News Release

Celebrating 180 Years of Relief Society by Ministering in Western Europe

Sister Reyna I. Aburto and Sister Michelle D. Craig minister and counsel in Spain, United Kingdom and Ireland

Downloadable B-Roll and SOTs

In conjunction with the 180th anniversary of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counsellor in the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counsellor in the Young Women general presidency, and their husbands travelled to Europe to serve and to minister. Visiting Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland they commemorated the legacy of loving service which is the foundation of one of the largest women’s organisations in the world.

Uniting in sisterhood, trusting God, strengthening discipleship and recognising women’s unique contributions were important ministering messages that Sister Aburto and Sister Craig shared with women, youth, local congregations and leaders.

Ministering in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona

Sister Aburto and her husband, Carlos Aburto, and Sister Craig with her husband, E. Boyd Craig, were accompanied by Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, second counsellor in the Church’s Europe Area Presidency and his wife, Fabiana B. Alliaud, as they travelled to Madrid, Spain to deliver a message of trust and faith at a devotional for children and youth ages 8–18 years broadcast throughout Spain.

“So, what does it mean to trust the Lord with all our hearts, and not lean on our own understanding?” asked Sister Aburto. “He tells us to recognise Him in all our actions, and He will direct our paths.”

“If we confide in the Saviour and try to follow His commandments, and hold onto that faith we have in Him, He will help make our paths more straight and easier to follow.”

Elder Alliaud applauded the Church’s youth, “Many times, we talk about the youth as the future of the Church. But really you are not just the great future, but also the marvellous present. Even at this moment.”

At a women’s devotional broadcast throughout Spain, Sister Aburto reminded those attending, “We are here because we decided in the pre-mortal existence to follow Jesus Christ. But the battle continues between good and evil. We still must discern between the two each and every day.”

One participant said, “I liked that the sisters who spoke weren’t talking as if it was a prepared address but rather, they spoke with caring, love and patience like they were talking with their son or someone close.”

Elder Alliaud reached out to the youth by saying, “We want to tell you how important it is for us to hear your voices in the councils of the Church and in everything we do. We need you to tell us what you think and feel even when it is something different than what you have been hearing.”

Sister Leticia dos Santos Rudloff, Area Organisation Adviser, counselled leaders during a training meeting in Barcelona, along with Sister Aburto and Sister Craig.

Serving and Teaching in UK: Canterbury, York, Huddersfield, Belfast

The sisters’ ministry of service, spirituality and sisterhood continued as they travelled to Canterbury, UK marking 180 years since the organisation of the Relief Society on March 17, 1842.

Sister Aburto and Sister Craig and their husbands were welcomed by Area Seventy Elder Martin J. Turvey and Area Organisation Adviser, Sister Traci De Marco.

The service projects began at the Canterbury Ward (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where Sister Aburto and Sister Craig participated in the building of lightweight insulated sleep pods to benefit refugees.

Marisa Rickard, committee lead for the service activity said, “There is a great ability in women to see a need and to fill it. The seemingly impossible is possible when we use our faith to act. There is no limitation to what Heavenly Father can do with a willing heart.”

Canterbury Stake Relief Society President Sheila Patel remarked, “What you see happening today is part of an ongoing relationship we have serving with other community organisations and interfaith groups through the year.”

Sister Traci De Marco was excited when she learned the visit of Sister Aburto and Sister Craig coincided with the Relief Society’s Europe Area Day of Service.

“Listening to Sister Aburto and Sister Craig we hear the words of the Saviour, and we feel a stronger connection to Him by knowing we’ve helped to lift and care for the unseen through service,” said Sister De Marco.

“The errand of angels is given to women; And this is a gift that, as sisters, we claim” (“Sisters in Zion,” Hymns, no. 309) describes how women have embraced their gifts while serving in the York Stake (diocese) service project.

“Angels” of all ages participated in sewing quilts, personal hygiene products, heart-shaped pillows for cancer patients, making care packages for two primary schools, sorting clothing for Ukrainian refugees and writing letters to those who need encouragement.

Sister Aburto and Sister Craig visited with the sisters involved in the various projects and were impressed that Friday’s activities would continue into Saturday, March 19.

Kate Gore, President of the York Stake Relief Society said, “How we serve does not need to be massive. Every little bit we do in our homes and congregations helps someone.”

Vanessa Tunnicliffe of the York Second Ward said, “What we are doing here today honours the heritage of Relief Society in that we are walking where those of the past have walked but in ways that are relevant to our day. We are passing on the ever-burning light of Christ and service to the next generation of women.”

“I am overwhelmed,” said Elder Martin J. Turvey, “as I learn about all the different things the sisters are doing to support the refugees and others that reflect our purpose as disciples of Christ to bear one another’s burdens.”

Travelling to Huddersfield, Sister Aburto and Sister Craig spoke at a special meeting devoted to young women and those who love them. They outlined for a rising generation of women, their leaders and parents the importance of trusting in the Lord, even in challenging times.

Sister Craig said having trust in God means trusting in His timing – you can trust Him with your heart because you trust His heart. That means acting on the thoughts and impressions “to do good and be good.”

Sister Aburto encouraged those attending, “The Lord, if we let Him, can make of us the best version of ourselves.”

After listening to the devotional Rebecca Fonseca, a young woman, commented, “It was good to be reminded we are not defined by the labels other people give us. We are defined by who we are, and we are daughters of God.”

In Belfast at the Holywood Road Stake Centre, Sister Aburto and Sister Craig joined service participants whose focus was support for people struggling with cancer and those who care for them. The women made bandanas for children with cancer and beanie hats for premature babies, and wrote uplifting notes.

“It is wonderful to be together today after being apart for so long. I love that we are serving on the very day that so many others across Europe are uniting in their sisterhood to serve,” said Belfast Stake Relief Society President, Janet Mullan.

Sharing Joy in Ireland: Dublin

The conscientious efforts of Sister Aburto and Sister Craig, to cheer and bless brought great joy to the women in Dublin as they travelled with their husbands to participate in service opportunities prepared for the Relief Society Day of Service on March 19, 2022.

Dublin Stake Relief Society President Veronica Holton explained that the theme for their day of service was, “Serving Women in Every Season” because they have projects that serve girls and women in all seasons of their lives.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our sisters to be in the presence of Sister Craig and Sister Aburto. This is a blessing for us to serve others and we feel blessed too,” said Veronica Holton. “I love seeing the sisters together and am so proud of our young women who have spearheaded a project among others this day. There is such a spirit of unity and service here.”

Though she has her own health challenges, Nadenea Christensen of the Sligo Branch said, “I feel very fortunate to be involved. I do these things because I know someone would help me if I was in a difficult situation.”

Culminating Ministry Devotional: Birmingham, UK

The week of service, spiritual growth and sisterhood culminated in a special devotional (gathering for a spiritual message) for the Relief Society Day of Service held in the Birmingham Stake Centre on Sunday, March 20, broadcast to a Europe-wide audience.

Sister Aburto referred to Relief Society as, “The ministry to go and look for needs and try to fill them the best way we can. I see so many women and men working together to build the kingdom of God.”

“I have seen up close and personal over the past few days,” summarised Sister Craig, “that service truly is a hallmark of a disciple of Jesus Christ – and you are disciples – you are striving to become like Him.”

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