Years ago at a women's retreat Sister Aileen Clyde was invited to be the featured speaker. In the course of her remarks she told the story of how the Prophets manuals came to be the course of study for the Relief Society. Previous to 1989 the Relief Society had been responsible for their own Sunday curriculm and manuals. Sister Clyde said that the RS Presidency and their board were in the process of preparing new manuals when they were approached by the First Presidency asking them to read the new Brigham Young manual and approve it for use in Sunday meetings. After reviewing the manual, they reported that they did not feel this should be the new course of study for the women of the Church. The First Presidency asked them to take the material back and pray about it again. Their answer was the same. They rejected the material a second time, but were told to go back and read it again. As the disheartened Relief Society Presidency met together, they realized that their efforts to stop the correlation of Sunday lesson material were fruitless. They must accept the inevitable with good grace. Sister Clyde's point in sharing this story was that sometimes things don't go the way we would like them to, and how to make something good out of a disappointment.
To me, however, the knowledge of how this shift in control of RS curriculum came about is important. Does it make you as furious as it does me? Just as I mourn the loss of women's privilege to perform blessings of healing and comfort, I mourn the loss of women's autonomy to create lesson manuals specific to their needs. I do this without hope that the current policies regarding these issues wil change.
I do see that the leaders of the Church and the writers of the Prophets manuals have been cognizant that the manuals could use some improvement with regard to their relevance for women. Over at VSOM I have posted a review of my thoughts on the upcoming manual containing the teachings of Joseph Smith and it's relevance to it's woman readers.
My Home-land in the West
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