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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.