2017 Mutual Theme Bracelets NOW IN STOCK!!!!!

I am so so so so so excited about next year’s mutual theme bracelet!  It takes everything that made the 2016 bracelet awesome, improved it, and suits the theme even more perfectly!  After all the excitement last year with bracelets, I ordered several thousand of the 2017 mutual theme bracelet to stock before New Beginnings with the hope that I can ship faster and avoid causing any YW leaders unneeded stress.

2017 Mutual Theme Bracelet Details:

The 2017 Mutual Theme is “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5–6).

  • img_1314Customers were concerned that the 7.5 inch length of the 2016 bracelet was too big for some Beehives.  We listened, and the 2017 mutual theme bracelet is 7 inches from end to end, and is adjustable expands to 8.5 inches.
  • Suede leather straps – High quality sueded leather straps add a touch of class to these gorgeous bracelets.
  • Owl charm – Okay, this owl is cute, and he represents the statement “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”
  • Faith tag  – “Ask in faith”
  • Flat Braided straps — Because He “upbraideth not”!
  • Anchor charm – “nothing wavering, For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
  • Personal Progress colors – Knowledge is green, and so we chose green as the color for these bracelets.
  • Bracelet kits – coming in early 2017: bracelet kits!  If you want to assemble bracelets yourself at camp, you can supply your own cording in any color and use our charms and findings to make awesome theme bracelets!  This was a popular customer request last year.

Now you know why I’m so excited!  The 2017 mutual theme bracelets are just gorgeous beyond all reason!

Order bracelets now in my Etsy store, or you can get them at MormonShare’s 2017 Mutual Theme Bracelet.

C25k Week 6 day 1 – Second Time

Well it’s been a little crazy around here, but I’m still running. During weeks 3 and 4, we had terrible rainstorms that kept me inside, and my daughter ended up in the emergency room with abdominal pain that turned out to be mono. She was home for a week, and I ended up behind a few days. The rain and a vacation kept me down, too, but I was super happy two weeks ago to have completed Week 5 day 3! To my surprise I was able to run the entire 20 minutes with only one brief 45 second or so walk at about the 15 minute mark. I was slow, but I did it!

At some point around week 4 I downloaded Map my Run and have been using it to track as well. It makes me feel terrible about myself, honestly. I’ve had a private goal of doing the whole 5k in 30 minutes, but I am not even close. My average speed is about 12 minutes/mile, though occasionally when the MMR checks me while I’m running I am doing under 9 minutes a mile. Looking back on it, I think I will stop using the MMR app and just stick with C25k. It’s easier for me to get lost in the run and music when I am not worried about my pace. I’ve been struggling with stopping during the shorter, preparatory runs even though before I started using MMR I didn’t have any trouble running 8 minutes at a time. I think that having my pace called out to me makes me run faster than I’m really comfortable (or capable) of doing, and so I get tired too fast. I’ve decided to repeat week 6, which is what I did today, and on Wednesday I’ll run without the MMR going. I’m just going to get back to the goal of finishing running for the amount of time, rather than hitting a time goal yet. If there ever comes a time when I’m comfortable running for 30-40 minutes straight, I can work on the timing.

My friend invited me to do water aerobics with her the other day at the new gym. I like being in the pool, but water aerobics feels a whole lot silly to me. It wasn’t particularly difficult either, and though sometimes the arm movements were challenging, I felt nothing afterward – no soreness or even stiffness to remind me I had worked out. I kind of like to feel like I did something when I work out. I don’t want to be in pain, really, but I do like to remember I did it. I may sign up to go use the weights there while she goes in the pool. I could certainly use some more strength.

I’ve gained a couple of pounds the last few weeks. I’m not over my Weight Watchers goal weight yet, but I’m being very careful this week to stay on track. My daughter was on a high carb diet for her nausea, and I ended up eating what she did for a week, which increased my sugar cravings. It’s been difficult to stay on track the past week or so. Luckily the running has helped cancel out some of my not-as-good choices. Last weekend we went to the mountains for our annual Columbus Day trip, and I was careful to fix healthy food with only a few indulgences, like sweet potato pie, etc. We did have Southern Kitchen’s famous fried chicken the one day, which really, if you can’t have that on occassion, life is just not worth living. :) I’ll go to the grocery store in a few minutes to pick out some of my favorite healthy stuff again to get stocked up for the next week.

Pray Light Switch Covers

Wanna know what I made today?  14 light switch plates for a customer!  These glow in the dark and are great reminders for youth (and adults) to remember to pray!  Turn off the lights, and the word “Pray” is illuminated!  Get the Pray Light Switch Cover here!


Did you think to pray light switch covers available at http://www.mormonshare.com/lds-bookstore/lds-accessories/pray-light-switch-cover


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 Second Meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

Well, I suppose it is not necessary to beat myself up about that last post, but it was pretty bad. I bounced between doctrine and history — not sure how to differentiate between the two or if it really matters in terms of this experiment. I know the links are not to original sources in most cases and that some of them are anti sites, but at least I’m trying to cite. I don’t really do the MLA stuff, but I suppose I’ll have to cave and learn to do that. Sigh. There’s gotta be a plugin for that somewhere…..

I wrote a message to my friend the other day with some questions I have about priesthood keys, authority, and such. I only succeeded in confusing him. Though he’s more knowledgeable than the average person about doctrine, I did not do a good job giving him the background he needed to answer my questions. I will try to do that better in this post.

The Red Brick Store

The Red Brick Store

Yeah, there’s a long way to go….

Observations Take Two

Minutes of the proceedings of the Second Meeting of the Society.

Lodge Room

The walls of the second level of the Red Brick Store were painted with garden-themed murals, the rooms fitted with carpets, potted plants, and a veil hung from the ceiling. (See http://signaturebooks.com/quorum-of-the-anointed/)  The front three windows on the upper floor open into the Lodge Room where Relief Society meetings were held.

March 24th 1842.

Meeting open’d with singing “How pleas’d and blest was I” &c.—1 Prayer by Prest. Emma Smith.

Emma was instructed to compile a book of hymns in 1829.  The revelation is recorded in D&C 25:11–12.  See the lyrics of this tune found in Emma’s 1835 hymnbook online at http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/collection-of-sacred-hymns-1835?p=116

Hymn 84 • How pleased and blest was I
HYMN 84. P. M.

1 How pleased and blest was I,
To hear the people cry,
“Come, let us seek our God today!”
Yes, with a cheerful zeal,
We’ll haste to Zion’s hill,
And there our vows and honors pay.

2 Zion, thrice happy place,
Adorn’d with wondrous grace,
And walls of strength embrace thee round!
In thee our tribes appear,
To pray, and praise, and hear
The sacred gospel’s joyful sound

3 There David’s greater Son
Has fix’d his royal throne;
He sits for grace and judgment there:
He bids the saint be glad,
He makes the sinner sad,
And humble souls rejoice with fear.

4 May peace attend thy gate,
And joy within thee wait,
To bless the soul of every guest:
The man that seeks thy peace,
And wishes thine increase,
A thousand blessings on him rest!

5 My tongue repeats her vows,
“Peace to this sacred house!
For here my friends and kindred dwell:”
And since my glorious God
Makes thee his blest abode,
My soul shall ever love thee well.

I like the preface Emma penned for the volume: “In order to sing by the Spirit, and with the understanding, it is necessary that the church of the Latter Day Saints should have a collection of ‘Sacred Hymns,’ adapted to their faith and belief in the gospel, and, as far as can be, holding forth the promises made to the fathers who died in the precious faith of a glorious resurrection, and a thousand years’ reign on earth with the Son of Man in his glory. Notwithstanding the church, as it were, is still in its infancy, yet, as the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, it is sincerely hoped that the following collection, selected with an eye single to his glory, may answer every purpose till more are composed, or till we are blessed with a copious variety of the songs of Zion.”

Prest. E. Smith then rose and said that measures to promote union in this Society must be carefully attended to— that every member should be held in full fellowship— as a society, hop’d they would divest themselves of every jealousy and evil feeling toward each other, if any such existed— that we should bring our conduct into respectability, here & eveery where else— said she rejoic’d in the prospect before her——.

Prest. E. Smith continued by saying, that those wishing to join the Society could have the privilege—

Mov’d, seconded & unanimously carried that the following persons be receiv’d as members of this Society— to wit.

K [blank] [Catherine] Walker,
Jane Law
Elizabeth Eldridge
Mary Woolley
Cirinda Murrill
Agnes Smith
Sarah Hillman
Sarah Brown
Sarah Roberts
Fanny F. [Maria] Huntington
Mercy Thompson
Sarah Ann Higbee
Eunice Wilber [Wilbur]
Elizabeth [Davis] Durfee
Louisa Beman
Elizabeth Hills
Diantha Billings
Emeline Corlin [Carling]
Vilote Kimlall [Vilate Kimball]
Lucy [Mack] Smith
Eliza Ann Mills
Lucy Millican [Millikin]|
Sophia F. Wilber
Zina Jacobs
Julia Ann Sessions
Sally Davis
Ma♢♢ Smith Lucy A. Munjar
Sabra Gribble
Mary Smith
Kezia A. Morrison
Martha [Patty] Sessions
Caroline Ballard
Elizabeth C. Lee
Melissa Dodge
[Mrs.] A [blank] P. Rockwood [Nancy Rockwood]
Katharine Wilkie
Hannah Mark[h]am
Elizabeth Allred
Cynthia Baggs
Cyrena Murrill [Merrill]
Loisa Follett
Sylva Lyons
Mary Jane Warner
Sarah Brown
Sarah Moon
Soloma Chapman
Abigail Leonard
Abigail Kelsey

Agnes Smith was a current plural wife of Joseph Smith. She was sealed to him in January 1842 after the death of her husband Don Carlos Smith, the prophet’s brother.  http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/plural-wives-overview/biographies-of-josephs-plural-wives/

Mrs. Mary Smith then rose and said the Institutution had her hearty concurrence— that nothing was more laudable than feeding the hungry, clothing the naked &c.— that she desired to aid in accomplishing objects so generous.

Mrs. Vilote Kimball said she had not fully understood what were the objects of the Institution but desired to be found aiding in every benevolent cause

Again — women joining this group were unsure about its purpose.  Very interesting.

Prest. E. Smith said, no one need feel delicate in reference to inquiries about this Society— there is nothing private— its objects are purely benevolent.

Membership was limited to women “approved” by the Society, which probably increased interest in it.  Understanding Joseph himself was involved with the formation may have increased interest in the society.  There may also have been hints in public discourse about temple-related purposes for the society.  Emma is addressing only the current state of the society: nothing private, benevolent purposes.  Certainly these were purposes of the society, however, the ultimate vision for the group was far larger.  (If I were doing this legit I’d plug in some supporting quotes.  These are just observations.  Maybe I’ll expand later.)

Though not excommunicated yet, John C. Bennett was at this time still among the Saints.  Bennett was excommunicated for adultery in May 1842 and left Nauvoo shortly thereafter.  His letter in August 6, 1842, to a The Louisville Daily Journal editor makes the claim that “Joe Smith has a secret lodge of women”.  The institution of a Masonic lodge in the same room for men just weeks before may have been an impetus for women to have interest in the society without a full understanding of what events were transpiring.  It’s hard to tell, however, because Bennett’s other statements about the Relief Society are hilariously wrong.  His use of the term “lodge” may have simply been intended to stir up anti-Mormon sentiment among Masons.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Bennett and http://www.truthandgrace.com/1842Bennett6.htm

Mother Lucy Smith arose and said she rejoic’d in view of what was doing—2 as she came in and look’d upon the sisters, it gave her feelings of deep interest— Wept— said she was advanc’d in years and could not stay long—3 hop’d the Lord would bless and aid the Society in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked— that her work was nearly done— felt to pray that the blessings of heaven might rest upon the Society.

Lucy’s name appears in the minutes of the Relief Society only three times.  Since the society did not keep an attendance roll, we don’t know how many meetings she attended for certain.  Though her health was failing, Lucy lived another 14 years past this meeting, dying in May 1856.

Prest. E. Smith rose and read from the Book of records, the proceedings of the first meeting of the Society— She then proceeded to read to the honorable body, a report, wherein Clarissa Marvel was accus’d of scandalous falsehoods on the character of Prest. Joseph Smith, without the least provocation, praying that they would in wisdom adopt some plan to bring her to repentance— said she presum’d that most of the Society knew more about Clarissa Marvel than herself——

Mrs. Agnes Smith said Clarissa Marvel had liv’d with her nearly a year— she had seen nothing amiss of her—

Clarissa and Agnes were roommates.  Joseph was sealed to Agnes in January in a levirate-style plural marriage.  According to notes in the First Fifty Years of Relief Society, Clarissa was cleared of wrong doing later when she signed a statement that she had never seen or “reported anything improper or unvirtuous in the conduct or conversation of eithe President Smith or Mrs. Agnes Smith.”  This note, dated April 2, 1842, was appended to the minutes of the September 28, 1842 minutes.  The document “in her own hand writing” (April 14 minutes) is signed with an ‘x’.  I don’t know if this is a common way of marking documents if you can read and write or not, or if it’s an indication that Clarissa could not write and simply marked a document prepared for her.

Frankly, it seems this roommate of a plural wife of Joseph Smith may have seen something and mentioned it to someone else. This alone does not approach apostasy, of course.  It could also be that someone else knew or saw something about Joseph’s relationship with Agnes and simply dropped Clarissa’s name as the source of the information.  Either way, investigation by the society determined Clarissa to be without fault.

You can’t help but feel sorry for Emma here.  She would be kept in the dark about polygamy for some time longer, though her friends and counselors in the Society knew about it.

Councillor [Elizabeth Ann] Whitney propos’d that some one be appointed to go and labor with her and if possible reform her——

Mov’d and carried that Mrs. Markam be one to go and converse with C. Marvel.

Mrs. Markam objected on the ground that she was unacquainted with the circumstances.

Prest. Smith said that would make no difference— she could attend to it— that it should be be done in a private manner, with great prudence—

Emma is a woman who gets what she wants and leads decisively.  Hannah is the wife of Stephen Markham, who was responsible for escorting Emma and her family from Far West to refuge in Quincy, Illinois, after the Missouri-Mormon War.  He held other prominent positions in public life in Nauvoo.  http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/stephen-markham

Mrs. Prest. continued, by saying that we intend to look into the morals of each other and watch over each other— that she intended to walk circumspectly and to shun the appearance of evil— all are required to be very careful in their words and actions at all times— said she believed Clarissa Marvel might be reform’d.

Mrs. Billings inquired if C. M. had parents.

Prest. Smith said she has no parents— she is under our care and observation— she needs friends——

Mrs. [Elizabeth] Jones enquired if the proceedings of this Society should be divulged out of the Society

Prest. Smith said all proceedings that regard difficulties should be kept among the members— as to the Institution, its objects are charitable— none can object to telling the good— the evil withhold— hoped all would feel themselves bound to observe this rule.

Councillor Whitney said she felt deeply interested— thought we could not take too much pains in this matter— to avoid all evil— We must avoid the appearance of evil— we must pray much for each other that we may succeed in the work before us and have wisdom given us in all our pursuits.——

Mother Lucy Smith said— this Institution is a good one— we must watch over ourselves— that she came into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to do good— to get good, and to get into the celestial kingdom. She said we must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.

Mrs. Hillman rose and said she was contemplating the blessings with which we were surrounded— the privileges of this Society— said she desir’d to be watch’d over and aided in the better performance of her duty.—

Prest. Smith said all who wish’d should have informatio[n] respecting this Society; as they would be published.— She hinted the propriety of having Auxiliary Societies form’d in other parts of the City— any one who felt dispos’d might send in a request to this effect— said it was the duty of every person to inquire into the condition of the poor and represent their true state.

At the second meeting of the society, Emma is already hinting at forming more societies elsewhere.  This seems to confirm or at least substantiate my assertation in the previous post that Emma is thinking big with this Society.  She is not interested in a small quilters’ circle.  She sees the organization as one that can and should grow and that can be an influence for propriety and good in society.  She is interested not only in helping the poor temporally, but spiritually.  Her insistance that “of Nauvoo” be tacked on the end of the name instead of at the beginning is evidence of thinking flexible.

Councillor Whitney call’d on the members to contribute to the fund

The following appropriations were made to the fund of the Society——

Mary Jane Warner .25

Martha Sessions .25

Sylva Lyons 1.00

Jane Law 1.00

Sophia Robinson .25

Louisa Beman .50

Sarah Brown .25

Mary Woolley .25

$1.00 in 1842 is worth about $30.00 in today’s money.  See http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php

Mrs. [Phebe Ann] Hawkes arose to represent Mrs. Drury as an object of charity, being sick and destitute of food.

Mrs. Wooley corroborated the testimony of Mrs Hawkes—

Motioned and seconded that the board direct the Treasurer to give an order on the Store— carried unanimsly.

Motioned that 2 dollars be appropriated to Mrs. Drury—

Prest. Smith said we want the names of those widows who want work—

Mrs. Agnes Smith solicited the patronage of the Society as a Milliner and Dressmaker.

Prest. Smith said we should assist each other in this way— said Mrs. Solome Chapman was in want of work, knitting, sewing &c.

The society is interested in helping others by providing work, too.  While the organization does not hire needy individuals, it presents the names of those in need for potential hire by members.

Mrs Jones represented Mrs. Baggs as needing assistance—

Mrs. Thompson enquired whether anything except money would be received into the Treasury; such as jewelry, clothing &c. &c.

Mrs. Warner said her means were limited but would give provisions.

Prest. Smith hinted the propriety of placing such provisions as should be donated, into the hands of the Treasurer—

Mrs. Higbee suggested the propriety of having an Auxiliary Society—

Councillor remark’d that as many were present who were not at the previous meeting; it was necessary to refer to the order established at the organization of the Society. Viz. that of addressing the Chair.

Mrs. Mary Smith suggested the propriety of procuring Palm leaves for the benefit of individuals spoke of sister Daviss as soliciting that work—

Prest. Smith said the object was to supply the poor with money— provisions, cloathes, old cloathes &c. that it was wisdom to keep all the money we could, for the purchase of materials to do with.

Mrs. Velote Kimball represented widow More, as needy and deserving charity— said she would work; understood the business of braiding Palm leaves——

This discussion may be a reference to some sort of tradition relating to Palm Sunday, which was on March 20, 1842.  Even today people braid palm leaves into reminders of the events of Holy Week.

Mrs. Hillman corroborates Mrs. Kimball’s statement——

Mrs Markam exprest her satisfaction in being in a situation to bring her abilities into action— said it was her aim to walk humbly before God. desired the prayers of the Society that she might be enabled to do whatever the Lord should require at her hands—

Prest. Smith suggested the propriety of appointing at the next meeting; persons who may wait on those who represent the poor—

Motioned that the meeting adjourn until next thursday, 2. o’clock—

Mov’d, seconded & pass’d that Prest. Joseph Smith be call’d in, to close the meeting.

This drawing is taken from the Hancock County IL GenWeb site. As these things have a way of disappearing, I'm hosting it here. http://hancock.illinoisgenweb.org/photos/josephsmithredbrickstore.html

This drawing is taken from the Hancock County IL GenWeb site. As these things have a way of disappearing, I’m hosting it here.

Joseph Smith, probably working in his office, was called in to close the meeting.  Here’s a floor plan of the Red Brick Store in 1841 http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/red-brick-store-floor-plan-circa-1841?locale=eng&p=2#!/paperSummary/red-brick-store-floor-plan-circa-1841&p=1

Prest. J. Smith and Elders B. [Brigham] Young, H. [Heber] Kimball, W. [Willard] Richards & J. [John] Snider entered— The choir sung—

Prayer by Elder Brigham Young.

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 http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_masons.shtml). About six weeks later on 5 May, the a partial endowment — a precursor to the full temple ritual — was given to nine men. (See http://josephsmithpapers.org/place/store-jss-red-brick-store-nauvoo-illinois and http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Freemasonry_in_Nauvoo)

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 http://www.ldsendowment.org/masonry.html), 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 (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Freemasonry_in_Nauvoo), 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 (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/08/my-great-great-grandmother-emma-hale-smith?lang=eng).

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.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law).

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.” (http://silkworth.net/washingtonians/washingtonian_movement_organization_procedure.html ) 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 (http://silkworth.net/washingtonians/prohibitionists_paterson.html). 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 http://silkworth.net/washingtonians/index.html.

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.


Those of you who have been following me on the LDS Seminary Teachers Facebook group over the past few years may know that I have concerns about the permanence of the ideas shared there and the difficulty with looking up information. Futher, the ideas shared there are not indexed by Google and can not be found by using a search engine. You have to know someone already in the group or accidentally discover it in order to view the ideas. Additionally, the group has grown so large — now over 4000 members — that there are multiple posts a day, and there is no way to keep up on it by hand.  I tried.  I did over 500 posts by hand.  It took weeks.

Over the past several years I’ve tried to come up with ways to automatically pull the information and index it.  Facebook does NOT make this easy.  I did find a company in the UK that can create a syndication feed from the posts for a fee, and I’ve been paying that fee in anticipation of the day when the posts could be indexed.  Using the Feeds tool in Drupal and (after my change to WordPress) the FeedWordPress plugin, I’ve been able to collect the posts, but I could not tag them automatically. So, up until this morning I had collected 3000 posts that I was keeping unpublished because they were not tagged.

Today I found Automatic Post Tagger.  It was the missing link that could bring the content I’ve been collecting to the library.  This tool supports both retroactive tagging and new post tagging.  It also works on custom post types, which means it will work on the items I’ve been storing as bbPress topics.  After working some voodoo magic in Open Office to create a tags list, it took me about 30 minutes to finally get everything figured out with the set up.  The tagger is running now, my testing all appears correct, and there are about 1500 posts to go.

Can I just say here how great this plugin is?  I have a boat load of tags with some alterations and so it’s faster for me to use the CSV upload option. I had some tags that already existed and others that did not yet, but that I needed to search for in case someone adds a post that references a previously uncreated chapter later. I could copy/paste lists of tags into the box, and the plugin would automatically check for duplicates and remove them.  I just can’t say enough good things about this plugin!  Unlike so many WP plugins, it’s obviously coded well.

So anyway, I am about to cry with relief.  This index of seminary study helps indexed by scripture is a reality!

I guess it was five years ago this past summer when I was called to be a Seminary teacher, and I kid you not when I tell you my first reaction was, “Well, Seminary teacher helps are about to get a whole lot better.”  I knew the state of help online for Seminary teachers was restricted to a few pay-to-access sites, and had long wished I could help. CES/SI employees are restricted by the terms of their employment from sharing.  I’m not under those restrictions, so I blogged about my experiences teaching Seminary, and I’ve created ways for other teachers to share their ideas and offer help to others more easily.  I’m now no longer a Seminary teacher, but I’m proud to say this last cherry on top of my service is complete. Future Seminary teachers (and others) will have access to an enormous library of ideas and help that can make teaching gospel classes a far easier experience.

There are a few things to note about this latest update of data:

  • All posts from the group are not included.  I didn’t discover the feed thing until several months into the founding of the group.  Also, there was a few week-long period after I switched to the paid version of the feed where the company was billing me but not providing the service. They are in the UK, and getting service was a real hassle.
  • If users don’t tag data or use weird ways to reference scriptures, posts will not show up.  Please ignore everything you’ve ever seen on Instagram, and tag your posts with keywords.  #instagramhasruinedhashtags
  • I will also be updating the posts I have pulled using feeds from other bloggers. This will mean some links may direct you off-site.
  • Later today object lessons will be added to the list.
  • Later today clipart and handouts will be added to the list.
  • Some whiners are going to be mad that their names are published.  I don’t care.
  • No files from the group are included in the update.  I have no idea how to do that, nor have I ever heard of anyone doing it.  If you know how, please let me know.

Maybe it sounds arrogant, but today I’ve changed the internet again for Mormons everywhere.  I created the first library of YW lesson helps, more than eleven years ago now.  Ten years ago, I was the first to ever categorize LDS helps by topic using databases so that they do not their usefulness when lesson manuals change.  I was the first to ever create a database of Primary Talks by topic.  I was the first to ever create a database of LDS Object lessons by topic.  I was the first to create a database of teaching techniques for gospel teachers.  As far as I know, I still have the only database of Sharing Time Lessons. I am the first to use  feeds to automatically promote, categorize, and drive traffic to lesson helps on smaller, quality blogs.   I was the first to create a database of help categorized by scripture reference.  And now I’ve been able to take ALL of that content and categorize it by scripture, so it can be used and accessed by teachers from now on, regardless of how manuals change.  Unless the internet goes away (and I can keep selling stuff in the Mormonshare bookstore to cover costs), this library will stay up for users to create better lessons.

There are days — like yesterday — that I get discouraged because I feel like I missed out when I decided to leave my career to raise my children.  But when I look at the above list it gives me a little bit of encouragement.  I doubt I could have helped so many people (literally millions over the past 11 years) if I had stayed in the workplace, and certainly I would have missed out on serving my children in the way that I have.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to be a Seminary teacher, and I definitely couldn’t have put in the hours I did as Relief Society president. I’m turning 40 in a few weeks, and I’d be lying if I said that I don’t feel like my choice to stay home has hurt me irreparably professionally.  But I’ve done something important with my time — something of value to others.  I’ve been a trend-setter in ways that probably no one will ever really know.  And my influence has reached far beyond the walls of my home thanks to the time in which I’ve been privileged to live.  I’ve had opportunity to teach and travel and serve and learn that I could not have imagined.

So cheer up, Jenny.  Focus on the things you have done, instead of the things you didn’t get to do.

And enjoy today’s culmination of a three-year project, because you know tomorrow you’ll come up with another one. :)