After two years of using the new Gospel Principles manual as our curriculum in Melchizedek Priesthood/Relief Society Lessons, we are once again back into the next Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual – specifically, George Albert Smith, our eighth latter-day prophet.
I started out with the lesson helps for Chapter 1 – Living What We Believe. In my research, I hunted up available online resources with information about President Smith, photos of George Albert Smith, and lesson helps on other websites.
It was interesting to learn more about this man, one I really knew very little about. I am excited to study his teachings in 2012, and learn more about him. But also, I was quite surprised that nowhere on any of the websites we typically find lesson resources, has anyone actually developed anything for this manual yet. Here it is a few days before the new year begins, and that fact totally bewildered me, especially after the PLETHORA of resources available for the Gospel Principles lessons.
Well, these “Teachings . . . ” manuals are pretty self-sufficient – really, there is more than enough material to fuel a 40-50 minute lesson, and it is well organized – what more needs to be said? Personal reflections on applying the teachings to your own life is appropriate during the lesson but that is, of course, personal – so each teacher, and each class member, as moved by the spirit, might make comments during class discussion. But really, not much else is needed. So maybe that is why there isn’t much out there. And it comes right out and says in the lesson to stick with the provided information.
That is what was behind the RS/MP Lesson Handouts/Visuals Latter-dayVillage.com has been providing for several years. They do not expound on the already adequate and inspired material in each lesson, they merely provide visual support of the lessons – with handouts, charts, posters, word strips, journal pages and cards for making reading assignments – all visually coordinated designs that pull a lesson together. As well as links to photos and art work to accent the material mentioned in the lesson. Because I’m a visual learner, these things work for me – they help direct my scattered thinking, and I think they keep the lesson moving along a path that can sometimes become obscured when a room full of adults start talking.
For Chapter 1 – Living What We Believe I wanted a take-home with the 11 ideals George Albert Smith used as his Personal Creed – listed in the manual – because they so well define this man – and I worked to match the design of the manual itself – with similar colors and elements, into a bookmark – and decided to carry that same theme through the handouts, posters, journal pages, scripture cards and charts. You can see in the handout pictured here a photo of one of the homes George Albert Smith lived in as an apostle and part of his presidency – which goes along with the quote I used relating to the parable of the wise and foolish house builders and their choice of foundations.
I found some excellent websites with biographical information and photos of George Albert Smith, so I decided to create reference pages with this information – you find links to these on the Relief Society Villager Main Page under the Lessons tab.
There are many photos of President Smith, but I had to hunt and hunt for photos of his family. I finally found a couple! His daughter Emily Smith Stewart did a lot of work to compile the family papers and was heavily involved, herself, in causes such as The March of Dimes. But I couldn’t find but one picture of her as an adult, and it was a very bad copy of a news article about her that was nearly unrecognizable. I dug till I found information about his only son, who taught at the Harvard Business School, and I finally found an archived photo of him.
It is hard to make a difference in this world without some record being left behind, and there is a written record, but very sparse photographic record. I find the photos of his wife, Lucy Woodruff (granddaughter of Wilford Woodruff), delightful. I wish I could have known her! She was at least a little dramatic – we have a photo of her in a costume in college, and there is a photo of 16 year old George Albert Smith and a friend in dapper clothes saying they liked to entertain friends – so I think the two were a couple (they were missionary companions – some of the first couple missionaries!) after my own heart, actress that I am.
It is these things that endear me to a prophet I have not really heard much about before.