March 17 marks the anniversary of the Relief Society, the official women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church).

Founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Relief Society is one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world, presently counting more than 6 million members in over 170 countries and territories.

When Joseph Smith established the Relief Society, he taught that this new organization was part of the Restoration of the Gospel and was organized for “the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan.”  Smith further taught that the Relief Society was “not only to relieve the poor, but to save souls.”

The dual mandate to relieve suffering and to save souls is reflected even today in the principles and programming of the modern Relief Society, which defines as its official objectives: (1) to build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and teach the doctrines of the kingdom of God; (2) to emphasize the divine worth of each sister; (3) to exercise charity and nurture those in need; (4) to strengthen and protect families; (5) to serve and support each sister; and (6) to help sisters become full participants in all of the blessings of the Gospel.

These objectives are pursued through an energetic program of Sunday meetings, compassionate service, enrichment activities, and supportive visits among woman members of each LDS congregation.

Relief Society is a vital part of the experience of being a Latter-day Saint woman wherever the Church is established.

Learn more about the Relief Society by viewing the following delightful video, A Worldwide Sisterhood, from the Relief Society’s official internet site.  This short presentation does an excellent job of conveying what Relief Society is about, mainly through interviews with LDS women in several countries.

Gems from this brief video presentation include:

(from Sister Beck, the RS general president, addressing a worldwide Relief Society meeting) “We rejoice in the knowledge that you are going about doing good, as the Savior did.  You are doing a magnificent work.”

(from an African sister) “I feel the love of the Lord in my life in so many ways… He has blessed my life, my family… He has blessed every part of me.”

(from a German sister) “I pray daily with my children and read the scriptures almost every day with them, and I hold weekly family home evenings…  I try to establish a home of love and happiness.”

(from another sister) “They want to know what makes us love one another — the Church’s teaching has bonded my husband and I together, and our children…”

(from another sister) “Visiting teaching has been a huge blessing.”

(from another sister) “I would want the women of the world to understand that women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints love the Lord Jesus Christ… our whole purpose in this life is to bring to pass the many truths He taught while He was on the earth, to love others and to serve others… to become the best people we can possibly be.”

(again from Sister Beck) “We feel to say that there is more to be done…  It is time for Relief Society to fulfil its purpose as never before.”

A commemorative video, Relief Society – An Enduring Legacy – has also been released by the Church in observance of this year’s anniversary.  Featured in the short film are President Henry B. Eyring, a member of the Church’s First Presidency; Julie Bangerter Beck, general president of the Relief Society; and Beck’s counselors in the worldwide Relief Society leadership, Silvia Henriquez Allred and Barbara Thompson.

Find out more about the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at its official web site.