Why We Are Organized into Quorum and Relief Societies | Julie B. Beck


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>>WHAT A THRILLING LIFE AWAITS YOU.>>THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE
IS A SACRED ACTIVITY.>>A TRULY EDUCATED MAN NEVER
CEASES TO LEARN.>>THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS. THE OUTCOME IS UP TO YOU.>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS
WITH SISTER JULIE B BECK WAS GIVEN ON JANUARY 17 2012. ♪♪>>SISTER JULIE B. BECK
HAS SERVED IN ALL THE AUXILIARIES OF THE CHURCH
AND ALSO IN SCOUTING. SHE SERVED AS FIRST
COUNSELLOR IN THE YOUNG WOMEN GENERAL PRESIDENCY,
AND SHE CURRENTLY SERVES AS THE RELIEF SOCIETY
GENERAL PRESIDENT. AS PART OF HER
RESPONSIBILITIES, SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH
BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE BOARDS OF TRUSTEES OF CHURCH
SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES. SHE IS ALSO ON THE EXECUTIVE
AND GENERAL COUNCILS FOR WELFARE AND THE PERPETUAL
EDUCATION FUND OF THE CHURCH. AS A CHILD SHE LEARNED TO
SPEAK PORTUGUESE WHEN SHE LIVED IN BRAZIL WITH HER
PARENTS AND 10 BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHILE HER FATHER
SERVED AS MISSION PRESIDENT. SHE IS A GRADUATE OF DIXIE
COLLEGE AND BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY. SISTER BECK WAS A FULL-TIME
HOMEMAKER PRIOR TO HER SERVICE IN THE YOUNG WOMEN
GENERAL PRESIDENCY. SHE AND HER HUSBAND, RAMON,
ARE THE PARENTS OF THREE CHILDREN AND HAVE
15 GRANDCHILDREN. AND NOW WE’LL HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY OF HEARING FROM SISTER BECK. THANK YOU FOR YOUR WELCOME
TODAY AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY. I LOVE THIS UNIVERSITY,
AND I FEEL BLESSED BY EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO FEEL
THE SPIRIT THAT IS UNIQUE ON THIS CAMPUS. BECAUSE OF MY SERVICE ON THE
CHURCH BOARD OF EDUCATION, I CAN TESTIFY OF THE LORD’S
INTEREST IN THIS MARVELOUS INSTITUTION. AND IN YOUR HONOR I WORE
MY BEST BYU BLUE TODAY. AS I HAVE PONDERED THIS
OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOU, A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT
SUBJECTS CAME TO MY MIND. I THOUGHT I MIGHT TRY TO ADD
TO THE TEACHING YOU HAVE HAD ABOUT DATING, MARRIAGE, AND
ESTABLISHING ETERNAL FAMILIES. OR SOME PEOPLE SUGGESTED
THAT I SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR DRESS AND APPEARANCE. I EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT SAYING
SOME THINGS ABOUT WHAT YOUR MOTHER WISHES YOU HAD LEARNED
BEFORE YOU LEFT HOME. BUT THE SPIRIT HAS PERSISTED
IN GIVING ME IDEAS ABOUT WHY WE ARE ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS
AND RELIEF SOCIETIES. ALTHOUGH THIS IS PROBABLY
AN UNUSUAL TOPIC FOR MOST OF YOU TO CONSIDER,
I HOPE THE SPIRIT WILL USE ME TO TEACH YOU SOME THINGS THAT
WILL BLESS YOUR LIVES AS YOU CONTINUE TO STRENGTHEN
YOUR FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND CONTRIBUTE
TO BUILDING HIS KINGDOM. WHEN I WAS A YOUNG GIRL MY
FATHER WAS CALLED TO PRESIDE OVER THE BRAZILIAN MISSION. AT THAT TIME THERE WAS ONLY
ONE MISSION IN BRAZIL. THERE WERE NO STAKES
OR WARDS; THERE WASN’T AN ELDERS
QUORUM IN THE COUNTRY. THAT MEANS THERE WERE
NO HOME TEACHERS. THERE WERE OVER 40 BRANCHES,
WHICH WERE GENERALLY PRESIDED OVER BY MISSIONARIES WHO
CONDUCTED A WEEKLY SACRAMENT MEETING AND SOMETIMES HELD A
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND BRANCH ACTIVITIES. MY FATHER HAD SERVED AS A
STAKE PRESIDENT AND A BISHOP PRIOR TO HIS CALL AS A
MISSION PRESIDENT, AND HE HAD AN UNDERSTANDING
OF HOW TO ESTABLISH THE LORD’S CHURCH. HE BEGAN TO ORGANIZE BRANCHES
AND DISTRICTS IN THE PATTERN WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH TODAY
IN ANTICIPATION OF FUTURE STAKES AND WARDS. TO BEGIN THE ORGANIZATION,
SOME PRIORITIES WERE FOLLOWED. FIRST, A BRANCH PRESIDENT
AND THEN AN ELDERS QUORUM PRESIDENT AND A RELIEF SOCIETY
PRESIDENT WERE CALLED. IT WAS UNDERSTOOD THAT THERE
COULD BE NO FUNCTIONING BRANCH WITHOUT A QUORUM
PRESIDENT AND A RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENT. AS THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH
BEGAN ESTABLISHING THE CHURCH IN THIS DISPENSATION,
THE LORD DIRECTED HIM TO FOLLOW SIMILAR
INSPIRED PATTERNS. WHEN HE SET THE COURSE
FOR THE RELIEF SOCIETY, HE TOLD THE SISTERS THEY WERE
ORGANIZED “UNDER THE PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE PATTERN
OF THE PRIESTHOOD.” THIS GAVE THE SISTERS OFFICIAL
RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE RESTORED CHURCH AND THE
AUTHORITY TO FUNCTION IN THOSE RESPONSIBILITIES. THIS WAS A PATTERN SIMILAR TO
THAT GIVEN TO A PRESIDENT OF A QUORUM OF ELDERS,
WHO WAS TO COUNSEL WITH HIS PRESIDENCY. BEFORE WE CAN UNDERSTAND
WHY WE ARE THUS ORGANIZED, IT MAY BE HELPFUL TO
REVIEW THE DEFINITION OF A PRIESTHOOD QUORUM
AND A RELIEF SOCIETY. MANY PEOPLE HAVE THE MISTAKEN
IDEA THAT A QUORUM OR A RELIEF SOCIETY IS MERELY A
CLASS OR A PLACE TO SIT DURING THE THIRD HOUR OF
CHURCH ON SUNDAY. PERHAPS SOME OF THIS
MISUNDERSTANDING STARTED TO DEVELOP WHEN THE CHURCH
COMBINED ITS MAJOR MEETINGS INTO A THREE-HOUR BLOCK
ON SUNDAY. BEFORE THAT TIME,
QUORUM AND RELIEF SOCIETY MEETINGS WERE NOT CONNECTED
WITH SACRAMENT MEETING OR SUNDAY SCHOOL. A PRIESTHOOD QUORUM IS A
GROUP OF MEN WITH THE SAME OFFICE OF PRIESTHOOD WHO ARE
TO PERFORM A SPECIAL LABOR. MEMBERSHIP IN A QUORUM HAS
BEEN CALLED A “STEADY, SUSTAINING CITIZENSHIP.” PRESIDENT BOYD K. PACKER
HAS SAID THAT QUORUMS ARE “SELECTED ASSEMBLIES OF
BRETHREN GIVEN AUTHORITY THAT [THE LORD’S] BUSINESS
MIGHT BE TRANSACTED AND HIS WORK PROCEED.” HE ALSO SAID THAT
“IN ANCIENT DAYS WHEN A MAN WAS APPOINTED TO A SELECT
BODY, HIS COMMISSION, ALWAYS WRITTEN IN LATIN,
OUTLINED THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ORGANIZATION,
DEFINED WHO SHOULD BE MEMBERS, AND THEN
INVARIABLY CONTAINED THE WORDS: QUORUM VOS UNUM, MEANING,
‘OF WHOM WE WILL THAT YOU BE ONE.'”
PRESIDENT KIMBALL TAUGHT THAT “THE RELIEF SOCIETY IS THE
LORD’S ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN. IT COMPLEMENTS THE
PRIESTHOOD TRAINING GIVEN TO THE BRETHREN.” THE WORD SOCIETY
HAS A MEANING NEARLY IDENTICAL TO THAT OF QUORUM. IT CONNOTES AN ENDURING
AND COOPERATING GROUP DISTINGUISHED BY ITS COMMON
AIMS AND BELIEFS. WHEN JOSEPH SMITH ORGANIZED
THE SISTERS, HE TOLD THEM THAT “THERE
SHOULD BE A SELECT SOCIETY, SEPARATE FROM ALL THE EVILS
OF THE WORLD, CHOICE, VIRTUOUS, AND HOLY.” PRESIDENT JOSEPH F. SMITH
TAUGHT THAT RELIEF SOCIETY HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE
IDENTITY AND THAT IT WAS “DIVINELY MADE,
DIVINELY AUTHORIZED, DIVINELY INSTITUTED,
DIVINELY ORDAINED OF GOD TO MINISTER FOR THE SALVATION OF
THE SOULS OF WOMEN AND MEN.” THE PURPOSES OF RELIEF SOCIETY
ARE TO INCREASE FAITH AND PERSONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS,
STRENGTHEN FAMILIES AND HOMES, AND SEEK OUT AND PROVIDE RELIEF
FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED. THE QUORUM IS TO SERVE OTHERS,
BUILD UNITY AND BROTHERHOOD, INSTRUCT QUORUM MEMBERS IN
THE DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL,
AND WATCH OVER THE CHURCH. BEING PART OF A RELIEF
SOCIETY OR QUORUM IS A DESIGNATION FOR A WAY OF LIFE. WE ARE TO SERVE IN THE
ASSOCIATION OF A MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD QUORUM OR A RELIEF
SOCIETY FOR A LIFETIME. FROM THE QUORUM OR RELIEF
SOCIETY WE ARE CALLED TO SERVE IN OTHER CHURCH
ASSIGNMENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS, SUCH AS MISSIONARY WORK,
TEMPLE SERVICE, SUNDAY SCHOOL, SEMINARY OR INSTITUTE,
YOUNG MEN, PRIMARY, YOUNG WOMEN, AND SO FORTH. NO MATTER WHERE WE SERVE,
WE ALWAYS RETAIN OUR “CITIZENSHIP” IN AND OUR
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE QUORUM OR RELIEF SOCIETY. PRESIDENT PACKER HAS TAUGHT
THAT ALL SERVICE IN THE CHURCH STRENGTHENS THE HIGHER
PRIESTHOOD AND RELIEF SOCIETY AND IS A DEMONSTRATION OF OUR
DEVOTION TO RELIEF SOCIETY AND QUORUM MEMBERSHIP. IT IS TRUE THAT EACH OF US
IS RESPONSIBLE TO BECOME A FAITHFUL,
COVENANT-KEEPING DISCIPLE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. SOME MAY ARGUE THAT WE
CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS AS INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT THE
BENEFIT OF A SUPPORTING GROUP. PRESIDENT DAVID O. MCKAY
SAID THAT IF PRIESTHOOD MEN ONLY NEEDED “PERSONAL
DISTINCTION OR INDIVIDUAL ELEVATION, THERE WOULD BE NO
NEED OF GROUPS OR QUORUMS. THE VERY EXISTENCE
OF SUCH GROUPS, ESTABLISHED BY DIVINE
AUTHORIZATION, PROCLAIMS OUR DEPENDENCE
UPON ONE ANOTHER, THE INDISPENSABLE NEED OF
MUTUAL HELP AND ASSISTANCE.” INASMUCH AS THE LORD
CHOSE TO ORGANIZE US IN THIS WAY,
IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO SEEK FOR A GREATER
UNDERSTANDING AS TO WHY WE ARE THUS ORGANIZED AND THEN
TO SEEK TO FULFILL THE VISION HE HAS FOR US. TO HELP FACILITATE
THAT UNDERSTANDING, I HAVE DRAWN HEAVILY FROM THE
SCRIPTURES AND WORDS OF PROPHETS TO ILLUSTRATE,
ONLY BRIEFLY, FIVE IMPORTANT REASONS WHY WE
ARE ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES. ONE OF THE REASONS WE HAVE
QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES IS TO ORGANIZE US UNDER THE
PRIESTHOOD AND AFTER THE PATTERN OF THE PRIESTHOOD. OUR GOD IS A GOD OF ORDER,
AND ALL THAT HE DOES TO BUILD HIS KINGDOM IS DONE THROUGH
HIS PRIESTHOOD PATTERNS. ONE OF THOSE PATTERNS IS THE
ORGANIZATION OF WARDS AND STAKES, EACH WITH
A GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARY. EACH WARD IS GUIDED BY A
BISHOP WHO HOLDS THE KEYS, OR THE LORD’S AUTHORITY,
FOR HIS WARD. HE IS THE SHEPHERD OF THE
LORD’S FLOCK WITHIN HIS WARD AND HAS THE CHARGE TO SEE TO
THE TEMPORAL AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF THAT FLOCK. ONLY HE CAN AUTHORIZE THE
ORDINANCES THAT ARE ESSENTIAL FOR THE SALVATION OF THE
MEMBERS OF THAT FLOCK. HIS RESPONSIBILITY IS
MONUMENTAL AND IS THE MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE HE IS ONLY
ONE MAN WHO CANNOT POSSIBLY WATCH OVER ALL OF THE SHEEP
AT ONCE. THE QUORUM AND RELIEF SOCIETY
LEADERS ARE SEEN BY THE BISHOP AS UNDERSHEPHERDS
WHO MAGNIFY, ENHANCE, AND DISTRIBUTE HIS WATCHCARE. THE FORMATION OF A PRESIDENCY
IS ALSO A PRIESTHOOD PATTERN. EVERY WARD ELDERS QUORUM
PRESIDENT AND RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENT PRESIDES OVER AND
DIRECTS THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ELDERS QUORUM OR RELIEF
SOCIETY IN THE WARD. QUORUM AND RELIEF SOCIETY
LEADERS HAVE A MEASURE OF DIVINE AUTHORITY GIVEN TO THEM
REGARDING THE GOVERNMENT AND INSTRUCTION OF THOSE THEY ARE
CALLED TO LEAD. THEY ARE MEN AND WOMEN
WHO ARE “CALLED OF GOD, BY PROPHECY, AND BY
THE LAYING ON OF HANDS.” TO PRESIDE MEANS TO
STAND GUARD, TO SUPERINTEND, AND TO LEAD. THIS MEANS
THAT RELIEF SOCIETY AND QUORUM LEADERS IN A WARD
CARRY THE RESPONSIBILITY TO SUPERVISE, OVERSEE,
AND REGULATE THE WORK OF THE RELIEF SOCIETIES AND
THE QUORUMS ON BEHALF OF THE BISHOP. SUSTAINING THOSE WHO ARE
CALLED TO LEAD IS ALSO A PRIESTHOOD PATTERN. WE DO NOT SELECT OUR LEADERS
BY POPULAR VOTE AS IS COMMON IN ORGANIZATIONS OUTSIDE
THE CHURCH. IT IS AN ACT OF OUR FAITH IN
THE LORD AND THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO LEAD IN HIS CHURCH
TO SUSTAIN THEIR ACTIONS AND SUPPORT THEM IN THEIR
RESPONSIBILITIES TO LEAD US. WHEN JOSEPH SMITH ORGANIZED
THE RELIEF SOCIETY, HE “EXHORTED THE SISTERS
ALWAYS TO CONCENTRATE THEIR FAITH AND PRAYERS FOR,
AND PLACE CONFIDENCE IN THOSE WHOM GOD HAS APPOINTED
TO HONOR, WHOM GOD HAS PLACED AT THE HEAD TO LEAD.” ONE OF THE PRIESTHOOD
PATTERNS WE ENJOY IS THE ABILITY TO RECEIVE REVELATION. WHEN JOSEPH SMITH ORGANIZED
RELIEF SOCIETY, HE SAID THE SISTERS WERE “TO
GET INSTRUCTION THROUGH THE ORDER WHICH GOD HAS
ESTABLISHED–THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF THOSE
APPOINTED TO LEAD.” THIS ABILITY AND PROMISE
REGARDING PERSONAL REVELATION IS ONE OF THE
REMARKABLE BLESSINGS THAT COME TO EVERY QUORUM AND
RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENCY. WHEN THE LORD SAID THAT EACH
OF US WAS TO LEARN OUR DUTY AND ACT IN THE OFFICE TO
WHICH WE ARE APPOINTED, HE PROVIDED A WAY
FOR US TO DO JUST THAT. I HAVE SEEN HUMBLE
RELIEF SOCIETY AND QUORUM PRESIDENCIES IN MANY PARTS OF
THE WORLD LEADING WITH GREAT AND INSPIRING ABILITY BECAUSE
THEY ARE ORGANIZED UNDER THE PRIESTHOOD AND AFTER THE
ORDER OF THE PRIESTHOOD. THEY FOLLOW THE PATTERN THAT
ALLOWS THEM TO GET REVELATION FOR THE WORK THEY HAVE BEEN
SET APART TO DO. AT THE TIME OF THE RELIEF
SOCIETY CENTENNIAL THE FIRST PRESIDENCY WROTE: “WE ASK OUR
SISTERS OF THE RELIEF SOCIETY NEVER TO FORGET THAT THEY ARE
A UNIQUE ORGANIZATION IN THE WHOLE WORLD,
FOR THEY WERE ORGANIZED UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE LORD. NO OTHER WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION
IN ALL THE EARTH HAS HAD SUCH A BIRTH.” A SECOND REASON
WE ARE ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES
IS TO FOCUS HEAVENLY FATHER’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS ON THE
WORK OF SALVATION AND TO ENGAGE THEM IN IT. QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES
ARE AN ORGANIZED DISCIPLESHIP WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY TO
ASSIST IN OUR FATHER’S WORK TO BRING ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE
FOR HIS CHILDREN. WE ARE NOT IN THE ENTERTAINMENT
BUSINESS; WE ARE IN THE SALVATION BUSINESS. ENTRANCE INTO AN ELDERS
QUORUM OR A RELIEF SOCIETY USUALLY FOLLOWS A SIGNIFICANT
INVESTMENT FROM THE LORD AND HIS LEADERS IN THE TEACHING
AND PREPARATION OF MEMBERS FOR SUCH A WORK. THE WORK OF SALVATION
INCLUDES MISSIONARY WORK AND RETAINING IN ACTIVITY
THOSE WHO ARE CONVERTED. WE ARE TO DO ALL WE CAN
TO BRING BACK INTO ACTIVITY THOSE OF OUR GROUP WHO
HAVE WEAKENED IN THEIR FAITH. THE WORK OF A QUORUM
AND A RELIEF SOCIETY ALSO FOCUSES ON TEMPLE
AND FAMILY HISTORY WORK. WE CARRY THE RESPONSIBILITY
TO TEACH THE GOSPEL AND EXEMPLIFY RIGHTEOUS LIVING
TO ONE ANOTHER. THE WORK OF SALVATION
ALSO INCLUDES IMPROVING OUR TEMPORAL AND SPIRITUAL
SELF-RELIANCE. AND AS A GROUP WE ENSURE
THAT THE NEEDY AND THE POOR ARE CARED FOR. ELDER JOHN A. WIDTSOE DEFINED
THE SAVING WORK OF THE RELIEF SOCIETY AS THE “RELIEF OF
POVERTY, RELIEF OF ILLNESS; RELIEF OF DOUBT,
RELIEF OF IGNORANCE–RELIEF OF ALL THAT HINDERS THE JOY AND
PROGRESS OF WOMAN.” THESE SAME KINDS OF
RESPONSIBILITIES ARE GIVEN TO A QUORUM. THESE ARE HONORABLE
AND HEAVY RESPONSIBILITIES. THEY CONNOTE A SACRED
TRUST AND IMPLY A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE
LORD’S WORK OF SALVATION, A WORK THAT IS BOTH A BURDEN
AND A BLESSING. WHEN QUORUMS AND RELIEF
SOCIETIES ARE UNIFIED IN THIS WORK, THEY EACH ESSENTIALLY TAKE
AN OAR IN THE BOAT, EACH HELPING TO MOVE US TOWARD SALVATION. WHEN WE ARE ORGANIZED INTO
RELIEF SOCIETIES AND QUORUMS, OUR PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP IS
EXTENDED AND WE BECOME ENGAGED WITH OTHERS IN THE
SAVING WORK THAT WAS MODELED BY THE SAVIOR. IT IS NEVER MODEST OR
INCONSEQUENTIAL. IT FORCES US TO A HIGHER PATH
OF DISCIPLESHIP AND A GREATER SPIRITUAL MATURITY. IT IS OFTEN A LONG-SUFFERING
AND PATIENT WORK AND CAN SEEM THANKLESS BECAUSE THERE IS
USUALLY A NOTICEABLE ABSENCE OF PUBLIC RECOGNITION FOR THE
GOOD WE DO. ELDER WIDTSOE TAUGHT THAT
“TO SAVE SOULS OPENS THE WHOLE FIELD OF HUMAN ACTIVITY
AND DEVELOPMENT.” THE WORK OF SALVATION IS
GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT, WHO CONFIRMS OUR ACTIONS,
ASSURES US OF THE LORD’S APPROVAL, AND SUPPLIES
THE TRUE JOY THAT COMES WITH AN AFFIRMATION
OF OUR SUCCESS. A THIRD REASON WE ARE
ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES IS TO HELP
BISHOPS WISELY MANAGE THE LORD’S STOREHOUSE. THE LORD’S STOREHOUSE
INCLUDES THE “TIME, TALENTS, COMPASSION, MATERIALS,
AND FINANCIAL MEANS” OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. THE
TALENTS OF THE SAINTS ARE TO BE USED TO HELP CARE FOR THE
POOR AND THE NEEDY AND TO BUILD THE LORD’S KINGDOM. THE LORD ENVISIONS “EVERY MAN
SEEKING THE INTEREST OF HIS NEIGHBOR, AND DOING
ALL THINGS WITH AN EYE SINGLE TO THE GLORY OF GOD.” BISHOPS HAVE CHARGE OF THE
LORD’S STOREHOUSE, AND THEY DEPEND ON THE
QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES TO HELP THEM SEEK OUT AND
CARE FOR ALL IN THEIR WARDS. EVERY WARD IS UNIQUE AND CAN
BE SAID TO HAVE ITS OWN DNA. THIS MAKES IT ESSENTIAL THAT
THE LEADERS OF THE QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES WORK IN
COUNCILS TO HELP BISHOPS MANAGE AND APPORTION THE
LORD’S ASSETS. TOGETHER THEY HELP EVALUATE
THE STRENGTHS AND ABILITIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND ENSURE
THAT THE LORD’S SHEEP ARE CARED FOR. OUR SAVIOR TAUGHT THIS
PRINCIPLE IN MANY WAYS DURING HIS MORTAL MINISTRY,
AND THE SCRIPTURES CONTAIN MANY EXAMPLES OF HOW HE
LOOKED AFTER THOSE WHO WERE IN NEED. IN EVERY WARD THERE ARE
ALWAYS A FEW DEDICATED SOULS WHO WOULD DO ALL OF THE WORK
WHILE OTHERS WOULD NEGLECT THEIR DUTY AND FAIL
TO OFFER THEIR GIFTS. QUORUM AND RELIEF SOCIETY
LEADERS HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO ORGANIZE
AND CARRY OUT AN INSPIRED MINISTRY TO HELP ALL BROTHERS
AND SISTERS KEEP THEIR COVENANTS TO REMEMBER
THE SAVIOR. IF WE WERE LEFT TO OURSELVES,
WE MIGHT PREFER TO CARE ONLY FOR THE POPULAR, CHARMING,
AND GRATEFUL PEOPLE IN OUR WARDS. IT IS MUCH MORE CHALLENGING
TO CARE FOR THOSE WHO ARE DIFFICULT TO LOVE,
WHO HAVE GRAVE CHALLENGES, OR WHO DO NOT SEEM TO
APPRECIATE OUR HELP. THE SAVIOR SAID:
“LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, BLESS THEM THAT CURSE YOU,
DO GOOD TO THEM THAT HATE YOU, AND PRAY FOR THEM
WHICH DESPITEFULLY USE YOU, AND PERSECUTE YOU;
“THAT YE MAY BE THE CHILDREN OF YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN
HEAVEN: FOR HE MAKETH HIS SUN TO RISE ON THE EVIL AND THE
GOOD, AND SENDETH RAIN ON THE JUST
AND ON THE UNJUST. “FOR IF YE LOVE
THEM WHICH LOVE YOU, WHAT REWARD HAVE YE? DO NOT EVEN THE
PUBLICANS THE SAME? “AND IF YE SALUTE YOUR
BRETHREN ONLY, WHAT DO YE MORE THAN OTHERS? DO NOT EVEN THE PUBLICANS SO? “YE ARE THEREFORE COMMANDED
TO BE PERFECT, EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS
IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT.” ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
WAYS THIS KIND OF WATCHCARE IS APPORTIONED IS THROUGH
HOME TEACHING AND VISITING TEACHING. PRESIDENT EYRING SAID,
“THE ONLY SYSTEM [THAT CAN] PROVIDE SUCCOR AND COMFORT
ACROSS A CHURCH SO LARGE IN A WORLD SO VARIED WOULD BE
THROUGH INDIVIDUAL SERVANTS NEAR THE PEOPLE IN NEED.” ELDER BRUCE R. MCCONKIE,
WHO SERVED FAITHFULLY AS AN APOSTLE OF THE
LORD JESUS CHRIST, CALLED AN ELDER “A SHEPHERD
SERVING IN THE SHEEPFOLD OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD.” HE TAUGHT
THAT HOME TEACHERS “HAVE STATUS” AND THAT THEIR CALLS
ARE “OFFICIAL.” THEY ARE “SENT BY THEIR QUORUM
PRESIDENT, BY THE BISHOP, AND BY THE LORD.” IT WAS HIS
FEELING THAT “THE GREATEST DEFECT OF THE HOME TEACHING
SYSTEM IN THE CHURCH IS THAT IT REMAINS ALMOST UNUSED.” A VISITING TEACHER
SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER HER ASSIGNMENT “AS A CALL
FROM THE LORD.” PRESIDENT KIMBALL SAID TO THE SISTERS,
“YOUR DUTIES IN MANY WAYS MUST BE MUCH LIKE THOSE OF
THE [HOME] TEACHERS, WHICH BRIEFLY ARE ‘TO WATCH
OVER THE CHURCH ALWAYS’–NOT TWENTY MINUTES A MONTH
BUT ALWAYS.” VISITING TEACHING
AND HOME TEACHING BECOME THE LORD’S WORK WHEN
OUR FOCUS IS CENTERED ON PEOPLE RATHER
THAN ON PERCENTAGES. THE PERFECTION OF OUR
STATISTICS IS OFTEN NOT A GOOD MEASURE
OF OUR WATCHCARE. WE CAN NEVER SAY,
“MY HOME TEACHING OR VISITING TEACHING IS DONE!” WHEN WE
REPRESENT THE LORD, WE ARE ALWAYS ON HIS ERRAND. WHEN WE GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF
OUR STEWARDSHIP EACH MONTH, WE ARE TO REPORT THE
SPIRITUAL AND TEMPORAL WELL-BEING OF THOSE WE ARE
ASSIGNED TO CARE FOR. WE CAN ALSO REPORT
ANY SERVICE WE RENDER. SPECIAL OR URGENT NEEDS SHOULD
ALWAYS BE REPORTED IMMEDIATELY. THE ONLY TRUE MEASURES OF OUR
SUCCESS IN THIS EFFORT ARE THE CONFIRMATIONS OF THE SPIRIT
FOR OUR EFFORTS AND WHEN THOSE WE ARE ASSIGNED TO
WATCH OVER CAN SAY THREE IMPORTANT THINGS: (1) “MY
HOME TEACHER OR VISITING TEACHER HELPS ME GROW
SPIRITUALLY”; (2) “I KNOW MY HOME TEACHER
OR VISITING TEACHER CARES DEEPLY ABOUT ME AND MY FAMILY”;
AND (3) “IF I HAVE PROBLEMS, I KNOW MY HOME TEACHER OR
VISITING TEACHER WILL TAKE ACTION WITHOUT WAITING
TO BE INVITED.” THE LORD SAID,
“AND IF ANY MAN AMONG YOU BE STRONG IN THE SPIRIT,
LET HIM TAKE WITH HIM HIM THAT IS WEAK,
THAT HE MAY BE EDIFIED IN ALL MEEKNESS, THAT HE
MAY BECOME STRONG ALSO.” WHEN THESE MEASURES
ARE OUR AIM, THEN WE ORGANIZE AND FUNCTION
IN AN INSPIRED RATHER THAN A PROGRAMMATIC WAY. A FOURTH REASON FOR WHY WE
ARE ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES IS TO
PROVIDE A DEFENSE AND A REFUGE FOR HEAVENLY FATHER’S
CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES IN THE LATTER DAYS. PRESIDENT THOMAS S. MONSON
HAS SAID: “TODAY WE ARE ENCAMPED AGAINST THE
GREATEST ARRAY OF SIN, VICE, AND EVIL EVER ASSEMBLED
BEFORE OUR EYES. THE BATTLE PLAN WHEREBY WE
FIGHT TO SAVE THE SOULS OF MEN IS NOT OUR OWN.” WE ARE ALL IN THE MIDST
OF A MORTAL EXPERIENCE. WE ALL VOTED FOR THIS
EXPERIENCE, AND THE LORD WILL ENSURE THAT
WE ALL HAVE ONE. AN AGE-OLD ANTI-CHRIST
DECEPTION IMPLIES THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE SMART ENOUGH OR RICH
ENOUGH CAN AVOID CHALLENGES. NOT SO! IN OUR LIVES AND THE WORLD
TODAY WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN FULL MEASURE THE “PERILOUS
TIMES” OF THE LAST DAYS THE APOSTLE PAUL DESCRIBED
TO TIMOTHY. AS OUR TIMES BECOME EVER MORE DIFFICULT,
THE FAITHFUL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE QUORUMS AND
RELIEF SOCIETIES ARE TO PROTECT THE HOMES OF ZION
FROM THE SHRILL VOICES OF THE WORLD AND THE PROVOCATIVE
INFLUENCE OF THE ADVERSARY. WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT BY
ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS THAT “ONE OF THE GREAT
FUNCTIONS OF RELIEF SOCIETY IS TO PROVIDE SISTERHOOD FOR
WOMEN, JUST AS PRIESTHOOD QUORUMS PROVIDE
BROTHERHOOD FOR MEN.” IT IS OUR BLESSING TO
BE PART OF A SISTERHOOD OR A BROTHERHOOD
THAT PROVIDES “A PLACE OF HEALING, LOVE, KINDNESS, CARE,
AND BELONGING.” PRESIDENT PACKER SAID: “THIS
GREAT CIRCLE OF SISTERS WILL BE A PROTECTION FOR EACH OF
YOU AND FOR YOUR FAMILIES. THE RELIEF SOCIETY MIGHT
BE LIKENED TO A REFUGE. YOU WILL BE SAFE WITHIN IT. IT ENCIRCLES EACH SISTER LIKE
A PROTECTING WALL.” HE SAID: “HOW CONSOLING IT IS
TO KNOW THAT NO MATTER WHERE [A FAMILY MAY] GO,
A CHURCH FAMILY AWAITS THEM. FROM THE DAY THEY ARRIVE,
HE WILL BELONG TO A QUORUM OF THE PRIESTHOOD AND SHE WILL
BELONG TO RELIEF SOCIETY.” ELDER D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON
RECOUNTED THE STORY OF BROTHER GEORGE GOATES,
WHO IN SIX DAYS LOST HIS SON CHARLES AND THREE OF CHARLES’S
SMALL CHILDREN DURING THE FLU EPIDEMIC OF 1918. THAT WEEK BROTHER GOATES
MADE THE CASKETS, DUG THE GRAVES,
AND HELPED PREPARE THE BURIAL CLOTHING. HIS CHILD AND GRANDCHILDREN
DIED DURING THE WEEK HE WAS TO HARVEST HIS
SUGAR BEET CROP, WHICH WAS LEFT IN THE
FREEZING GROUND. AFTER THE BURIALS,
HE AND AN OLDER SON WENT TO THEIR FIELDS TO SEE IF
THEY COULD SALVAGE ANY OF THEIR CROP. WHEN THEY ARRIVED,
THEY SAW THE MEMBERS OF HIS QUORUM LEAVING
THE EMPTY FIELD. HIS QUORUM HAD HARVESTED
EVERY SUGAR BEET. IT WAS THEN THAT THIS MAN WHO
HAD SHOWN TREMENDOUS STRENGTH IN THE PREVIOUS WEEK SAT DOWN
AND SOBBED LIKE A CHILD. HE LOOKED UP TO THE
SKY AND SAID, “THANKS, FATHER, FOR THE ELDERS OF OUR WARD.” WHATEVER OUR
MORTAL EXPERIENCE, WE CAN HAVE THIS FEELING OF
FELLOWSHIP AND HAVE THE SUPPORT AND STRENGTH
OF MANY AROUND US. THE LORD SAID,
“ALSO THE BODY HATH NEED OF EVERY MEMBER,
THAT ALL MAY BE EDIFIED TOGETHER, THAT THE
SYSTEM MAY BE KEPT PERFECT.” IT IS IN THE SISTERHOOD
OF RELIEF SOCIETY AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE
QUORUMS THAT WE SHOULD FIND REFUGE AND PROTECTION FROM
THE STORMS AND CALAMITIES OF THE LATTER DAYS. A FIFTH PURPOSE FOR BEING
ORGANIZED INTO QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES IS TO
STRENGTHEN AND SUPPORT US IN OUR FAMILY ROLES AND
RESPONSIBILITIES AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD. THOUGH MANY OF OUR
RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE CHURCH ARE PARALLEL,
HEAVENLY FATHER’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS EACH HAVE UNIQUE
AND DISTINCT RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE FAMILY AND IN THE
CHURCH. QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES
ARE TO TEACH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS
AND INSPIRE THEM TO PREPARE FOR THE BLESSINGS
OF ETERNAL LIFE. OUR FATHER SEES THE POTENTIAL
OF HIS SONS AND HIS DAUGHTERS TO BE FAMILY LEADERS. THEREFORE,
EVERYTHING WE DO IN QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES IS TO
HELP THE LORD WITH HIS MISSION OF PREPARING HIS
CHILDREN FOR THE BLESSINGS OF THE ETERNAL LIFE HE ENVISIONS
FOR US. IN THESE SETTINGS WE ARE
MEANT TO LEARN HOW TO BECOME PART OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S
ETERNAL FAMILY. THE QUORUM AND THE RELIEF
SOCIETY ASSIST FAMILY LEADERS AND FUTURE FAMILY LEADERS AND
HELP THEM ESTABLISH PATTERNS AND PRACTICES OF RIGHTEOUS
BEHAVIOR AND COVENANT KEEPING IN THEIR LIVES. BROTHERS AND SISTERS
ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER TO PRAY ALWAYS,
PAY TITHES AND OFFERINGS, AND RENEW COVENANTS
ON THE LORD’S HOLY DAY. THEY ARE TO HELP ONE ANOTHER TO
BE SUFFICIENTLY MATURE TO MAKE AND KEEP SACRED TEMPLE
COVENANTS. THE QUORUM AND THE RELIEF
SOCIETY SHOULD HELP US BECOME WHO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
NEEDS US TO BECOME. JOSEPH SMITH TAUGHT THE
SISTERS FROM 1 CORINTHIANS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF
DEVELOPING GODLIKE QUALITIES. HE SAID THE SISTERS WERE
ORGANIZED “ACCORDING TO [THEIR] NATURES” AND WERE
“PLACED IN A SITUATION IN WHICH [THEY COULD] ACT
ACCORDING TO THOSE SYMPATHIES WHICH GOD HAS
PLANTED IN [THEM].” IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT
THE MOTTO OF RELIEF SOCIETY, “CHARITY NEVER FAILETH,
WAS CHOSEN. SISTER ELIZA R. SNOW,
SECOND RELIEF SOCIETY GENERAL PRESIDENT,
SAID TO THE SISTERS: “WE WANT TO BE LADIES IN VERY DEED,
NOT ACCORDING TO THE TERM OF THE WORD AS THE WORLD JUDGES,
BUT FIT COMPANIONS OF THE GODS AND HOLY ONES. IN AN ORGANIZED CAPACITY WE
CAN ASSIST EACH OTHER IN NOT ONLY DOING GOOD BUT IN
REFINING OURSELVES, AND WHETHER FEW OR MANY COME
FORWARD AND HELP TO PROSECUTE THIS GREAT WORK,
THEY WILL BE THOSE THAT WILL FILL HONORABLE POSITIONS IN
THE KINGDOM OF GOD. IT IS IN THE QUORUM
THAT BROTHERS ARE TAUGHT TO “RISE UP” AS “MEN
OF GOD” AND “HAVE DONE WITH LESSER THINGS. GIVE HEART AND SOUL AND MIND
AND STRENGTH TO SERVE THE KING OF KINGS.” THE WORK OF THE QUORUM
AND RELIEF SOCIETY CLARIFIES THE UNIQUE IDENTITIES AND
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD AND UNIFIES
THEM IN DEFENSE OF HIS PLAN. PRESIDENT HAROLD B. LEE
STATED: “IT SEEMS CLEAR TO ME THAT THE CHURCH HAS NO
CHOICE–AND NEVER HAS HAD–BUT TO DO MORE TO ASSIST THE
FAMILY IN CARRYING OUT ITS DIVINE MISSION,
NOT ONLY BECAUSE THAT IS THE ORDER OF HEAVEN,
BUT ALSO BECAUSE THAT IS THE MOST PRACTICAL CONTRIBUTION
WE CAN MAKE TO OUR YOUTH–TO HELP IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF
LIFE IN THE LATTER-DAY SAINT HOMES. AS IMPORTANT AS OUR MANY
PROGRAMS AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS ARE, THESE SHOULD
NOT SUPPLANT THE HOME; THEY SHOULD SUPPORT THE HOME.” AS THE LORD SAID TO
EMMA SMITH, WE ARE TO “LAY ASIDE THE
THINGS OF THIS WORLD, AND SEEK FOR THE THINGS
OF A BETTER. CLEAVE UNTO THE COVENANTS
WHICH THOU HAST MADE. KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS
CONTINUALLY, AND A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
THOU SHALT RECEIVE.” EACH OF US IS A BELOVED
DAUGHTER OR SON OF GOD WITH SACRED RESPONSIBILITIES. IN OUR QUORUMS AND RELIEF
SOCIETIES WE ARE TO BE TAUGHT AND INSPIRED TO BECOME WHO
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN CREATED US TO BECOME. PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY
SAID: “IT WILL BE A MARVELOUS DAY, MY BRETHREN … WHEN OUR PRIESTHOOD QUORUMS
BECOME AN ANCHOR OF STRENGTH TO EVERY MAN BELONGING
THERETO, WHEN EACH SUCH MAN MAY
APPROPRIATELY BE ABLE TO SAY, ‘I AM A MEMBER OF A
PRIESTHOOD QUORUM OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF
LATTER-DAY SAINTS. I STAND READY TO ASSIST MY
BRETHREN IN ALL OF THEIR NEEDS, AS I AM CONFIDENT THEY STAND
READY TO ASSIST ME IN MINE. WORKING TOGETHER,
WE SHALL GROW SPIRITUALLY AS COVENANT SONS OF GOD. WORKING TOGETHER,
WE CAN STAND, WITHOUT EMBARRASSMENT AND
WITHOUT FEAR, AGAINST EVERY WIND OF
ADVERSITY THAT MIGHT BLOW, BE IT ECONOMIC, SOCIAL,
OR SPIRITUAL.” PRESIDENT PACKER RECENTLY
DECLARED TO THE BRETHREN OF THE CHURCH: “WE NEED EVERYONE. THE TIRED OR WORN OUT OR LAZY
AND EVEN THOSE WHO ARE BOUND DOWN WITH GUILT. TOO MANY OF OUR PRIESTHOOD
BRETHREN ARE LIVING BELOW THEIR PRIVILEGES AND THE
LORD’S EXPECTATIONS.” “IN ONE OF THE FIRST MEETINGS
OF THE FEMALE RELIEF SOCIETY OF NAUVOO,
JOSEPH SMITH ADMONISHED THE SISTERS TO ‘LIVE UP
TO [THEIR] PRIVILEGE.'” IN A SIMILAR VEIN,
PRESIDENT PACKER SAID TO THE SISTERS OF RELIEF SOCIETY:
“RALLY TO THE CAUSE OF RELIEF SOCIETY! STRENGTHEN IT! ATTEND IT! DEVOTE YOURSELVES TO IT! ENLIST THE INACTIVE IN IT AND
BRING NONMEMBER SISTERS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF IT. IT IS TIME NOW TO UNITE IN THIS
WORLDWIDE CIRCLE OF SISTERS. A STRONG, WELL-ORGANIZED
RELIEF SOCIETY IS CRUCIAL TO THE FUTURE, TO THE
SAFETY OF THIS CHURCH.” MUCH OF WHAT HAS BEEN
TAUGHT TODAY CAN BE FOUND IN DAUGHTERS IN MY
KINGDOM: THE HISTORY AND WORK OF RELIEF SOCIETY. THIS NEW RESOURCE FROM THE
FIRST PRESIDENCY CAN HELP BROTHERS AND SISTERS LEARN
HOW TO FULFILL THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES. THROUGH THIS AND OTHER
INSTRUCTIONS, WE “KNOW HOW TO ACT AND
DIRECT [THE] CHURCH, HOW TO ACT UPON THE POINTS OF
[THE LORD’S] LAW AND COMMANDMENTS,
WHICH [HE HAS] GIVEN.” WE ARE NOW TO “BIND [OURSELVES] TO
ACT IN ALL HOLINESS BEFORE [HIM].” WHAT THE LORD
ENVISIONED REGARDING QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES HAS NOT
YET BEEN FULLY UTILIZED. MANY QUORUMS AND RELIEF
SOCIETIES ARE AT PRESENT MUCH LIKE SLEEPING GIANTS WAITING
FOR YOU TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO THEM. I BEAR YOU MY TESTIMONY THAT
THE TRUE RESTORED GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS UPON THE EARTH. MY TESTIMONY OF THAT
RESTORATION HAS BEEN STRENGTHENED BY KNOWING THAT
QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES WERE ESTABLISHED SO THE LORD
COULD ORGANIZE HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS UNDER THE
PRIESTHOOD AND AFTER THE PATTERN OF THE PRIESTHOOD. BY THIS MEANS,
HE MEANT TO ENGAGE HIS CHILDREN IN HIS WORK OF
SALVATION AND IN WISELY MANAGING HIS STOREHOUSE. QUORUMS AND RELIEF SOCIETIES
ARE MEANT TO BE A SAFETY AND A REFUGE IN THESE DIFFICULT
DAYS AND TO SUPPORT AND STRENGTHEN THE IDENTITY,
ROLES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF HEAVENLY FATHER’S
SONS AND DAUGHTERS. WE ARE “CALLED BY THE VOICE
OF THE PROPHET OF GOD TO DO IT, AND AS WE DO SO,
“THE ANGELS CANNOT BE RESTRAINED FROM BEING
[OUR] ASSOCIATES.” OF THIS I TESTIFY IN THE NAME
OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.>>AMEN.>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS
WITH SISTER JULIE B BECK

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