During the September 26 General Relief Society Meeting, President Julie B. Beck announced information to help leaders focus more on the eternal goals of Relief Society instead of the more frilly type of meetings. As part of achieving this goal, the name of Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meetings/Activities was changed to the simpler “Relief Society Meeting“. She encouraged sisters not only to attend Sunday meetings, but to also focus on the real purposes of the Relief Society which are
- increase faith and personal righteousness (FAITH)
- strengthen families and homes (HOME)
- serve the Lord and his children (SERVICE)
I love this simple, clear direction: Relief Society meetings’ emphasis should be on faith, home, and service!
Any meetings held during the week should focus on these three things. Meetings should be held at least quarterly (most often monthly) and possibly more frequently with special consideration to the time commitments, travel distance, cost, financial situations, safety, and other circumstances of sisters. These meetings will be overseen by Relief Society presidents in counsel with the Bishop or Branch President and will be attended by at least one member of the Relief Society Presidency. Sisters should not feel obligated to attend all of these meetings. At least one meeting will focus on the history of Relief Society and its work.
To help leaders focus in on these simple goals, the Church’s website has been updated with information on Increasing Faith and Personal righteousness, strengthening families, and serving the Lord. LDS.org also has more specific instruction on how to apply these guidelines:
In planning additional Relief Society meetings, consider using the following topic list as priorities:
Compassionate service: care of the sick, elderly, homebound, disabled, and poor and needy; support for new mothers and babies; humanitarian and community aid; help with funerals.
Education and literacy: scripture study and gospel learning, teaching reading, tutoring children and youth, choosing children’s literature, using computers and other technology, developing cultural awareness.
Finances: budgeting, debt relief, employment qualifications.
Health: physical health, fitness, addiction prevention and recovery, social and emotional health, illness prevention.
Homemaking: learning and improving skills for the care of the home and family, such as cleaning and organizing, home beautification, cooking, sewing, gardening, food production and preservation, home storage, and emergency preparedness.
Marriage and family: preparing for marriage and family, strengthening marriages, improving parenting, early childhood education, preparing youth for future responsibilities, encouraging and preparing for family home evening, and strengthening extended family relationships.
Sharing the gospel: member missionary efforts, fellowshipping new and less-active members, neighbourhood outreach, activation and retention, welcoming new sisters into Relief Society, preparing for full-time missions.
Temple and family history: how to collect and preserve family history information, writing family histories, preparing for the temple, doing temple work.
Other topics as suggested by the Bishop can be included in the above, according to Sister Beck.
Emphasis was placed on focusing on the work in our own wards, instead of being concerned about what is going in other places. Imagine the power and effectiveness of Relief Society meetings that are targeted to meet specific needs that increase faith and personal righteousness (FAITH), strengthen families and homes (HOME), and teach us to serve the Lord and his children (SERVICE).
Official Instuctions on Planning RS Meetings using the new Guidelines
November 27, 2009. The Church just released helpful information on the website for leaders planning meetings using the new guidelines.
- Meeting Planning Sheet – This may be the most helpful document I’ve ever seen from the Church. The first page is for brainstorming ideas with the Bishop or as a presidency. Identify needs of the sisters that fall in the three target areas and write them on that page. On the second page, choose one area you’d like to focus on and begin planning an activity. The focus areas are on the top of the page to help you stay focused, and I love that there is a section for planning the Children’s Class as well.
- Additional Relief Society Meetings Main Page – This section has the basic outline of the simplified focus of Relief Society Meetings. At the bottom of the page is a list of topics for the meetings that links to a list of selected activity ideas under each topic.
****What remains unclear, imo, is the role of “The Counselor Formerly Known As the Enrichment Counselor”. The instructions said the RS president can assign a sister or counselor to coordinate activities and that a member of the presidency should attend each meeting. It is not quite clear if the Enrichment counselor will be used as the main coordinator of events, or what her role will be in the presidency. I suspect we’ll move back to a more fluid 1st and 2nd counselor-type role, instead of the separation of powers type thing we have going now. ~Jenny *****