clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Duce's Wild: When charity faileth during church classes

While the most important work of the Relief Society occurs within homes in our communities, our Sunday meetings should also be a place where charity never faileth.
While the most important work of the Relief Society occurs within homes in our communities, our Sunday meetings should also be a place where charity never faileth.
Shutterstock

My high-school-aged daughters recently attended another ward where the Young Women joined the Relief Society sisters during the third hour of church meetings. Having no relationship or understanding of the older women in attendance that day, they came home confused and befuddled at the behaviors exhibited during the Relief Society lesson.

“They were the rudest women I have ever seen in my entire life,” they both said. Those words caught my attention. Then my girls cited three or four examples where charity certainly had failed.

My concern was heightened — not only for my daughters and wanting them to have good experiences at church, but also because my calling has recently changed. After three years teaching the youths in Sunday School, I’ve now been called to serve in the Relief Society as the education counselor in my ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since I’ve never served in any kind of auxiliary presidency before, the transition has been humbling and exciting.

I’ve always been the lone wolf in my callings, focusing all my attention on a very specific group of people, such as nursery toddlers or Cub Scouts. I’ve had stake callings where any effort I made was above and beyond expectations. But now, I’m not sure my service will ever be enough to meet the needs of our Relief Society sisters, their families and the entire community we serve.

As I’m writing this, I’m receiving text messages about one sweet sister who is going to begin receiving hospice care, another who came home from the hospital yesterday, a single sister who needs assistance with her boys and another who’s in her final days of her second pregnancy.

Now, I pray like I never have for the general welfare of so many families. I pray specifically for women and their challenging situations. I feel more hope to have charity and I want to wrap that warm blanket of love around anyone who stays for the third hour of church and enters our Relief Society room.

A few Sundays ago, all my realms of cherished service collided when I had a last-minute hole to fill in our teaching schedule. In a quiet panic, I prayed to find the right person to teach on short notice and eventually asked a sister I visit teach who has been a member of the LDS Church for only a few months. She was thrilled and excited for the honor to teach about Joseph Smith and to share her fresh testimony of his work to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ.

She studied the lesson and researched the topic on lds.org before we met to design an outline for her lesson. We printed off sections of the lesson and quotes for others to share to increase participation. I prayed that our sisters would be charitable to this first-time teacher, and they were.

Instead of ending the lesson with her testimony of Joseph Smith, she began with her testimony and how she received her first confirmation of the young prophet’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove. Then, we watched a two-minute LDS video titled “Seeker of Truth.” The first person she asked to participate was my former Sunday School student who not only shared her assigned snippet of information but also added a simple example of her testimony in perfect “Come, Follow Me” form.

It was all I could do to stay in my seat and resist the urge to give standing ovations.

I only wish my daughters’ experiences had been similar. Based on their viewpoints and my recent observations, I offer the following suggestions to sustain charity during Relief Society lessons:

Sisters, be self-aware — From whispering too loudly or rambling into side topics while answering specific questions during the lesson, please be self-aware of how your actions might affect the learning opportunity of those around you.

Support your leadership — I’ve noticed how some sisters feel very comfortable questioning or correcting the members of the Relief Society presidency while they're conducting. If she chooses to skip the practice hymn or take more time than normal during announcements, please support her decision, direction and leadership.

Maintain sound systems — This one may be more for the person in charge of building maintenance than for any of the sisters, but when the sound system in Relief Society is not functioning properly, it causes conundrums that drive the Spirit away. Fiddling with our Relief Society sound system has been a comedy of errors for more than a decade and is embarrassingly more of a factor to sisters’ discontent than anything else.

Share the Savior’s love — In a recent teacher development session, I shared the "Come, Follow Me" curriculum’s attributes of teaching the Savior’s way. We had a great discussion on the importance of loving those you teach rather than trying to excuse your inadequacies. A Relief Society lesson is a wonderful opportunity to share love, trust, concern and testimony in the way the Savior exemplified during his earthly ministry.

Any person walking through the door of any Relief Society classroom anywhere in the world will have no doubt that it is a place of empowerment for women. As members of the largest women’s organization in the world, we Relief Society sisters have the opportunity and obligation to be our best and mentor others to rise when they are downtrodden.

While the most important work of the Relief Society happens in homes, our Sunday meetings should also be a place of unfailing charity.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear regularly on deseretnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com