As I read through my new “Daughters in My Kingdom” book, I found myself moved by the stories of so many of Christ’s female disciples. It reminded me so much of my study a few years back that I entitled “Walking With Women”.
Throughout the ages, women of faith rallied as witnesses of Christ. Through their stories, we grow in our own faith, recognizing our own divine heritage. We learn that women hold an important role in the Lord’s Kingdom.
Stop the presses. Lady Ozma, aren’t you a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? They are well-known for their standing at the front of sexism!
Well, yes I am a proud LDS woman. Some call me Mormon, and that’s all right, too. However, let me dispel this myth right here and right now. My Church may hold to traditional values and principles, but they are in no way sexist. In fact, we have strong female leadership, from the local congregation to the church-wide officers.
In 1842, founder Joseph Smith formed the women’s organization we know as Relief Society. He stated at that time:
The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized –Joseph Smith
If you attend one of our meetings, there is a very good chance you will hear a woman address you from the pulpit during our main service known as Sacrament, invited to do so by leadership. If the Bishop of a congregation (we call them “wards” or “branches” depending on the size) is like unto the father of the congregation, then I think it safe to consider the Relief Society President as the mother. She is there to lead the women, but she tends to the entire flock.
This organization is divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and men. –Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church
What does the Relief Society do, then? A lot! We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, grant rest to the weary. We start with the members of our own congregations and then spread out from there. Recently, my own Relief Society gathered clothes for school children in need. This was not a “Mormon” thing, it benefited many not of our faith. We are actively engaged in helping a local center meeting the needs of abused children in our community. Once, I served in the Relief Society presidency, and I remember helping hungry families in our congregation with food orders, planning dinners for new mothers, and sitting with women in desperate need of counsel. The Relief Society also teaches, and yes our members do “preach”.
Women ministering is nothing new. In fact, a modern-day leader stated:
The World’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus The Christ –James E. Talmage
The first chapter of “Daughters in My Kingdom” reminds us of the many women involved in Christ’s ministry. I think I need to engage myself in studying more of these women, returning to my “Walking With Women” study, however it pleased me to see Priscilla mentioned.
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. –Eliza R. Snow, second General Relief Society President
Women serving the Savior and the Church riddle the pages of the New Testament. Let Mary, Martha, Tabitha, Anna, and others mentor you in the ways of womanhood in Christ’s Church.
We live in a day where women can do so much more than ever before. We can travel, work, and use the internet. We can own land and businesses. Every day women teach, lead, and inspire those around them.
I’m glad to live in a worldwide church that values women and their role in ministering to the people. Where we can speak to the membership, and not talk solely to women. In last week’s worldwide Church “General Conference”, one woman spoke specifically to the men. She encouraged them, reminding them of their duty as men and fathers. In the case of some men, I’m sure her remarks came off as rebuking, I only hope those men take to heart her words and change their lives to follow her counsel.
I am thankful that “Daughters in My Kingdom” started with a chapter on female disciples, reminding us of the important role of women in the Scriptures.