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Joseph Smith on Accepting the Penitent

[From the minutes of the eleventh meeting of the Nauvoo Relief Society:] It grieves me that there is no fuller fellowship— if one member suffer all feel it— by union of feeling we obtain pow’r with God. Christ said he came to call sinners to repentance and save them. Christ was condemn’d by the righteous jews because he took sinners into his society— he took them upon the principle that they repented of their sins. It is the object of this Society to reform persons, not to take those that are corrupt, but if they repent we are bound to take them and by kindness sanctify and cleanse from all unrighteousness, by our influence in watching over them— . . . tis the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind and retard our progress, by filling us with selfrighteousness— The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls— to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. (Document 1.2, entry for June 9, 1842)

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This collection of original documents explores the fascinating and largely unknown history of the Relief Society in the nineteenth century. The story begins with the founding of the Nauvoo Female Relief Society in 1842, and the complete and unabridged minutes of that organization are reproduced for the first time in print.

The large majority of the print volume covers the even lesser-known period after the Relief Society was reestablished in territorial Utah and began to spread to areas as remote as Hawaii and England. 

This website features the entire contents of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, including all the documents, the editorial matter, and the photographs. The website also includes videos, a chronology, and two thousand brief biographies (fully sourced) of individuals who appear in the documents.

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