Sunday, September 30, 2012

Women Counseled To Deepen Faith In Jesus Christ And The Atonement At The October 2012 LDS General Relief Society Meeting

Special Note: All posts on the October 2012 Semiannual General Conference can be simultaneously displayed HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.

On Saturday September 29th, 2012, over 20,000 women packed the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City for the General Relief Society Meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Authorities present included the Relief Society General Presidency, consisting of Sister Linda K. Burton, general president, and her first and second counselors, Sister Carole M. Stephens and Sister Linda S. Reeves respectively, as well as the LDS Church First Presidency, consisting of President Thomas S. Monson and his first and second counselors, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf respectively. This post summarizes news stories from the Deseret News (the most detailed), the Salt Lake Tribune, and KSL Channel 5.

Archives and transcripts of the addresses are now available HERE. KSL news video embedded below:

If there was a common theme to the meeting, it was the counsel to the women to deepen faith in Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement. During her remarks, Sister Linda K. Burton said making, keeping and rejoicing in covenants will be the evidence that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is truly written in the hearts of Latter-day Saint women. Sister Burton asked the women to remember three principles: One, all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Two, there is power in the Atonement to enable church members to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ. And three, the Atonement is the greatest evidence Latter-day Saints have of the father's love for his children. Sister Burton also said that while it is a good thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us, we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires to live in us -- not only to direct us, but also to empower us. Read a more detailed summary at LDS Church News.

Sister Carole M. Stephens said Relief Society sisters must be spiritually awake to fulfill their duties, explaining that a heart that's soft, humble, teachable, and gentle is necessary to prevent the noise of the world from distracting people from the gentle promptings that come from the Holy Spirit. Sister Stephens also reminded the audience that this life is a time of testing, and that we will continue to have opportunities to use our agency to choose what we will learn from the adversity that will surely come. She noted that Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by awakening them spiritually to increase in faith and personal righteousness. Read a more detailed summary at LDS Church News.

Sister Linda S. Reeves said individuals must turn to the Lord for strength and comfort when they are weighed down by the anguish, sin, adversity and pains of life. She reminded the audience that the Lord has not forgotten them, noting that whatever sin or weakness or pain or struggle or trial encountered are understood by the Lord, and He will carry people through those moments. Sister Reeves also described a couple of challenges in her own life where the Lord bestowed upon her a spirit of peace even though the outcome of each challenge was different. When her husband was mortally ill, she turned to the Lord, and said that the sweetest, most peaceful and loving feeling came over her. Her husband recovered. In contrast, when her daughter fell ill years later and passed away, she still felt that same spirit of peace. What this means is that although we may not always get the outcome we want, if we trust unconditionally in the Lord and give Him control of our selves, He will do what's in everyone's best interest and reassure us accordingly. Read a more detailed summary at LDS Church News.

Finally, President Henry B. Eyring was the one member of the First Presidency who addressed the group. During his remarks, President Eyring told the congregation that each Latter-day Saint woman is in a unique place in her journey to eternal life. Although each woman is unique in her personal history and her challenges, all are sisters and beloved daughters of our Heavenly Father, who knows and watches over each of them. President Eyring also related a personal anecdote which illustrated how the miracle of one Relief Society sister arriving to help just in time can be multiplied through the power of a unified society of sisters. President Eyring noted that the Holy Ghost is sent to Relief Society sisters and to those they care for, and said that if they keep the faith, they will find themselves invited by the Lord often to serve someone in need even when it will seem inexplicable and not necessarily convenient. But he also urged the sisters to balance doing for others with fulfilling their own needs (as President David O. McKay once said, no success abroad can ever compensate for failure in the home). Read a more detailed summary at LDS Church News.

In closing, President Eyring said, "I testify that the Lord will be with you and that your way will be prepared and marked for you by him in your service to those he loves in their needs and trials."

Reaction: Some reaction has been posted in the Bloggernacle. By Common Consent indicates the meeting was well received, with one person writing "This was certainly the best RS conference I’ve seen since Chieko Okazaki was released".

Three separate reactions were posted on The Exponent, one entitled "Carole M. Stephens: Wide Awake to Our Duties", another entitled "Henry B. Eyring: Societies of Caregivers", and the other entitled "Linda K. Burton: All That is Unfair About Life Can Be Made Right Through the Atonement". All three met with approval from these sometimes difficult-to-please feminist ladies, although one was mildly disappointed that Carole Stephens specifically connected the “ideal” with the priesthood and having a husband.

On A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman, Kathryn Skaggs was struck with the strength of each of their witness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and their plea, to all of us, to apply its power in our lives. She said that If she had to express one message or highlight that came through to her personally with the greatest power, it would be that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and covenants we have made with God, we are enabled to meet every challenge of mortality.

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