News Release

Recounting the Work and Essence of the Relief Society

Last week, 60 women leaders participated in discussions that explored common actions responsive to the call toward respect for human dignity, gender equality, and sustainability.

This was done in celebration of International Women's Day, where women from different faith-based organizations in the Philippines gathered to celebrate the gift of womanhood and friendship.


In the Church, it is common for women to take part in activities that help support and build the community. The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most prominent women's organizations in the world that foster and encourage such actions.

The organization is for women ages 18 and over whose purpose is to provide support for the temporal and spiritual needs of all women in the Church and others who are in need.

As affirmed by scriptural accounts, the original fledgling church in the Old and New Testaments relied on female disciples such as Mary, Martha, Tabitha, Priscilla, and many others to strengthen and sustain the Church.

Recently, four Filipino Latter-day Saint Women have been called as area organization advisers for the Church in the Philippines. Recently called were Maria Christina Villanueva Itchon Concepcion, Rosemarie Balquedra Francisco Fernando, Donna Dell Bernadas Dumas, and Diana Valencia Cruz.


The First Presidency approved the creation of this calling to help provide training and mentorship for local leaders. In the areas where they are called, the volunteer advisers will also participate in councils within the area as they work together in unity with the men and women of the Church in their respective areas.

"We know this is the Lord's timing and have felt His Spirit guiding the process to make this additional leadership instruction possible," said Primary General President Joy D. Jones. "He has prepared these sisters in their service and experience to serve as area organization advisers. It is humbling to feel His love for all of His children around the world. "These sisters will provide a needed connection in their areas," she added.

With the recent call of Area Organization Advisers, women are more empowered to serve in leadership callings that give them more capacity to love and serve all of God's children, just like the women spoken of in the scriptures.

The Creation of Relief Society

Members of the Church believe that in 1830 Joseph Smith Jr. was called by God to reestablish the ancient Church and its priestly authority, teachings, and ordinances. As part of this "Restoration," an organization of women was established after the order and "pattern of the priesthood" believed to be a part of the ancient Church. Joseph Smith declared, "The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized." Eliza R. Snow, the second Relief Society general president, later affirmed: "Although the name may be of modern date, the institution is of ancient origin. We were told by our martyred prophet [Joseph Smith] that the same organization existed in the Church anciently."

The Relief Society, as this institution came to be called, was initially organized to administer welfare needs and quickly expanded to encompass the spiritual as well as temporal needs of the Saints. By the 20th century, John Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, summarized the Relief Society's purpose as pursuing the "relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance — relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman."

A Legacy of Stalwart Women

The early Relief Society worked to fund medical training for women, make and market homemade goods, make their own silk, store grain for relief, build hospitals, secure suffrage and establish adoption services and programs of loans and grants to women.

The early to mid-20th century, Relief Society expanded relief efforts and community involvement with public and private welfare agencies (including the Church's own) and included a "more varied and extensive educational program."

After mid-century, with the accelerated growth of the Church, the focus has often included an emphasis on local congregations and empowering members to find opportunities for "service, learning, sisterhood and spiritual growth."

The mission of Relief Society includes increasing personal faith and righteousness, strengthening homes and families, and seeking out and helping those in need. Today, the Relief Society creates a sisterhood for women in the Church and opportunities for rendering service to all members of the congregation and the global community.


Relief Society women serve in leadership roles, share the gospel, provide service, teach, train, and deliver sermons. The Relief Society women pair together to visit other sisters and families in the congregation to offer service and support as well as to ensure that their temporal and spiritual needs are being met.

Local Relief Society presidencies in congregations throughout the world work with the bishopric to help those who have special needs because of old age, physical or emotional illness, emergencies, births, deaths, disability, loneliness and other challenges. They also work to help foster self-reliance, literacy, and other needed skills for individuals.

At a regional level, Relief Society leaders supervise regional welfare efforts and Relief Society-supported emergency relief. General Relief Society leaders conduct training for local leaders around the globe and assist with general welfare services and Church educational boards, among other responsibilities.

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