Tomorrow I will teach Lesson 10 in the RS/PH manual. So rare is the very mention of a woman in the manuals that tomorrow’s lesson indeed boasts manna, the name of Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball. Feast a little when you come to page 130. Sarah is quoted regarding instruction JS gave in the School of the Prophets. The manual fails to add that, as the only woman I am aware of attending the School, she heard the teaching firsthand. The instruction is important but not as important as the opportunity to introduce the sisters to a heroine.
It was Sarah who first conceived of the RS. Initially she wanted to organize the sisters to make clothing for the temple builders. The first meeting, held in her home, authorized Eliza R. Snow to draw up a constitution, a constitution Eliza took to JS. It was only then that JS said he would organize the women in the manner of the PH the following Thursday in the famous meeting above his store.
When the RS was reorganized 20 years later, Sarah began 40 years as Pres. of the SL Fifteenth, from Temple South to Third South and west to the Jordan. She established the offices and organization, copied with few changes by the general RS. She led the sisters to build the first RS building, built and filled the first granary (the granary was her idea, storing grain was BY’s), raised funds for the Perpetual Emigration Fund, the SL and Logan temples, and Desert Hospital and made carpets and other goods while she and others led the sewing sisters in classes on theology, suffrage and practical (and impractical, like phrenology) subjects of the day. They studied, sang and spoke. She approached Eliza R. Snow and BY to raise funds for the Chicago Fire victims; they chose not to authorize a churchwide program but encouraged her. She and the Fifteenth raised $14,000 in 1 month. Under her leadership, the RS financed teacher training and operated a kindergarten, sent the Women’s Exponent to poor English sisters, founded a library and organized regular activities for the widowed and aged. She taught the sisters to read, to teach and to lead. With Eliza R. Snow (by some accounts her best friend), she was the offficial church rep to the suffrage movement and there is a wonderful photo of her sitting next to Susan B. Anthony in 1895 in SL in Women of Covenant by Derr, Cannon and Beecher.
I won’t be adding in class that, reportedly, Sarah was one of the women who turned down JS’s offer of polyandry, advising him to go teach that to someone else. But I’m torn because it speaks to the heart of the lesson. She is one of my heroines because she did exactly what the lesson is about: seeking our own revelation through personal prayer. And having the courage to act on it.