Coverage of the October 2016 General Women’s Session

Contributed By Church News staff writers

  • 24 September 2016

Thousands of women fill the area surrounding the Conference Center and Temple Square for the general women's session September 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other sisters gathered around the world to hear the same counsel and direction from Church leaders via satellite and other digital channels.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Leaders encouraged women to “rise up in strength” and have hope as they face challenges and opposition in “perilous times.”

“I believe with all of my heart that we sisters do have the innate strength and the faith that will allow us to meet the challenges of living in these last days.” —Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President

Church leaders encouraged women to “rise up in strength” and have hope as they face challenges and opposition in “perilous times” during the general women’s session of the 186th Semiannual General Conference September 24.

Women, young women, and girls age 8 and older gathered in the Conference Center—and around the world—to listen to counsel and instruction from Church leaders.

“We are gathered in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and gratefully acknowledge there are similar gatherings of sisters in meeting places throughout the world,” said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, in her welcoming remarks. “Wherever you are, please know that we love you.

President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, attended the meeting, along with other Church leaders and members of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary general presidencies and boards.

Speakers included Sister Jean B. Bingham, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency; Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President; and President Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Sister Burton conducted the meeting.

Jean B. Bingham

Sister Jean B. Bingham of the Primary General Presidency.

Through the light of the gospel, individuals are able to see others as the Savior does—with compassion, hope, and charity, taught Sister Bingham.

Recognizing the Savior’s perfect embodiment of charity, Sister Bingham spoke of the important need for all to emulate Him in how they see and treat others.

“One of the most significant ways we can develop and demonstrate love for our neighbor is through being generous in our thoughts and words,” she said.

“The day will come when we will have a complete understanding of others’ hearts and will be grateful to have mercy extended to us—just as we extend charitable thoughts and words to others during this life,” she said.

Whether a person is 8 or 108, all can bring the light of the gospel into their own environment, Sister Bingham said. ”We can determine to look for the good in others and in the circumstances around us. Young and not-so-young women everywhere can demonstrate charity as they choose to use words that build confidence and faith in others.”

Every person has an obligation—and privilege—to embrace improvement in others as they strive to become more like the Savior, she said.

Watch Sister Bingham’s full address.

Carole M. Stephens

Sister Carole M. Stephens of the Relief Society General Presidency.

Sister Stephens spoke on the importance of having a “bedrock understanding” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“When we learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ to our individual circumstances, our love for our Savior grows,” she said.

Sister Stephens shared three examples of how individuals “often find our faith deepened and our relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son refined in adversity.”

First, “the Savior, the Master Healer, has power to change our hearts and give us permanent relief from the sorrow caused by our own sin.”

Second, “the Master Healer can comfort and strengthen us when we experience pain because of the unrighteous actions of others,” Sister Stephens said.

Third, “the Master Healer can comfort and sustain us as we experience painful ‘realities of mortality,’ such as disaster, mental illness, disease, chronic pain, and even death.”

In closing, Sister Stephens testified, “You don't have to continue to carry the burden of sorrow caused by sin—alone. You don't have to carry the pain caused by the unrighteous actions of others—alone. You don't have to experience the painful realities of mortality—alone.”

Watch Sister Stephens’s full address.

Bonnie L. Oscarson

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President.

“I testify that the Lord has blessed us, as women who live in these perilous times, with all the power, gifts, and strength that are needed in order to help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, said Sister Oscarson. “I pray that we may all see our true potential and rise up to become the women of faith and courage our Father in Heaven needs us to be.”

She said even the very youngest in the worldwide audience can rise up in faith and play a significant role in building the kingdom of God.

“I believe with all of my heart that we sisters do have the innate strength and the faith that will allow us to meet the challenges of living in these last days,” said Sister Oscarson.

Sister Oscarson said there are three areas that are “foundational to strong testimonies” and “essential to our understanding.”

First, women need to acknowledge the centrality of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, to their faith and salvation. “Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer,” she said. “We need to study and understand His Atonement and how to apply it daily.”

Second, women should understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days. “We need to have a witness that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely chosen and appointed by the Lord to bring about this restoration and recognize that he organized the women of the Church after the organization that existed in Christ’s Church anciently,” she said.

Third, women need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants. “The temple holds a place at the very center of our most sacred beliefs, and the Lord asks that we attend, ponder, study, and find personal meaning and application individually,” said Sister Oscarson.

Watch Sister Oscarson’s full address.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency.

President Uchtdorf spoke of faith—what it is, what it can and cannot do, and “what we must do to activate the power of faith in our lives.”

“Faith,” President Uchtdorf said, “is a strong conviction about something we believe—a conviction so strong that it moves us to do things that we otherwise might not do.”

He said nonbelievers ask how anyone can be certain of what they cannot see.

“What they fail to understand is that there are more ways to see than with our eyes, more ways to feel than with our hands, more ways to hear than with our ears,” President Uchtdorf said.

Sometimes it is not easy to develop faith in spiritual things while living in a physical world, he said. But it is worth the effort, because the power of faith can be profound.

“Faith is powerful, and often it does result in miracles. But no matter how much faith we have, there are two things faith cannot do. For one, it cannot violate another person’s agency,” he said.

“The second thing faith cannot do is force our will upon God,” President Uchtdorf said. “We cannot force God to comply with our desires—no matter how right we think we are or how sincerely we pray.”

He said: “The purpose of faith is not to change God’s will but to empower us to act on God’s will. Faith is trust—trust that God sees what we cannot and that He knows what we do not. Sometimes, trusting our own vision and judgment is not enough.”

“Those who are impatient, uncommitted, or careless may find faith to be elusive,” President Uchtdorf said. ”Those who are easily discouraged or distracted may hardly experience it. Faith comes to the humble, the diligent, the enduring. It comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness.“

“God rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6), but that reward is not usually behind the first door. We need to keep knocking. Sisters, don’t give up. Seek God with all your heart. Exercise faith. Walk in righteousness.”

Watch President Uchtdorf's full address.

President Henry B. Eyring, left, President Thomas S. Monson, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf show appreciation for each other at the general women’s session of the 186th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Saturday, September 24, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sister Denise Lindberg, a member of the Young Women General Board, gave the invocation, and Sister Bonnie Cordon, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, offered the benediction.

A choir comprised of young women from stakes in Ogden, Huntsville, and Morgan, Utah, provided music for the event, with Cherilyn Worthen as the director and Bonnie Goodliffe on the organ. Musical numbers included the Primary song “If I Listen with My Heart” and the hymn “How Firm a Foundation.”

See longer summaries of each speaker's talk at the following links:

Sister Jean B. Bingham: “I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel Into My Home”

Sister Carole M. Stephens: “The Master Healer”

Sister Oscarson: “Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Fourth Floor, Last Door”

Women attending the general women’s session of the October 2016 general conference September 24, 2016, walk arm in arm. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Women laugh prior to the general women’s session of the October 2016 general conference September 24, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Two women pause to take a selfie prior to attending the general women’s session of the October 2016 general conference September 24, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Young women visit prior to the general women’s session of the October 2016 general conference September 24, 2016, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The choir sings during the general women’s session of the October 2016 general conference September 24, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.