On March 17 the Relief Society celebrates its 173rd birthday, making it one of the world’s oldest women’s organizations. It is also the world’s largest women’s organization, with over six million sisters in 170 countries. As part of your annual celebration in your ward or branch, try some of these ideas to help strengthen bonds between Relief Society sisters.
A Night of Relief Society History
Teach your sisters more about the mission of Relief Society by reviewing its roots. A fun way to teach the sisters the history of the organization is to play Relief Society Jeopardy. Depending on how competitive your sisters are, divide the group into teams, or allow sister to yell out their answers freely. Create questions that bear some significance to Relief Society—questions concerning scriptures that are significant to Relief Society, hymns that have significant Relief Society history, trivia about Relief Society leaders, or other general trivia. (Or use this ready-made online version of the game.) Use this game in conjunction with a dinner and message about the growing mission of Relief Society through time.
Video of the General Relief Society Meeting of 2005
Another way to highlight Relief Society history is to share the video that was shown during the General Relief Society Meeting of 2005. This video beautifully explains the reason for organizing the Relief Society and the power behind the organization. After watching the video, invite a priesthood leader to share some statements Joseph Smith made about the purpose and potential of the Relief Socirty. Gather some statements from the brethren in the ward on how the Relief Society contributes to the purpose of the gospel. Share them and lead a discussion exploring what the sisters can do to help the Relief Society live up to this great potential.
Deseret Industries Projects
You can find ideas for individual service projects from a local Deseret Industries; each DI should have an office dedicated to humanitarian aid. In these offices you can find examples of needed items like knitted bandages for lepers, homemade picture books for children around the world and colorful wall hangings to give visual stimulation to children in orphanages. You can also schedule evenings for sisters to come in and work on on-site projects, such as assembling school kits.
Church Humanitarian Aid
The Church’s website has several ideas for service under Humanitarian Service and the “What You Can Do” link. Ideas include smaller and larger projects.
After the big event, or on the day you have set for sisters to turn in the day you have set for sisters to turn in their contributions, have a luncheon, followed by birthday cake, and share your experiences of the event. Combining your wards birthday celebration with a special service event truly is a wonderful opportunity to illustrate the mission of the Relief Society.
Themed Birthday Parties and Programs
The Relief Society Birthday celebration can also be just that: a party! But include in your celebration more than birthday cakes; create a theme that inspires discussion and reflection. Here are some thoughts:
Months of the Year
Celebrate the birthdays of your sisters. Decorate each table with a centerpiece that represents a certain month of the year. Ask sisters to sit at their birthday-month table. Serve dinner and have a speaker deliver a message on how to remember the Relief Society mission all year long by serving the sisters around us. This gives sisters a great opportunity to learn more about sisters with whom they don’t normally spend much time; it can also be a good occasion to discuss the blessings of visiting teaching.
Of Royal Birth
Emphasize the value of each Relief Society sister by organizing a program that reminds them of their royal heritage as daughters of God. Remind them of their divine purpose as members of Relief Society, as women, and as individuals. As a leader or sister to speak on divine purpose, or organize a skit that highlights milestones of life and the guidance Heavenly Father promises. You might even include daughters as part of the program.
Femininity and Nurturing
Brainstorm topics for four classes—two on femininity and two on nurturing. On a Sunday leading up to the celebration, ask the sisters to sign up for two classes; schedule the classes in such a way that the sisters attend one class on each subject. Possible class subjects for nurturing classes include: first aid/CPR training or building relationships with friends and family. Possible topics for femininity classes are: creating time for self-improvement (physical, educational, etc.) or a basic art class (drawing, watercolor, or sculpture). Make these classes twenty minutes each, and then come back together for dinner. This makes for roughly a two-hour evening.
A Worldwide Sisterhood
Plan a potluck dinner where everyone brings an international dish to share. Decorate each table with flags and souvenirs from different countries. For the program, organize a gala where people from different countries perform traditional ceremonies or tell folk tales from that country. After dinner and the program, ask the Relief Society president or bishop to address the sisters on how our differences bless our lives and further the work of the Relief Society. Break a piñata filled with handouts at the end!
Remember, we celebrate the organization of the Relief Society to remind the sisters of its divine mission. Whether you use these suggestions or not, be sure that each sister leaves your celebration with a renewed sense of purpose as a sister in this inspired organization as a daughter of God.