Barbara W. Winder

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Barbara Ann Woodhead Winder was the eleventh general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the Mormon Church.

Barbara W. Winder, Mormon Leader

Barbara Woodhead was born May 9, 1931, in Midvale, Utah, to Marguerite Hand and Willard Verl Woodhead. Her parents were not active members of the Church of Jesus Christ until Barbara was an adult, so it was Barbara's Primary teacher who took her to church and even to her baptismal service. However, her parents were compassionate people who took others into their home to help them.

Barbara majored in Home Economics at the University of Utah. It was there that she met Richard William Winder. They were engaged within three weeks of their first meeting. They married on January 10, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple. Barbara's extended family was large, close by, and supportive. Their second child, Susan W. Tanner, served as the 12th general president of the Young Women. [1]

Barbara served as general Relief Society president from 1984 until 1990. She said,

“I want so, and desire so, that we be unified, one together with the priesthood, serving and building the kingdom of God here today and spreading the joy of the gospel to those who are so in need of it. This is His kingdom. We have a great responsibility to share it."

The Equal Rights Movement of the 1970's had instigated a great deal of controversy in America. Winder saw things calming down in the late 80's and made a plea to be tolerant of diversity. Relief Society sisters need not be alike in order to rejoice in and support each other.

Winder had a deep testimony of the value of the Visiting Teaching program of the church, wherein companionships of women visit other women assigned to them in a system of personal watch-care. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, visiting teachers had arrived at a a time when Barbara desperately needed them, when she was ill after the birth of her first child.

“It is vital that each sister have visiting teachers,” Sister Winder taught, “to convey a sense that she is needed, that someone loves and thinks about her. But equally important is the way the visiting teacher is able to grow in charity. By assigning our women to do visiting teaching, we give them the opportunity to develop the pure love of Christ, which can be the greatest blessing of their lives.”

During her administration, the general offices of the Young Women and Primary were moved into the Relief Society building, which allowed the organizations to work together. It was also a time when general presidents of the auxiliaries traveled to visit other countries for the first time.

Barbara was released as general president when her husband was called to be the president of the new Czechoslovakia Prague Mission from 1990 to 1993. They were honored with the Czernin Palace Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Embassy of the Czech Republic on those of non-Czech nationality. They served from 1993 to 1996 as president and matron of the Jordan River Utah Temple. Then the Winders served as the leaders of the Family History Center missionaries (1999 to 2002) and later as the first president and matron of the Nauvoo Temple from 2002 to 2004.

She passed away on June 25, 2017.

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