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11

We Serve a Just God

Lehi Relief Society

Tabernacle, Lehi, Utah Territory

October 27, 1869


Zina D. H. Young

Zina D. H. Young. Circa 1867. Young served as the Relief Society general president from 1888 to 1901. She was also the first matron of the Salt Lake temple in 1893. Photograph by Edward Martin. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City.)

Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Young (1821–1901), who was known for having a “great mother-heart,” spoke about motherhood at the Lehi Relief Society on October 27, 1869.1 She maintained a close relationship with her mother, Zina Baker Huntington, and her sister, Presendia Huntington Buell Kimball.2 She had two sons, Zebulon and Chariton, with husband Henry Jacobs, and a daughter, Zina Presendia Young [Card], with husband Brigham Young.3 She also raised the three children of another of Brigham Young’s wives, Clarissa Maria Ross Young, after Clarissa’s untimely death in 1858.4

Susa Young Gates, the daughter of another of Brigham Young’s wives, described Zina Young as the heart of women’s work in the church.5 Young expanded her female circle when she joined the Nauvoo Relief Society at its second meeting on March 24, 1842, at age twenty-one.6 After Relief Society meetings ceased in 1845, Young continued to meet with the women in Nauvoo.7 In Winter Quarters, she joined with friends to pray and exercise spiritual gifts.8 She became an important influence in the development of the Relief Society in Utah in 1868, assisting Eliza R. Snow in organizing and training new presidencies. Public speaking was a new experience for Young, as it was for many of her contemporaries, but her wide life experience and knowledge of church teachings permeated her unpolished words. She later served as the third Relief Society general president from 1888 until her death in 1901. Gates remembered that “Sister Zina was all love and sympathy, and drew people after her by reason of that tenderness.”9

The Relief Society in Lehi, Utah Territory, thirty miles south of Salt Lake City, was organized on October 27, 1868, under the direction of President Sarah Coleman.10 A year later, on October 27, 1869, the Lehi Relief Society celebrated its first anniversary at the Lehi Tabernacle. Snow and Young attended both the morning and afternoon sessions, and President Brigham Young, apostles George A. Smith and Orson Pratt, and Joseph Young of the Quorum of the Seventy arrived in the middle of the afternoon session. The topic of motherhood was foremost at this meeting. Snow spoke of Eve and the responsibility to bear children.11 That afternoon, Brigham Young taught about “the duties of mothers to their children. … The ladies were the mainspring of every nation, and if we wanted to know what a nation was we must see what their mothers were.”12 Such instruction likely resonated with the mothers in the congregation. Of the Relief Society presidency alone, Sarah Coleman had eight children, Barbara Evans had fifteen, Martha Thomas had ten, and Mary Ann Davis had eight.13 Zina Young demonstrated sensitivity to those who had no children, including secretary Rebecca Standring, in her afternoon speech, which is presented here.14

I am not accustomed to public speaking15 but pleased to look upon the faces of my sisters16 and to know that we are engaged in this great work,17 and I would exhort you to be faithful in the discharge of every duty; and to mothers I would say, fulfill your duties to your children, for they are blessings from God entrusted to your care; and to you my sisters who may not have children, be comforted. We serve a just God, and if you are faithful to his cause it will be no loss to you.18 Let us seek after the Spirit of God and learn to bear all things and with each other, and if a sister should come to us with her griefs and sorrows, let us not encourage her in them but show her how the Lord will not put upon us more than we can bear,19 and when we have endured all things and overcome we shall then inherit all things.20 May God bless you and keep you faithful forever. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. [1]E. B. [Emmeline B.] Wells, “Zina D. H. Young,” Young Woman’s Journal 12, no. 6 (June 1901): 254.

  2. [2]See, for example, Zina D. H. Young, “How I Gained My Testimony of the Truth,” Young Woman’s Journal 4, no. 7 (Apr. 1893): 317–319; Oliver B. Huntington, Diaries, vol. 9, 1843–1907, May 16, 1848, 88, BYU; Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 655; “In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent 20, no. 15 (Feb. 15, 1892): 117.

  3. [3]Young was sealed to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois. After Smith’s death, she married Brigham Young. (Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005], 439–440; Derr et al., First Fifty Years, 689. For more information on plural marriage in the 1840s, see “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo,” Gospel Topics, accessed Feb. 8, 2016, lds.org.)

  4. [4]Clarissa Young’s children were Maria, Willard, and Phebe. Zina Presendia Young remembered how her father asked her mother to take care “of his little ones whose mother was dead. She consented, and this event entirely changed my after-life; from being the pet and only child I now had to share with these motherless children. It was a trial in many ways, but my precious mother taught me to be unselfish and thank God for all his blessings and not complain, and I am thankful to say, following her advice without once alluding to the fact that my mother was not their own. Thus it proved to be the best lesson of my life, and a great blessing.” ([Emmeline B. Wells], “A Distinguished Woman: Zina D. H. Young,” Woman’s Exponent 10, no. 14 [Dec. 15, 1881]: 107; Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000], 207; Augusta Joyce Crocheron, Representative Women of Deseret, a Book of Biographical Sketches to Accompany the Picture Bearing the Same Title [Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham, 1884], 122–123.)

  5. [5]Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1911), 21.

  6. [6]Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, Mar. 24, 1842, 16, in Derr et al., First Fifty Years, 38.

  7. [7]Derr et al., First Fifty Years, xxi; Zina D. H. Young, Diary, 1844–1845, June 18, 1844; July 4, 1844, CHL.

  8. [8]Eliza R. Snow, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2000), Jan. 1, 1847, 151; see also [Wells], “A Distinguished Woman,” 107.

  9. [9]Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, 21.

  10. [10]Lehi Ward, Utah Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records, vol. 1, 1868–1879, Oct. 27, 1868, 1, CHL.

  11. [11]Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 26–30. Eliza R. Snow did not bear children, but she was referred to as a “Mother in Israel” and spoke often about the divinity of motherhood. (See [Susa Young Gates], “The Mother of Mothers in Israel,” Relief Society Magazine 3, no. 4 [Apr. 1916]: 189–190.)

  12. [12]Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 30–31.

  13. [13]Mrs. E. J. T., “Sarah Thornton Coleman,” Woman’s Exponent 20, no. 21 (May 15, 1892): 168; Hamilton Gardner and Lehi Centennial Committee, Lehi Centennial History, 1850–1950 (Lehi, UT: Free Press, 1950), 371, 301, 242.

  14. [14]Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 30; Gardner, Lehi Centennial History, 297.

  15. [15]Both Young and Snow struggled initially with public speaking. When Eliza R. Snow first addressed the Lehi Relief Society earlier that morning, she said, “Your presidentess has desired me to address you. I do not of myself feel competent to do so, but with your faith and prayers and the Spirit of the Lord I may be able to say something that will comfort and bless you.” Thirteen years later, after Young had gained much experience, Emmeline B. Wells praised her public speaking ability: “Had she been educated for the platform, and spoken upon other subjects, she would doubtless have received many encomiums of praise and won distinction in the lecture field; but being only a ‘Mormon,’ she is content with the love of her own people, and ambition to do good to others inspires her to move forward wherever duty calls her for the benefit of womankind and the interests of Zion. And in pursuing this course she finds her highest happiness.” (Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 26; [Wells], “A Distinguished Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 10, no. 16 [Jan. 15, 1882]: 123.)

  16. [16]Snow said in the morning session, “While sitting here I have been looking upon the faces of my sisters and can see the form of Deity there.” (Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 26.)

  17. [17]Snow also said, “I have been reflecting on the great work we have to perform, even in helping in the salvation of the living and the dead.” (Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 26.)

  18. [18]Snow taught, “We know the Lord has laid high responsibilities upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized.” (Lehi Ward Relief Society Minutes, Oct. 27, 1869, 27.)

  19. [19]See 1 Corinthians 10:13; and Alma 13:28.

  20. [20]See Revelation 21:7.