March, 13, 2013

The Relief Society’s Role in Bonding the LDS Community

In his October 2009 general conference address, President Henry B. Eyring spoke of the legacy of the Relief Society saying, “They were from many lands and peoples, as you are today. But they were of one heart, one mind, and with one intention.”[1] The organization of the Relief Society in 1842 by Joseph Smith brought many diverse women together and strengthened community bonds. In the early days of the Church, this sense of community and belonging was especially important given that most families or individuals had left the places of their birth and their extended  relatives to gather with the Saints. Sometimes this included people who also had immigrated from other countries, who came to Nauvoo to be part of a new community, often enduring tremendous trials to do so.

In Nauvoo, the women worked together to serve their tight-knit community, offering instruction and compassionate service to others. The women also combined their efforts in building the temple, which offered an even greater sense of community.[2] When the Saints left Nauvoo, the Relief Society was no longer meeting, except in “prayer meetings” to “strengthen each other spiritually”[3] along the long, tedious journey to the West.

In the Salt Lake Valley, the women were called by Brigham Young to work in the community—this time among the Native Americans who were in need. Later, the women turned their attention to poor immigrants and refugees left from Johnston’s Army.

Women’s ability to strengthen community bonds is still important. The organization of Relief Society helps bridge the gap between those of different lands and traditions, creating Zion-like communities all over the world.

[2] Education in Zion gallery text, “The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo”,

[3] Education in Zion gallery text, “Relief Society Reorganization”,