My ward is going to be translated for this…

This week our Relief Society lesson was combined with the Young Women in the ward. On the table stood three large, framed photographs of our three recently graduated Laurels. Next to those were three identical stacks of books, each tied with a ribbon. On the side table were many platters of sliced sweet breads ready to be served. Ladies, welcome to the awesomeness that is Relief Society.

First, the bread was passed around. Someone even took some platters to the Primary sisters. Way to rock it ladies.

The lesson started with a message from one of the Relief Society counselors (the president was out of town) about the mission and purpose of Relief Society. It was short, heartfelt, and beautifully expressed. She then presented these transitioning young women with the stacks of books. Each received an Ensign (Goodbye, New Era!), a Gospel Principles manual, and a nice leather journal.

Next up was the Young Women President who shared a message from a talk (I missed the details on who/when) detailing a general church leader’s transition from young womanhood to womanhood and the part her mother and friend’s mothers played in that time in her life. It was a great message and I so appreciated her focus on what sisters of all ages may have to offer these young women and what these girls can offer Relief Society. Bravo, Young Women President, on not becoming an emotional and somewhat possessive wreck lamenting “losing” your girls. Instead, it was a send-off and a celebration. Here you go little chicks, spread your wings.

We then enjoyed a lovely video compiled by a sister in the ward featuring photos of each girl through the years. Lovely, Christ-centered music played in the background and there were powerful snippets of talks from President Hinckley and Elder Eyring speaking about the wonderful time ahead of these girls and offering encouragement to make the most of this time of life. It was inspiring and touching. Such a good way to make these girls feel special in a Young Women sort of way, and a great way to help the rest of us get to know them a little more.

Then the bishop spoke. I’m a little biased, but I think our bishop rocks. He’s humorous and self-deprecating and makes it very easy to want to listen to and follow his counsel. Great for adults, absolutely indispensable for youth. He shared his thoughts on moving forward and attaining goals, both temporal and spiritual. He encouraged education. He spoke of the wonderful blessing of being able to go anywhere in the world and find sisterhood. He told stories of inspiration and service he’d witnessed in our Relief Society and encouraged the girls to add to their list of worthy goals the goal to become an instrument of service in the Lord’s hands and expressed his testimony of the value of Relief Society in achieving that goal. It was beautiful.

I walked away from that lesson with a renewed love of Relief Society and an excitement for what lies ahead for these girls. But better than that, I walked away with a real desire to reach out to these new sisters, to include them, to nurture them along in the sisterhood of Relief Society. I want to do my part to make the transition as seamless as possible for them. From the feeling in the room afterward, I don’t think I was the only one. I wondered if that wasn’t really the purpose. I mean, sure, those presenting the lesson wanted these girls to be excited about (or, at least, less fearful of, this change), but maybe, just maybe, and just as importantly, they wanted us as Relief Society sisters to be excited about these young sisters. To be mindful of them, to take them under our collective wing and be sure they aren’t lost during this uncertain time. If it was just about making the girls feel special the presidency could have paid them individual visits. Instead, they provided an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate these girls and be excited about them. It was wonderfully done. And I loved that all of the young women were included. I think if I were a fourteen year old sitting there I would be excited about my time to be noticed and celebrated as a new adult in the church. Maybe it gave them something to look forward to instead of dread.

I don’t recall my own transition from Young Women to Relief Society, but I can be pretty sure it didn’t include any of the fanfare listed above and I’ve not seen it done this beautifully in the interim. I’m wondering what others’ experiences have been and what they’ve seen that’s been useful in helping young women make this transition. What would you like to see? How can we help transitioning sisters feel like a real and integral part of Relief Society?

On the flip side: No reports of anything like this down the hall in Elders Quorum. What are you seeing done for the young men?

Comments

  1. Cynthia L. says:

    “On the flip side: No reports of anything like this down the hall in Elders Quorum. What are you seeing done for the young men?”

    Well, going on a mission typically includes a lot of fanfare, even after the directive to tone down Sacrament Meeting send-offs. So there is that.

    I’m excited about all the attention being paid to the YW->RS handoff in recent years. I think church leaders are desperate to make that work better, so I expect a lot of great things are being tried out locally. Yours sounds awesome.

  2. nat kelly says:

    Brilliant. When I was in YW leadership, we didn’t have any girls that made it to this transition stage (I was only in for a year). But I often fantasized about all the cool stuff we could do. This sounds amazing.

  3. Coffinberry says:

    Well, when I made the transition out of YW, I was called into Primary. No RS for me until the BYU dorms. Most of the last 27 years have been in Primary. Maybe that’s why I’m rather ‘meh’ about RS? Kudos to your ward.

  4. When I made the transition out of YW – oops, never mind.

    This is great to read, Sunny. Thanks for sharing it. I will point it out to a few YW and RS Presidents.

  5. Cynthia,

    I’ve always found it problematic to see a mission farewell as a welcome into church adulthood. Not all young men serve missions. Most leave home before the age of serving a mission. I think we can do more for young adults in general to help them make this transition and see what EQ/RS has to offer them and what they can offer in return.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Outstanding. I think it has become a commonplace that this is one of the most difficult transitions in the Church, and for your ward to be proactive about it in this way is simply excellent.

  7. britt k says:

    fabulous!

  8. Stephanie says:

    This is wonderful.

  9. I totally thought you were going to report that they had taken your advice and dismantled Visiting Teaching in favor of “watch care.”

  10. Sunny, agreed. My “So there is that.” was intended to convey a certain hesitancy about “counting” that (for all the reasons you said).

  11. “On the flip side: No reports of anything like this down the hall in Elders Quorum. What are you seeing done for the young men?”

    Young men start attending open exercises for priesthood at 12, which includes all quorums of the priesthood commonly held at the ward level. So when they become ordained an elder, there isn’t usually much new in the way of welcoming, because they go to the same opening exercises they’ve been going to for 7 or 8 years, only now, they leave with a different quorum. It’s not to say that a big “welcoming” meeting couldn’t be had for a newly-ordained elder, just that it probably seems like a less huge transition for the men.

  12. ESO,

    If only I had suggested that. But I didn’t. I chose it for myself. And that was a different thread. You can go there if you’d like to talk about it.

  13. jimbob,

    We have the young women for opening exercises once, sometimes twice a month as well. I think it’s a good way to help them see a little of what goes on and to encourage the notion that we’re all sisters in the gospel no matter what age or stage of life. It also helps us to be aware of the YW.

  14. This is a really difficult transition. I know that I STILL don’t feel totally comfortable in Relief Society in my parent’s ward. I’m 23, lived in a family ward (far from home) for four years, and have lived in a singles ward for a year now. I’m comfortable in those Relief Societies, but there is something so weird about making that transition in a ward you grew up in.

    When I was just barely 18, I moved into the local family ward close to my university, and Relief Society there was much more natural than it has ever been at home.

    I think a large part of it was that I was an adult there from the start, even though I was young. It wasn’t a Relief Society made up of my mom’s friends, my friend’s moms, and former young women’s leaders – all people who still would see me as a little girl – but was made up of people who would only ever know me as an adult.

    Kudos to your ward for making a great effort for these girls! I know one of the things that most helped me the most in my family ward in college was the friendship of the women in Relief Society. Even though they were older than me and often married with kids, I felt like I had friends and a support network at church. It’s so important to make these young girls feel like a legitimate part of the Relief Society, and like they aren’t less a part of it because they are young and unmarried and don’t have kids yet.

  15. This is great. A bishop telling inspirational stoies, a video monlogue, RS Presidency members speaking and the YW President………….all inside 40 minutes!

  16. Megan,

    I know what you mean about the home ward and feeling like a kid still. When I was 20 I was called as a RS teacher in my mom’s ward, even though I was only there part-time. It really helped me feel like RS was something I could contribute to even outside of a student ward (which I also attended part-time).

    I found myself hoping Sunday that these girls get RS callings, even if just for the summer, so they can feel needed in a “grown up” RS.

  17. Fresh,

    I know! It was so smoothly done and everyone stuck to their allotted time. I found out today that the program had been a couple of months in the making. There was some really purposeful planning going into this and it showed.

  18. Mark Brown says:

    Good post, Sunny.

    I’ll answer your second question first. Yes, we do have a way of integrating YM into the adult quorums, and that is through home teaching. Ideally, when a boy turns 14 he gets to be partners with one of the adult men in the ward and and make visits and serve. We also often invite the priests to help with moving projects, so they are working side by side with elders in serving ward members.

    We tried once to start having YW go VTing with adult women. It worked for a while, but we eventually had to discontinue it because of overscheduling — camp meeting, mutual, Seminary Bowl, Super Saturday, basketball or volleyball, and so freakin’ on. It killed me to see an opportunity for real service get sacrificed to Super Stupid Saturday, but c’est la vie. Hell hath no fury like a YW president protecting her turf. And let it be noted that the YM are just as busy and have the same activities, yet we still expect them to go hometeaching.

    So I guess my answer to integrating the young women into the adult life of the ward is to find ways where they can serve adults. Maybe when the RS needs to have meals provided for somebody they could circulate the sign-up sheet to the YW, and the priesthood quorums too, for that matter.

    And major props to your ward. This was a non-correlated lesson, so somebody (RS Pres. and bishop, probably) took a chance. Good for them.

  19. Great thoughts, Mark.

    I’ve often wondered about YW being included in VT. I do find it strange that the opportunity only swings one way. I like the idea of having the youth serve in more adult ways generally (and then not showcasing said service on the ward bulletin board. How weird is THAT?). I remember accompanying my mom on lots of errands of service. I was her “companion” when help was needed. Circulating sign ups through YW would be a great way to help them be involved.

    This lesson was the brainchild of the RS counselor who spoke. I think she organized the whole thing. It was an inspired meeting to be sure.

  20. That is great! I stayed in YW until I moved out and had to go to a singles ward, where RS feels like YW. Now I love being in YW in the presidency, so maybe I never transitioned properly.

    I wish more was done for the boys, ESPECIALLY those who don’t go on missions. My brother wandered around lost in the church for a few years — and finally at age 22 felt accepted again. At 19, singles wards didn’t want him because he wasn’t 21, there was no intermediary Sunday School class – I don’t know, I just worried about him.

  21. Aaron Curtis says:

    Following a recent Eagle Scout court of honor in our ward, I was just commenting to my wife how I’d like to see more celebration of the YW Personal Progress Award. (Boys get an hour long ceremony and the girls get a two minute recognition in sacrament meeting). I think this post brings up the importance of rites of passage in facilitating transitions in life.

  22. Your ward was responding to an effort at least 7 years in the making (there are two first presidency letters on it because basically, everyone ignored it the first time, but I can;t remember if the first one was before or after this one http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,6829-1,00.html ). Since that time, I have served in RS and YW presidencies both ward and stake and Transition to Womanhood has been a major topic at EVERY training meeting since 2003. The bridge activity you describe has been and is being done all over by those who take this initiative seriously. You might be surprised (I am) at how many wards where either the YW or the RS president or both are unwilling to make any steps in this direction (the most basic being holding joint opening exercises).

    YM have not been suffering the same amazing drop-out rates as YW do at the break to RS. I think a MAJOR reason for that is the EQ doesn’t seem like such a foreign body to them as the RS seems to YW. Additionally, the RS is the butt of many jokes and much dread by adult women (people like my mom who would just rather serve in Primary and skipped RS for many many years)–that doesn’t help YW want to go.

    The YW who make the smoothest transitions are those who go to student wards, where the RS is basically YWs without the theme. Those who immediately join a multi-age RS have a harder time, and for most the hardest is attending the RS in the unit where they were a teen.

    You were correct that the presentation was aimed at you as much as it was towards the YW. It sounds like your was done so well that you got that feeling in an inspiring way rather than a nagging/shaming way. We wish it was common sense that people would look out for new members of their organization, but it just isn’t. BTW–I think having all the Seniors join RS on the same day (like the Sunday after HS graduation) is a big help, rather than having them drift up as they turn 18. It makes them more noticeable to the RS membership.

  23. ESO,

    Yes, I remember attending two separate training meetings in Salt Lake some years ago wherein the general leadership of both organizations stressed the importance of this transition. I came up against resistance while serving both in YW and RS. Sometimes it was at the ward level, sometimes the stake. I’m sure it has sunk in in other areas of the world and is still seeping in in others. I’m just so thrilled to see it done so well where I am.

    Also, I don’t know that people lack the common sense to look out for new members of an organization. I think everyone would have been warm and welcoming, this just upped the ante. Instead of just a friendly hello or offer of someone to sit with, I think there is a real feeling that these girls belong to us collectively, as we belong to each other, and that this time between high school and college is a not a waiting ground, but a time in which we as a RS can help these girls become a real part of our RS fellowship.

    And yes, bringing the girls in together was wise. It also gives them a sense of not being alone.

  24. ESO,
    We lose more YW during that time too because the YM go on missions very shortly after they leave the YM program. I think that has at least as much to do with it as having the YM in quoroms with men before they turn 18.

    It hasn’t been my experience that RS and YW leaders are resistant to the idea of integrating YW into RS, but more so that they aren’t very good at it.

  25. It sounds great. The only weakness I see is that probably many women in your ward already know those teenage girls. It is the teenage girls who don’t know how to view adult women as peers. They just see a bunch of moms and grandma’s and YW leaders. Whenever they have interacted with all these adult women it was when the adult women were serving them. Teaching a SS class, their YW leaders, their friend’s mom who gave them rides, etc. They don’t know how to be friends with women whose lives are so completley different than theirs. I mean, they look at those women and don’t think they have anything in common. They’re old!

  26. jks,
    From reading the post, I’m not sure the main point was to introduce the YW to the RS sisters, but to show them transitioning to womanhood from girlhood, to show them becoming.
    Saying that the YW don’t know how to be friends with older women is only as true as saying the older women don’t know how to be friends with younger women. Both of those attitudes exist for sure, but overall my experience has been that the sisters in RS really reach out to each other, across any age barriers.
    If that is a real concern, then we need to have the YW serving older sisters more while going through their teen years so they feel like they serve as much as are served. If we are teaching them that they are only served by older sisters, it’s our problem to fix.

  27. esodhiambo says:

    Sunny–absolutely–going in as a pack of peers is a big bonus. Resistance is quite pervasive–it always shocks me. People are so concerned about maintaining their “programs”–oh, that would really cut into our lesson, why should the RS say the YW theme? etc etc. Get over it, ladies: take the long view, catch the vision.

    jks–missions certainly do help a lot, but I personally think that combined opening exercises is of paramount importance. Another difference that may matter to some is that EQ is relatively young and hip and the High Priests are the grandpa types. YW get thrown right in with ALL the women, which makes some a bit uneasy. One thing that has become very popular in my stake is inviting the YW to Enrichment meetings (or whatever). It puts the onus on parents of YW, not leaders, can free YW leaders up from 2 night-time meetings that week, and gives the YW the chance to see that RS sisters are goofy and fun, too. Anyway–just throwing it out there.

    mmiles–more service would have many benefits.

  28. “Both of those attitudes exist for sure, but overall my experience has been that the sisters in RS really reach out to each other, across any age barriers.”
    I just remember being 18. YWs meant hanging out with friends. Classes were small and I was Laurel President. RS was a bunch of old women who knew me, but I had no clue who they were or what they did with their lives or how they thought (I’d only lived in the ward 1.5 years).
    I went to BYU so RS there was my peers so I felt comfortable. I am sure it would have taken a long time in my home ward to get to know all those older women. I did go home one summer so I did attend my home ward RS.
    I think it is about our society not valuing our elders, especially older women. What should happen is that our YW feel so priveledged to be able to join the prestigious RS with all the prestigious older women. But they don’t. Older women in our society have no prestige so YW don’t look forward to joining them and have no desire to learn from them or hang out with them.

  29. JKS,
    I see your point, I’m just not sure it’s true. Speaking for myself, truly some of my most trusted friends in my last ward are 60-80 years old women, in all seriousness. I trust their advice, they’ve walked where I walk now. I can call them and they me. One of them is on a mission right now, and our letters are often personal and intimate. Other sisters (like me) wanted to grow up (by which I mean mature into) women like these ladies. And I really, really liked having them in book group. Some of the sisters joined just to hear what they had to say.
    It seems to me that that is the prevailing attitude toward the sisters that have lived longer, seen more, been there, done that. I think within Mormonism elderly women are more honored than in society as a whole. The matriarch in Mormon culture–the revered grandmother–is someone lots of us aspire to be.
    I know it’s not like that always, but if it’s not, I’m not sure how to fix it. And I’m not sure what it looks like when it’s not, because like I said, I’m not sure I’ve seen it much.
    Of course young adults want a vibrant social life, I certainly did. But I don’t think that precludes respecting and enjoying being with more mature sisters too.
    You’ve given me something to think about-thanks.

  30. “I wish more was done for the boys, ESPECIALLY those who don’t go on missions. My brother wandered around lost in the church for a few years — and finally at age 22 felt accepted again. At 19, singles wards didn’t want him because he wasn’t 21, there was no intermediary Sunday School class – I don’t know, I just worried about him.”

    Ditto, as I have extended family in this exact same situation. He finally got out of Utah, and has had a much better experience.

  31. mmiles, I don’t know how old you are. I’m 39 and it’s only been the last few years that I’ve seen how awesome it is to be in the middle and get to connect with the young and the old. I couldn’t connect with the old (and of course old meant anyone 10 years older than me) when I was younger. I really didn’t know how. Perhaps it was just my poor social skills, which I am always working on improving.

  32. I agree with jks…its different once you become comfy with the wife/mom/adult role to be friends with everyone your age and older. The age barriers seem to melt away the older you get. But an 18 year old teenager is not going to be ‘besties’ with an 80 year old lady and call her on the phone for chit chats and heartwarming convos, lol. I mean, maybe…but not likely.

    I also remember going into RS 2x a month for the intro and did *nothing* for me. It didn’t make it one ounce less awkward when I transitioned. You’re there for all of 5 minutes…prayer, song, buh-bye! It was annoying to me, if anything. I just wanted to go gossip with my best friend back in our class.

    I do think its stifling in RS. Its a small room cramped full of women and whiny babies. Why can’t they break up the women into different classes like the men? It would be much less threatening and there would be so much more interaction and participation if the classes were smaller. They could have a YSA RS, a class for moms with babies still too young for nursery, etc. Or maybe they could meld the YW and RS intro, so the girls are getting just as much interaction with the adult women from a younger age.

    The only problem with these “honor” lessons, is that is ends up having the same problem as missionary farewells did. That you could have a new girl coming into RS every month or so. Sometimes weeks in a row. So every time one comes in they are going to do a photo montage of her and focus the lesson on transitions? If they are going to do that, it needs to be a once a year thing. Invite all the girls coming in that year. Or if its multiple times, move it to RS activities or a separate activity altogether for the parents and YW.

    I only manage to stay for RS every once in awhile (breastfeeding my very active, 1 year old who needs a nap in the afternoon and isn’t old enough for nursery yet) and so when I do, I *really* need a lesson that is spiritually uplifting. The program sounded nice, but it would’ve done nothing for me. I guess it sounds selfish, but for all the men complaining about us women complaining…we usually only get a mere 45 min of time devoted to us. The rest is spent wrestling babies and children. I *need* that time in RS to be strong enough to stay at home with my kids all week.

    But there’s also another side of me that just thinks…hey, its awkward…so is a lot of life. Get used to it. I didn’t get a lesson centered on me when I advanced. And ya it was strange and lonely and awkward for awhile. (Do I still call her Sis. So-and-So like I did last year when she was my teacher, or do I call her by her first name?! Do I chitchat with my best friend’s mom now?! Will they stop talking about their kids/marriage/old age already?!) But are you going to stop going to church because of that? Well, thats pretty lame. Come back when you have a real tragedy weighing on your testimony. Harsh, I know. But I can’t help the words in the back of my head. I must be getting old and crotchety. :P

    I know its being nit picky, but the photo montage video idea is kind of strange. :/ Too wedding-ish for me. And also too much like the overblown fanfare for missionaries at church. I *do* think its great to acknowledge the YW, but this idea needs some tweaking.

    Also, I don’t like it when the YM do Home Teaching either. They’re bored out of their minds and I don’t really like having to talk about my personal issues or problems with a 13 year old listening on. I’ve been through various stages in my life…divorced, single mom, death in family, etc, and through those times I really needed to be able to tell my HT exactly what was going on. It was weird talking about divorce issues, and grief in front of a teenage boy. :/ I wouldn’t like YW doing VTing either, for the same reasons. I don’t want to discuss husband or financial issues with a teen girl looking on. I also think the YM and the YW are busy enough with church, school, extra-curricular activities and social lives.

  33. Linshelton says:

    Testimony is the key. Young women who have not developed the foundation of a strong testimony may fall away with or without fanfare.

    Hopefully, each will eventually have an experience where age drops away and spirit to spirit relationships become possible…that is what makes RS the sisterhood that it should be…but if one’s testimony is not sufficient to sustain transistion…that experience may not occur until years later.

    My own experience as a mentor to a Beehive (actually she mentors me!) has been so uplifting. We seek each other out and I hope our relationship will make her transition easier.

    Our stake RS sponsored a Laurel activity. We enjoyed the biggest round table discussion with women of all ages and I feel confident that the Laurels in attendance will have an easier time making the transition to RS. Sadly, there were many who did not attend.

    I look at primary and young women as RST…Relief Society in training. Relief Society is where women. sufficiently trained and strengthened by personal discipleship, can be trusted to do the Lord’s work without having to receive a gold star for doing it. Training begins at a mother’s side. Her attitude and the attitude of primary and young women leaders can make such a difference, but truly our first concern should be about assisting those with whom we have contact in building testimonies sufficient to withstand what is expected of us.

  34. JKS-
    I’m 37.

  35. Jks—and I guess I’m weird, I think I connect pretty well with
    all ages and always have.

  36. jks and Olive,

    I think if we made more efforts to incorporate the YW and transitioning sisters into RS activities and efforts there may not be so much awkwardness around age differences. I mean, these YW connect with their older leaders, right? It can be done. It doesn’t mean everybody has to be besties, but sisters of all ages can begin to see the benefit of having connections with others in various stages of life.

    Olive,

    I’m left wondering, after your comment, what you DO like? I’m not sure what you’re ideal is, but it sounds pretty stifling to me to be put in a class with only those of my age group (not even sure why the men are divided). I really enjoy the comments of sisters of various ages and stages. I go to lunch with groups of women of all ages. I’m not besties with all the sisters my own age, so I don’t think that’s requisite to make relationships with older or younger sisters valuable. It’s the experience of seeing life through their eyes that is valuable. The opportunity to see what life can/will hold can be invaluable to a young adult woman during a time of life when she is making long term decisions about her future.

    As to “honor lessons”, I don’t think anyone suggests doing them every time a YW turns 18. Our ward did it after graduation. I don’t think all of the girls are even 18 yet. Each ward could do it as they please.

    The video was nothing like a wedding video. I’m not one for things like that either, but this was different. It was deliberately done to showcase a bit about who these girls are while focusing on the Savior, the power of RS, and the need to make meaningful choices about life. The words of the prophets were emphasized as much as the girls.

    You may be right that you would have gotten nothing out of this lesson. The experience in our RS was different. There was a powerful spirit there. This wasn’t a spotlight session. It was a testimony of RS and Christlike charity and an invitation for all of us to embrace one another and look for ways to lift, bless, and increase testimonies. It was one of the finest lessons we’ve had.

    Linshelton,

    If only all YW and YM learned all they needed to at their parents’ sides, supplemented by Primary and youth leaders actively preparing these youth for full responsibility as adults in the church. If only. Then we could be taken up to Heaven straightway.

    But since that generally isn’t the case, I think it’s necessary that we make a broader, deeper, and concerted effort to bring our newest members of our organizations into full fellowship, honoring their gifts and talents, extending meaningful callings, and reaching out generally. If the testimony is not sufficient at 18 (plenty of 45 year olds of insufficient faith, so I’m not sure what we’re expecting of a young adult) then we have an obligation to uplift and guide, just as with anyone else. No point looking back on what parents or leaders should have done.

    Making the transition isn’t about the fanfare, you’re right, but it’s a good step to help the ward be mindful of these youth. What happens after that is even more important. We must be especially mindful of those without sufficient testimony and work doubly hard to help them build a good foundation.

  37. Tanya S. says:

    Very cool idea. My previous ward made quilts for all of the graduating girls. On the Sunday they all transitioned into YW (generally the Sunday after high school graduation), the quilts were presented and the girls were welcomed into RS. Not as involved as what was done in the post, but it was something the girls seemed to enjoy, and the girls looked forward to seeing what their quilt would look like (the fabric for each girl’s quilt was selected based on her interests). I thought it was a very sweet tradition.

    My transition into RS was very… nothing. We were allowed to continue attending YW the entire summer and then just move on when we started college, so that’s what I did. Thus, my first Sunday attending RS was my first Sunday in a new ward, and since I attended a small liberal arts college on the East Coast, I attended a normal family ward, not a student ward. It was kind of a weird transition.

  38. Linshelton says:

    Sunny, I agree completely with what you are saying, but at the same time I wonder why “that generally, isn’t the case.”
    I think we need a “broader, deeper and concerted effort” to train and teach young families, primary and youth leaders to prepare young people for active and enriching involvement in the Lord’s kingdom. We spend a lot of time making up for the omissions of the past. So in addition to all of the wonderful things you advocate…I add… Start early, train families and teachers and celebrate a joyful transition.
    Looking back at what should have been can be an incredible impetus for what needs to be emphasized in the present…to make for a more productive future.
    And just for the record…I am all for fanfare, and will celebrate at a moment’s notice.

  39. Unbeknownst to me, last week our bishop popped into the YW/YM Sunday School class and informed 2 of the girls that as of that Sunday, they would be attending Relief Society. I love our bishop, but he does have a bluntness about him that rubs some people the wrong way (and is also extremely useful at other times. For instance, all of our YW can recite the bishop’s number one admonition to them: Stay away from bums! Excellent advice in our inner city ward).

    As I walked into the YW room at the beginning of the 3rd hour, the 2 girls were saying good-bye to the other YW, and leaving for Relief Society. I definitely like your ward’s method better. Notes for next June…

  40. Linshelton…could you tell us more about the activity the RS sponsored for the Laurels? Sounds interesting!

    Sunny…I guess I just don’t think that *anything* will make transitioning not awkward. I don’t agree that children should be on the same level as adults, or be able to relate to adults. They’re kids…how they can relate?! The roles should be clearly defined, and when those roles get switched, there is going to be some awkwardness. Thats part of growing up. To me it kind of feels like the “trophies for everyone so no one feels bad!” “Don’t use As, Bs, Cs for grades…use numbers so the kids won’t feel bad!” Like this level of cushioning that they can’t even handle uncomfortable feelings anymore. I agree that we should foster relationships with the YW and try to make them feel welcome, but like I said before, I’m not sure this is the best way to do it.

    I stand by my opinion that the video idea is just plain strange. Even if it focused on Christ, why put pictures of the girls in it?! What if one of those girls is sexually active? Or doing drugs? Or drinking? Or pregnant? Etc…can you imagine how they’d feel with their picture being played in a montage with Christ, religious music, and talks? I’d guess that these three girls were probably obviously ‘choosing the right’…but will you do this for every.single.girl from now on, despite their level of activeness? Not every girl at that age wants to be glorified and put on a pedestal. It would have made me feel very uncomfortable at that age. Actually…at any age now that I think about it. Thats just me…but I’d guess others would feel the same way.

    I’m an uber feminist mormon, so its not that I don’t appreciate recognizing the YW. I am well aware of the disparities that exist in our church between the YM and YW. I guess its like what someone above said…it rings of fanfare and Martha Stewart complexes and gilding the lily. I’m sure it was a great experience for most of the women in the room, but you can’t speak for everyone and I guarantee there were plenty of women who were inwardly rolling their eyes or just plain bored.

  41. What if one of those girls is sexually active? Or doing drugs? Or drinking? Or pregnant? Etc…can you imagine how they’d feel with their picture being played in a montage with Christ, religious music, and talks?

    Video montages set to music are not my thing, generally. Well, in theory they are not my thing. In practice I can occasionally be a sucker for them. That’s why, when I read your comment, I thought, “I hope to God that if one of those girls was sexually active, on drugs, pregnant, or otherwise not living up to the ideal, she would see herself up there with Christ and understand that she belongs with him as much as anyone else does.”

  42. When I turned 18, my leaders said I didn’t have to go to RS right away, I could stay in YW until I graduated from high school, but I wasn’t interested in staying in YW one minute longer than I had to. I was happy to go to RS, even though I had no friends there. I had no friends in YW, either, so big deal. Of course, then I spent most of the next four years playing piano in Primary, but that was fine, too. I enjoyed that time, too.

    I used to think that a good way to get young women (18+) to feel a part of RS was not to call them to Primary the minute they become legal–but the fact is, in all of the non-gigantic wards I’ve been in, most of the women under 40 are serving in Primary, so why shouldn’t the 18-year-olds be there, too? Maybe the real problem is how to get women serving in Primary to feel a part of RS.

    I am not a fan of segregating adult classes by age. I prefer to have women of all ages mixed in together. I appreciate having the perspectives of women who are in different stages of life and benefiting from their wisdom (that has hopefully accumulated). I liked it when I was 18. I liked being an adult in a class with other adults (although we were not exactly peers–that didn’t really matter to me). I didn’t like when I came home from college for the summer and they made us go to a special YSA Sunday School class. Where I went to school, there were no LDS YSA besides me, so I was just another member of the ward, who just happened to be a YSA. Not everyone feels comfy in that situation–and not every ward is well-integrated; in fact, I daresay most aren’t, as most of mine haven’t been. But ideally they should be. If you’ve ever been in a ward where age and marital status and occupation and income didn’t dictate who you interacted with, you know how awesome it is. I don’t think you can get there if you segregate by demographic. But I guess I understand why people tend to prefer that.

    Well, that was a tangent. I don’t think I’ve contributed anything useful so far as the how-we-help-transitioning-sisters-feel-part-of-RS question goes. I think the problem transcends age, though. Lots of sisters in their 30s and 40s and upward don’t feel part of RS.

  43. Linshelton says:

    Olive, it was called it the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pearls…no matter where we go or what we do we are sisters…all different, but with a common thread that weaves through us…that being the Gospel of Christ. Our keynote speaker had a circle of sisters behind her ranging in age from 6 to dead (photo of)…all close to the speaker for different reasons. She shared experiences where that spirit to spirit relationship mentioned previously had existed for her, where age just drops away…and what part RS had played in her life. Laurels, their moms, mentors, support women, were invited. The best part was a huge circle discussion based on questions that were on the tables during the meal. Truly, every sister there had an opportunity to speak her heart. The feedback on this event was spectacular and I expect it will be an every other year event. The Stake RS budget covered the entire event, as Stake YW never seem to have enough money to cover everything they need to. We had lovely boxed lunches…think brown paper packages tied up with strings…handmade journals and necklaces with three pearls…one for primary, young women and RS. It was a lovely day. I would emphasize here that each of our units is different and what I have learned lately, is that when asked for, inspiration will come as to what we need to do in each of our assignments…honestly, I have been amazed at what the Lord knows and will pass on, when asked. It is His work, and He knows what we need to be doing. I hate to tell anyone how long it took me to learn that!! One of my favorite A-HA moments is hearing the words come out of my mouth…”Isn’t it amazing?” and I always wonder, “Why are we amazed, because the Lord desires to bless!” And can I just add how wonderful it is to know that so many are valiantly engaged in looking after our younger RS sisters…I lie awake at night thinking about the ones we lose.

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