Leaders Hope General Women's Meeting Strengthens Sisterhood
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
- Whenever women gather, there is energy. They see how they are alike. They strengthen one another to keep their covenants.
Something remarkable happens when Latter-day Saint women gather together, said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president.
“Women love to gather,” she said. “There is an energy when women gather together.”
Sister Burton; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president; and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary general president, said they hope women around the world will feel that energy as they gather for the Church’s general women’s meeting on September 27.
The live broadcast, originating from the Conference Center and featuring speakers from the First Presidency and the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary general presidencies, will be translated into 55 languages—reaching millions around the world in chapels, on television and radio, and over the Internet.
Sister Oscarson said when women gather they see how they are alike. “They strengthen one another,” she said.
The First Presidency announced last November that the semiannual general women’s meeting will replace the general Relief Society and general Young Women meetings. All women, young women, and girls eight years of age and older were invited to participate in the combined meeting.
The first meeting was held last March. Now as the Church approaches the second general women’s meeting, Church members will see a shift from the meeting being a novelty to it being a tradition, said Sister Wixom. “The tradition will continue and be just as strong,” she said.
Sister Oscarson said one exciting thing about the meeting is the entire Young Women general board—several who live and serve outside of Utah—will be in the Conference Center for the meeting. “We are excited about that,” she said, noting that she has communicated with these board members via technology, but never met some of them in person.
Sister Wixom said she hopes Latter-day Saint women will come to understand the blessings of being a daughter of God and talk about it with those they love. “Part of the real strength that comes from the meeting isn’t only what is said in the meeting but what is said in the car on the ride home.”
The women said many questioned last year why, in addition to Relief Society sisters and young women, that Primary girls, eight and older, were invited to participate in the meeting.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to strengthen 8- to 11-year-old girls who are being hit with things they have never been hit with before at this age,” said Sister Burton.
She said women’s leaders realized the Primary girls have made the covenant of baptism, and they wanted to help them keep that sacred covenant.
Sister Oscarson said the Primary children see themselves as part of the group of Latter-day Saint women worldwide.
During the meeting the leaders came to know why they had felt inspired to include the Primary-age girls, said Sister Wixom. “We needed them. At first we thought we were allowing them to participate, but we needed them.”
Sister Wixom said as leaders sit in the Conference Center they see mothers and teens and children sitting together. They also visualize what it is like to be participating in the meeting “in wards and branches across the world.”
She hopes all the participants—no matter their age or location—“will feel a part of this great worldwide sisterhood. Even though we are a world apart, it is like we are standing shoulder to shoulder.”
Sister Oscarson said as women participate in a worldwide gathering with others who share their beliefs, “they know they are not alone. They know they don’t have to stand up for their beliefs alone.”
The leaders said they received touching stories from women, young women, and girls after the general women’s meeting last spring.
For example, three young women from the West Jordan Utah East Stake were invited to their high school junior prom on the night of the meeting. They wore their modest prom dresses to the broadcast and had their dates pick them up at the meetinghouse after it was completed.
A woman from the Philippines watched the meeting with her daughter from their home via the Internet. “We woke up early and wore our Sunday best,” wrote the woman in a letter to Church headquarters. “We especially loved the Spirit we felt when all the children were asked to stand and sing. My daughter sang with gladness. We truly felt the Savior’s love in that historic meeting even though we were miles away.”
Another mother and daughter wrote about participating in the choir at the women’s meeting. The 14-year-old daughter told her mother after the meeting: “I don’t know what the Spirit feels like, but I felt something today. I think it was the Spirit.”
After the meeting another girl wrote about feeling that she was unique but, like the thousands of others participating, she is a daughter of God.
Sister Oscarson said she hopes they will receive similar reports after this conference. She hopes women, young women, and girls around the world will listen to the meeting and strengthen their commitment “to keep covenants and stay on the covenant path.”