General Women's Meeting to Unify Sisters throughout the Globe
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
The 2014 general women’s meeting will unify Latter-day Saint women across the globe, said Sister Linda K. Burton.
The meeting “is about what we feel when we are together,” said the Church’s Relief Society general president. “It is about working together as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The First Presidency announced November 1, 2013, that beginning this spring the semiannual general women’s meeting will replace the general Relief Society and general Young Women meetings. All women, young women, and girls 8 years of age and older were invited to participate in the combined meeting.
The live broadcast, originating from the Conference Center on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. MDT, will be translated into 55 languages, reaching millions around the world in chapels, on television and radio, and over the Internet.
“There is power in gathering,” said Sister Burton. “We elevate each other in a way when we are together that is absolutely remarkable.”
Sister Burton; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president; and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary general president, said they hope the meeting will increase the feelings of sisterhood among Latter-day Saint women of all ages across the world.
The “emphasis is the covenant path that we are all on together,” said Sister Oscarson.
One highlight of the meeting will be a multigenerational choir.
Church leaders asked women, young women, and girls across the Wasatch Front in Utah to apply for the choir. The volunteer choir includes 364 Church members, age 8 and older, who live within a 100-mile radius of Church headquarters and who have experience singing in choirs. They also committed to attend all six rehearsals.
Sister Oscarson said thousands of Church members applied to participate in the choir.
“It was exciting to see how many people wanted to join and be involved in this, she said. “And they’re in families. We have mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts coming together to sing.”
The overwhelming number of applicants is indicative of the willingness of Latter-day Saint women to engage in the work of Jesus Christ, said Sister Burton.
Women “have something to give, and they are willing to give it,” she said. “I love the women of the Church.”
Diane Bastian, music manager for the Church, said during the selection process, directors concentrated on families and tried to fill all the age groups. The outcome was that about 50 of the 364 participants are children ages 8 to 11. Another 70 choir members are ages 12 through 18. The adults in the choir represent the remaining decades, she said.
Selecting participants from the many thousands that applied was a “a very difficult process,” she said. “We looked at choir credentials, especially, and looked at musical experience.”
The “choir by application” in the Church is unique, she said.
In many ways the process followed the pattern established by the Eagle Scout choir that participated in “A Century of Honor”—the Conference Center event that celebrated the Church’s 100-year affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America held October 29, 2013.
Sister Wixom said it is important for Primary-age girls, 8 years old and older, to participate in the general women’s meeting and in the choir.
Members of the 2014 general women's meeting choir participate in a dress rehearsal in the Conference Center on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Thousands applied to participate in the 364-member choir. Photo by Leslie Nilsson.
“This will be a new day, and it will be exciting to have them join the general women’s meeting,” she said. “These girls are capable of feeling the Spirit of the Holy Ghost; they’re capable of receiving personal revelation. … And they’re excited. So are we.”
Something that makes the meeting valuable, said Sister Oscarson, is for women, youth, and girls to be able to see how important they are for each other. She and the other leaders want to “help them see that we are all in this work of salvation together, that we are not divided into organizations that keep us separate. We need one another.”
Each season of life is so important, added Sister Burton. “We need to see all the seasons together so that we can strengthen one another and glean from our unique perspectives along that covenant path.”
Sister Wixom agreed, noting the new general meeting sends an important message: “It is unity,” she said. “It is seamless in spirit and purpose. We are together.”