On March 17, local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will join the church’s worldwide membership of more than 8 million to observe and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church’s women’s organization — the Relief Society.
The multifaceted celebration will include, among other things, an international satellite broadcast, local service projects and literacy improvement programs.
Since it was organized March 17, 1842, in Nauvoo, Ill., the Relief Society has grown to be the longest continuing women’s organization of its kind in the world with a current worldwide membership of 3.1 million women. The group was organized to relieve the suffering and burdens faced by those of any faith.
That mission, as outlined by Joseph Smith, first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and organizer of the Relief Society, today remains essentially intact. The organization, however, has broadened its scope significantly and now provides a networking system of support, education and friendship that binds its members in 135 nations and territories into a sisterhood of love and common purpose.
In celebrating this sesquicentennial year, Relief Society chapters around the world will focus on increased service to their communities. From children’s immunization clinics, community renewal and aid to the homeless and hungry to the promotion of literacy improvement and continuing education for women, female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will reach into the hearts and lives of many in their communities who are in need.
Further uniting their membership, women of the Relief Society will participate at noon Saturday, March 14, in a 90-minute worldwide satellite broadcast of a meeting held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. The live telecast will be beamed to the local meeting house at 639 Grandview Ave. in Bangor. It also will be sent live via satellite to congregations in Australia, England, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States.
During the broadcast, Church and Relief Society leaders will speak and be joined in the international teleconference by local Relief Society presidents from Australia, Germany, Korea, Mexico and South Africa, who will speak in their native languages about the Relief Society’s mission. Simultaneous translation of their remarks will be provided to viewers.
Relief Society President Elaine L. Jack also will deliver a message from Nauvoo, Ill., where the organization first was founded. According to Jack, the Relief Society will focus on literacy improvement as another element of its 150th anniversary celebration.
“Literacy brings opportunities for good jobs and continued learning and advancement through a lifetime,” says Jack. “When we promote literacy, we also promote expanded personal possibilities in every area of life.”