New sisters of the Church—including Young Women entering Relief Society, sisters returning to activity, and new converts—need the support and friendship of visiting teachers. “Member involvement is vital to convert retention and in bringing less-active members back into full activity,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Capture the vision that the Relief Society … can become [one of] the most powerful friendshipping resource[s] we have in the Church. Reach out early to those being taught and reactivated, and love them into the Church through your organization.”1
As members of Relief Society, we can help new members learn basic Church practices, such as:
Giving a talk.
Living the law of the fast.
Paying tithing and other offerings.
Participating in family history work.
Performing baptisms and confirmations for their deceased ancestors.
“It takes attentive friends to make new members feel comfortable and welcomed at church,” said Elder Ballard.2 All of us, but especially visiting teachers, have important responsibilities to establish friendships with new members as a way of helping them become firmly “converted unto the Lord” (Alma 23:6).
“With the ever-increasing number of converts,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), “we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4).”3
Visiting teachers are in a position to help those they watch over. Friendship often comes first, as it did for a young Relief Society sister who was the visiting teacher of an older sister. They had been slow in building a friendship until they worked side by side on a cleaning project. They became friends, and as they talked about the Visiting Teaching Message, they were both nurtured by “the good word of God.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said Relief Society “is a vital part of the kingdom of God on earth and … helps its faithful members to gain eternal life in our Father’s kingdom.”4