PROVO — Quorums and relief societies in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are meant to be a safety and a refuge in these difficult days and to support and strengthen the identity, roles and responsibilities of their members, said Relief Society President Julie B. Beck on Tuesday.
"What the Lord envisioned regarding quorums and Relief Society has not yet been fully utilized," said the LDS Church's Relief Society general president at BYU. "Many quorums and Relief Societies are at present much like sleeping giants waiting for you to breathe new life into them."
Speaking to thousands of university students gathered in the BYU Marriott Center for a campus devotional, Sister Beck explained why Latter-day Saints are organized into quorums and relief societies. She said many people have the mistaken identity that a priesthood quorum and a Relief Society is "merely a class or a place to sit during the third hour of church on Sunday," when, in fact, "being part of a Relief Society or quorum is a designation for a way of life."
She said 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 purposes of the quorum, she added, are "to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, instruct quorum members in the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and watch over the church."
Sister Beck listed five important reasons Latter-day Saints are organized into quorums and relief societies:
One of the reasons the Church has quorums and relief societies is to organize its members under the priesthood and after the pattern of the priesthood, she said. "Our God is a god of order, and all that he does to build his kingdom, he does through his priesthood patterns," she said.
A second reason church members are organized into quorums and relief societies is to focus God's sons and daughters on the work of salvation and to engage them in it, Sister Beck said.
"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," she said.
The work of salvation includes missionary work, retaining those who are converted, participating in family history work and temple work, improving temporal and self-reliance, and taking care of the poor and needy.
A third reason church members are organized into quorums and relief societies is to help bishops wisely manage the Lord's storehouse, she said.
"The Lord's storehouse includes the time, talents, compassion, materials and financial means of the members of the church," she said. "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."
Bishops, she explained, 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.
Sister Beck said if church members were left to themselves, they might prefer to care only for the popular, charming and grateful people in their wards. "It is much more challenging to care for those who are difficult to love, who have grave and complicated challenges or who do not seem to appreciate our help."
A fourth reason why church members are organized into quorums and relief societies is to provide a defense and a refuge for God's children and their families in the latter days, Sister Beck said.
"We are all in the midst of a mortal experience," she said. "We all chose 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. This is not so. … 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."
The fifth purpose for being organized into quorums and relief societies is to strengthen and support Latter-day Saints in their family roles and responsibilities as sons and daughters of God, Sister Beck said.
"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," she said.
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, Sister Beck said. "Each of us is a beloved daughter or son of God with sacred responsibilities," she said. "In our quorums and relief societies, we are to be taught and inspired to become who our Father in Heaven created us to become."