Saturday, March 29, 2014

Walking A Covenant Path Back To God The Theme Of The Historic LDS General Women's Meeting

Heralding the upcoming LDS General Conference meeting was the General Women's Meeting on March 29th, 2014. For the first time, the Young Women and the ladies of the Relief Society assembled together, along with Primary girls as young as age eight. A representative from each of the Relief Society, Young Women, and General Primary Presidencies spoke, along with the customary member of the First Presidency. A multi-generational choir of women representing over 290 stakes within a 100-mile radius of the Conference Center provided the music. The overall message was an invitation to women to unite and walk a “covenant path” back to our Heavenly Father. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, two of the spokespersons of Ordain Women, Hannah Wheelwright and Suzette Smith, were in attendance, but they avoided pushing their agenda and instead praised the concept of intergenerational mentoring that was promoted, and appreciated the balanced discussion between sisterhood and discipleship.

Those who missed the broadcast can watch it on the General Conference Archive page. Here's a YouTube embed of the entire video playlist for the meeting; the forward and back arrows on the bottom permit you to toggle between the talks:

Short summaries of each talk are provided below, linked back to the designated Deseret News article:

-- Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary General President: Sister Wixom expounded on how covenants can protect, prepare and empower. She explained that entrance to the path of eternal life comes through the gate -- the ordinance and covenant of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. With baptism comes a life-changing transition. As individuals partake of the sacrament and renew their baptismal covenant, they are able to look to the temple, and other ordinances they will participate in that, when coupled with the Atonement, can lead to exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Furthermore, as we strive to keep our covenants, our feelings of inadequacies and imperfection begin to fade, while the ordinances and the covenants of the temple come alive.

-- Sister Bonnie Oscarson, General Young Women’s President: Sister Oscarson called upon women to relax and rejoice in their divine differences. She said that the adversary motivates women to be particularly hard on themselves, and that when they compare themselves to one another, they will always feel inadequate or resentful of others. She reminded the audience that there is no other group of women in the world who have access to greater blessings than Latter-day Saint women. LDS women can all enjoy the full blessings of priesthood power through keeping baptismal and temple covenants. We have living prophets to lead and teach, and we also enjoy the great gift of the Holy Ghost, which serves as a comfort and guide in our lives. LDS women are blessed to work hand in hand with righteous brothers as we strengthen homes and families.

-- Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President: Sister Burton addressed the topic, “Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work". She noted that together as sisters and in unity with living prophets, seers and revelators with restored priesthood keys, women can walk as one, as disciples, as servants with willing hearts and hands to hasten the work of salvation, becoming like the Savior. She asked women, young women and girls to answer the Savior’s call to become part of His work — the work of a disciple. In what might be considered by some to be a gentle reproof to the Ordain Women movement, Sister Burton told the women in attendance, “I have seen your strength. I have seen your faith. You have something to give and you are willing to give it. You do this without fanfare or publicity, drawing attention to the God you worship not yourselves, and with no thought of what you will receive".

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: President Eyring spoke about the path that women, young women and girls must take on the journey back to our Heavenly Father. Addressing the topic, “Daughters in the Covenant,” President Eyring said a number of girls in the meeting were baptized recently and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Although the memories of the feelings associated with baptism may be less clear with the passage of time, some of those feelings come back whenever we listen to the sacramental prayers. But although no two Latter-day Saints will have the same memories of the day they were baptized, we all felt God's approval, the desire to forgive and be forgiven, and an increased determination to do right. President Eyring also credited his mother for preparing him to make the baptismal covenant and all other covenants that would follow.

President Eyring also noted that we were tutored by our Heavenly Father before mortality. The Father helped us understand and accept that we would have trials, tests and opportunities perfectly chosen for each of us. We learned that our Father had a plan of happiness to get us safely through those trials and that we would help bring others safely through theirs. This plan is marked by covenants with God, and it is a free choice to make and keep covenants.

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