Three local women of differing age groups each have found a new book distributed by the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be inspiring.
"It made me want to go home and take action," said Andrea Miles, a young South Ogden mother of South Ogden, about the book that documents the history of the Relief Society as well as the revelations behind the stories.
"Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society" is being distributed worldwide to women members of the church to be used as a resource for personal study and for teaching in the church and in the home. Now sent to all English-speaking church congregations, it will be printed in 25 other languages in the next few months.
Karen Blass, of South Ogden, who is middle-aged, said the extensive artwork in the book is what drew her in to find the deep messages.
"I was really glad that they showed all the artists and the references," she said. "That's what impressed me the most."
Joycelyn Besser Rundquist, of Roy, who is of a more senior generation, said it took her only a few weeks to get through half her manual because she didn't want to put it down.
"It's just a really, really good history of how the Relief Society got started and how important it was to Joseph Smith to reveal that," she said. "It just made the priesthood more valuable to us as women. I think it's a good lesson on what the Relief Society has done."
All Mormon women older than 18 belong to Relief Society, which helps women in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ, increase their personal faith, strengthen families and serve others, states information released by the church.
"This story that the church is releasing now is very important, I think, for our time now and I can't think of a time when it's been needed more than it's needed today," said Julie B. Beck, general Relief Society president of the church.
"We needed something that would have global application and be applicable into the future, something that would appeal across cultures and languages, so it needed to be more message-based rather than a typical chronological historian's history," Beck said.
The 208-page book is organized by themes such as family, sisterhood and charity. Each chapter includes stories of LDS women throughout history and around the world today.
Beck said the book is designed to be user-friendly for readers with varying levels of literacy. It is also visually inviting, with every page featuring photographs and artwork.
Nicole Erickson, of Salt Lake City, said the stories are inspiring to today's women.
"Although our circumstances today might be different from 170 years ago, the principles used in those circumstances are the same," Erickson said. "Reading the historical accounts and seeing what women in the past did helps me know how I might handle situations in my own life."
This historical understanding will be useful in a church where the majority of members are converts, Beck said.
"As the church itself grows exponentially over the years, I think there will be great value in this book for the women who join the church to say, here's who I am, this is what I've become part of, this is my specific identity in this church, that I am not homogenized but I am a living, breathing, contributing individual and I'm needed," she said.
Erickson said the book documents the important role women always have had in the church.
"This book makes it clear that an organization of women existed in ancient times, which I had never really thought about before," she said. "It talks about how the Savior treated women when he was on the earth, how he taught, celebrated, and traveled with women and how he reveres women."
"Daughters in My Kingdom" is unique within the church because it was written by an individual rather than a committee, according to information from the church. The writer is former general Young Women President Susan W. Tanner, who is now serving a mission in Brazil with her husband.
"This assignment came as a surprise to me because I don't think of myself as either a writer or a historian, but I do have a strong testimony of the role of women in our Father's plan. At the beginning that was my only qualification," Tanner said.
Tanner drew heavily on previous historical research and original documents for the book.
"This book is not necessarily meant to be a conclusive history, there are already historians who are doing that," Tanner said. "The Relief Society presidency wanted a volume that would be accessible to the whole world, to sisters everywhere."
Beck worked closely with Tanner on the book and said the approach of a single author resulted in a book that is different from previous materials.
"We've had stories written for the historians. We've had stories written for the scholars. We've had stories written for the press. But we've never had the story written for the women themselves."