HELPING YOUNG WOMEN MAKE THE TRANSITION TO RELIEF SOCIETY
(by Susan Gail Parker)
"Relief Society can be a blessing for young adult sisters. Within a loving sisterhood they can enlarge their understanding of gospel principles, build firm testimonies, and give Christlike service." (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, p. 206)
"Young women ordinarily move into the Relief Society when they reach their 18th birthday. However, because of special circumstances, such as individual maturity, desire to continue with peer group associates, school graduation, and college attendance, a young woman may move into Relief Society early or remain in Young Women longer. Such exceptions should occur after the young woman consults with her parents and the bishop and receives their approval.
"Young Women and Relief Society presidencies work together to make the transition into Relief Society successful." (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, p. 214)
All sisters should be positive and supportive of Relief Society, setting a good example. They must be aware that their attitude toward Relief Society leaders and the work of Relief Society has a great impact on young women, as well as other sisters.
Young Women and Relief
Society leaders should build positive relationships with each other, all
working together to prepare young women for their transition into Relief
Society. Brainstorm with Relief Society leaders, ward single adult
representative, and Young Women leaders for other transition ideas. Work
together and calendar events together all year.
Have one mother-daughter (all ages) homemaking night during each year. Start early, even Primary age, so girls become familiar and comfortable with Relief Society and Relief Society Sisters. Sister Smoot suggests we start "when they are infants" to prepare girls for Relief Society.
DURING YOUNG WOMEN YEARS
Continue inviting young women to occasional homemaking meetings and other appropriate activities. Learn what their interests are and incorporate them in to your planning.
Coordinate with Young Women leaders to offer some homemaking classes that will help young women pass off Personal Progress requirements, including Laurel Projects.
Encourage sisters to get to know them, learn their names, talk to them, sit by them, love them, show them they are cared for.
Invite young women to participate in compassionate service or community service with Relief Society sisters.
Be sure there are lessons taught in Young Women about Relief Society, preparing the young women and encouraging them to be excited about Relief Society. Help them develop testimonies of Relief Society before they become part of Relief Society.
Don't assume that when a young sister goes away to college, she will then learn about Relief Society. Some fall through the cracks.
Work with the Young Women presidency to make graduating from Young Women a womanhood experience, a crossing over, a preparation for their life as a sister in Relief Society.
IN THE YEAR BEFORE GRADUATION
A young adult specialist could be assigned to help young women make the transition to RS.
The Relief Society Secretary works with Young Women leaders and mothers, identifying Laurels for the Relief Society presidency, becoming acquainted with their talents, interests, abilities, accomplishments.
When planning for the new year, examine the Sunday lesson schedules for Relief Society and Laurels and when the topics can be integrated, invite the Laurels to attend a Sunday lesson in Relief Society. Laurels could be invited to attend Sunday Relief Society 4 times a year.
Continue inviting Laurels to Homemaking, and other appropriate activities or socials, keeping their interests in mind.
A ward Relief Society luncheon or dinner for graduating Laurels could be planned by the ward Relief Society presidency and Young Women leaders. A special presentation on Relief Society could be made by the Relief Society and Young Women Presidencies. Explain the Purpose and Objectives of Relief Society (see General Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, p. 193). Give the Young Women the opportunity to ask questions about Relief Society, perhaps submitting them ahead of time.
The Laurel class could teach a Relief Society lesson on Sunday or at Homemaking.
Assign Visiting Teachers in the month before graduation and plan for the transitioning young women to be Visiting Teachers, teaching them the responsibilities of Visiting Teachers (see General Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, p.203) and pairing them with an experienced 'trainer'.
AT TRANSITION TIME
Remember where these young women are coming from. In Young Women they were peer leaders. Now they are the newbies. Some may feel inadequate at first. Remember, each young woman's needs are different.
Suggest to your Bishop that he call 18 year old Young Women to a "lifetime of service in Relief Society".
Be aware of where the mother of an 18 year old young woman is serving during the transition time. If the opportunity is there, make sure the mother can accompany her daughter to Relief Society. Some girls won't need this, some will.
Prepare a 'welcome packet' containing a Relief Society manual, Pursuit of Excellence booklet, Introduction to Relief Society pamphlet, list of the Relief Society objectives, scripture marking pencil, pencil, notepad, or other appropriate items. Have each new sister fill out a survey to see what she is interested in learning and what she could share.
When she attends Relief Society for the first time, the graduating Laurel could be spotlighted in Relief Society. With previous notification, she could tell about herself or if she is shy a member of the Relief Society presidency or her mother could tell about her. At the close of the meeting, the Relief Society president could stand at the door with the new Relief Society sister to be introduced personally to each older sister.
An individual interview or home visit could be made by the Relief Society president alone or with the ward single adult representative. Introduce her to Pursuit of Excellence program. Give recognition as she achieves her goals.
Train teachers to keep these young sisters in mind as they prepare their lessons, including items relating directly to them with an understanding of their needs and concerns in life.
Involve these young sisters!
Assign them as Visiting Teachers, preferably with older, conscientious sisters who are instructed in their responsibilities to train the young sisters in Visiting Teaching.
They could teach a miniclass. Draw on their talents or give them a subject and a book. They can learn then teach. Your Homemaking leader or another sister could work with them.
They can be on a committee; entertainment, decorations or food, etc for a social.d. Ask them to participate in compassionate service.
Assist/ mentor them whenever they are called on to serve. Use their moms or another sister.
Give each young woman a responsibility, a friend, and nurture her with the good word of God. (Sound familiar??)
See the new Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, pp. 206, 214 and Book 1, pp. 109-112 for further direction. Use your imagination and let the Spirit be your guide. Please share any successes you have in this work with your Stake leaders.
"As Latter-day Saint women, we spend the majority of our lives in Relief Society. Great preparation needs to be taken for our young to attend.“Start when they are infants. Let them know that some day they, too, will be in Relief Society, that great and wonderful inspired organization that will help them grow in charity one with another.
"When we save a sister, we save a family. When we save a family we save generations."
Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society Open House talk entitled 'Tools', Fall, 1998