This post was originally published in 2016, but we’ve updated it to include Sister Jean B. Bingham, our current General Relief Society President! Come enjoy 34 great quotes with lovely memes from the 17 incredible women who have served as president.
Emma Hale Smith
First General President of the Relief Society, 1842–1844
“We are going to do something extraordinary—when a boat is stuck on the rapids, with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief—we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.” —Emma Hale Smith
“I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I might be able to overcome whatever of tradition or nature that would not tend to my exaltation in the eternal worlds. I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through His servants without doubting.” —Emma Hale Smith
Eliza R. Snow
Second General President of the Relief Society, 1866–1887
“There are many of the sisters whose labors are not known beyond their own dwellings and perhaps not appreciated there. But what difference does that make? If your labors are acceptable to God, however simple the duties, if faithfully performed, you should never be discouraged.” —Eliza R. Snow
“I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.”
—Eliza R. Snow
Zina D. H. Young
Third General President of the Relief Society, 1888–1901
“Seek for a testimony, as you would, my dear sisters, for a diamond concealed. If someone told you by digging long enough in a certain spot you would find a diamond of unmeasured wealth, do you think you would begrudge time or strength, or means spent to obtain that treasure? . . . If you will dig in the depths of your own hearts you will find, with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, the pearl of great price, the testimony of the truth of this work.” —Zina D. H. Young
“One day on my return from school I saw the Book of Mormon, that strange, new book, lying on the window sill of our sitting-room. I went up to the window, picked it up, and the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit accompanied it to such an extent that I pressed it to my bosom in a rapture of delight, murmuring as I did so, ‘This is the truth, truth, truth!’” —Zina D. H. Young
Bathsheba W. Smith
Fourth General President of the Relief Society, 1901–1910
“It is plainly necessary that women as well as men, cease not while life lasts to study diligently for the knowledge which is of greatest worth.” —Bathsheba W. Smith
“When I heard the Gospel I knew it was true. When I first read the Book of Mormon, I knew it was inspired of God; when I first beheld Joseph Smith I knew I stood face to face with a prophet of the living God, and I had no doubt in my mind about his authority.” —Bathsheba W. Smith
Emmeline B. Wells
Fifth General President of the Relief Society, 1910–1921
“I desire to do all in my power to help elevate the condition of my own people, especially women. I have desired with all my heart to do those things that would advance women in moral and spiritual as well as educational work and tend to the rolling on of the work of God upon the earth.” —Emmeline B. Wells
“I believe in women.” —Emmeline B. Wells
Clarissa S. Williams
Sixth General President of the Relief Society, 1921–1928
“This great trust which the Prophet Joseph Smith gave to women eighty years ago has been a great blessing, not only to the Relief Society women but to the communities in which they have lived. Through our organization the gospel has been preached, the needy have been looked after, the sick have been comforted, the downhearted have been cheered, a message of love and of blessing has ever emanated from Relief Society workers.” —Clarissa S. Williams
“The greatest thing in the world is love. And if we keep that always in our hearts, and give it as a message to those about us, we will be blessed and will be instruments in blessing those with whom we associate.” —Clarissa S. Williams
Louise Yates Robison
Seventh General President of the Relief Society, 1928–1939
“If we only half do our work we will have no pleasure, if we do it from a sense of duty we will have no joy, but if we feel we are a branch of this vine, and that our Father in Heaven has felt us to be worthy to be a member of that branch, and that we can carry this work when it is here to do, then we will have joy.” —Louise Y. Robison
“Although our records are well kept, there is no human power which can give an account of the deeds of loving kindness performed by our Relief Society members.” —Louise Y. Robison
Amy Brown Lyman
Eighth General President of the Relief Society, 1940–1945
“No work could be more important and satisfying than that of helping to raise human life to its highest level.” —Amy B. Lyman
“My testimony has been my anchor and my stay, my satisfaction in times of joy and gladness, my comfort in times of sorrow and discouragement. I am grateful for the opportunity of serving, . . . particularly in Relief Society where during most of my mature life I have worked so happily and contentedly with its thousands of members. I have visited in their homes, slept in their beds, and eaten at their tables and have thus learned of their beauty of character, their unselfishness, their understanding hearts, their faithfulness, and their sacrifices. I honor beyond my power of expression this great sisterhood of service.”—Amy B. Lyman
Belle S. Spafford
Ninth General President of the Relief Society, 1945–1974
“Women who become active in Relief Society grow to love it. Their knowledge and skills increase, their testimonies of the gospel become firmly rooted. There develops within them a desire to help in the building of the kingdom of God on earth. This influence they carry into their home and disseminate among the family members. The home then becomes enriched, a place where the Spirit of God may dwell, a home prepared to fulfill its divine destiny.” —Belle S. Spafford
“This life is a life of choices. We sometimes don’t like to get out of the groove that’s been pleasant for us and step into a new groove that might present a few adjustments for us. We have to consider which in the ultimate is going to be the greatest benefit for the greatest number. Always I find that the decisions of the Brethren are right.”—Belle S. Spafford
Barbara B. Smith
Tenth General President of the Relief Society, 1974–1984
“Women can begin in their own spheres— with their little children at home, among adult friends, in their extended families, and in their professions. But the important thing is to reach out in love to serve someone every day.” —Barbara B. Smith
“The Lord really cares about the feelings of love in our hearts and souls, about diligence in seeking wisdom. He wants us to love and care and do as he did. He wants us to be righteous as he was. He wants us to develop the divine within us.” —Barbara B. Smith
Barbara W. Winder
Eleventh General President of the Relief Society, 1984–1990
“I want so, and desire so, that we be unified, one together with the priesthood, serving and building the kingdom of God here today and spreading the joy of the gospel to those who are so in need of it. This is His kingdom. We have a great responsibility to share it.”—Barbara W. Winder
“We can have unity in diversity and diversity in unity. We don’t have to be like one another to enjoy sisterhood.”—Barbara W. Winder
Elaine L. Jack
Twelfth General President of the Relief Society, 1990–1997
“Despite trials, worldly confusion, and caustic voices, we can trust in the Lord and go forward with happy hearts, knowing that with every challenge or problem, there’s the strength to go on. Why? Because we know His promises are real, that He does know us by name and has a plan for each of us. He will help us learn what it is and give us joy in doing it.” —Elaine L. Jack
“I think of hope as a basketful of glorious spring flowers, each blossom representing one part of what my family, friends, and I hope for. Together these hopes are a radiant, abundant, fragrant bouquet. Whatever our metaphor for it, hope remains an effervescent, expectant, happy part of life. Remember—hope matters. ‘May we press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope’.”—Elaine L. Jack
Mary Ellen Smoot
Thirteenth General President of the Relief Society, 1997–2002
“My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit, and whether that will do, and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls. Our responsibility is to see that the gospel flame continues to burn brightly. Our charge is to find the lost sheep and help them feel our Savior’s love.” —Mary Ellen Smoot
“As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity. … [We] seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. [We] dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes. … [We] delight in service and good works. … [We] rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.” —Mary Ellen Smoot
Bonnie D. Parkin
Fourteenth General President of the Relief Society, 2002–2007
After receiving her calling, Sister Parkin prayed to know what the sisters of the Church needed. She felt this answer: “I received a strong witness that we, His daughters, need to know that He loves us. We need to know that He sees the good in us. Feeling His love encourages us to press forward, reassures us that we are His, and confirms to us that He cherishes us even when we stumble and experience temporary setbacks.” —Bonnie D. Parkin
“Sisters, I rejoice that we’re together tonight. Thanks for your countless acts of compassion, your ever-expanding testimonies, your endless supply of casseroles! You make a difference and are sunshine for the soul!” —Bonnie D. Parkin
Julie B. Beck
Fifteenth General President of the Relief Society, 2007–2012
“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. … It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks. … We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us. With [personal revelation] we cannot fail; without it we cannot succeed.” —Julie B. Beck
“It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track.” —Julie B. Beck
Linda K. Burton
Sixteenth General President of the Relief Society, 2012–2017
“I invite each of us to evaluate how much we love the Savior, using as a measure how joyfully we keep our covenants.” —Linda K. Burton
We might test ourselves by asking a few questions. With a little adaptation, these questions can apply to most of us, whether we are married or single, whatever our home situation might be.
- When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in the presence of our children?
- When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for him or her in prayer?
- When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
- When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
- When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?
—Linda K. Burton
Sister Jean B. Bingham
Seventeenth General President of the Relief Society, 2017–present
“As you study Christ’s life and teachings in a myriad of ways, your faith in Him will increase. You will come to know that He loves you individually and understands you perfectly. In His 33 years of mortality, He suffered rejection; persecution; bodily hunger, thirst, and fatigue; loneliness; verbal and physical abuse; and finally, an excruciating death at the hands of sinful men. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, He felt all of our pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities.
“No matter what we have suffered, He is the source of healing. Those who have experienced any manner of abuse, devastating loss, chronic illness or disabling affliction, untrue accusations, vicious persecution, or spiritual damage from sin or misunderstandings can all be made whole by the Redeemer of the world. However, He will not enter without invitation. We must come unto Him and allow Him to work His miracles.” —Jean B. Bingham
“Empowering women should be a priority for all, because they are a potent force for creating a society where peace, religious freedom, and human rights can truly thrive.” —Jean B. Bingham
Learn more about these Elect Ladies at LDS.org
There’s also a great book called Elect Ladies from Deseret Book