Preparing to Receive New History of Relief Society...

In my opinion Julie Beck's recent talk given at the 2011 BYU Women's Conference is a preface to the new Mormon Church book -- Daughters of My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society.  And so in preparation to reading the book, last night I decided to, once again, go through the transcript...  but this time I extracted specific quotes that would give me somewhat of an outline as to what I might expect to see in the new history -- that would better help me to both receive the history as intended, and understand the significance of what has been included -- and perhaps, what is not.  After doing so, I decided that I would post what I pulled out of her talk and share it here.

I doubt that I'm alone in my feeling somewhat apprehensive about what will actually be included in this new Relief Society history.  Of note, is the fact that this is the only authorized history of the LDS women, in the Church.  That's significant!  And because of this significance, as an LDS Woman, I personally feel a need to prepare myself to receive it in the proper spirit.  

First and foremost I've decided that I need to keep in mind that this history of Relief Society is to appeal to women in the Church, globally.  Which means, that I'm not expecting to read anything that would only be applicable, or of concern, to those living here in the United States.  With this understanding, I think I'll be much more prepared to receive not only what is included -- and not,  but also the reasons why.  I think this perspective is going to be very important for many sisters living here in the United States. 

I've bolded my own topic headings above quotes from Sister Beck's transcript...

Mormon Church is a GLOBAL organization

I have been touched by the questions that come from the sisters.   And it gives me understanding of the broad spectrum of the experience you’re having, the difficulties, and the joys in your lives, and the things you are trying to accomplish.

Most important issues facing LDS Women today

Over the past few years in Women’s Conference, we’ve concentrated on a few things that we’ve hoped would help bless and strengthen you. We’ve talked about Relief Society as being about relief which  word is defined as lifting up,  and lifting us to a higher level of achievement and behavior and accomplishment in the Lord’s kingdom. We’ve talked about being strong and immovable. We’ve delineated the purposes of Relief Society. We’ve talked about families and what should be happening in families. And last year we mentioned the lioness at the gate and that protective feeling we should have as women over our homes and our hearths.

New history of Relief Society resource

Last fall in the General Relief Society, we talked about a history of Relief Society.  And with the approval of the First Presidency, we announced that a history of Relief Society was being prepared for the sisters of the Church and that sometime this year, in 2011, that would be made available to the sisters of the Church, and that is true.  That will be made available to you sometime this year. And you don’t need to worry about when it’s coming; you just need to know it will be here and settle your souls about that. It doesn’t really matter when it comes.

Relief Society history helps LDS Women understand role

As we’ve prepared this history for you, there have been many opportunities to learn, and there are some things that have come out in that preparation that have delineated some themes for learning.  Stories—it’s not so important to have a linear historians history in the Church, but it is important to know our spiritual heritage and responsibility.  And what are the themes that emerge in that spiritual heritage of what the Lord wants us to accomplish? This history actually provides a context for learning for the sisters of the Church. There are a few things that I’ll talk about today that I’m hoping, as history becomes ever more important to us, that we will learn, things that I have learned, and that we all who have worked in preparation  of this have learned, and things that I am hoping my granddaughters will learn as they read and study Relief Society history. History helps us learn who we are and our importance to the Lord. It connects us and binds us with the covenants we have made. That’s why it’s important.

Relief Society strengthens and supports role of LDS women

The first thing I had learned from the history of Relief Society is that it strengthens and supports the unique identity of daughters of God. Our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love, value and rely on their daughters. God’s daughters, we know, have equal importance in His sight with His sons. They have unique responsibilities and duties in the plan of salvation, and they share some responsibilities in the plan with Heavenly Father’s sons. They also have a unified purpose in our Heavenly Father’s plan with His sons. There is an interesting, exciting, and unique female identity of greatness, richness, that is choice beyond comparison.  And this identity that the Lord has given us and that we understand through the gospel of Jesus Christ, is in direct contrast to the debased and devalued identity of women that we find in the world today. We find an elevated, strong identity that comes from our Heavenly Father. This identity and purpose can only be fully understood through a spiritual confirmation. There is an intellectual study that can be made, but a spiritual confirmation is what teaches us who we are and what we are to do. There is much out in the world that is false by way of identity. There are identities of sensuality, women seeking power, prestige, money, leisure—all of these things are different identities. But the identity of a daughter of God is precious beyond compare, and rich, and full. We know that women are the guardians of the hearth and the home. And they have the responsibility for the hearts and souls of men and women and the children of our Heavenly Father. They are given this powerful and influential leadership role. Female responsibilities include being a wife, include being a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend. This is all about nurturing, teaching, and influencing. These are non-negotiable responsibilities. We can’t delegate them. We can accept them and live them, but these are things we understood before we were born, and we can’t negotiate with the Lord about whether or not these are our responsibilities. They have been part of the plan from the beginning; they are not going to change because of any clamor to the contrary. These are our responsibilities.

Our responsibilities as LDS women

Our Heavenly Father loves His daughters, and because He loves us and the reward at the end is so glorious, we do not get a pass from the responsibilities we were given. We cannot give them away. They are our sacred duties and we fulfill them under covenant.

Relief Society is the restoration of pattern that existed anciently

Relief Society is a restoration of a pattern that existed anciently. There is evidence of this in the scriptures. I call that bread crumbs. You find the bread crumbs or the links or the nuggets that teach that. There is evidence of this in the testimony of living prophets. There is evidence of this in the Spirit confirming that this is so. Understanding the heritage we have, that this organization is a restoration of something that existed anciently, helps us understand that we are not a footnote in history or a sidebar in the Lord’s work—that we are an essential part of building the kingdom and we’ve been organized to do such.

Unique duties and responsibilities of LDS Women

So this restored pattern of discipleship we have in Relief Society provides an alignment for God’s daughters with His purpose, and helps us learn our unique duties and responsibilities. It also unifies us with men who hold the priesthood in the Lord’s work.

Relief Society today and how it is organized

I have asked sometimes, “Why do we have a Relief Society president on the general level and the local level?” And the reason we have a president is so we can have an organization, and we have an organization because we have a purpose; and when we have a purpose there is an expected work and outcome. Relief Society isn’t just a feel good, get together, let’s enjoy each other, do anything, anytime, anyplace for any reason—this is part of the Lord’s work. It has a president at every level, and a purpose that was delineated by the Lord and His holy prophets. This work needs a specific outcome. In a worldwide organization, it can grow exponentially, country by country, and provides a system of watchcare, and  sisterhood, and discipleship and education that is growing every day.

Purpose of the Relief Society

The purposes of Relief Society, as determined by the  Lord, are to help us increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those who are in need. That’s why we exist. The outcome is that we will improve women individually and as a whole and prepare for eternal life; that we will build the Lord’s kingdom and homes and wards.  We’re not entertainers. This is the Lord’s business of salvation. That’s the business we’re in. So we teach like the Savior taught, and we teach, and we teach, and we build the Lord’s kingdom.  This isn’t about causes or advocacy groups, because we have an advocate. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our advocate with the Father. And we stand with Him, doing His work, working for His great cause.

Proper function of Relief Society

…Relief Society, when functioning properly, is a manifestation of charity. Charity is much more than a feeling of benevolence. It is more than virtuous living. It is living as Christ lived and being as He is. It is more than niceness. It is what we are to become.

The Relief Society Motto

A hundred years ago when the General Relief Society Presidency selected the motto for Relief  Society as Charity Never Faileth they knew what they were doing. This motto was distilled by women who had been taught by Joseph Smith and understood the purpose of Relief Society.  Joseph taught and taught and taught this more excellent way to the sisters. He taught them about becoming holy and using this organization to learn how to become like the Savior.  Sisters, it’s more than benevolence. It is becoming like the Savior, utilizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Relief Society is inseparably connected to the Priesthood

I’ve learned through studying the history of Relief Society that we have and live with an inseparable connection to the priesthood. The Prophet Joseph Smith put the sisters in the position to receive all the gifts, blessings, and privileges of the priesthood. We need never confuse the idea of those who hold the priesthood  in trust, with the priesthood. The priesthood is God’s power. It is His power to create, to bless, to lead, to serve as He does. The priesthood duty of every righteous man is to qualify for the blessing of holding that priesthood and trust  for the Lord so that he can bless his family and those around him. And I will say the priesthood duty of sisters is to create life, to nurture it, to prepare it for covenants of the Lord. Don’t confuse the power with the keys and the offices of the priesthood. God’s power is limitless and it is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what the brothers have and the sisters don’t have. This is Satan’s way of confusing both men and women so neither understands what they really have. Sisters and brothers each have every ordinance, every gift, and every blessing available to them to get back to our Father in Heaven, and no one, male or female, is left outside of those blessings to qualify for exaltation. There is a unity in the council and the covenant that is required us to get there. Neither the man nor the woman can ascend without the other. We are inseparably connected in that way. And  I understand how special women are. I understand how special men are. And together we’re more special. We become what the Lord wants us to become.

Understanding the Relief Society connection to Priesthood comes through revelation in holy temples

Sisters, I’ve said before, I hope you go to the temple and pay attention. Pay attention and listen and look and learn and feel and understand what is happening, and the blessings and the gifts of the priesthood that come through the covenants and ordinances of the gospel.

Young women are prepared to receive the priesthood—the temple covenants in Young Women.  And Relief Society was given the responsibility to firm up that maturity and get women prepared for the temple. Joseph Smith gave that assignment to the Relief Society and it has never been taken away from them. It is one of the major responsibilities of the Relief Society, to prepare young women and women for temple covenants.

God's Power comes to each of us through ordinances

We learn from reading the Doctrine and Covenants that  in  the  ordinances of the gospel, the power of godliness is manifest.  And we have those ordinances of baptism and the Holy Ghost, of conferring of the priesthood for men, of the endowment and the sealing, and there is a power of godliness that comes to each of us in each of those ordinances. That power is our goal, and the Lord has promised that.  The Holy Ghost is a precious revelator that is given to all faithful women and men, and this teaches us to know and do what we need to do.

Getting Relief Society history into our hearts:  Some of Sister Beck’s concluding thoughts…

“I hope as it becomes available to you, that the power and strength of these things will settle upon your hearts and that other lessons the Lord has to teach you personally will emerge in your study. We’ve learned about our female identity and duty in the Lord’s plan. It is bigger than knowing I am a child of God. It’s an expectation to live and choose and make progress into God’s life—not only to accept His plan but to fulfill it.”

“I’m grateful for Relief Society, not only for its beginnings but for what it is today. And I’m just beginning to have a glimpse of what the Lord has in mind for his daughters. The vision that comes to me sometimes is so glorious and staggering and humbling and thrilling. It is difficult to contemplate. It is part of that vision of Daniel of the stone rolling forth to bless the earth.  The Lord expects and requires that His daughters participate in building His kingdom in bringing to pass what He calls His strange act.”

“Until the history of who you are is in your hearts, you won’t be as strong as you could be. Rather than prepare for a product, I would suggest that you prepare yourself to receive the Lord’s message for you. Go to the temple, pray, and live and become what the Lord would have us all become. The answer to the anger, to the entitlement, to the resentment, the apathy, is in the Relief Society of this Church. It is the response and the defense and the offense going forward.”

These are simply brief excerpts from Julie B. Beck's talk, and by no means are they inferred to be her complete thoughts on each topic.  A careful reading of her entire address HERE will give you, personally, deeper insights into each of these main points - and better help you to receive, by the spirit, Daughters of My Kingdom: The Work and History of the Relief Society.  Also, as you can see by the links I've included below this post, much care has been taken over the last year to prepare the sisters of the LDS Church for this new Relief Society resource.

I'm planning on addressing most of these topics in individual posts over the coming months, using the new Relief Society history resource -- that is sure give us many more insights into what the Lord would have the women of His Church understand about who we are, and why we are here at this particular time in the history of the world!

And one last thought...  I wonder what the interest will be, if any, of LDS men in general, in this new history of Relief Society???

UPDATE 9/1:  I finally received a copy and HERE are my initial impressions!


Deseret News - New Book 'a recipe' on how to be an LDS woman 
(strange title, if you ask me;)

New History of Relief Society - Daughters in My Kingdom

Earlier this year, General Relief Society President, Julie B. Beck, announced that before the year was out, a new book that would focus on the history of the Relief Society, of the Mormon Church, would be released. That was exciting news for LDS Women around the globe!  The LDS Newsroom released information announcing the completion and release date for this much anticipated book -- Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society.

No coincidence, in my opinion, was the release of the much anticipated transcript, just last week, of Sister Beck's BYU Women's Conference talk, which referred to this upcoming history of Mormon Women . If you want to better understand how the women of the LDS Church can better receive Daughters in My Kingdom, it is advisable to study Sister Beck's talk.

Many of us were wondering why it took so long to release this transcript, but no doubt a decision was made to wait for the timing of the new book on the history of the Relief Society. Here's what Sister Beck had to say, from that talk, about the upcoming history of the Relief Society...

"Last fall in the General Relief Society, we talked about a history of Relief Society. And with the approval of the First Presidency, we announced that a history of Relief Society was being prepared for the sisters of the Church and that sometime this year, in 2011, that would be made available to the sisters of the Church, and that is true. That will be made available to you sometime this year. And you don't need to worry about when it's coming: you just need to know it will be here and settle your souls about that. It doesn't really matter when it comes."

Easier said that done! I've been dying to read this history book since it was announced!

Personally, I consider Sister Beck's talk a kind of forward or preface to Daughters of My Kingdom. I believe her instruction is to help us better know how to interpret the information that the history will present. I've been very vocal to anyone that would listen to me, about the importance of this particular address given to the women of the LDS Church. I believe it to be a landmark talk and one that will be considered a classic in the coming years. Never before has a woman in the Mormon Church, in such a leadership position, referred to "the priesthood duty of sisters".  When she said that, I nearly fell off my chair! All I can say, is that we have come a long way baby! And yet we won't grow, as women in the Church, if we don't seriously ponder that statement and how it applies to us as individual LDS women. And if you're wondering if I have read Daughters of My Kingdom yet, the answer is no. I'm simply going on my gut instincts as to the importance of Sister Beck's Women's Conference talk in relation to Daughters of My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society.

From the LDS Newsroom:

"As the Church’s general Relief Society president, Julie B. Beck has met women from all over the world and says the new book will provide perspective and strength for the 21st-century woman. 
“This story that the Church is releasing now is very important, I think, for our time now and I can’t think of a time when it’s been needed more than it’s needed today,” President Beck said. 
Copies of Daughters in My Kingdom will be distributed to women around the world to be used as a resource for personal study and for teaching in the Church and in the home. The book will be mailed next week to all English-speaking Church congregations and will be printed in 25 other languages in the next few months. With this diversity of cultures among the 14 million Church members, President Beck said the book needed to have broad appeal. 
"We needed something that would have global application and be applicable into the future, something that would appeal across cultures and languages, so it needed to be more message based rather than a typical chronological historian’s history,” President Beck said."

Sister Beck went on to say...

"This historical understanding will be a useful tool in a Church where the majority of members are converts, President Beck said. 
"As the Church itself grows exponentially over the years, I think there will be great value in this book for the women who join the Church to say, here’s who I am, this is what I’ve become part of, this is my specific identity in this Church, that I am not homogenized but I am a living, breathing, contributing individual and I’m needed,” she said."

You can read the entire article on the LDS Newsroom HERE.

Like many of you, I can't wait to get my hands on my own personal copy of Daughters of My Kingdom: The History and Work of the Relief Society! But as anxious as I am, I will try to refrain from calling and bugging my own ward Relief Society President -- but it's going to be really hard! Good thing the wait should only be about a week. Though I sure wish I knew someone on the inside that could hook me up a bit sooner! LOL By the title, I can tell that this is not only intended to teach us better who we are as daughters of God, but also instruct us with greater clarity on the work of the Relief Society; as Sister Beck taught in her talk at Women's Conference.

A unique aspect about Daughters of My Kingdom, as a Church work, is that it was not written by a committee, or an historian. It was written by an individual Mormon woman, Susan W. Tanner, a former general Young Women's President.

Sister Tanner shares here thoughts...

“This assignment came as a surprise to me because I don’t think of myself as either a writer or a historian, but I do have a strong testimony of the role of women in our Father’s plan. At the beginning that was my only qualification,” Tanner said. 
Tanner drew heavily on previous historical research and original documents for the book. 
“This book is not necessarily meant to be a conclusive history; there are already historians who are doing that,” Tanner said. “The Relief Society presidency wanted a volume that would be accessible to the whole world, to sisters everywhere. I did have perspective on that, having seen sisters in so many circumstances and situations. The book needed to be something that every woman could read and understand and be invited into this work no matter where they are coming from.” LDS Newsroom

I was happy to hear that Sister Beck worked closely with Sister Tanner during the writing of the history. I have no question in my mind that following Sister Beck's own personal study of the history of the Relief Society, which was powerful, and that she shared at Women's Conference, left her with a strong desire that the women of the Church would have a similar experience.

We’ve had stories written for the historians. We’ve had stories written for the scholars. We’ve had stories written for the press. But we’ve never had the story written for the women themselves,” Beck said.

And this, is precisely why every LDS woman in the Church should embrace this history of the Relief Society resource!


UPDATE:  Daughters in My Kingdom is now available as a PDF download HERE!

NEW POST:  Preparing to Receive New Relief Society History...

BYU Women's Conference Transcripts Available Now!

I don't know about you, but it seems like it took forever for the 2011 BYU Women's Conference transcripts to be made available  -- and finally the wait is over!

 Currently there are only two talks posted, but I'm sure there will be more to come...

Nonetheless, the talk that most of us have been anxiously waiting for, by Julie B. Beck, President of the General Relief Society Presidency, is up!  At least for me, right now, that's good enough!

I've listened (watched) Sister Beck's talk several times, but there's definitely something different, and even more powerful, to actually reading and pondering words.  It's a much slower process, which gives one time to receive personal revelation.  You may recall that I used the word "Prophetess" to describe Sister Beck's teachings, here, when I first heard this talk.  I now feel even stronger about that description, and her ability to teach the Women of the Mormon Church the things that the Lord would have us understand in these Last Days.

Julie B. Beck - Opening Session

Lolly S. and Russel T. Osguthorpe "I Did Frankly Forgive Them"


Learn All About Mormons

Just recently I had the privilege of being invited to a ward down in San Diego, to give a presentation on Sharing the Gospel Online.  I'm no stranger to online missionary work, as I've blogged about it here numerous times.  However, this was the first time that I have had the opportunity to physically - not virtually - stand in front of members of the Mormon Church, to teach and encourage others how to do what I am so passionate about!  I have to tell you that although I was a bit nervous, I truly loved doing it -- and hope to do more of it in the future!

But I didn't do it alone.  The other presenter for the evening was someone who is also doing a lot online to educate people about Mormonism -- to help share the gospel online.  Because he doesn't currently do too much to promote his website - via social networking, etc...  many of you may not be aware of this excellent resource.  So...  I want to introduce you to Jacob Durrant.  Most of Jacob's exposure comes through Google search -- and from what I could find out, he's doing an amazing job at being found.

Here is the introduction to All About Mormons:

The teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. the "Mormons") are often confused with those of Evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and even the Amish. While we respect all these religions, our beliefs are in many ways distinct from theirs.  Aside from confusing us with those of other faiths, many subscribe to the misconception and myths about Mormon Doctrine that abound on the Internet and in popular culture. 
The purpose of this site is to dispel some of the many misconceptions about the Church and its members.  The site should be useful both for considering converting to Mormonism and for those who are merely curious about our basic beliefs.
All About Mormons is a wonderful resource for those who are interested in learning more about the Mormon faith.  And for members, I highly recommend this website and would encourage you to bookmark it for regular reference, when needing help with how to answer questions about our Mormon beliefs.  You might also consider helping out on the site, with answering questions about the Church.  Jacob shared with me that he could really use the help to keep up with the questions about Mormonism that continue to pile up -- and especially in English.

Honestly, I just can't say enough good things about the great work that Jacob Durrant is doing over on All About Mormons.   I am so thankful that I got to meet him and spend such a wonderful evening talking about sharing the gospel online.  And IMHO, we made a really great team!  It's hard to believe that he has done so much as basically a one man show!  So make sure and check out his website and be sure to share it with others.

I think that Jacob and I would agree that there was a great spirit that attended our presentations -- as well as the question and answer session following.   As I drove home that night, I was on one of those major highs -- the kind where you just know with a firmness of soul, that what you are doing is right on!  I'm not saying that either one of us were anything special to speak of, as individuals.  It was the work that we are all engaged in at this time -- to share the gospel online --  through the use of potentially the most powerful tool that the Lord has ever given us to accomplish His work --- the Internet!

I had originally intended to share, in this post, what Jacob and I had presented on sharing the gospel online, as well as provide a list of resources and tips -- and I'm still planning on doing so.   But instead, I felt compelled to share Jacob's website -- which is loaded with great content!


You can also find and LIKE AllAboutMormons on Facebook!


Abstinence from Sex - It's a Choice

I get so frustrated when supposedly responsible adults continue to send the message to teenagers that sexual abstinence is impossible -- even harmful to their emotional well-being!  And too many young people fall for this lie because the challenge to remain sexually pure before marriage is difficult.  But the bottom line is, that you DO have a choice.  The choice to remain sexually pure and abstain from sex before marriage is one that can not only be made, but also kept.

The Mormon Church teaches sexual abstinence before marriage, without apology.  Many outside of our faith believe that advocating for such behavior is a waste of time -- as teenagers are inevitably going to have sex.   After all they posit,  it's the nature of the beast!  Thankfully, many other faiths also teach the importance of sexual purity -- and standing together into the future, on this issue, is going to be more important than ever.

LDS Church News reports:

"For many individuals outside of the Church, sexual involvement in the early stages of dating is seen as an important part of testing relationship compatibility and becomes a key factor in determining if a relationship can progress. 
A new BYU study, published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology, shows that those ideas are not supported by research — and that includes people of all ages, races and religious backgrounds. 
"So many people think that sexual compatibility must be one of the first things figured out," said Dean Busby, BYU professor and lead author on the study. "However, we didn't find any benefit to early sexual involvement." 
In fact, researchers came to find that sexual timing in relationships has a large effect on the quality of relationships and overall satisfaction. They concluded that individuals who waited until marriage to have sex experienced more satisfaction, stability and better communication in relationships.
For members of the Church, the concept of waiting to have sex until marriage isn't new — the commandment is an eternal principle encouraged from a young age and emphasized in the youth programs of the Church and the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet."
You can read more HERE.

Mormon Messages for Youth latest video I Choose to Be Pure lends a combined voice, from youth of many faiths, on the importance of choosing sexual purity and the fact that it is a choice!  I think that one of Satan's greatest tools is the ability to convince people, particularly our youth, that they are powerless to the natural inclinations of mortality.

The LDS Newsroom had this to say about the video:
"Like people in many other faiths, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) believe in abstinence from sex before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage. In this vein, the Church recently released an interfaith Mormon Message about the challenge youth face to stay sexually pure.
This video features a Buddhist, a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Muslim, a nondenominational Christian and a Mormon, each of whom speaks candidly about why he or she chooses to not engage in sexual relations before marriage."

I Choose to Be Pure

Please consider sharing this video with others...