First Impressions

by Sylvia Phillips

Relief Society

It was in the late 1960s when I first heard about Relief Society, and I was not yet a member of the Church.

I was excited to hear about this women’s organisation, and the missionaries had arranged for one of the sisters to pick me up for the evening Home-Making meeting. It seemed like a beautiful thing to go to.

I was conscious that this was the first time to meet these women. So, with an emphasis on it being a church meeting, my apparel was important. I was brought up in Ireland, but with the Anglican tradition that you don’t go to church without a hat. I had a hat I thought would be suitable. It happened to be quite flamboyant, with its navy and pink petals – rather like a bouquet on top of your head, but pretty. I had a matching navy coat and dress. So, well-manicured, with make-up on, and in my hat and outfit (including gloves), I was ready.

At the last minute, I thought I’d better take some food, because of the charity aspect of the organisation. So, I gathered some tins and placed them in a Red Riding Hood wicker basket.

When the lovely lady arrived to pick me up, she was casually dressed in jeans and a nice sweater. I can’t remember if she had a look of shock on her face when she saw me, but it still didn’t dawn on me that I was way over-dressed. Only when I went into the room did I realise they were all casually dressed – and there I was looking like the Queen Mother! I never did ask them what they thought, but they were wonderful sisters, wonderfully warm.

I’ve learned to be good at laughing at myself, but it was a serious moment for me– it was perhaps my first spiritual moment. I felt their genuine warmth, and I wanted to be connected with these sisters. I truly felt the sisterhood of which we talk and read.

I am grateful for the stability of the gospel that has helped me to ride many waves in my life. And since that first meeting I have always had an affinity with my sisters in the Church.