Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Never Walk Alone: Covenant-Keeping Gets Top Billing At The September 2013 LDS General Relief Society Meeting

On September 28th, 2013, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its annual General Relief Society Meeting for women 18 and older at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. This is different than the women's meeting held during the April Conference, which is known as the General Young Women Meeting and is geared more towards teenage girls and their adult female leaders. While these meetings take place the week before the General Conference, they are considered part of the overall General Conference agenda. The primary theme of the Relief Society meeting was covenant-keeping.

-- Find mainstream media coverage on the Deseret News General Conference Page and on the KSL Channel 5 General Conference Page.

-- Audio/video archives of the talks are now available HERE, and written transcripts will be soon to follow. A big hat tip to Kathryn Skaggs, whose frequent, timely, and pertinent Tweets were absolutely indispensable in enabling me to get these summaries out so quickly.

Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President. Sister Burton led off by discussing covenant-keeping, explaining that covenant-keeping strengthens, empowers, and protects, and suggesting the covenant-keeping is essential for true happiness. Covenant-keeping also demonstrates our love for the Father and the Son. Sister Burton also characterized ordinances as spiritual milestones, and noted that the crucial test of life is to see if we will make and keep covenants. Sister Burton cited eight ways in which Church members can create a Christ-centered home to prepare their children to make and keep temple covenants.

Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency. Sister Stephens has also picked up on the theme of keeping covenants. She notes that when you love and watch over and serve others, you are actively keeping your covenants, and that keeping covenants enables God to pour out His blessings upon us. Interestingly, Sister Stephens said that life is not merely about specific challenges that we have, but is also about how we help each other overcome those challenges along the way, which implies that service to others is a form of service to the Lord. Sister Stephens also flipped a fast pitch for the new revitalized member-missionary emphasis, saying that now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, and encouraging the women in attendance to take a moment to think of another daughter of God who needs encouragement to stay on the path or return from the wilderness to the path. Sister Stephens also reminded the audience that a woman does not need a Priesthood holder in the home to feel God’s power each day in fulfillment of her temple covenants as she presses forward on the path, so long as she is a covenant-keeping disciple of Jesus Christ. In closing, Sister Stephens reminded the audience that they are covenant daughters in the Lord's Kingdom and they have the opportunity to be tools in His Hands.

Sister Linda S. Reeves, Second Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency. Likewise, Sister Reeves also picked up on the covenant theme, discussing baptismal covenants. Through our baptismal covenants, we have the power to help others feel the Savior's love. The weekly Sacrament ordinance provides us an opportunity to renew those covenants and enable the Savior to cleanse us anew. For those women whose loved ones break covenants, Sister Reeves reminds them that the Lord has a plan for each of our lives, and nothing that happens in our lives surprises Him. The trials that we experience may be the very thing that guide us to Him. There was also a pitch for temple work; Sister Reeves said we can come to know the love of God even better by going to the temple and claiming our blessings. Through keeping our covenants, we will be worthy of exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Sister Reeves also advised women not to despair if their families aren't like those perfect "textbook LDS families", saying that when all is said and done, what will really matter to our Father in Heaven will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As the Parable of the Servants (Matthew 25:14-30) illustrates, the only people who'll be penalized by the Father in the end will be those who wilfully hide their talents in the earth; as long as you're making an effort, ANY EFFORT, you're in the running for exaltation.

President Thomas S. Monson. President Monson began by paying tribute to the sisters in attendance, saying that the Spirit felt this evening is a reflection of their strength, devotion and goodness. He reminded the audience that the Relief Society was organized by divine inspiration and is a vital part of the Lord's church upon this earth. He said that prayer will enable them to keep their eye on the celestial while being surrounded by the telestial. Through prayer, God will reassure us and speak peace to our souls. But don't forget that God also speaks to us through the scriptures; the words of truth and inspiration found in our four standard works are precious, and as we search the scriptures we will hear sweet whisperings of the Spirit and find answers. President Monson promised that the day will come when one looks back at the difficult times and will realize that God has always been with us.

Final Note: To those who claim that women should be admitted to the General Priesthood Meeting because President Monson was at the Relief Society Meeting, note that President Monson wasn't there because he's a man, but in his capacity as President of the Church. It is the job of the First Presidency to watch over the Church at all times, and a member of the First Presidency will be in attendance at all "auxiliary meetings" during General Conference to fulfill that responsibility.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Women should be able to attend priesthood session if they want to. Men (any man, not just the president of the church) are permitted to attend general relief society meeting if they want. they are not barred from attendance based on their gender the way that women are specifically barred from attending priesthood session based solely upon their gender. And I would add that it is significant that President Monson attends every general relief society (and general young womens) meeting, and he is male. think about it, does a woman EVER preside over a general auxillary meeting? Even relief society or young womens, which are both exclusively female in membership? No. A women doesn't even preside over the meeting for an all-female auxillary. Women in the church, at any level, are ALWAYS subject to the supervision (and ultimate decision-making power) of a man. This is inherently unequal.