Every March, we joyfully and humbly join in celebrating International Women's Day and the anniversary of the Relief Society.
The Relief Society was organized on March 17, 1842. It is an organization for women over the age of 18 and its primary purpose is to support the temporal and spiritual needs of all women in the Church, as well as all those who need it.
Emma Smith, the first Relief Society president, told the 20 women present at her first meeting, “We are going to do something extraordinary”.1 Today, 179 years later, the organization has more than 7 million members in 170 countries and is the largest women's organization in the world.
As Heavenly Father's daughters, women are an essential part of His plan of salvation. “Without you, the plan could not function” President Gordon B. Hinckey said during an October 1996 general conference talk. And he continued, “Without you the entire program would be frustrated. As I have said before from this pulpit, when the process of creation occurred, Jehovah, the Creator, under instruction from His Father, first divided the light from the darkness and then separated the land from the waters. There followed the creation of plant life, followed by the creation of animal life. Then came the creation of man, and culminating that act of divinity came the crowning act, the creation of woman”.2
In the Caribbean Area, thousands of women are part of this global organization. Cultures may be different and language barriers may exist, but they all have the same common purpose, the opportunity to be part of an organization that teaches to build faith in Jesus Christ, encourages study and self-improvement, emphasizes the divine value of women, exercises charity and service, strengthens families, and fosters a community of support and friendship.
The Work and Purpose of Relief Society
The Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by increasing faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His atonement; strengthening individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants and working in unity to help those in need3.
Increasing faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His atonement
Clara Mercedes, Central Stake, Dominican Republic
“I am grateful to be a woman, to be a daughter of Heavenly Father, and to feel loved by Him. I love the Savior Jesus Christ and feel gratitude for his eternal sacrifice.”
Jeisa Vasquez, San Juan Stake, Puerto Rico
“Being a woman is a divine blessing. We're a special lineage. Knowing that I am a daughter of heavenly parents helps me to value more who I am and to know God's purpose for me and for each of His daughters. In addition, as part of the Relief Society organization, I have learned the importance of women working together in a common purpose. This is a sisterhood of love and service to others. I am certain that by serving together we will be able to continue the work of building the Kingdom of God here on earth.”
Jessy De León, Toa Baja Stake, Puerto Rico
“I am honored to be who I am: a woman. As part of Relief Society, I can share with other women who have the same purpose as I: to love and serve God more.”
Esther Angervil Charles, Petite Place Cazeau Ward, Haiti
“I am a woman, and I am part of the largest women's organization in the world! My nature is divine, and I have a purpose in coming to this earth: to have a physical body and to prepare to return to Heavenly Father's presence.”
Strengthening families and homes through ordinances and covenants
Myrna Agosto, Carolina Ward, Puerto Rico
“The Relief Society was created to care for us and watch over the needy and the fallen. When I think of the fact that I am a woman and that I belong to this organization, I am filled with a lot of love. How wonderful it is to belong to a group of women of strength, faith, hope, bravery and who love the Lord.”
Yvena Saintil Pamphile, Torselle Ward, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
“I am happy to be a big part of God's creation, and to know that as a mother, I can bring souls to earth to complete His plan. Thanks to the Relief Society, I can emphasize my divine potential as Heavenly Father's daughter. I thank this organization for the blessings it brings to the lives of all the other women who are part of it.”
Angeles Vazquez Reyes, Puerto Rico
“One of the greatest privileges as a woman is to be Heavenly Father's partner in His plan of salvation.”
Work in unity to help those in need
Pam Kotiah, San Fernando Ward, Trinidad and Tobago
“It is a divine pleasure to be a woman and to belong to the Relief Society, where kind women understand me and are willing to help me in any situation in my life. It's helpful to know I'm not alone.”
Patricia José, Las Caobas Stake, Dominican Republic
“In the years I have belonged to the Relief Society, I have had the opportunity to grow and improve my skills by acquiring diverse secular and spiritual knowledge. I have received them from different leaders and sisters who, with love, service, and dedication have shared it with me. I love belonging to the Relief Society. I am a better woman, mother and wife because of it.”
1 “Something Extraordinary”: The Beginnings of Relief Society. September 5, 2018
2 Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Women of the Church”, General Conference, October 1996
3General Handbook of Leaders, section 9.1.1