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Weekday sisterhood and Relief Society meetings

By Catherine Pavia

Ensign, March 2004, pg 21

My first day as a Relief Society sister was my first Sunday after moving away to college. Where earlier that week I had been excited and hopeful, after five days away, I was now lonely and sad. The opening hymn of Relief Society was one I’d never heard before (and have since heard oh so many times!)—“As Sisters in Zion.” At the time, the sweetness and simplicity of the melody and the words answered the fervent prayers I’d offered up during the previous few days.

Since then, Relief Society for me has been mainly about the Sunday meetings, rather than the weekly meetings. But after studying the history of the Relief Society, I wish that weren’t the case in my life. The early Relief Society offered its participants unique chances to feel the Spirit, yes, but also to serve others, to speak publicly, to write and publish, to fundraise and lead their own organization, and to learn and share practical and secular knowledge.

Next Tuesday morning I am meeting with the coordinator in our Relief Society to plan weekday Relief Society meetings. As the second counselor in the presidency, I am supposed to bring to the meeting an understanding of the specific needs of the women in my ward. This task has been weighing on me. Understanding the needs of 100+ women? It’s a good thing I believe in personal revelation.

My approach to this task is also complicated by my dissertation research, in which I conducted a two year ethnographic study of a group of 120-150 LDS women who write on a private discussion board. In some respects, these women’s discussion board met needs for them that Relief Society couldn’t, just because of the different nature of the two organizations. But in other respects, their discussion board met needs for them that their Relief Societies should have done better at meeting, in my opinion.

The women in my dissertation needed the informal, daily social outlet of their board. They needed the advice and knowledge they gained from other women. And they needed to contribute their own knowledge to others.  Yes, they needed to learn from others, but they also needed to know that their experiences, most abundantly gained through stay-at-home-mothering, had given them valuable knowledge of their own. As the authors of Women’s Ways of Knowing write about the women in their research, “Our interviews have convinced us that every woman, regardless of age, social class, ethnicity, and academic achievement, needs to know that she is capable of intelligent thought, and she needs to know it right away. . . . [The women we interviewed] needed to know that they already knew something (although by no means everything), that there was something good inside them” (193, 195).

I want to steer clear of generalizing about the needs of all women. I feel like we tend to do that a little too much in the church and harm can come of it. But I do want to hear about your individual experiences and individual needs met or not met by Relief Society.

In particular, tell me about your experiences with non-Sunday Relief Society. What needs do you have as an individual that weekday Relief Society meetings can meet?
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About Catherine Pavia

(Prose Board) has worked as a cherry sorter, file girl, piano teacher, writer, editor, and college professor. She currently works full-time as the art director, events planner, chauffeur, and referee for her four children. She spends a good deal of her time running—be it down the supermarket aisle after an escaped child, around the living room in a heated game of flag football, or on early-morning runs/therapy sessions with her neighborhood friends. She earned her BA and MA in English from BYU and her PhD in English from UMass Amherst.

45 thoughts on “Weekday sisterhood and Relief Society meetings”

  1. we don't have weekday meetings except a quarterly dinner. my needs are not met, but i'm not sure exactly what those needs are. i'll be watching this closely, though… i was told today that my relatively new calling as "enrichment coordinator" is to plan and execute monthly, if not weekly, "enrichment" nights on no budget. where's eliza when you need her?!

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  2. for me non Sunday RS meetings meet some (but not all) needs for fun, for friendship. There are things I've learned that have been helpful and have helped encourage me to do better.

    Recently I was called to be our stake 2nd Counselor, totally something I never even imagined- I felt unqualified in many ways as I am not good at so many things most LDS women do so well, I seriously had to wonder if the Lord was crazy on this. I am a sis who has only been asked to teach an enrichment class once. I am a terrible "homemaker",etc. But in looking over the RS goals/purposes, I know I am a sis like everyone else trying to do my best to accomplish those purposes outlined.

    I will say that not all my friendship needs are met in RS- I don't think such would be the goal. Sometimes in my position as a single sister who has no children, I do feel lonely or feel like I'm there to cheer others on (ie in expressing happiness over a new child). I appreciate the sisters who take a few minutes to talk and listen to me.

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  3. clarification: of course I meant to say 2nd Counselor in stake rs presidency.

    I do wish we had more time sometimes to just talk. So much rushing occurs due to the business of our lives.

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  4. One need I have is to connect with other stay at home moms who feel the same way about motherhood that I do. Our ward's weekly play group is a huge help to me because I get the chance to know I'm not alone and there are people around me going through the same thing I am.

    Before I had kids, though, I still had a need to connect with sisters, but I often felt left out of Relief Society. At the time my Relief Society was so focused on the mothers I felt like I didn't belong. Working also made it very difficult to go to meetings during the week, and impossible during the day. It also seemed like, from comments I heard, that the mothers resented doing anything in the evening or on weekends because it was less convenient for them, which only added to my outcast feelings.

    So, while the during the day playgroups are a huge help to me now, I still feel it's important to do all you can to reach out to sisters who don't have kids and/ or who work, because they are often the ones most in need of sisterly companionship.

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  5. I love RS meetings that allow for talk time, whether the activity is a dinner, a service event, or a project "catch-up" night. The chance to socialize without children underfoot is so refreshing. In our ward, the leaders seem so focused on short activities that we sometimes get in and out TOO fast. Just being together is the gift I most enjoy.

    Today our RS president announced that our ward had a 95% visiting teaching rate in December. She was quick to say that visiting teaching isn't all about numbers, but I wish she hadn't shared the statistic. I was in the 5% not visited, and I wonder if the high "success rate" reflects a false sense of security that most sisters' needs are being met.

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  6. I think a need that many women share is the need to be together and socialize. In my branch, I have organized several non-RS sponsored get-togethers for women which have had great attendance. As a contrast, some of these bi-weekly meetings we have had have a very poor turn-out. I wonder if, like me, some women get tired of having to gather ONLY to learn a new skill, to hear a lesson, to perform service. These bi-weekly RS meetings always have a noble and grand purpose. But many women like me would rather spend an afternoon at a park with like-minded women, with no other purpose than to chat and let our children play.
    I know I write as a 30ish mom and that maybe my needs will change. Maybe in a while I will want to learn a new skill and do purposeful things often. For now, my greatest need is friendship and support. For me, friendship is more easily facilitated through informal gatherings rather than a meeting.
    I, too, really dislike hearing inflated VT numbers, like the person who commented before me. Recently at a VT training, similar numbers were given and I leaned over to my neighbor and we both agreed that since neither of us had been visited, that 98% VT stat was a lie. Having said that, when it works like it should, I think VT is the greatest part of RS. I guess that's another discussion for another day, though.

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  7. I can echo what many have said already. I think the greatest need all of us as women have is to be together. That was a need I had as a young single college student. It was a need I had as a newly wed attending a family ward, and it is a need I have now as a stay at home mom with young children.

    There was a ward I attended that had a recipe club dinner every month. The theme rotated monthly–I think it was originally to interest different people. I can't say that I ever cooked a single recipe from the exchange. Nor, did I ever care what the theme was, but I also never missed our monthly dinner. I loved going, sitting, eating, and talking for a couple of hours with other women in the ward. I also got to know some of the sisters I hadn't felt close to before. I believe most of those women were there for the same reasons as I was. They didn't care about Greek cooking; they cared about sitting and talking with other women.

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  8. Living in a ward of transplants, most of us come to RS for our social needs. It seems easier to become friends with church members than neighbors. Our ward has a huge variety of activities going on, something for everyone. My husband likes to joke that there is some sort of RS get-together every day of the week, which is just about true.

    It definitely builds the relationships. Our ward was combined with another one a year ago and the activities have really made a big difference in the unity of our new ward.

    I noticed a huge difference when I lived in Utah and most members already had an extensive social and family network in place. They didn't feel the need to socialize with ward members as much since their friendship needs were being met elsewhere. I was very lonely there.

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  9. One of the beauties of the Midweek Enrichment activities is that they don't need to meet the needs of the large masses. This is a chance to have small groups with common interests. If there are enough choices, and if the sisters are encouraged to offer their ideas, then most everyone will find something they need. Our RS also has a playgroup, but they encourage any women not working to come and chat with the young mothers while the children play – children are not a pre-requisite. We have a book group for those who love to read – average attendance probably only 7 or 8, but we love talking about the books. And so on. Sisters definitely need RS – good luck on figuring out the needs of your sisters and finding ways to fill those needs.

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  10. We have very little going on here, we still seem to be on the one night a month meeting schedule. For those of us who serve elsewhere on a Sunday this isn't enough for fellowshipping and friendshipping. By the time most of my primary class has been collected by parents it seems that the building is almost empty. I do have close friends in the ward that I see and speak to frequently, but feel that I am missing out on getting to know others well. I did run a book group at church for a year and that was the only daytime activity there was. Maybe I should get it going again if only for me. One of our best nights last year was an activity in which we all did each others nails and just talked our way through the night. It was well attended and fun, and also requested again by several sisters. No effort or preparation necessary for that activity either.

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  11. Ah, sigh. There's something about watching the 20- and 30-something moms talk about socializing that underscores for me how much of an outsider I feel relative to Relief Society as a mid-40s mom of older/adult children, who works full time, and who has been called to serve in Primary almost all her adult life. Also, God has seen fit to swap ward boundaries around my home almost constantly (or at least it seems that way) so that those close relationships with others as kids are growing just weren't possible at the time. (It doesn't help that I'm an introvert by nature.) I'm an RS grump, and I know it, and I wouldn't know how to have fun with women anyway. And I most definitely would be spending my evening, if I did attend (as I did last week) remembering most diligently to keep my mouth shut. But thanks for trying.

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  12. How do you leave kids and husbands on a weeknite? – this is not a moral question – but a logistic one.

    Mine never knows exactly when he will be home, so it is impossible to plan evenings. All my get togethers have to be in the daytime = and i understand that does not work for women that work. And then, there is often the one car thing what to do with kids.Is there babysitting?

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  13. I've always kind of felt like if I needed sociality, I could find it/manage it on my own. For me Relief Society helps provide me with a chance to feel the Spirit and have spiritual experiences. I don't necessarily feel that any church's responsibilities lie in the party kind of arena. Relief Society is most meaningful to me when I learn something, serve someone, or somehow draw closer to God because of my involvement.

    I know I am in the stark minority on this one, and this is just what works for me. I worry that some RS counselors feel burdened with meeting the social needs of their sisters, when they should more be focusing on meeting spiritual needs. Sometimes, those perhaps overlap, but sometimes probably not.

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  14. Since our ward book club is finally reading books I'm interested in–classics instead of schmaltzy chicken soup for the soul books–I have actually found a RS group that I am willing/want to attend.

    It would be nice if women could just meet for Diet Coke or something and just hang out, but it's very hard. Before i had my daughter and I was working all the time I felt isolated from RS because most of the activities were during the day and they revolved around kids.

    A few years ago my mom stopped going to Enrichment meetings because as the old lady in the ward (she was 50) she had no desire/interest to make Family Home Evening packets.

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  15. Justine,
    I fall into your minority.

    I guess RS NEVER met my needs socially, and so I learned early on not to expect them to. (Thus, I'm not disappointed when they don't.) I'm interested in reading people's different perspectives and opinions on this subject, though– so thanks for opening up this topic, Catherine.

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  16. I'm someone else who doesn't need the sociality of RS (which means that I'm happy in my nursery calling). But I've been in a lot of different wards and seen a lot of ways of handling Enrichment, and I think that the best thing to do is to allow the women to create what they need. Having a variety of small, no-pressure-to-attend weekday/night groups that are run by women who are not called or assigned to do it seems to work pretty well.

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  17. When I was young, RS really did meet my social needs. We had a ball at our morning Relief Society meetings, and it was so much fun to get out of the house and bring my kids to a good nursery program while I went to a class and had lunch afterward.

    Night Relief Society hasn't been as good for me. When my kids were young, it was hard to get away…and now that they aren't home, I'm old enough that I sort of like to sit at home in the evenings and do my own thing. Don't get me wrong, I do go occasionally, but mainly for special events…or, like tomorrow, when they have a topic that especially appeals to me.

    But I never would have missed that morning Relief Society meeting. Not for anything!

    =)

    PS. I should add that I LOVE our Sunday RS meetings and am nearly always spiritually fed by the sisterhood, discussion, and compassion there.

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  18. Sigh. It's a amazing how timely this post is for me. I was up most of the night last night stewing about this topic. Background: I serve in the Primary. My husband serves as the 1st counselor in the Bishopric. I am a young mother who CRAVES the opportunity to get out of the house every once in awhile. I have always LOVED enrichment/RS activities and attend 99% of them (the only time I miss is if there is absolutely no way possible to make it). Well, yesterday our RS announced that they will be returning to a once a month evening activity which will be held at the same time the Bishopric meets with the Stake Presidency every month. In other words, I cannot attend Enrichment, and neither can the other Bishopric wives, one of whom happens to be in my exact same demographic (young mother who loves enrichment). When I asked the RS counselor about this (actually reminded her that we had this conversation last month and discussed why that night is a conflict and to please make every effort not to schedule Enrichment on this night), she basically said, "yeah, we decided to do it anyway. Just get a sitter" Not even an "I'm sorry." I was so upset, and so was the other counselor's wife. Well, just getting a sitter isn't exactly easy for either of us. We aren't abounding in YW in our ward, and it's a school night, and I struggle with getting sitters just for a rare date night with my husband. Realistically, I doubt I will be able to get a sitter. So I wonder, when the decision was made to hold Enrichment on a night none of the Bishopric wives can attend, was it determined that we must not need it because our husbands are in the callings they are? Do people not realize how incredibly difficult it is to be left alone, constantly, with young children while your husband is serving in his very time-consuming calling and how nice it would be to be able to serve, socialize, etc. in RS? Especially since I am in Primary. BTW, I was told by the counselor in no uncertain terms that changing the date was not going to happen.

    Thanks for "listening" Segullah ladies. I am really sad about this and didn't know who to vent to. I feel like talking to friends in the ward would be gossiping about the RS presidency, since so many of my negative feelings are directed toward them right now, and I really don't like to gossip.

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  19. Joy, it sounds like your RS is trying to follow the new directives, but they missed the part about having a children's class (i.e. nursery).

    As RS pres, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the whole weekday program. Sister Beck keeps emphasizing that we can serve/learn/make together, and the sociality should just flow from the being together. That's been my experience personally–I'd rather be doing while chatting than get together just to chat, since sociality isn't my special gift.

    The new program seems to de-emphasize the small group system, since an RS presidency member is supposed to be present if it's an RS activity. Though people can still get together without calling it Relief Society.

    For the 1st-Sunday lesson last week, I asked sisters to write down answers to this same question. Got this and that, plus a couple of impassioned pleas for craft projects from sisters who said they'd feel very left out if we didn't do crafts on a regular basis. Guess we have to start where we're at…but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around a program that's supposed to meet all these needs!

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  20. Pres, I just wanted to clarify, my frustration isn't with meeting once a month, it's choosing the "Third Thursday" instead of the first, second, or fourth, or any wednesday for that matter. They had lots of options, and were very aware that what they ended up choosing would be a conflict for the Bishopric wives.

    Good luck with your challenges!

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  21. I have a hard time socializing, but I do know that I need it. I also feel it's easier to chat while doing something than nothing but chat. I'm not a great crafter, but I know enough to tie a quilt. Just stick a quilt frame in a corner and I'll be fine with whoever else comes over to move the needle, and I can watch the other ladies do their thing, and I'm out of the house and hearing adult talk. A spiritual lesson is fine too.

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  22. It seems like all these comments are only useful if we believe that RS's PURPOSE is to provide for the needs of the sisters. I do not think that this isn't part of the what happens in RS, but the black and white purpose of RS is to bring sisters and their families to Christ. The church clearly states that additional meetings in relief society are "to help women progress toward eternal life; and to learn and accomplish the charitable and practical responsibilities of the Relief Society." No where in these two purpose statements does it say that RS needs to provide me time to get to know other ladies my same age with my same interests so that I can have friends and a 'social outlet'.

    One of the my favorite parts of church history is the organization of the Relief Society and the way those first RS sisters got to work providing relief. I wish that's what Relief Society was about today. And I think in providing relief we would find the fellowship and friendship we desire if it is organized and carried out well. And if we don't, at least I would know I did something useful for others with the time I was spending away from my family.

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  23. Joy – 1. Ask that your husband change the meeting with the SP. The SP can't really expect you to miss RS every month.
    2. Realize that there might be plenty of other things that the RS had to avoid. When is the temple assignment for sealings? When is ward temple night. When is stake temple night. When are the youth activities. When is the LDS Addictions meeting? When are the Family History people serving in the Family History center? Are there Stake sports that are trying to get up and running for the women? Plus school and work conflicts of many other sisters.

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  24. In my ward, for the last year Enrichment has been solely "socializing". Share recipes and socialize, eat cookies and socialize, etc. Nothing else, and it made me sad.

    Social contact is important, but I also need to learn, and to be uplifted.

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  25. Catherine,
    Timely post. We've been trying to figure out how to handle this in our own ward. Honestly, the kind of RS meetings I personally would want would either be doing service together, or service in which I can involve my children, or something where I can sit and talk with other sisters deeply about the gospel. Not much else is interesting to me for RS. I feel like if I want to do some social thing, I'll do some social thing with whom, when, and what I want. It doesn't feel really very social to me when RS meetings are for that purpose, it just feels contrived and unnatural.

    I don't think RS is supposed to meet all of our needs. Doesn't self-sufficiency include emotional and social well-being? Often It appears to me that sisters want RS to fulfill all their hobby needs and social needs. RS to meet is mostly to help us grow closer to Christ together–something I can't find outside of the church in the same community. Any craft or hobby or girls night out I can do without the church. So why expect the church to do it for me?

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  26. I get a little frustrated sometimes because every meeting we have is a "sit, be quiet, listen to a lesson" meeting. It is very hard to meet and get to know people when the only chance to be with others is so structured. My ward is fairly big geographically, which means many ward members rarely see each other outside of church. No neighborhood, school, etc. running into people; we just live too far apart. I would like sisters to get to know each other better, not just as a social, fun outlet, but because it is very hard to serve, help and be unified with people you don't know. Our ward is full of women who could help, support and provide relief to each other, if we knew each other a little better. People don't like to ask for help or share their needs with acquaintances. I don't, anyway. I feel like social opportunities, making friends, etc. paves the way to better prepare us to fulfill our RS purposes of serving, providing relief and nurturing spirits.

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  27. #18 (Joy) – Contact your Stake RS Presidency and let them know what you just shared with us. Most likely, they will care. They can advocate for you to your Ward RS Presidency and to other leaders who have the authority to help out. Good luck!

    #22 (Carrie) – "It seems like all these comments are only useful if we believe that RS’s PURPOSE is to provide for the needs of the sisters."

    According to lds.org, the objectives of Relief Society are to: build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and teach the doctrines of the kingdom, emphasize the divine worth of each sister, exercise charity and nurture those in need, strengthen and protect families, serve and support each sister, and help sisters become full participants in the blessings of the priesthood.

    http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,4747-1,00.html

    Does helping sisters build friendships and support networks with other sisters aid in accomplishing these objectives? I think it does.

    #26 (Sit and be quiet) – "Our ward is full of women who could help, support and provide relief to each other, if we knew each other a little better. People don’t like to ask for help or share their needs with acquaintances. I don’t, anyway. I feel like social opportunities, making friends, etc. paves the way to better prepare us to fulfill our RS purposes of serving, providing relief and nurturing spirits."

    Well said. I agree 100%.

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  28. I'm with those who don't need the social scene.

    About Visiting Teaching percentages. As I understand it, VT is not as structured as Home Teaching. Home Teachers should visit their families with a prepared lesson each month. Visiting Teachers are required to make an in-person visit quarterly. Phone calls, letters, and e-mails "count" the same (in %) as in-person visits do.

    Joy, I feel your pain. My husband came home from a long day of church saying that the bishopric was going to go "visiting people" every Wednesday. He's gone Thursday evenings, too (as the bishopric counselor in charge of YW). Hoping the people they visit on Wednesdays will appreciate the sacrifice the kiddos and I are making! Good luck not strangling your RSP, Joy!

    I see "socialize" and "structured" as two themes in the comments. It might be a good idea to find a balance between socializing and structured meetings.

    My two cents: Maybe I'm alone here, but I want to learn more about the "art" of homemaking. There is so much that I don't know about the more mundane skills of being CEO of a household. I'd love for some more knowledgeable sisters to impart their gems to me.

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  29. It is so very difficult to decide what kind of meetings to have. So I think the answer is to have all types! Especially if you have a large RS. Don't get caught up in how many show up, watch to see if the sisters that do show up enjoy it and if they don't want to leave. That's the sure sign of a good activity. As you can see by reading this thread, different people have different needs so if you plan a variety of activities more people will have needs met.

    I lean towards having activities that can't be accomplished in small groups – it would be very difficult for me to have a talent show in my home, but it's a great idea for RS. Vice versa, bookgroup is more comfortable in someone's home so why make that a formal activity at the church? (BTW bookgroups are how I got to know most of the women I treasure, talking about the book is great, but the 'after party' is something else entirely!)

    Another wonderful experience I had with RS sisters was sewing fleece hats, scarves and balls for local charities. We would bring our sewing machines to the church and work away while the kids played. It was a huge mess of good works and I came to love my sisters in the gospel more because of it.

    Justine said, "I worry that some RS counselors feel burdened with meeting the social needs of their sisters, when they should more be focusing on meeting spiritual needs." This is something to consider (something I stuck pretty strictly to as a Enrichment leader), but we also have to remember that it can be hard in some areas to find a women's gathering that doesn't involve wine, suggestive talk and/or gossip, etc. Meeting to socialize with my RS sisters I know that I am going somewhere safe, where others will support me in my beliefs while having a good time. Planning activities isn't an either/or proposition, you can learn wonderful things and socialize. That said, it isn't the church's job to provide our social life, that's our own responsibility.

    While we're on the subject, provide a variety of foods- not just sweets and not just carrot sticks. Tastes and preferences run the gamut of that spectrum as well.

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  30. #18 my understanding is there is supposed to be some sort of childcare/nursery provided w/the activity (though I realize that might not be something you want). I hope this can be resolved!

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  31. I fill my social needs outside of RS meetings with an open-to-all book group a friend and I organized and by inviting someone to attend a lecture with me every now and then. Another sister in my ward invites people (and their kids if they have them) to lunch (informal and casual) to fill hers. RS meetings don't fill my social needs. I'm just not one to find such needs met in RS gatherings.

    Mostly I need RS meetings to give me an opportunity to do some real good or give me helpful skills that make being helpful more efficacious. Helpful meetings have been making baby quilts for the local NICU at the hospital, a presentation on how to make church meetings easier for the hard-of-hearing members in our ward, a lesson on basic barbaring, and making little girls dresses for ldshumanitarian services. Last month our RS had a meeting on ways to make Christ more a part of your Christmas. It had some great ideas that a number of young mothers in our ward found very helpful. One of my visiting teachers expressed delight in the things she was able to use with her children. My kids are grown, so it was less applicable to me, but definitley worthwhile for her.

    So, things that empower me to help others more effectively, in my family or in my community or far flung, are what make weekday RS meetings worth attending for me.

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  32. Technically, I don't need RS for my social needs either. I have several good friends outside the ward, and we get together regularly.

    However, I do need the social part of RS to be part of the service fabric of the ward. People are not likely to ask for help from someone they don't know. When I get to know people in the ward, they are that much more comfortable asking me for help, and vice versa. A lot of those help requests are informal things that don't come through the compassionate service leader. If I skipped RS meetings, I wouldn't be informally available to just be a good neighbor and friend to the people in my ward, and be able to draw on them either.

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  33. Sorry not to get back to responding to these–I've been gone all day! Thank you, all, for your comments and input.

    Coffinberry, I'm glad you responded. I'm an introvert too and sometimes find larger groups and social situations very difficult. I'm also more liberal and wish I didn't feel like I _had_ to "keep my mouth shut," especially because I'm a firm believer that sharing our different viewpoints of all kinds enriches everyone in the end.

    Justine, I'd love to know more about how RS mtgs have provided you with spiritual experiences because I agree, at the core of things they are what I need most in my life. The companionship of the Spirit trumps the companionship of other sisters.

    Joy128, That sounds incredibly frustrating and discouraging. I would also consider either forwarding her the part about the nursery or speaking with your bishop. She's not following the program if she doesn't provide a nursery.

    Marintha, Thx for the reminder that RS is about coming to Christ.

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  34. I don’t think RS is supposed to meet all of our needs. Doesn’t self-sufficiency include emotional and social well-being?

    Interesting point, Marintha. I think that is important.

    see RS as being there to help us in all facets of our lives, but not be a primary source for filling those needs. I agree that it should help us grow spiritually, but I tend to think that helping strengthen us socially, intellectually, emotionally, physically is part of spiritual growth (sort of that 'all things are spiritual' thing) — if the core of all of that has a spiritual understanding. I think these things, when planned and approached with the Spirit, are all part of a bigger spiritual whole that can help us come to Christ — and can meet different needs of women at different times in helping them in that process. I like jendoop's idea of having a variety of activities, because then maybe everyone will resonate with at least something.

    I loved Sister Beck's recent talk where she shared a variety of activities that, to me, showed how RS can also be a flexible and fairly broad program based on local needs and inspiration received.

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  35. Joy, I can fully understand how you feel. I know just how had it is to get out to anything at all during the evening whe your husband is on the Bishopric. My husband is now the Bishop, previously having been a counsellor, and he is always out it seems. We only have them once a month at night and sometimes then he has had meetings too. Thre have also been times I haven't gone out to R.S.at night because it would mean another night apart.

    However, the R.S. president has discuss with the Bishop any desicions she makes, including when to hold the meetings. The Bishopric must have agreed to this night while geing aware it would be difficult for their wives. My suggestion is that you talk to your husbands about the scheduling, and see if they can come up with an alternative as ultimately the choice was theirs in the end to agree to it or not.

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  36. m&m-
    I agree, I did not mean to say that RS can help support those needs, but it should not be expected to be the main source for filling those needs.
    It would be great, and much more effective, if sisters want to get to know other sisters if they invited them over rather than wait for RS to plan something.

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  37. Some of the greatest RS meetings I've been to have been where I've learned ways to practically apply gospel principles in my life – how do I actually study the scriptures, what does that mean? how can I make family prayer more meaningful? How exactly can I realistically make it to the temple on a regular basis? How can I give service in real and meaningful ways? How on earth do I turn hard red wheat into something edible? Even things that might not necessarily feel 'spiritual', like canning or sewing, for example, have still provided me with an opportunity to feel the Spirit and feel the peace and calm that come from serving and supporting my family.

    I think the RS should be providing opportunities to feel the Spirit at every turn. It's something we all need!!

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  38. Quote: "It would be great, and much more effective, if sisters want to get to know other sisters if they invited them over"

    I would never ever in a million years do that. Not just because I'm an introvert but because I would never want to risk "leaving someone out" (which I have been accused of before).

    Nope. Nuh-uh.

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  39. Hm. Maybe because I feel that way usually been me that's been left out. I hate hearing about things afterward. I hate the phone call I got one time from a group of other sisters who were making candy together and had a question they knew I could answer. I answered their question, and then they thanked me and hung up.

    I refuse to do to others what I hate having done to myself. Therefore, I won't go starting any groups up. I also don't see how having small group RS will avoid this problem.

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  40. Coffinberry,
    The problem with the whole RS together for socializing is that most times sisters congregate with those they already know. Not only this, but you can't get to know someone really well by being at large group gatherings with them monthly. It takes time, and really talking to people in smaller settings.
    Yes, we need to reach out more, and seek out sisters who maybe don't usually get invited, but I remain unconvinced that having large RS meetings with all the sisters is really going to reach lonely sisters. Often those lonely sisters feel even more lonely in big social gatherings.

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  41. remain unconvinced that having large RS meetings with all the sisters is really going to reach lonely sisters.

    Thoughts on solutions for that? That is a real challenge, I think. Visiting teaching should help with that, but that would also possibly be a time to organize a smaller group activity, perhaps around an interest of a sister or two. We did that here, and it worked very well — esp because the interest was shared by several women and became a fave group.

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  42. Considering sister Beck's guidelines, I really think they are trying to get away from a bunch of small groups. A member of the RS presidency has to be at every "RS" activity. It is simply not physically possible for the RS to run bunches of small groups that way. RS classes really need to edify with the spirit the sisters that can make the classes, and sisters really, really need to step up to the plate and be social themselves, reaching out to other sisters who are less so. Surely it takes less effort for individual sisters to do this than it does it plan large scale social gatherings anyhow.

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  43. Ah, you may be right, Marintha. Good point about the challenges of administering smaller groups. And I agree that we need to step up to the plate, too.

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  44. #25 – "Any craft or hobby or girls night out I can do without the church. So why expect the church to do it for me?"

    I think it's important to remember that not everyone already has an established network. Just because you can doesn't mean everyone can. My family has moved around a lot. As a new move-in, craft and hobby and girls' night outs are much harder to come by. I move into an area feeling very lonely and out-of-place and make friends through weekday activities (play group, book club, craft group, babysitting co-op, etc.)

    Also, what about personality types? Is it fair to expect every RS sister to be a social butterfly who organizes parties and gatherings at the drop of a hat? I don't think so. I do think it is fair to ask sisters to be kind and reach out and introduce themselves to those around them, though.

    #36 – "It would be great, and much more effective, if sisters want to get to know other sisters if they invited them over rather than wait for RS to plan something."

    In my experience, many sisters assume that they can only be friends with sisters who are exactly like them, so they only issue invitations to (and accept invitations from) their "clones." However, when thrown together at church activities that facilitate mingling, sisters form unlikely friendships. Unity and love increase. The sisters benefit, their families benefit, and the RS benefits.

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  45. Thank you for all of the supportive comments. I truly appreciate you all. I am more calm and rational now (the timing of the original post hit me when I was very emotional). Hopefully there will be a positive resolution to the situation. I think the salient point from my circumstances as it applies to the question of the post is whether or not the RS presidency felt the Bishopric wives didn't need to be a "target audience" for Enrichment because we are firm in our church activity, when in fact, we really need/want to participate. I really do love RS and strongly believe that even though we are all imperfect people trying to serve, RS is a divine program and the Lord has entrusted us with a powerful work.

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