March 17, 1842 proved to be the beginning of a women's service organization that would fill the world and bring relief to hundreds of thousands.
We celebrated this great day by riding a horse drawn wagon from the Nauvoo Visitor's Center to the Red Brick Store that Joseph and Emma Smith ran in the 1840's. (It is currently owned by the Community Church of Christ, and they allowed us to use it for a reenactment of the events that took place exactly 173 years ago.)
The meeting was held on the 2nd floor of the now famous Red Brick Store. The name of the organization--The Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (It is an organization for LDS women 18 years of age and older.)
There were only three men at the meeting: John Taylor, Willard Richards, and Joseph Smith. The rest of the room was filled with women. The youngest was 19 year old Bathsheba Smith, wife of George A. Smith who I portrayed.
The whole idea of a Relief Society began with a simple concept: Sarah Granger Kimball and one of her employees, Margaret Cook wanted to do something to help in the building of the Nauvoo Temple. They saw a need for the workers to have their clothes repaired and at times replaced as they were working on the sacred building.
As the desire to help grew and filled the hearts of many of the ladies in Nauvoo, they decided to organize and make their efforts more efficient.
When Joseph heard of the plans, he offered to organize them under the Priesthood. At this first meeting, the women voted to sustain Emma Smith, wife of Joseph Smith, as the first president. No other names were even nominated and the vote was unanimous. Joseph declared, "Sisters, this is to be a very special meeting that will have far reaching benefits to the women of this the Lord's church, even beyond this mortal life.
Currently, there are over six million members in 170 countries. As a service organization, we not only take care of the poor and afflicted families within our own church, but reach out in service to anyone of need in both small and large ways. The Distribution Center in Salt Lake City is stocked with huge piles of supplies for aide in times of disaster.
We're told that after calamities around the world, the first two groups to arrive with aide is often the LDS church and the Mormons. :)
My favorite line in the re-enactment was when the eloquent and polished editor and Apostle, John Taylor after attempting to influence the women's choice in choosing the name of the organization said, "I shall have to concede the point, your arguments are so potent that I cannot stand before them. I shall have to give way." He then bowed to the women and sat down.
I have served many years in the Relief Society organization. I have to concur with John Taylor--our arguments are often potent and we are held with great respect by the men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mother of the Year organization:
We met in Bloomington Illinois this week with the Illinois Mother of the Year Presidency. Sarah Curtis from Macomb, Illinois is the Mother of the Year for 2015 in this state. I was privileged to eat lunch with many celebrities: There were Mother's of the Year from as long ago as 1980, one from 1996, and then of course several from more recent years. There were probably about 30-40 women who came together to celebrate motherhood.
What a nice bunch of ladies. (Members of my family were the only ones who were of the LDS faith.)The pledge that is read at each meeting depicts the overall attitude. It reads:
- To ask God's help as a parent in today's world,
- To encourage honesty, integrity, patriotism, and the application of moral values in every area of American Life beginning in my own home,
- To enhance the spiritual foundation of my home by precept and by example,
- To love, nurture, and educate my children remembering the power and influence of a joyful home,
- To seek opportunities to strengthen my family by working, playing, serving, and praying together,
- To foster personal responsibility and respect in my home and community,
- To serve my family and community through personal development as an individual, parent, and citizen,
- To support and promote positive programs for children and families,
- To wage a vigorous campaign against abuse and violence in all its forms,
- To remember that with God, all things are possible.
We were asked to reach out to our friends and acquaintances and encourage them to support this great work. I asked the question, "In 13 seconds or less how would you explain the purpose of your organization." The response was, "To protect and save our children." Throughout the meeting, women expressed concern for the abuse of children all around the world (particularly sex trafficking) as well as concern for their own great grandchildren with an increase of evil in our community and a decline of family support to combat it.
I invite you to look into the program in your communities. You definitely do not have to be a "Mother of the Year winner" to join...anyone can and the fees for new members are waived this year if you sign up on line. What a terrific program. Can you imagine what could happen if the Relief Society joined hands with the Mother of the Year organization like the LDS church has supported the Boy Scouts of America? We could not only save children from barbarius behavior, but we could change the world.
I received an award as Merit Mother 2015 from the state of Illinois.
My favorite part of the day was that Adam and his family arranged to be there.
After the meeting, we spent the afternoon at a park with two of the cutest grandchildren ever!
I'm happy to report that the winter doldrums are over here in Nauvoo. Winter weather is behind us and guests are coming again. Winter break has been a great time for families to visit with plenty of time for quality tours.
We also welcomed twelve new senior missionary couples this week. I'll be helping in the sewing room twice a week for a while and bringing work home in between to try to keep up. Each sister missionary will need at least three pioneer dresses and two aprons. I am assigned to two of the twelve sisters to get them outfitted.
We will be receiving new missionaries almost every week for the next few months. Phew... relief is around the corner.
However, I fear my days of spending much time on blog postings are about over. My report will probably be short and sweet for the next month or so and then the tidal wave of summer guests will come. I'll do my best to keep you up to date.