Okay. How can I imagine the influence and power that the Relief Society had in the late 1800’s? [I’m rereading the Relief Society history, Daughters in My Kingdom.]
Relief Society women created hospitals! And supported them financially.
They came up with a fireproof box to store grain!
They learned to speak in public – very well. They encouraged and taught each other. Some went on to speak in Washington DC
They started their own newspaper.
They were encouraged, as Relief Society women, to travel east for medical training, and then they were teachers to other women in Utah. And if they wanted to — especially those, as it was said, who had natural inclinations to be nurses — but didn’t have the means, the Relief Society had funds to pay for other women to go. Funds, and desire. A scheming vision of possibilities for good. And then the funds and people to go with it!
I am struck by the many different good works that were done, and by the force/power/energy by which they did these things. I’m struck by their independence as a society. I am also feeling the importance of women to be articulate.
I liked one line about how someone’s education mixed perfectly with their natural gifts. That ought to be thought about more.
I liked the parts about how women with education and gifts taught that education to others. That also ought to be thought about more.
What can I see currently that is similar?
Of course, we teach constantly in lessons and in homes and in visiting teaching visits. But on a larger scale more similar to what I’m reading about, I think the publication of Daughters in My Kingdom is the best example. Sister Beck had the idea, and assigned Sis Tanner to write it. A woman conceived of the idea, and a woman — using her education along with her spiritual gifts — produced this history. No men are mentioned as authors or contributers. Just Susan Tanner. This book itself, about the work and history of Relief Society, is probably the best example so far of the independence and power that the Relief Society can have. (As a whole, in a more public way. Obviously the influence of individual teachers and mothers on other individuals is deep, constant, and powerful.)
Second, I think that the newer Relief Society effort to assist refugees and others such as immigrants is along the same lines as the work done in the past. Though the Church as a whole has been encouraged, the first message to the Saints came through the Women’s session of Conference, and the entire session’s message was dedicated to it. This has been a case where the Relief Society has led out and invited others to follow.
What other situations nowadays are similar to what is found in the history of the Relief Society? What else might we be seeing soon?