LDS Relief Society Trivia

This past week I had the privilege of preparing a lesson to be taught in the elders quorum of the branch I attend with my family here in Hong Kong. I did not have the privilege of teaching the lesson I had prepared, as there was some confusion and someone else got up to teach at the beginning of class. I knew enough to keep my mouth shut. I can say with some measure of confidence it is the most prepared I have ever been to listen to a lesson.

When I started preparing the lesson, I realized I had no clue what to talk about. The lesson, #13 from the Lorenzo Snow lesson manual, struck me as being a bit sparse and I wasn’t sure how I would fill 10 minutes, let alone 30-40. The gist of the lesson seemed to be “Relief Society is important, so make sure your wives can attend their Relief Society meetings.” I struggled to find much else to talk about, although I don’t fault Lorenzo Snow or the manual as my struggles are surely of my own making or shortcomings.

But as a result, I started studying the history of the Relief Society, about which I could remember virtually nothing, and came up with an interesting list of trivia and stories. I was able to share some of these as comments during the lesson. The only downside of being so prepared this week is that as a new member of the branch and I’ve now set unrealistically high expectations and I’ll have to prepare in a similarly adequate fashion each week lest I damage my reputation as being a know-it-all.

Regardless, here’s the trivia. Enjoy! BTW, some of this is copied from Wikipedia.

What was the first auxiliary organization in the Church?
Relief Society

The Relief Society was organized under the direction of which President of the Church?
Joseph Smith

Who was the first General Relief Society President?
Emma Smith

The Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. What date was it officially organized?
March 17, 1842

How many sisters were admitted as members when the Relief Society was founded?
26

What was the actual official name of the Relief Society when it was first organized in 1842?
The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

How did the Relief Society get started?
In the spring of 1842 Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook, discussed combining their efforts to sew clothing for workers constructing the Latter Day Saints’ Nauvoo Temple. They determined to invite their neighbors to assist by creating a Ladies’ Society. Kimball asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution and by-laws for the organization for submission to Latter Day Saint Church President Joseph Smith for review. After reviewing the documents, Smith called them “the best he had ever seen” but said, “this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord , and He has something better for them than a written constitution. . . . I will organize the women under the priesthood after a pattern of the priesthood.”

Twenty women gathered on Thursday, March 17, 1842 in the second-story meeting room over Smith’s Red Brick Store in Nauvoo. Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards sat on the platform at the upper end of the room with the women facing them. “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning” was sung, and Taylor opened the meeting with prayer. Smith stated “the object of the Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties, &c., in their public teaching.” Smith also proposed that the women elect a presiding officer who would choose two counselors to assist her. Emma Hale Smith was elected unanimously as president.

It was proposed that the organization go by the name Benevolent Society and with no opposition the vote carried. However, Emma Smith made a point of objection. She convinced the attendees that the term “relief” would better reflect the purpose of the organization, for they were “going to do something extraordinary,” distinct from the popular benevolent institutions of the day. After discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the fledgling organization be named The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith then offered five dollars in gold to commence the funds of the Society and the men left the room. Eliza R. Snow was unanimously elected as secretary of the Society with Phebe M. Wheeler as Assistant Secretary and Elvira A. Coles as Treasurer. Emma Smith remarked that “each member should be ambitious to do good” and seek out and relieve the distressed. Several female members then made donations to the Society. The men returned, and Taylor and Richards also made donations. After singing “Come Let Us Rejoice,” the meeting was adjourned to meet on the following Thursday at 10 o’clock. Taylor then gave a closing prayer. Of his experience Joseph Smith recorded: “I attended by request, the Female Relief Society, whose object is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes. . . .[W]e feel convinced that with their concentrated efforts, the condition of the suffering poor, of the stranger and the fatherless will be ameliorated”

Who was the longest serving General Relief Society President?
President Belle S. Spafford who served from 1945 to 1974 (29 years)

Who is the current General Relief Society President?
Linda K. Burton, appointed on 31 March, 2012, 16th RS Pres.

What is the Relief Society motto?
Charity never faileth.

During World War I (1917-1919) the Red Cross had an approximate membership of 50,000 women in the United States. Of that number, approximately how many were also members of the Relief Society?
47,000

How many Hymns did Eliza R. Snow write in the current hymn book?
10

Name three of the Hymns written by Eliza R. Snow.
Awake, Yes Saints of God Awake; Great is the Lord; Through Deepening Trials; Again We Meet Around the Board; Behold the Great Redeemer Die; How Great the Wisdom and the Love; The Time is Far Spent; Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses; O My Father; In Our Lovely Deseret

Which General Relief Society President threatened to leave her husband because he had a bar in the house?
Emma Smith

A bar was set up in Joseph’s hotel, the Mansion house. Joseph Smith III tells of Emma’s return from a journey to find the bar in place. As her biographers tell the story:

…Emma entered the main room of the Mansion House on April 24 [, 1843]. A bar, complete with counter, shelves, and glasses for serving liquor stood in the room. [Orrin] Porter Rockwell reigned supreme over it. Emma sent her eleven-year-old son into a meeting to tell Joseph she wished to speak with him; she waited in the hall.

“Joseph, what is the meaning of that bar in this house?” Emma asked with restraint obvious to her young son, who later recorded the confrontation. Joseph explained that a new building across the street was planned for Porter Rockwell’s bar and barbershop, but until it could be completed Rockwell had set up the bar in the Mansion. “How does it look for the spiritual head of a religious body to be keeping a hotel in which a room is fitted out as a liquor-selling establishment?” she asked earnestly. Joseph countered that all hotels had their bars, the arrangement was only temporary, and he wanted to make up for Rockwell’s months in prison.

Rockwell had been jailed for months, and reached Nauvoo in financially desperate straits. Joseph hoped to find a trade for his old friend and bodyguard.

Emma was not persuaded by this argument:

Unconvinced, Emma told Joseph he could hire someone to run the Mansion for him. “As for me,” she continued, “I will take my children and go across to the old house and stay there, for I will not have them raised up under such conditions as this arrangement imposes upon us, nor have them mingle with the kind of men who frequent such a place. You are at liberty to make your choice; either that bar goes out of the house, or we will!”…

Joseph answered, “Very well, Emma; I will have it removed at once.” Soon a frame structure, designed to house the bar and barbershop, began to rise across the street.

When did the Visiting Teaching program begin?
July 28, 1843, just a little more than a year after the Relief Society was organized.

How long after the establishment of the church did Emma Smith make a selection of hymns for the church?
3 months

Comments

  1. You are a life saver. I am teaching Elder’s Quorum Lesson 24 from the Joseph F. Smith book. Very similar to the lesson material you mentioned above. I have a lacy tablecloth and a basket of treats ready too. Thanks!

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