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LDS Church combines Relief Society and Young Women general conference meetings, adds Primary girls

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church posted an announcement on its website Monday night that a semiannual general women's meeting including girls 8 years and older will replace the annual general Relief Society and general Young Women meetings on the Saturday before general conferences.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the general women's meeting in a letter dated Nov. 1 and sent to LDS leaders around the world.

"All women, young women, and girls 8 years of age and older will be invited to attend," the letter states. "These meetings will take the place of the previous general Relief Society and general Young Women meetings and will be conducted by the general presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary organizations.

"As the women of the church gather together — sisters, mothers and daughters — they, their families and the church will be strengthened and blessed."

The change is a return to past practice. From 1984 to 1993, a general meeting was held for all women and young women.

Since 1993, a general Relief Society meeting has been held in September on the Saturday before October general conference and a general Young Women meeting has been held in March on the Saturday before April general conference.

The Relief Society often is referred to as the largest or one of the largest women's organizations in the world, with 5.5 million women in 170 countries. Organized in 1842, its purpose has been called the pursuit of the “relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance — relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman.” Sister Linda K. Burton is the 16th Relief Society general president.

The Young Women organization, established in 1869, is for girls 12 to 17. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson is the 14th Young Women general president.

The Primary organization for children was organized in 1878 and now includes more than 1 million children worldwide. Sister Rosemary M. Wixom is the 12th Primary general president.