SALT LAKE CITY — The first authorized account of women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, titled "Daughters in my Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society," is more than just a written history. It is "a recipe book for how to be a Latter-day Saint woman," said Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president.
A letter from the LDS Church's First Presidency to local leaders, dated Aug. 1, announced the new publication.
In coming months, the book will be distributed to every adult Latter-day Saint woman across the globe.
"This book is intended to be an additional resource for personal study, teaching at home, and in Relief Society and other church settings," said the letter, which was signed by President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. "We are confident it will be uplifting, informative, and inspiring."
Sister Beck said the book is remarkable because it was "written by women and it is about women."
The 208-page book is not a comprehensive history of the church, nor is it an LDS manual. It is intended as a personal and family resource to support women and strengthen them in their responsibilities, she said.
The book is organized by themes such as family, sisterhood and charity. Each chapter includes stories of Latter-day Saint women throughout history and around the world today.
"It is an epic story and it is a record of the spiritual legacy of the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," she said. "I believe it is a witness of women's divine roles and it confirms an immovable standard of what we believe and what we defend."
Additionally, Sister Beck said that, in an often noisy world, the history provides clarity and alignment. "I think it is important for our women to understand where they come from and what they stand for in order to have the clarity they need," she said.
She added that the history "addresses some of the insecurities and myths" many LDS women have felt about themselves and their religion.
"The key message is that it really is a witness of women's divine roles and their worth and their relevance to our Heavenly Father. … Women have always carried an important and influential leadership role in Heavenly Father's plan and in his restored gospel," she said.
Copies of the book will be sent to English-speaking LDS church units starting next week.
The book will be distributed in Spanish and Portuguese by Nov. 30.
By the end of January 2012, the book will have reached LDS women speaking 23 different languages. Copies of the book will also be available to purchase through LDS Distribution Services.
Susan W. Tanner, the former Young Women general president for the LDS Church who is now serving a mission in Brazil with her husband, was asked to write the book on behalf of the Relief Society presidency.
She said while working on the project, she came to believe this history has the potential to "lift women, to inspire women, to help women know who they are what their purposes are."
"This work needs to get the women of the world and the women of the church from where they are to where they need to be," she said.
Sister Beck said the book makes one things certain: "It is evident Heavenly Father loves his daughters as much as he loves his sons."
She hopes people will have a "profound personal experience with the book."
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"I consider it to be a remarkable gift," she said. "We have seen it as a gift. We feel it is a gift. We give it as a gift."
Daughters in my Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society
Initial distribution will be to each adult woman in the church.
Copies will be sent to English-speaking units of the church by Sept. 30.
Spanish and Portuguese by Nov. 30
20 other languages by Jan. 15, 2012.
Soft and hardbound edition of the book will also be available for purchase through LDS Distribution Services.