Leaders Address Importance of Conversion at BYU Women’s Conference

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News editor

  • 9 May 2017

Sandra Rogers, chairwoman of the BYU Women’s Conference, greets Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, on May 4 in the Marriott Center.  Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

PROVO, UTAH

Close to 12,000 women from around the world converged on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, May 4–5, for the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world.

Cosponsored by the Relief Society and Brigham Young University, BYU Women’s Conference included more than 200 presenters sharing insights on topics of interest to women of all ages. This year's conference theme, “Converted unto the Lord,” is taken from the scripture found in 3 Nephi 28:23.

Sandra Rogers, chairwoman of the conference, was joined in welcoming participants to Thursday’s activities by Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, and President Kevin J Worthen, president of BYU.

Sister Eubank, Relief Society

Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency and director of LDS Charities, offered the opening keynote address on the conference’s theme.

Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency and director of LDS Charities, offered the opening keynote address on the conference’s theme.

In her remarks to women gathered in the Marriott Center on the Provo campus, Sister Eubank discussed three basic “ingredients” of conversion and the role of Relief Society in that process.

“Relief Society is exactly the place for all of us who don’t fit in,” Sister Eubank declared. “It is organized under priesthood keys for women so that we have a place to grow, progress, build faith, talk about the reality of family life, and mourn with each other for all the stupid, crazy things happening to us as we are mortals.”

For those who say Relief Society is just a sewing circle or a book club for women with similar interests and backgrounds, Sister Eubank responded, “No. Relief Society has a work to do on the earth.”

The Lord has a stewardship for His daughters in the work of salvation, she explained, and “it can only be done by women who are truly converted unto the Lord.” (See related story.)

Among this year's presenters was the newly called Relief Society General Presidency; the Young Women General Presidency; the Primary General Presidency; Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President; and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Relief Society leaders

Sister Jean B. Bingham with her counselors in the Relief Society General Presidency—Sister Sharon Eubank (left) and Sister Reyna I. Alburto (right)—during the BYU Women’s Conference May 4. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

Speaking to women gathered in the Marriott Center at BYU, Sister Bingham shared her “ordinary” story and “average” life.

Yet, she explained, even in her ordinariness, “Heavenly Father saw value and has helped me begin to develop the gifts and graces He knows will help me become all that He has designed me to be,” she said. “Know that your Heavenly Father will provide all that you need to become 'extra'-ordinary as a daughter of God. The wonder of His heavenly economy is that every single one of us can be spectacular because of our unique bundle of talents and abilities.

“Unlike the world, in His kingdom there is no winner’s platform that only has room for one or two. Each of His daughters has been taught and prepared and gifted premortally with marvelous potential to become a queen in the celestial kingdom.” (See related story.)

“What has Relief Society been for me?” This is the question Sister Reyna I. Aburto has pondered over the last few weeks since being called to Relief Society General Presidency.

Sister Aburto testified, “My dear sisters, as we face the world during these latter days and as we strive to keep the covenants that we have made with God so we can fulfill the measure of our creation, Relief Society can be a safe haven for us.” (See related story.)

Young Women leaders

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, addressed the topic “The Test of Life.”

“I testify there are great blessings in store when we are also willing to say to the Father, ‘nevertheless, thy will be done’ (see D&C 109:44) and align our will to the will of the Lord,” she said. “This is the test of life. As we become better at doing it, we will find greater happiness, increased ability to receive personal revelation, greater capacity to serve those around us, more help in meeting trials, and a more Christlike character.” (See related story.)

During her remarks, Sister Carol F. McConkie, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, spoke to women about “seeing ourselves in God’s eternal plan.”

“I testify that individually and independently, regardless of your circumstances, God is always there. He knows you and He loves you,” she said. “Please believe that the majesty and glory of our Father’s plan of happiness is for you and His love for you is boundless.”

Women attend a general session in the Marriott Center during the BYU Women’s Conference. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

Women walk to and from classes on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, during women’s conference May 4–5. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

Sister Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, spoke on the topic “Becoming a Converted, Covenant-Keeping Woman.”

The power of God is available to all His children, she said. “This power is ours to have, if we want it. It is our privilege to live with it and act with it and become more like the Savior with it. What is this power? It is the power that comes from faithful participation in gospel ordinances and covenants.” (See related story.)

Primary leaders

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, and her counselor Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, spoke jointly during a session of BYU Women’s Conference on the need for “intentional parenting.” Sister Cristina B. Franco, who was recently called to serve as Sister Jones’s second counselor, is serving with her husband in the Argentina Resistencia Mission until July. 

In her remarks, Sister Jones explained that each parent's circumstances are different and there is no “singular recipe for perfect parents or a perfect family.” However, there are some perfect parenting principles. “We can look to our Heavenly Father as the perfect example of how to parent,” she said. “He is the epitome of intentional parenting. Patterning our parenting skills after the truths found in His scriptures can be our guide.” (See related story.)

The General Relief Society Presidency and two members of the General Primary Presidency sit on the stand during the opening session of the BYU Women’s Conference May 4. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Sister Cordon noted the astounding promise found in Helaman 5:12, “A foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

“Even recognizing that our children have agency and may not accept our teaching, it is always worth being intentional, deliberate, and purposeful in our families,” Sister Cordon said. “Isn’t that our true desire as parents—to have our children build their foundation on the rock of Jesus Christ? If they will use their agency to do so, they cannot fall.”

Women pause to take a photo on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, during women’s conference May 4–5. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

Brother Callister, Sunday School

Brother Callister, Sunday School General Pesident, and his wife, Sister Kathryn L. Callister, offered a keynote address on the topic ”Return, Repent, and Be Converted That I May Heal You.“ (See related story.)

On May 5, a special musical presentation featuring a cast of women of all ages and titled “Our Roots: A Celebration of Who We Are” honored every woman who strives to plant her life in the fertile soil of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Stevenson, Quorum of the Twelve

In giving the final keynote address at the annual conference, Elder Stevenson encouraged listeners to avoid “debilitating comparisons” of social media and to utilize the “new and exciting channels of technology” to share “knowledge of the Savior.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addresses women present and watching online during the BYU Women’s Conference May 5. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

“May each of you have the courage to blog, pin, like, share, post, friend, tweet, snap, and swipe up in a way that will glorify, honor, and respect the will of our loving Heavenly Father and bring a knowledge of the Savior to your family, loved ones, and friends,” he said. (See related story.)

In addition to attending concurrent sessions throughout the day and listening to counsel given in the general sessions on both days of the conference, conference goers had the opportunity to participate in daytime service projects, an evening service project, an evening concert, and an instant choir that performed during the closing session.

Videos of select talks will be archived later on LDS.org on the Relief Society page and in the LDS Media Library in English and Spanish. Visit the website womensconference.byu.edu for more information.

 

Maria Tedjamulia, left, takes a photograph with Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, after the presidency spoke at the BYU Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center at BYU in Provo on Friday, May 5, 2017. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, speaks with attendees of the BYU Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center at BYU in Provo on Friday, May 5, 2017. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, speaks with attendees of the BYU Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center at BYU in Provo on Friday, May 5, 2017. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Women participate in a class at BYU Women’s Conference May 4–5. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.

Women attend the BYU Women’s Conference May 4–5. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.