Tag Archives: Emma Smith

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.

D&C 24-29

This lesson felt a lot better to me for some reason.  I didn’t spend as much time on Emma as I expected to, given the audience, but it worked out fine.

My outline is pretty sparse, but I’ll try to fill in the deets. Started out by asking students to look over these sections and share what they liked.  This always opens a good discussion.  Once they came back to Emma, I started in with the lesson proper.

D&C 25 – Elect

  • Tossed in some biographical information as it came up about Emma.  Some was from Mormon Engima and other bits from Rough Stone Rolling and some from Mormon Polygamy.
  • What does elect mean?  Cf to D&C 29:7

D&C 27 – Armor of God

  • Before class I printed out images I scalped from Google images of different types of armor.  Some may have special copyright, so I won’t post links here.  I used a modern day helmet, though, (this is a military area and modern helmets are a lot better than the old ones), and the sword I got was from the Hobbit (it glows when its near orcs — warns of danger, just like the spirit can).
  • I assigned pairs of students to each of the types of armor and gave them a picture to look at.  Each student group was assigned to answer the questions and share with the class using this handout.

This was fun, and insights were great.

One of my students is seriously vision impaired and can’t read regular text, so I assigned her to the nicest person in the class thinking she’d step up and read the stuff to the other student.  She didn’t.  So I got with her and read the quotes and questions aloud to her so she could participate.  I decided I needed to adapt my handouts better to her and did so with great success in the next lesson.

D&C 29 – The Millennium

For this bit, I was running out of time after the Armor of God activity, so I just spent a few minutes talking about the order of events at the time of the second coming related in this section.  I just drew a little timeline thing on the board.  Worked fine.

On this day, a random person showed up for the class as well.  When she figured out this was a Mormon class, she was pretty shocked.  At first I think she thought it might be an anti-class since I was talking about the organization of the church, but when it became apparent we were believers, she escaped pretty fast. :)

Link: My Great-Great-Grandmother, Emma Hale Smith – Ensign Aug. 1992 – ensign

By Deborah Hotine Maddock

Deborah Hotine Maddock


I found this article about Emma Smith and felt it adds to the wonderfulness of her and all that she endured. #DandC25

Source:: LDS Seminary Teacher Group

From the Bloggernacle

Group wall post by Kathleen Hemphill

By Kathleen Hemphill

Kathleen Hemphill


Anyone have some ideas on how they are presenting #dandc25 on ‘An Elect Lady’…?

Coleen Machiel Castro


Girls already asking “what powers do we have?”

Tracy Ence


I’m opening with the D&C DVD segment “an elect lady”. Most youth know very little about Emma Smith

Kerri Beckstrom Ostergard


My students really liked that DVD

Source:: LDS Seminary Teacher Group

From the Bloggernacle

Group wall post by Marjean Jones Livingston

By Marjean Jones Livingston

Marjean Jones Livingston


I have searched but have come up empty on suggestions for #DC25 about Emma. I did watch both videos and will probably show them. Any feedback on what went well when you taught this one?

Vickie Green Jarvis


When I teach this section, I focus on the admonitions made to Emma to support her husband. I’ve broken my classes up into groups, and asked them to come up with the list of what they want/don’t want in a spouse (this is always an interesting exercise, especially because it has to be a “cooperative” list. Then, we talk about each others list (works best if you have multiple chalkboards/white boards in the room). Then we go through DC25 talking about what the Lord admonished Emma to do and how to support a spouse.

Amy Jones Griffeth


4 years ago I had my class make those lists – the boys made a poster and the girls made their list too – and they were so good and funny too.. I still have them.

Source:: LDS Seminary Teacher Group

From the Bloggernacle

“An Elect Lady” D&C 25 Glue-in / Worksheet


Here is a glue-in / worksheet for teaching Doctrine & Covenants 25 about Emma Smith. It will get your class searching through verses 4-15 on the characteristics of “An Elect Lady”. You may want to have them work on it in pairs. After going through it as a class, ask the young men which of these characteristics they admire most in young ladies, and why. Challenge them to develop these characteristics and be worthy of a spouse who has developed these traits.
Also here is a link to a great Ensign article about Emma Smith. August 1992. The original is better with original art work in the article. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/08/my-great-great-grandmother-emma-hale-smith?lang=eng

File Size: 141 kb
File Type: pdf

Download File

Source:: NW Seminary Share – John Bushman

Emma Smith by Lee Greene Richards

D&C 25
Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter. D&C 25:1

Emma Hale Smith was the wife of Joseph Smith, prophet of the Restoration. She was born 10 July 1804 to Isaac and Elizabeth Lewis Hale, who were the first permanent settlers in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Emma met Joseph when he boarded at her father’s inn while working near Harmony. They were married 18 January 1827. That fall Joseph received the gold plates and began to translate them as directed by the Lord. Emma served as a scribe during the early part of the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Emma Smith received several significant blessings from the Lord. Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants is addressed directly to Emma, and in verse 3 the Lord tells her, “Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.” The Lord told Emma in her patriarchal blessing that she was blessed because of her faithfulness and truth and that she also would be blessed with her husband. (See Gracia N. Jones, “My Great-Great-Grandmother Emma Hale Smith,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 32.)

Emma and Joseph had 11 children, two of whom were adopted. Six of these little ones died at birth, in infancy, or early childhood. Emma had much of the responsibility of providing for their children during Joseph’s long absences due to imprisonment or duties as the prophet of the Church.

Emma’s contributions to the Church, in addition to being an early scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, were numerous. In 1830 she was instructed by the Lord to compile a book of hymns for the Church (see D&C 25:11), a task she completed five years later. When the Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo in 1842, Emma was the first general president. She continually cared for many ill and homeless Saints in addition to her children and Joseph’s extended family.

After Joseph’s death on 27 June 1844, the Saints knew they would have to leave Nauvoo, so they began to make plans. In 1846 they headed west. Emma, a 41-year-old widow with her aged mother-in-law and five children to care for, chose the security of her home in Nauvoo rather than the unknown perils of the frontier and did not accompany the Saints.

A few months before she died, Emma bore her testimony to her sons. She told them she participated in the events of the Restoration, including “the translation of the plates.” She had no doubt that the Book of Mormon was “of divine authenticity” and said also that the translation of the Book of Mormon was “a marvel and a wonder” to her. She stated that she knew the gospel was true and that the Church had been established by divine direction. (See Jones, “Emma Hale Smith,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 36.)

Emma Hale Smith was the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She contributed greatly to the work of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was a scribe for Joseph during the early days of translating the Book of Mormon, she compiled the first book of hymns for the Church, and she was chosen as the first president of the Relief Society when it was organized in 1842. She helped Joseph in his work whenever she could, she cared for their children, and she cared for others who were sick and poor. After Joseph was martyred, Emma chose not to travel with the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley but remained in Nauvoo, where she continued to care for her aged mother-in-law and her five children.

Artist, Lee Greene Richards

© 1992, 1997 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Used by permission.

LDS Activity Ideas

Emma Smith’s Garden Party Skit

Download the PDF version of this file

Emma Smith’s Garden Party
Narrator 1: In the early days of the Church, work and sacrifice were the daily fare of Mormon women. Much was asked of them and of one in particular – Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Emma was charged by her husband with the creation of an organization, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, later to be known as the Relief Society, that would become a worldwide legacy to all women. The first Relief Society was organized on March 17, 1842, 155 years ago. Emma Smith had a very brief period of prosperity in her life. It only lasted two or three years in Nauvoo. She had a lovely home and her husband was mayor. Let’s imagine she is having a backyard party and visit as she welcomes her guests – sisters in Relief Society from 1842 to the present time.

[Curtain opens. Stage is set with Emma in her garden – trellis, shrubs, table with refreshments, etc. She greets each guest as they come to the party then mingles.]

Narrator 2: Emma’s guests are arriving now. There is Eliza R. Snow.

Emma: tEliza, how good to see you. (They shake hands)

Narrator 1: After Emma’s husband, the prophet, was slain in Carthage, Emma felt she could no longer continue as head of the women of the church. She and her family stayed in Nauvoo rather than travel west with the Saints. The sister who had come to love her as an elect lady took with them memories of a woman eager to be a blessing to those who she served. Eliza Roxey Snow as called to be the 2nd General Relief Society President in 1866.

(“O My Father” piano only underscoring the narration)

Eliza:Brigham Young knew of the good the Relief Society had accomplished in Nauvoo and how it blessed the lives of all the women who were members. He called me to be the General President and asked me to assist the bishops in our new Utah territory in organizing a Relief Society in every ward.

Narrator 2: Sister Snow was a talented poetess and she used her poetry to strengthen the Saints. She wrote “Though Deepening Trials” for those who needed to press on with hope after had been driven from their homes in Missouri. She wrote “O My Father” for a close friend who was mourning the loss of a parent. In all she left a legacy of some 500 poems. She served as President for 21 years.

II. The Pioneers, 1847-1888 “Rockabye Baby”- Song

Narrator 1: In 1866, the nation was recovering from the Civil War. The westward movement continued, two locomotives touched noses at Promontory Summit when the Union Pacific completed 1,775 miles of track to build the transcontinental railroad. Linoleum, margarine and root beer entered the nation’s marketplaces as novelties and children started roller-skating. “Rockabye Baby” was written and became an instant hit.

III. The Gay 90’s, 1890-1900 “The Band Played On” – Song

Narrator 2: The Gay 90s were noted for many things: the bustle, the bicycle, and the zipper to mention a few. Women fainted a lot, which may have had something to do with the style of 18″ waists, enforced by steel corsets! Basketball and the player piano were invented and the Spanish-American war gave us new territories. Everyone read bout Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane and Billy the Kid. The barbershop quartet was popular entertainment.

(Barbershop quartet sings a medley of old songs)

Narrator 1: Just arriving at Emma’s party is Zina Diantha Huntington Young, the 3rd General President of the Relief Society. She was very lovely and was dearly loved by all. She gained her testimony at age 13.

Zina: One day on my return from school, I saw the Book of Mormon, that strange, new book, lying on the window sill of our sitting room. I went up to the window, picked it up and the sweet influence of the Holy spirit accompanied it to such an extent that I pressed it to my bosom in a rapture of delight, murmuring as I did so, “This is the truth, truth, truth.” I was baptized with my family about a year later. My parents both died later as a result of the persecutions against the Mormons. I was a plural wife of Brigham Young and 10 years after his death was called to be general president of the Relief Society, serving there for 13 years.

Narrator 2: In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff issued a manifesto ending the practice of plural marriage. The Salt Lake Temple was finished and dedicated becoming the symbol of the church for many. Utah became a state in 1896.

Narrator 1: There is Bathsheba Smith. She was the 4th General Relief Society President. She saw tremendous growth in the Relief Society during her lifetime.

Bathsheba: As a 19-year old I was the youngest of the 20 women present at the first meeting of the Relief Society. That same year I gave birth to my first child. A few months later, my husband George Albert Smith left on his 5th mission for the Church. I lost both my sons. One died at Winter Quarter and one was killed by Indians. I was blessed to serve as General President for nine years and saw the Relief Society grow from those original 20 to over 40,000 women.

IV. Gibson Girl Era, 1900-1920 “Meet Me in St. Louis” – Song

Narrator 2: Gibson girls were the standard of fashion at the turn of the century. Two bicycle shop owners made history at Kitty Hawk with a machine that except for the wings, looked oddly like a bicycle. The Model “T”roared through the streets at 20 mph in the country and 10 mph in town. The theme of the Worlds Fair, “Meet Me hi St. Louis,” accompanied the serving of the first hot dogs on buns to fair goers. Teddy bears, named after Teddy Roosevelt, were the rage. The Children’s Friend sent out its first issue.

(Ragtime piano music underscores next 2 narrations beginning at (*)

Narrator 1: In 1910, tensions between the nations of Europe were rising. *In America barbers were selling the side part for men, ice cream cones were in and Alexander’s Ragtime Band peaked in popularity – a scandalous new rhythm that many thought would drag the youth of America down.

Narrator 2: In 1912 the unsinkable triumph of maritime engineering, the Titanic, sank after hitting an iceberg. In 1917 America entered World War I. Prohibition came, along with votes for women. Voting was nothing for Utah women – they had been doing it as early as 1870.

Narrator 1: Here is Emmeline Woodward Wells, the 5th General Relief Society President. Emmeline was a tiny woman with striking white hair.

Emmeline: I spent a happy childhood in a God-fearing England community. Though my father died when I was young, my mother saw that I received a good education at an early age. At 14, I was baptized into the Mormon Church. When I was 15, I married James Harris. The next year I lost a 3-month old baby and my sadness continued as my husband left me and the Church, giving no explanation. I became a plural wife to Bishop Newel K. Whitney and after his death, later married Daniel Wells. I was called to be General President of the Relief Society by Joseph F. Smith in 1910.

Narrator 1: As World War I progressed, the sisters supported the war effort by selling 200,000 bushels of wheat to the U.S. Government that had been stored under Sister Wells’ direction. She served as President for 11 years and was released three weeks prior to her death at the age of 93.

V. Roaring 20’s, 1920’s tt”Charleston” piano music

Narrator 2: The 1920’s, often called the “Roaring 20s” brought the flapper. You could recognize her by what she wore: bobbed hair, bobby pins, headache bands, chemises, costume jewelry, flesh-colored stockings and pointed strap sandals, not to mention lipstick, rouge, powder, nail polish and hair permanently waved by a Frankenstein machine. Her escort wore a raccoon coat, bell-bottom pants, argyle socks and saddle shoes. Together they sang to the twang of a ukulele when they weren’t doing the Charleston or the Black Bottom.

Charleston Dancers

Narrator 1: Clarissa Smith Williams has arrived at the party.

Clarissa: When President Heber J. Grant called me to be the 6th General President of the Relief Society, I replied, “Brother Grant, I know you are a very busy man and you might call me to have a conference with you in the late afternoon and I want you to know during school days I intend to leave my office just before 3:30 p.m. I have three children yet in school and I want to be home when they arrive.” My husband William and I had 11 children. My first responsibilities were those of wife and mother.

Narrator 1: Clarissa had unusual business and executive abilities. Under her leadership the Welfare Department services were expanded. The Primary Children’s Hospital opened in 1922 and 1923 saw the dedication of the Alberta Temple. Radio broadcasts of general conference began and the first Institute of Religion was built. Thousands toured the Arizona Temple before its dedication in 1927. Clarissa served from 1921-1928.

VI. 1930stt”Stormy Weather” – Song

Narrator 2: The crash of 1929 ended a comfortable era of expansion for many. One bank lost 400,000 depositors. “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” was a theme song as many sold pencils and apples on street corners to get money for food. Radio blossomed with Amos & Andy and The Lone Ranger. Monopoly, Bisquick and Pluto made their bows to public notice. Roosevelt unleashed a landslide of letters -AAA, CCC, TVA, NRA, and PWA. Hemlines dropped to midcalf, waistlines reappeared and fur pieces resembling animals were the rage. Masses of little girls had their hair done in Shirley Temple ringlets.

Narrator 1: Arriving now is Louisa Yates Robison, 7th General President of the Relief Society whose warmth, wit and practicality made her an instinctive leader. However, her feelings of inadequacy about her lack of formal education and her shyness made such positions hard. She adopted the motto, “Welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself.” In order to increase her knowledge, she studied from 4-6 a.m. every morning for 2 years, then did her gardening and housework, arriving early for a full day at Relief Society headquarters.

Louisa:It> was fashionable in the 1930’s for women to wear large hats and the General Authorities had counseled the women to remove them during meetings, a counsel often disregarded. As I opened one conference, I looked over a sea of hats and said, “Sisters, we are going to remain seated while we sing our first song. I’m sure you have books and papers and your hats on your laps and I’m afraid it would be hard for you to hold all of them if you stand.” You should have heard the gasps and scattered laughter ripple through the congregation as heads were ducked and hats whisked off!

Narrator 1: Music and The Spoken Word with Richard L. Evans began in 1930. The church welfare program was organized, the first Deseret Industries opened and the Hill Cumorah Pageant appeared for the first time. While Louisa served as General President she was moved to compassion by the condition which many women found themselves during the depression. The Mormon Handicraft Shop was instituted as an outlet for handiwork done by women in the home to supplement the family income. In spite of her shyness, Louisa presided over and was loved by thousands of women for over 11 years.

VII. 1940s World War II “I’ll Be Seeing You” – Song

Narrator 2: In 1939 a nickel bought cupcakes, candy, the paper or a phone call. DDT and nylons went on sale. Everyone alive then remembers where they were when they heard the news about Pearl Harbor – a good part of the American Navy capsizing or sinking around Ford Island. World War II was in full swing.

Narrator 1: Emma is welcoming Amy Brown Lyman. In 1940, President Heber J. Grant called her to be the 8th General President of the Relief Society. Her first task was to thoroughly modernize the equipment and business affairs of the organization.

Amy:tDuring my 5 years in office, my board served under particularly difficult circumstances. There were the many problems of war. The Church called its European and Pacific missionaries home. The Relief Society Centennial scheduled for April of 1942 was postponed. So much of life was centered around the war.

Narrator 1: In addition, Amy bore the sorrow of her apostle husband’s excommunication. Two years before her release, Bell Spafford, a friend and coworker said this of Amy: “She met disappointments and challenges in her personal life during these years with composure. She never panicked in time of trouble. She always placed her faith and trust in the Lord and was poised always in time of trouble. I don’t know anyone who better taught me how to meet adversity than Amy Lyman.”

Narrator 2: The war indeed had influence over every aspect of life. Hard to find items were gasoline, tires , soap, sugar, flour, butter, and margarine. Swing was big – the big bands were in and the Suzy Q and jitterbug were the dances. Women wore wrap-around skirts and tailored suits with padded shoulders. The singing Andrews Sisters were a big hit with their popular wartime boogie.

“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” – Song

VIII. 1950s “Earthangel” – Song

Narrator 2: The war was over. Servicemen returned home to begin families. Tract homes were everywhere, TV came into many homes. Margarine came white and you tinted it with yellow powder. The latest fashions were poodle skirts, sweaters, bobby socks, saddle oxfords and ponytails.

Narrator 1: The Church took the lead in post-war aid, sending supplies to the Saints in Europe who could be reached. Elder Ezra Taft Benson traveled in Europe for a year distributing supplies and setting the branches of the Church in order. David O. McKay was sustained 9th president of the Church. Television broadcasts of conference began and the Swiss, New Zealand and London temples were dedicated. The Family Home Evening program was inaugurated, complete with a manual for use on Monday evenings.

Narrator 1: Belle Spafford has just joined the party. Her period in office as the 9th General President of the Relief Society covered nearly 30 years. She was a woman richly endowed with driving executive and leadership abilities, a charming forthright personality, and a deep abiding faith.

Belle: I would like to relate a personal experience which taught me a great lesson. I recall at one time when I first served in a Relief Society presidency the ward had built a new meetinghouse. They had to raise a few thousand dollars in order to have it done and dedicated on time. The Relief Society was called upon to prepare a turkey dinner for a large group. It was the first dinner in the new building. We found the kitchen to be insufferably small, the women-were in each other’s way, slowing up the service. One woman fainted from the heat. The next day, distressed about this circumstance, I went to see the bishop. I explained the situation and requested we knock out one wall and extend the kitchen to include the adjoining space which had been allocated for a classroom. He responded with sharpness, “Certainly not,” he said. “We aren’t going to start remodeling this building before it is dedicated.” On my way home, discouraged and feeling somewhat reprimanded, I called at the home of one of the older sisters and I poured forth my troubles. I concluded by saying, “In this church men have all the power, the women are helpless.” To this she replied, “Oh no, my dear, the women are not helpless. If someone came to you, Sister Spafford, and had a great but different gift in each hand and one was power and the other was influence, which gift would you choose?’ I thought ser ously for a moment and then I said, “I think I would choose influence.” “You probably did, my dear,” she said. “Influence is a great gift of God to women.” Then she said, “Appreciate it and use it right. Do not envy that which has been given to the brethren.”

IX. 1960s “I Want To Hold Your Hand”- Song

Narrator 2: The 1960s was a turbulent time of changes, tragedies & accomplishments. Things seemed to fall apart for a while – assassinations, riots and bombs… But it was also a thrilling time with events such as the first man on the moon! The Beatles dominated the music scene. Ratted hair dramatically changed hairstyles as teens and others “back-combed” their hair to get the fullest style possible. The Twiggy look with go-go boots and miniskirts was also popular. This was a challenging time for women of the Church. Sister Spafford encouraged the sisters to “dare to be different” and not wear the immodest styles.

Narrator 1: In a time of so much change and upheaval, a woman in the Church had the legacy of stability and spiritual security.

XI. 1970s & 1980s “Endless Love” – Song

Narrator 2: The 70’s and 80’s were an exciting time of changing lifestyles due to modern technology. Homes welcomed computers, VCRs, video games and microwave ovens. In 1981 Princess Diana was married. Her elegant wedding dress influenced fashion in America. You may have attended a wedding reception and seen bridesmaids and flower girls attired in dresses with the puffy sleeves and full skirts. Running, (***) jogging and exercise in general became a popular way to work off the excess caused by fast foods. Of course some people don’t eat these things, they enjoy sprouts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and less red meat, which is something Joseph Smith advocated 150 years ago.

(***)2 joggers run across and wave

Narrator 1: Emma’s next guest is Barbara Bradshaw Smith, the 10th General Relief Society President. To replace Belle Spafford, who had been President for nearly 30 years, must have been overwhelming. But those who had worked with Sister Smith knew of her humility, intelligence, energy and devotion to the gospel.

Narrator 2: Isn’t that Barbara Winder arriving with her?

Barbara Smith: You can’t pray for sisters every single day and then not feel a great love for them. I do pray that the Lord will bless the sisters. I pray they will be unified. I pray that they will understand that the Relief Society is there to help them and that they will avail themselves of the opportunities it affords them. Above all, I pray that they will have great love for one another.

Barbara Winder: I am Barbara Winder, the 11th General Pres. of the R.S. I was called while my husband was serving as president of the San Diego, California mission. I truly had mixed emotions as we left our field of labor. Bless my dear husband! He sacrificed that I might serve my Heavenly Father in this capacity. We have come a long way, sisters, since the prophet first organized Relief Society. Joseph was far ahead of his time when he said the Church would never be fully organized until the sisters were organized.

XII. 1990stt”Sisters” song (Irving Berlin’s with Relief Society words)

Narrator 2: Emma’s guests arriving now are Sister Elaine Jack and Sister Mary Ellen Smoot. Elaine Jack was called to be our 12th General Relief Society President in 1990. There were over 3 million Relief Society sisters in 135 countries and territories worldwide. As we listen to her counsel, we feel she is speaking friend to friend, sister to sister, about women’s concerns, always with a vision of the reality of being daughters of god.

Elaine Jack: Our goal is that each of you enjoy the process of life; that you have hope and joy in daily living, that you know the joy and necessity of making Jesus Christ the center of your life, that you realize your importance and goodness, and that you see the great scope of Relief Society. Relief Society is the sum of righteousness of each sister. Your life is a testament to your testimonies of your Savior. You are something extraordinary.

Narrator 1: Sister Smoot, with her special spirit, lead and inspired the sisters of Relief Society as the 13th General Relief Society President The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has experienced much growth in recent years. Our church has worldwide influence.

Narrator 2: We are building temples all over the world. We have 60,000 missionaries, all over the world. We have 11 million plus members all over the world. We are worldwide in numbers but united in purpose. We’re sisters in Zion and each one of you will add to the legacy which is to be left for those to come.

Mary Ellen Smoot: Everywhere I have traveled, whether it was Finland, Idaho, Brazil, Washington D.C., or Russia, I have witnessed the gospel of Jesus Christ in action and the radiant light of the gospel in the countenances of courageous and faithful sisters. The spirit has born “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) To each of you, no matter your nationality, race, social status, or individual talents, whether you are married, single or widowed, whether you were born into the Church or are a new convert and the only member of your family,-I say, “Welcome home!” The Relief Society is your home, and you are an integral part of a worldwide sisterhood with a divine mission.”

XII. 2000stt”My Sister’s Hands” – Song

Narrator 1: Emma’s last guest to arrive is Sister Bonnie Parkin, the 14th and present General Relief Society President.

Bonnie Parkin: My desire as General Relief Society President is that sisters will feel the love of the Lord in their lives daily as they keep their covenants, exercise charity, and strengthen families. I am more and more convinced that feeling the love of the Lord in our lives daily is an essential thing for our joy and happiness. Knowing that God loves us in a personal way changes our concept of self and fortifies us to meet life’s daily challenges. Feeling the love of God helps us to live our lives more meaningfully and successfully. It literally changes us.

Narrator 2: Please join us in singing “As Sisters in Zion.”

All cast comes onto stage and sings with Congregation “As Sisters in Zion”

This version online at http://www.mormonshare.com/ – Free LDS Clipart and Handouts