"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
April 4, 2013
Speak Up in Presidency Meeting!
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


I am in the Relief Society presidency, and we are having trouble getting sisters to attend our non-Sunday meetings and activities. I’m not in charge of these activities, and I don’t want to step on any toes, so I mostly keep my mouth shut during planning meetings. But I think the problem is that we keep having them at the same inconvenient time.

And personally, I think the activities appeal to only a very narrow sliver of our sisters. I know they don’t appeal to me. But I usually have a good time anyway because I enjoy visiting with the other sisters.

How can we persuade the sisters in our ward to come to these meetings?


Sisters attend non-Sunday Relief Society meetings and activities because they get some kind of benefit from being there. The benefit may be social, intellectual, or spiritual. Some people like crafts. Some people like parties. Some people like exercise. Some people like art and music. Some people like homemaking classes. Some people like to chat and visit.

Some people don’t like anything.

So if you want to persuade sisters to attend your non-Sunday Relief Society meetings, plan a variety of activities that meet the different needs and interests of the sisters in your ward. Schedule the meetings for different times of the day and week to see what is most convenient for most people in your ward. Make sure the meetings are well organized and start and end on time.

You should also remember that the Handbook says sisters should not be made to feel that these extra meetings are mandatory.

That is standard advice. It’s also much easier said than done. And it’s not your real problem.

Your real problem is that you need to speak up in presidency meeting! If your presidency is planning an activity that you think will be uninteresting, inconvenient, and poorly attended, you should say something!

The whole point of a presidency is to counsel together to meet the needs of the group you are leading. Even if one person is primarily responsible for something, the other members can and should offer insight and ideas.

Naturally, this should be done tactfully and with wisdom. Be sensitive to the effort other sisters have put into things. Say more positive things than negative. Try not to sound like a know-it-all. Explain instead of making pronouncements. Take advice seriously when others have counsel for you. Yield gracefully if the final decision goes against your advice.

You should also bring your own ideas for meetings and activities, based on your perception of the sisters’ needs.

So if the other counselor is planning an activity that you think is destined to fail you might say, “It’s very generous of Gloria to teach a class. I know she teaches college and has a lot of experience, but I don’t think an entire lecture series on the modern Swedish haiku will meet the needs of most of our sisters. I don’t think attendance will be very good, especially at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Could we have her present a 20 minute class at our next weeknight activity, instead?”

It will not always be smooth sailing. You are sure to encounter people who say they want your input and suggestions, but who then respond to suggestions with hurt feelings, resentment, and even anger. If you are dealing with such a person, apologize for hurting her feelings, sincerely compliment her effort and dedication, and be more judicious with any future suggestions.

Do you have a quandary, conundrum, or sticky situation in your life? Click this button to drop Cyndie a line, and she’ll be happy to answer your question in a future column. Any topic is welcome!

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About Cyndie Swindlehurst

Cynthia Munk Swindlehurst spent her childhood in New Hampshire and her adolescence in San Diego. She served a mission in Manaus Brazil. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and from Duke University with a law degree.

She practiced law until her first child was born. She enjoys reading, tap dancing, and discussing current events. She and her husband live in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two sons.

Cyndie serves as the Sunbeams teacher in her ward.

Visit Cyndie at Dear Cyndie
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