Monday, January 10, 2011

The 2010 History of our Relief Society

Every year the Stake asks us to give a brief history of our Relief Society. This is what we sent for 2010.

2010 History of the Valley Forge First Ward Relief Society

“Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.” (new Handbook 2)

Along with the overall purpose of Relief Society, our focus this year was on love, friendship and unity. Our heart’s desire is that every sister feel needed, included, valued and loved.

March brought change to our presidency. We said good-bye to Nancy Martin who moved with her family to California. We said hello to a new presidency: Devon Linn, president; Ellen King, first counselor; Charity Wolf, second counselor; and Missy Gochoco, secretary. Later Madelyn O’Farell was called as secretary. Other board members included Shellie Blake as compassionate service leader; Shobha Kothapalli and later Connie Thornloe as visiting teaching coordinator; Miranda Searle and later Cheryl Wentzel as music leader; and Meredith DuPass and later Melissa Tafuna as pianist.

Gospel instruction
Our teachers this year have been Marie Jurecki-Tiller, Margie Clark, Cheryl Wentzel, Jill Farichild, and Debbie Horton. Our curriculum included the Gospel Principles topics and selected conference talks, along with instruction from the presidency on topics relevant to our ward sisters. We so appreciate the dedicated service of these sisters.

We maintain an unofficial blog ( to post announcements and reminders, but more importantly to instruct, inspire and encourage one another. It includes articles written by sisters in the ward about their lives and spiritual insights, recaps of Sunday lessons, and inspirational videos, articles and websites from the Church and its members. It is a place for parenting tips, recipes, social media information, and digital resources. Each month we’ve focused on a topic such as goal-setting, showing love, feeling lucky or blessed, empowerment, motherhood, a single’s perspective, missionary work, unity, prophets, gratitude and many more gospel topics. We’ve linked to sisters’ blogs so we may increase friendship, and better sharing and caring about the ups and downs of one another’s lives.

Other Relief Society meetings
Quarterly we have gathered to educate and lift one another. We love being together.

In March we gathered for an early morning breakfast to celebrate the birthday of the Relief Society, with inspirational talks and then a trip to the Washington DC temple.

In June we learned how we choose to walk with the Lord in “Walk with Me,” with three mini classes on what is essential, necessary or nice-to-do, how to fortify our family and home using the Book of Mormon, and how to provide a safety net for each other in our lives.

In August we enjoyed a dip in the pool and good food at Wolf’s home and learned about being “A Light in the Darkness” for one another. The talks and slide show (on a makeshift outdoor screen) were thought-provoking and uplifting.

In October we focused on “Peace in Preparation” with dinner of food from food storage and three classes on different aspects of preparedness: prophetic counsel about food storage, emergency preparedness, paying off debt and living within our means; 72-hour kits and some fun things to entertain children with; and a hands-on class where everyone canned one can of oats to take home, using the dry pack canner from the Bishop’s storehouse. This meeting spawned a new monthly meeting called Be Prepared Valley Forge (BPVF) to support one another in our efforts to be better prepared in our food storage and for emergencies.

Other weekday meetings included several book discussions to focus on truths in literature, a mad skilz class (a topic taught by a sister who excels in it) on photography, and monthly “mentoring moms” where our sisters meet to set goals and encourage each other in achieving them. Weekly institute classes also enrich our lives.

Visiting teaching
We had two visiting teaching conferences, one in May (Circle of Sisters) and one in November (To Support and Uplift) where all the sisters were able to meet together for instruction. Devon quoted Sister Beck on each occasion. “It has been my experience that each ward Relief Society has the capacity to give to one another the support that is needed. ...If we seek and receive the help of the Holy Ghost, all answers can be found in each circle of sisters.” And, “Visiting teaching becomes the Lord’s work when our focus is on people rather than percentages. In reality, visiting teaching is never finished. It is more a way of life than a task.”

Welfare and compassionate service
One of our regular service activities was to gather and assemble dozens of newborn kits for our local hospital to give to low-income moms who need a blanket, clothes and booties for their baby to leave the hospital. At Christmas time we gathered gifts for some of the families in the city ward who needed a little help with Christmas for their children. We’ve also participated in on-going clothing drives for our fellow stake members.

But the real work of compassionate service goes unheralded: countless meals delivered to new or sick moms and families, fasting and praying for ward members, generous fast offerings, smiling, listening, yard help, cleaning and packing for a move, rides to and from church, hours of babysitting, lunch dates, kind notes or e-mails, dedicated visiting teaching and writing letters to missionaries. We have sought unity and strength in caring for one another.

This year we welcomed nine new babies into the world to these families: Wentzels, Carrs, Fairchilds, Tingeys, Boyers (twins), Tafunas, Behunins, and Templetons. We congratulated Kelsey Howell on her mission call and the Vagnonis on their wedding in the temple. We had a few young sisters here with their husbands for summer employment, and made friends quickly knowing our time was short. We had a lot of families moving in and out due to the changes in the economy and will miss old friends, but warmly welcome new friends to our ward family.

At the beginning of the year President Julie B. Beck urged all sisters to focus on the three responsibilities of Relief Society. She said, “As Latter-day Saint women we have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and testimonies of the plan of salvation. We are responsible for the female half of that plan. It cannot be delegated to others. We are accountable before the Lord for the discharge of our duties.” We have done our best this year to carry on the work of the women in the kingdom and to find unity and love in that labor.

The Valley Forge First Ward Relief Society Presidency
Devon Linn, Ellen King, Charity Wolf, Madelyn O’Farrell

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