Women of all ages recently gathered in congregations across Papua New Guinea to celebrate the anniversary of the Relief Society, the worldwide women’s organisation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Together, Mormon women comprise The Relief Society, one of the oldest and largest women’s organisations in the world.
With a membership of 5.5 million women in 170 countries, the Relief Society is a tremendous vehicle for service around the globe.
It was organised in 1842 to provide relief from all the ills of human life: “Relief from poverty, from selfishness, sorrow, apathy, ignorance, immorality, worldliness, mediocrity, fear, personal limitation and loneliness."
The Relief society was organised to administer to welfare needs among Latter-day Saint congregations and communities, and quickly expanded to encompass the spiritual as well as temporal needs of Church members.
By the 20th Century, John Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, summarized the Relief Society's purpose as pursuing the "relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance—relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman."
At a recent Latter-day Saint district conference in Rigo, Sister Ronette Taeoalii taught the Relief Society sisters the importance of staying in touch with the women in their wards and branches.
Since the first Latter-day Saint congregation in Papua New Guinea was organised in 1979, membership in the Church nationally has grown to 25,000, with 75 congregations, 41 meetinghouses and two missions.