Tuesday, November 5, 2013

LDS Church Combines General Young Women Meeting And General Relief Society Meeting Into A Single Session

On November 4th, 2013, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the General Young Women Meeting held during the April General Conferences and the General Relief Society Meeting held during the October General Conferences will no longer be separate. They will be combined into a "general women's meeting", as it was from 1984-1993. The meeting will still take place on the Saturday one week before General Conference. From the LDS website:

"The general women’s meeting will be held the Saturday before each general conference and will be conducted by the general presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. All women, young women, and girls age eight years old and older will be invited to attend".

This is a positive step because it now places the women's meetings on more of a similar plane with the General Priesthood Meeting, which has been open to all males of Priesthood age. What will be interesting is to find out which auxiliary presidency will conduct the combined women's meeting. Will it be the Relief Society Presidency, the Young Women Presidency, or the Primary Presidency? My guess is the Relief Society Presidency would take precedence.

Another positive step the Church could consider would be to bring the new women's meeting directly into the General Conference weekend itself. The best time would be on Saturday afternoon. Of course, this would supersede the Saturday Afternoon General Session of the conference, but we already have three other general sessions, so nothing of substance would be lost. The idea is for the women's meeting to be treated as the direct female equivalent of the men's meeting on Saturday evening. While men and women aren't identical, they should be treated as equally as LDS doctrine permits.

Unofficial LDS Reaction: Posted on Millennial Star and Mormon Momma; there's also an open discussion thread on the feminist-oriented Segullah blog. Most commenters are supportive of the idea, although a significant number question including girls as young as eight years old (the earliest age for baptism). Some suggest the age limit should be 12, just as it is for the General Priesthood Meeting. Ordain Women organizer Kate Kelly also reacted, writing on Facebook, "I see this as a really positive sign that our leaders are hearing our pleas and our prayers are being answered. While this meeting does nothing to address the question of the priesthood and all clerical, fiscal, ritual and other decision-making authority in the church, I see it as an attempt to acknowledge women and men are currently treated unequally in the church..."

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