Back in June, I was called to be the first counselor in our Relief Society Organization with my local congregation. The Relief Society is the largest women's organization in the world and seeks to provide spiritual and physical relief to its members and the greater community, strengthen families, and help others understand Christ.
Since receiving this calling, I have given a lot of thought as to how Relief Society is more than merely a church class we attend once a week. A central part of Mormon theology is building Zion: a state of mind or place, where we can be unified and of one heart, mind, and there are no poor among us. The following thoughts are an excerpt from my brief thoughts to the local women in my congregation as to how our organization is inextricably linked with building Zion.
I think that our theology regarding Zion is a fascinating one (see my previous post). Recently, I came across an interesting quote:
"If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we
must rise to this standard. It will be necessary:
(1) to become unified
in one heart and one mind
(2) to become, individually and collectively,
a holy people
(3) to care for the poor and needy with such
effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until
Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they
happen."-President Howard W. Hunter (14th president of our church)
In reading these three prerequisites to building Zion, I was struck just how Relief Society's mission is largely intended for us to achieve this goal:
1. How can we be of one heart and mind? Perhaps visiting teaching can be one way to accomplish this as we unite to show love and care for our fellow women. (visiting teaching is a program where each woman is assigned to look over two women in the ward and be attuned to their needs by paying monthly visits, inviting them to activities, and simply being a friend that they can rely on).
2. How do we become, collectively a "holy people"? It is interesting to me how the motto of Relief Society is "Charity Never Faileth." If we develop a spirit of charity, we are developing the pure, guileless love that Christ has for all of us, which will help us obtain holiness.
3. Eliminating poverty within us. I think it is no accident that we are called "Relief Society." We have a history of selling thousands of bushels of grain to the President during WWI. We sent women to midwifery and medical school to give them the training needed to help women. We have a long history of providing relief to our families and communities. We have been called to mourn with those who mourn and provide necessary assistance.
Overall, I see Relief Society as having an intrinsic relationship with building Zion, which heightens our responsibility as members of this organization. The story of how Enoch builds Zion in Moses 7 despite wars, wickedness, and contentions surrounding them gives me great comfort, as our situation is quite analogous. Indeed, achieve the goals of Relief Society is a necessary springboard to achieving Zion and creating the kind of society that God wants.