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Portraits of LDS women leaders hang in Conference Center for first time

SALT LAKE CITY — Visitors to the LDS Church's Conference Center, which in the next few weeks will include 120,000 people attending the faith's new general women's meeting and its general conference, will see significant new portraits hanging on the third floor.

Near a hallway display of busts of prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, three of the portraits include the nine women in the most major leadership roles in the church.

A church spokeswoman said hanging the portraits was the deliberate result of ongoing conversations about giving more visibility to the faith's women.

In the center of the new display is a portrait of Sister Linda K. Burton, president of the church's 5.5-million member, 172-year-old organization for adult women known as the Relief Society, and her counselors, Sister Carole M. Stephens and Sister Linda S. Reeves.

To the left is a photo of Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the 14th president of the Young Women organization, and her counselors, Sister Carol F. McConkie and Sister Neill F. Marriott.

And to the right is a portrait of Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, general president of the Primary organization for more than 1 million LDS children ages 18 months to 12 years old, and her counselors, Sister Jean A. Stevens and Sister Cheryl A. Esplin.

Flanking those portraits are photos of the presidencies of the Young Men and Sunday School organizations, which are comprised of men.

“Conversations about giving more visibility to women have been going on for some years," LDS Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said. "The decision to have the sister leaders of the church be more visible in the Conference Center is just one outcome of those conversations.”

Last month, the presidents of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary — Sister Burton, Sister Oscarson and Sister Wixom — released a 16-minute video about changes in those auxiliary organizations, including global leadership training for women, designed to increase unity among LDS women worldwide.