Studying the Words of The Relief Society Presidency

If the 5-year cycle for Relief Society General Presidencies that has been followed for 20 years holds true, the current Relief Society Presidency is likely to be released at this upcoming general conference.  With that in mind, I recently decided to go through and read all of the general conference talks given by members of the current presidency.  It was a depressingly short exercise, especially given the quality of materials presented.  These talks proved to be very meaningful to me, and after reviewing them, I wish that the full Relief Society General Presidency had been allowed to speak at every general conference.  That would have allowed them to each share 10 messages rather than the 3-4 that they have been able to share during their tenure so far.  In any case, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and stories from each of the members of the presidency.

Jean B. Bingham

President Bingham gave a number of hard-hitting statements in her talks, addressing unity, ministering, finding joy, and family relationships.  Her talk on ministering was given in the same meeting as the revamped program was announced and provided, for me, the clearest direction as to what fulfilling that program looked like.  For, me, though, the most meaningful quote came her talk that dealt with seeking unity between the sexes in the Church and in the home:

Today, “we need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve” to unite with their brethren in bringing souls unto Christ. Men need to become true partners rather than assume they are solely responsible or act as “pretend” partners while women carry out much of the work. Women need to be willing to “step forward [and] take [their] rightful and needful place” as partners rather than thinking they need to do it all by themselves or wait to be told what to do.

Seeing women as vital participants is not about creating parity but about understanding doctrinal truth. Rather than establishing a program to bring that about, we can actively work to value women as God does: as essential partners in the work of salvation and exaltation.

Are we ready? Will we strive to overcome cultural bias and instead embrace divine patterns and practices based on foundational doctrine?[1]

For me, the call to men “to become true partners” and the note that to do otherwise is to give in to cultural bias rather than to embrace divine patterns and practices hit home as a reminder of what I should strive for alongside my wife in our marriage.

My favourite story from President Bingham was the following:

Recently, as three-year-old Alyssa watched a movie with her siblings, she remarked with a puzzled expression, “Mom, that chicken is weird!”

Her mother looked at the screen and responded with a smile, “Honey, that is a peacock.”

Like that unknowing three-year-old, we sometimes look at others with an incomplete or inaccurate understanding. We may focus on the differences and perceived flaws in those around us whereas our Heavenly Father sees His children, created in His eternal image, with magnificent and glorious potential.[2]

It was a fun way to make the point that our perspectives about other people are often limited.

Sharon Eubank

President Eubank struck me as the most traditional of the members of the current presidency, focusing on topics about unity, turning to Jesus Christ, and service.  The highlight of her talks for me, though, was the recent review of Church humanitarian efforts around the world.  A couple favourite quotes from that talk:

The Church of Jesus Christ is under divine mandate to care for the poor. It is one of the pillars of the work of salvation and exaltation.[3]

As baptized members of the Church, we are under covenant to care for those in need. Our individual efforts don’t necessarily require money or faraway locations; they do require the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart to say to the Lord, “Here am I; send me.”[4]

Along with that talk came several stories about humanitarian aid and service.  I really loved the following:

We have all seen recent images in the news: thousands of evacuees being flown from Afghanistan. Many arrived at air bases or other temporary locations in Qatar, the United States, Germany, and Spain before continuing to their final destinations. Their needs were immediate, and the Church responded with supplies and volunteers. At Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the Church provided large donations of diapers, baby formula, food, and shoes.

Some of the Relief Society sisters noticed that many Afghan women were using their husbands’ shirts to cover their heads because their traditional head coverings had been ripped off in the frenzy at the Kabul airport. In an act of friendship that crossed any religious or cultural boundaries, the sisters of the Ramstein First Ward gathered to sew traditional Muslim clothing for Afghan women. Sister Bethani Halls said, “We heard that women were in need of prayer garments, and we are sewing so that they can be [comfortable] for prayer.”[5]

Reyna I. Aburto

Besides being the only woman among the general presidencies of the Church who didn’t graduate from Brigham Young University or University of Utah, President Aburto’s words stood out as taking on some topics that come with a lot of gravity—depression and grief being high on that list.  Her talk on depression was meaningful to me, as someone who does suffer from chronic depression and anxiety.   The following statements both helped give me hope and to push me towards making some changes that have led to some changes in my life that have been beneficial:

In some cases, the cause of depression or anxiety can be identified, while other times it may be harder to discern. Our brains may suffer because of stress or staggering fatigue, which can sometimes be improved through adjustments in diet, sleep, and exercise. Other times, therapy or medication under the direction of trained professionals may also be needed.[6]

Your struggles do not define you, but they can refine you. Because of a “thorn in the flesh,” you may have the ability to feel more compassion toward others. As guided by the Holy Ghost, share your story in order to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”[7]

Her first talk was a bit lighter in its topic, but stood out to me for its use of butterflies as an analogy for members of the Church:

A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope. Isn’t that a beautiful image? Each butterfly in a kaleidoscope is unique and different, yet these seemingly fragile creatures have been designed by a loving Creator with the ability to survive, travel, multiply, and disseminate life as they go from one flower to the next, spreading pollen. And although each butterfly is different, they work together to make the world a more beautiful and fruitful place.

Like the monarch butterflies, we are on a journey back to our heavenly home, where we will reunite with our Heavenly Parents. Like the butterflies, we have been given divine attributes that allow us to navigate through life, in order to “[fill] the measure of [our] creation.” Like them, if we knit our hearts together, the Lord will protect us “as a hen [gathers] her chickens under her wings” and will make us into a beautiful kaleidoscope.[8]

This imagery of being a group working together on our journey through life and who “disseminate life as they go from one flower to the next, spreading pollen … [and] work together to make the world a more beautiful and fruitful place,” is something that I personally find preferable to the martial imagery so frequently evoked for members of the Church.


The bottom line is that I really enjoyed reading through the teachings of the current members of the general Relief Society of the Church and was moved by much of what they shared. I wished I had taken them more seriously up front, but I’m working on repenting now.



[1] Jean B. Bingham, “United in Accomplishing God’s Work,” CR April 2020,

[2] Jean B. Bingham, “I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home,” CR October 2016,,p11,p12?lang=eng

[3] Sharon Eubank, “I Pray He’ll Use US,” CR October 2021,

[4] Sharon Eubank, “I Pray He’ll Use US,” CR October 2021,

[5] Sharon Eubank, “I Pray He’ll Use US,” CR October 2021,

[6] Reyna I. Aburto, “Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!”, CR October 2019,

[7] Reyna I. Aburto, “Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!”, CR October 2019,

[8] Reyna I. Aburto, “With One Accord,” CR April 2018,

13 comments for “Studying the Words of The Relief Society Presidency

  1. Chad, if you haven’t already you should check out Sister Aburto’s book. I really enjoyed it and especially her expanded discussion of mental health issues in it.

  2. I believe that the three sisters you highlight in your OP are prophetesses and that there are many prophetesses in the Lord’s Kingdom today–and that they speak the words of Christ.

  3. Thank you for this post. It was really uplifting, and it’s wonderful to see men who revere female church leaders like they do male leaders.

  4. Prologue–
    BCC: We have to talk…
    W&T: Did you hear abou–
    T&S: How about the Relief Society Presidency…!

    By Chad’s invitation, I revisited these talks and a few others. I tend to trust the Sisters of the Restored Church sometimes more than the Brothers who run things. Sister Aburto’s hand is on the pulse of the congregation. She is evidence to me that the Lord will not abandon His Church–if there is ever a time that men propagate pollution from the pulpit, we can remember to return to the wisdom of Mothers.

  5. I’m glad to hear that it’s appreciated.

    And Travis, that made me laugh. Sometimes I do feel like I’m off in my own little world with the posts I write compared to some of the other blogs that connect to current events more directly. I also feel like they do better at discussing those types of things than I would.

  6. Chad Nielsen:

    Don’t sell yourself short. Of all the Mormon blogs I follow, T and S is the least guilty of pursuing an agenda—whether apologetic in nature, or supposed intellectual heft, or general crankiness against the Church. T and S is not perfect, but its tone is much more open to civil discussion of Mormon questions, and much more open to someone like me, a believer with questions. Please keep up the good fight.

  7. Chad, many thanks for your great summary of this Relief Society presidency’s accomplishments, which I really enjoyed reading! Best, David Heslington

  8. The younger generation of women in the church are quite upset that there are not more women speaking in General Conference. There should be more. All of the women’s organizations have boards, and board members could speak, or wouldn’t it be fun to hear from an assortment of women leaders from around the church. I loved the conference where we heard from a variety of members and from choirs from all over the world. In wards, I think it would be nice to emphasize women leaders more as well. I was recently released as ward RS president. During my tenure (31/2 years) I only spoke once in Sacrament Meeting. Not that I really wanted to speak more often personally, but it would be good to give women a more visible presence, by turning 5th Sunday meetings over to the women occasionally, that sort of thing.

  9. I totally agree MS. We just had ward conference last week, and I was thinking how it would have been appropriate to have the RS president speak as well instead of just the bishop and stake president.

  10. I also enjoyed Chad’s comment, but when I went back to the talk from which he extracted those powerful comments by Sister Bingham, I realized why I missed them when I read that talk for the first time. Her talk was very well-intentioned, but like most recent talks on “priesthood” it glossed over the still unaddressed question of where women fit in the Church. For about a century after what the “restoration” of Relief Society in 1867, women belonged in a semi-autonomous organization that had its own leadership, its own conferences, its own budget, its own magazine, its own choirs, and its own distinct set of responsibilities. Although I have no doubt that women today have as much access to God and to revelation as in any period in the LDS past,we do not currently have a definable “place” within the institutional church. We are neither “separate’ in the nineteenth-century mode or “equal” in the modern sense. The current definition of women in relationship to “priesthood” (often based on a false analogy to a couple in a marriage) is indistinguishable from long discredited arguments in the larger society for denying women the vote, access to the professions, or their own credit cards. Having abandoned “separate but equal” we are now caught in an impossible contradiction between our professed commitment to equality and institutional practices that deny it–not unlike attitudes toward African-Americans in the 1960s and early 1970s. Laurel Ulrich

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