instead of The Nauvoo Female Relief Society, it shall be call’d The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo— Seconded by Prest. J. Smith and carried—The previous question was then put— Shall this Society be call’d The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo?— carried unanimously.—

Wisely, and perhaps now seeing Emma’s expansive vision for the Society, Eliza suggests a slight name change from The Nauvoo Female Relief Society to The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Removing the Society’s locale to the end of the name makes it easier for other organizations in other locations to form similar societies.

Or maybe she just thought it sounded better. Who knows?

Prest. J. Smith— I now declare this Society organiz’d with President and Counsellors &c. according to Parliamentary usages— and all who shall hereafter be admitted into this Society must be free from censure and receiv’d by vote—

Originally the Society did not admit all females who wished to join. Members were received by the vote of current members.

Prest. J. Smith offered— $5.00 in gold piece to commence the funds of the Institution.

Prest. Emma Smith requested that the gentlemen withdraw before they proceed to the choice of Secretary and Treasurer, as was mov’d by Prest. J. Smith—

Willard Richards. Secty.

The gentlemen withdrew when it was Motioned and second. and unanimously pass’d that Eliza R. Snow be appointed Secretary, and Phebe M. Wheeler, Assistant Secretary——

Motioned, second. and carried unanimly. that Elvira A. Coles be appointed Treasurer—

Prest. E. Smith then arose and proceeded to make appropriate remarks on the object of the Society— its duties to others also its relative duties to each other Viz. to seek out and relieve the distressed— that each member should be ambitious to do good— that the members should deal frankly with each other— to watch over the morals— and be very careful of the character and reputation— of the members of the Institution &c.

Emma reiterates the charitable purposes of the society and that the membership must be women of good reputation. Interpersonal dealings should be frank, or straightforward and honest, but not rude.

P. A. Hawkes— Question— What shall we reply to interrogatories relative to the object of this Society?

Prest. E. Smith replied— for charitable purposes.

This is perhaps the most interesting event in the entire document. Though having both Joseph and Emma explain that the purposes of the organization were for relieving the distressed and aiding the poor, Sister Hawkes still wants to know how she should answer when someone asks about the secret society she has just joined. Why? There must have been no small amount of talk about what Joseph had planned for the women. Could he have been telling the women he planned to build a “kingdom of priests” among them? Were there indications that the Society was a precursor to the temple endowment? Knowing the Society was organized after the pattern of the priesthood, might there have been there some confusion about the relative status of the organization? In later meetings Joseph requests that nonmembers of the Society leave so that he can offer instruction only to its membership. Explosive growth of the organization might indicate that prospective members came seeking this additional special knowledge and instruction.

Mov’d and pass’d that Cynthia Ann Eldridge be admitted as a member of this Society—

Coulr. Sarah M. Cleveland donated to the fund of the Society



Sarah M. Kimball do



Prest. Emma Smith do



Counlr. E. A. Whitney do


Prest. E. Smith said that Mrs. Merrick is a widow— is industrious— performs her work well, therefore recommend her to the patronage of such as wish to hire needlework— those who hire widows must be prompt to pay and inasmuch as some have defrauded the laboring widow of her wages, we must be upright and deal justly—

When Emma invites the membership to provide work, rather than money, to a widow in need, the work of the Relief Society is begun.

The business of the Society concluded— the gentlemen before mentioned return’d—,

Elder Richards appropriated to the fund of the Society, the sum of

$ 1,


Elder Taylor do



Elder T. then arose and address’d the Society by saying that he is much gratified in seeing a meeting of this kind in Nauvoo— his heart rejoices when he sees the most distinguished characters, stepping forth in such a cause, which is calculated to bring into exercise every virtue and give scope to the benevolent feelings of the female heart— he rejoices to see this Institution organiz’d according to the law of Heaven— according to a revelation previously given to Mrs E. Smith appointing her to this important calling— and to see all things moving forward in such a glorious manner— his prayer is that the blessings of God and the peace of heaven may rest on this Institution henceforth——

The organization of the Society was recognized by leaders as fulfillment of the promise for women to preside over organizations, and to expound scriptures within the church. Though benevolent societies were common in the day, this one was authorized by priesthood authority with a new pattern (no Constitution) under which to operate. Thought it had charitable purposes like other similar organizations, this Society also had a doctrinal teaching purpose for women.

The Choir then sang “Come let us rejoice in the day of salvation &c.

Motion’d, that this meeting adjourn to next week, thursday, ten o’clock— A M.

The meeting then arose and was dismiss’d by prayer by Elder Taylor.—

Men prayed at many Relief Society meetings.

72 hour kit information updated

I received an email from a viewer the other day pointing out that there were some bad links on my Emergency Preparedness page on 72-hour kits over at  I wrote that article what seems like a hundred years ago and haven’t thought about it in ages.  It was good to get some feedback and a reminder to keep updating some of these old bad links.

Or webmasters could do the right thing and include legacy links for their sites…..


Even I’m bad to forget to updates links as the old URLs change, though I have worked over the years to correct them as someone points them out to me.  If you see a bad link, please let me know.  I try to update things as I have time.