On the 182nd anniversary of the organization of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, women all over the world gathered to hear messages from Church President Russell M. Nelson and the Relief Society general presidency, and to bear testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Relief Society — one of the world’s oldest and largest service organizations — was organized on March 17, 1842, during construction of the Nauvoo temple and in anticipation of the ordinances and covenants to be offered there, explained Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson.

“Now, in this season of unprecedented temple building, the objective of the Relief Society remains the same: to prepare a people temporally and spiritually for the blessings of the house of the Lord,” President Johnson said in her opening remarks.

All Relief Society sisters who enter into a covenant relationship with God can have access to those blessings — including His priesthood power.

“No worldly organization can articulate a comparable, divinely appointed platform to that of the Relief Society,” she said.

President Nelson’s gratitude, invitation and blessings for women

In his remarks, President Nelson said he is deeply grateful to the sisters of Relief Society. He said so much of the good the Church accomplishes — and so much of the good that happens in the world — takes place because of women.

He thanked women for their devotion to the Lord and their efforts to ennoble others.

“I marvel at your faith and sensitivity to things of the Spirit. I am inspired by your diligence, dynamic leadership, and your ability to see a need and meet it. ... The entire mission of the Lord’s Church is strengthened by you.”

He said women have a divine endowment that allows them to literally change lives — particularly as they are working to gather Israel.

“Anytime we help anyone find the covenant path and stay on it, we are helping to gather Israel. No one does this better than you do — as mothers, leaders, teachers, sisters and friends. You are preparing future generations of the Lord’s Church and the world.”

While he said he loves his brethren and cherishes working with them, the two people who have influenced him most are his late wife, Dantzel, who died at age 78, and, for the past 18 years, his wife Wendy.

“They have changed my life,” he said. “They have made my life more complete.”

Women have been at the center of Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning. Covenant daughters of God have a receptivity to the Spirit and an enhanced moral compass, he said.

“Sisters, please never underestimate the extraordinary power within you to influence others for good … if the world should ever lose the moral rectitude of its women, the world would never recover.”

Sisters’ voices are needed to teach the doctrine of Christ, detect deception and articulate truth. The wisdom of women is needed in their families, ward and stake councils, and other places of influence throughout the world.

President Nelson invited women to make the scriptures their personal Liahona, the temple their place of refuge and recalibration, and their personal prayers the way they learn where the Lord needs them to be that day. Over time, he said, they will see how the Lord guides them to help others.

Then, he offered the following blessings for women:

  • Increased spiritual discernment and the ability to find joy in offering relief to others.
  • Wisdom to discern what is needful and not to run faster than they are able.
  • The courage to live up to divine privileges as covenant daughters of God.
  • To feel deeply that Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, know them and love them.
  • To realize that their divine gifts as daughters of God give them the power not only to change lives but to change the world.

President Johnson invites women to enter into a covenant relationship with God

President Johnson shared how the Prophet has repeatedly taught that when people bind themselves to Jesus Christ through sacred priesthood covenants in the house of the Lord, they may draw upon God’s power and need never feel alone.

All enter the covenant path at baptism, and then enter it more completely in the temple, she said, as she invited women to prepare for and receive the blessings of endowment in the house of the Lord.

Young women turning 18 this year were invited to watch the broadcast with their local wards or stakes. President Johnson explained that worthy sisters may receive their own endowment if they are at least 18 years old; have completed or are no longer attending high school, secondary school or the equivalent; one full year has passed since their confirmation; and they feel a desire to receive and honor temple covenants throughout their lives. They do not have to wait until marriage.

“Sisters, if you are endowed, stay recommended to the Lord by keeping your recommend current and by attending the house of the Lord regularly. The Lord is making His temples more accessible to His covenant children.”

President Johnson shared a moment when she addressed a women’s conference in South Korea. Nearly 1,400 Relief Society sisters gathered for the event.

At the end of the meeting, a sister near President Johnson whispered to her, “He loves you.” The woman later told President Johnson that when she shared that message of love, she felt a confirmation from the Spirit of God’s love for her as well.

“My new friend, my Relief Society sister living in South Korea, delivered spiritual relief to me by communicating the love of Jesus Christ and was blessed to find her own relief in Him, a confirmation of the Savior’s enduring love for her,” President Johnson said. “You see, when we bring the Savior’s relief to others, we find it for ourselves.”

Standing with her counselors, President Johnson testified that women have a vital role to play in preparing the world for the Second Coming, and that all have access to God’s priesthood power in accomplishing that work.

Sister Dennis outlines God’s power

Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said daughters of God can be endowed with priesthood power — the power of God that comes to those who make and keep priesthood covenants.

“God’s priesthood power will amplify our spiritual gifts and talents, it will give us strength beyond our own to carry the heavy burdens of mortality, and it will give us the peace and power we need as we face the physical, emotional and spiritual earthquakes of our lives. This power that flows from our covenants can bless our lives in so many different ways because it is God’s power.”

Mothers can draw on His power for added capacity, energy and direction. Those who have lost a loved one can call on His power to feel comforted and carried. God’s power can also give hope to those facing difficult life circumstances.

Women who are called and set apart or assigned to help with God’s work are also given priesthood authority — God’s authority to represent Him as they fulfill their callings and assignments.

The adversary tries to blind women as to who they are and what they have. But Sister Dennis said she knows of no other religious organization in the world that has so broadly given power and authority to women. “All women 18 years and older in the Church of Jesus Christ who choose a covenant relationship with God in the house of the Lord are endowed with priesthood power directly from God. "

“And as we serve in whatever calling or assignment, including ministering assignments, we are given priesthood authority to carry out those responsibilities. My dear sisters, you belong to a Church which offers all its women priesthood power and authority from God,” Sister Dennis said.

Sister Yee testifies, ‘We are never alone’

Each woman has the opportunity to partner with the Lord in a powerful way through her covenants — and she is meant to become one with God through those covenants, taught Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

“We are never alone. We do not need to navigate the challenges, the uncertainties and the weaknesses of life alone. He will be beside us; this is our covenant promise and blessing. "

A partnership through covenants is real, she testified.

“As a sister who has not yet married, this covenant relationship with God has a profound place in my life and is the source of my peace, security, joy and direction. Our Father in Heaven and Savior desire these blessings for each of us no matter our circumstance. They see you, and your path is known to Them.”

Sister Yee said keeping covenants changes one’s nature to become as Jesus Christ. She invited women to develop a covenant relationship with God and invest in this relationship by living their covenants and spending time with the Savior in the temple, in prayer, in study and in ministering.

Though she is not currently married, Sister Yee said she doesn’t necessarily see herself as single. There is much more to all daughters of God than a marital status or demographic label. Covenant women of the Relief Society can create a home where the Spirit dwells — and create places of security and safety from the world.

All women are nurturers to all within their spheres.

“Dear sisters, your influence is great, and your gifts are needed. Look at the lives of those around you and those whom the Lord has placed within your influence.”

What it means to belong to the Relief Society

The broadcast began with all nine women general officers of the Church standing together. Primary General President Susan H. Porter said that while for this season she is called to help the children of the Church come unto Christ, she is grateful to always be a member of the Relief Society.

“Being a member of the Relief Society has allowed me to learn from consecrated women all over the world what it means to love and serve as the Savior,” President Porter said.

Young Women General President Emily Belle Freeman talked about a ministering sister who instilled in her the belief in the relief that comes from a society that follows Jesus Christ.

“She taught me that no matter where I serve in the Church, the Relief Society will be my home,” President Freeman said.

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President Johnson said from the small group of 20 women assembled in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842, a global organization of nearly 8 million women has grown. And the Relief Society is leading out in the Church’s global humanitarian initiative to address the needs of women and children.

These needs are prioritized through maternal and newborn care, child nutrition efforts, immunizations and education worldwide. And the best humanitarian outreach is often to those close by in everyday acts of kindness. President Johnson thanked women for serving as the Savior would.

“Sisters, you are fulfilling your divine mandate as a member of the Relief Society whenever you do anything to bring relief to others — temporal or spiritual — because you are bringing them the love of Jesus Christ.

“I testify that as you do, you will be blessed to find your own relief in Him. Jesus Christ is relief. And you belong to the Relief Society.”

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