Brigham Young once said, “We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one [wo]man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told” (The LDS Speaker’s Sourcebook, 505). When Relief Society sisters put their numbers to the test, miracles happen.
Here are seven ways to bring your ward’s Relief Society closer.
Visiting teaching seems like a simple, straightforward way to unite the sisters, and it is. When we visit each other, we share more than a simple thought or message; we share a common bond of womanhood in the gospel. We also get to know each other on a friendship level, discovering similar hobbies and talents. We lean on each other for support in times of need and celebrate in times of joy. Getting to know just one sister on a more personal level will help in uniting your ward’s Relief Society.
Each month, have each person draw the name of another Relief Society member to be their “secret sister.” During the month, the sister should leave a treat for her secret sister or do an act of service for her secretly. At the end of the month, reveal the sisters’ secret identities and give the new friendships time to bloom. Repeat.
Having secret sisters is fun and rewarding. Oftentimes, women discover a best friend in an unlikely person because of their kindness and service as a secret sister. After having several secret sisters, the women in your Relief Society will get to know each other better and feel a spirit of unity.
Uniting Old and Young
Sometimes Relief Society members find a hard time bonding because of their age difference. Their interests and life circumstances vary completely, but one thing they do have in common is the gospel. Go ahead and pair up an eighteen-year-old with an eighty-year-old (or a thirty-year old with a fifty-year-old, or a fifty-year-old with an eighty-year-old—you get the picture) and see what happens. Start an “Adopt a Grandmother” (or “Adopt a Granddaughter”) program in which younger women spend time with the older women of the Relief Society.
Another idea to bridge the age gap is to host a “Then and Now” activity night. Compare the lifestyles of two generations, asking women of all ages to talk about their eras. Teach each other popular dances from your time and play a game of Jeopardy! with history trivia questions. Make it fun! Bring out those 60s bell bottoms or 80s legwarmers—you might even be surprised what the younger girls are telling you is “cool” again.
Nothing brings Relief Society members together like service projects. After all, “charity never faileth.” Brainstorm some service project ideas during your Relief Society meetings. Do any of your sisters have special talents or resources that could make a good service project? Perhaps the bishop or stake president has some suggestions.
Here are a couple ideas to get you going. Round up the women and make dolls for local hospitals. Simple stuffed, cloth doll patterns are easy to find and create. Another idea is to make silk flower arrangements for the church building. It’s an amazing feeling to look at a beautiful bouquet and think, “Hey, I did that. No, we did that.” Not only will you, as sisters, be making a difference and having fun, but you’ll be forming friendships along the way.
Mix it Up
Sometimes helping sisters feel more comfortable is just a matter of familiarity. Try this: When you get up to make the announcements, ask the sisters to also stand up. Then, tell them to look around the room and look for a sister whom they’ve never spoken with and ask everyone to go sit by a new person, shake hands, and introduce themselves. You might also try wearing nametags for a few Sundays, particularly if your ward has quite a few new sisters.
Each week in Relief Society, spotlight a certain sister. Whoever is spotlighting the sister has the responsibility to find out some information about her, such as: her masterpiece recipe, her favorite moment as a mother or wife, where she sees herself in ten years, her dream vacation, and her most embarrassing moment.
After telling the sisters all of this information, the spotlighted person is revealed and presented with a basket full of goodies and practical items made by the sister who chose her. Then, the woman who is spotlighted chooses another person’s name and the process repeats itself. This gives women the opportunity to learn little-known facts about each other in a special way.
Or, an alteration on this idea could be that a sister is chosen each week to introduce herself to the Relief Society. She gathers together a basket of items that represent her: maybe a chocolate bar if she loves chocolate, a pencil if she likes to write, a bookmark if she likes to read, a printout of her favorite recipe—anything that would represent who she is. This sister explains the items in her basket and then passes the basket on as a gift to another sister who will gather her own basket for the following Sunday.
Transitioning Young Women
Let’s face it. The transition from the Young Women’s organization to Relief Society is exciting, but often scary for a Laurel. Without the safety of saying the Young Women theme and going to Girls’ Camp, a young woman may not feel at home in her new group. This is why our new members find excuses not to attend Relief Society or Enrichment, with or without their mother to guard them—and we should do what we can to help them feel like full-fledged members.
Work regularly with the Young Women presidency to determine ways to make the transition to Relief Society easier. If you’re hosting an Enrichment night where the young women could easily participate, don’t hesitate to invite them and make it a joint event. Plan a special mother-daughter activity, and do other things (maybe a few more “hip” things like a beauty or fashion or education night) that will help the younger girls feel like Relief Society has something to offer them, personally. Make a special effort to welcome the transitioning young women and they’ll love their new home in Relief Society.
Whether you’re wearing nylons or toe nail polish, holding a walker or newborn, Relief Society sisters are all the same: daughters of God. So break the boundaries and stand as all women should: united.