Guest Author - Shannon Swanson
I can remember graduating from high school and having to attend Relief Society for the first time. All the women seemed so much older than me. How was I supposed to relate to them? Unfortunately, I never found the answer to this question at that time. Fortunately, I was leaving for college soon and would have a Relief Society made up of other students my own age.
But what about the other young women who may be finding it difficult to establish themselves in Relief Society? How can you and other members of your Relief Society help to integrate them? Creating unity and a sense of belonging may not be as challenging as you may think.
First of all, I have seen on numerous occasions how people who may think they have absolutely nothing in common come together thorugh service. It can create a bond and help us all remember that we have the same purpose and can accomplish the same goals with each other's help. And speaking of help, sometimes using the words, "We need your help," in the situation can make a big difference in helping the young women feel needed. So find a need within your Relief Society and make the necessary arrangements to help your young women serve where they can.
Once, right after I had moved into a new ward, I had a Relief Society president invite me and some other new members to lunch at her house to get to know each other. I thought that was a great idea to help me feel welcome simply because it worked. The same can be applied to your new young women. Getting to know each other outside of church can help everyone get to know each other on a new level. And you may want to invite some sisters that you feel the newer members of the Relief Society may be more inclined to hit it off with.
Some other ideas are to be sure that the teachers are aware of their audience when they teach. The lessons and examples they give should appeal to all age groups, both young and older. For example, be sure that the subject of dating is addressed in related lessons, not just marriage and child rearing.
The same goes for Relief Society activities-be sure that they appeal to all age groups. If you have knitting for one activity, be sure to have sledding for the next, or even choose activities that will appeal to all age groups, as long as it is balanced.
Integrating new and young members into Relief Society can be a challenge, but can also be very possible. Over time and with some fun a little bonding is inevitable. And before long the "Old Ladies' Club" may not seem so "old".