Center your lives on Jesus Christ and remember the foundational truths of the “Young Women Theme,” a senior leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said during the women’s session of the faith’s 192nd Annual General Conference.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about doctrines and gospel principles found in the “Young Women Theme,” including truths about heavenly parents, divine nature, eternal destiny and sacred covenants.
‘The profound doctrine taught in the “Young Women Theme” is important for young women, but it is applicable to all, including those of us who are not young women,” Elder Renlund said.
There is nothing more important to a person’s eternal progress than keeping sacred covenants, said President Jean B. Bingham, recently released as the church’s Relief Society general president.
“The key to lasting happiness is living the gospel of Jesus Christ and keeping our covenants,” she said.
‘Doing what matters’
A key component of trusting in the Lord is moving forward, believing he will guide us even when we don’t have all the answers, a leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said during the women’s session of the faith’s 192nd Annual General Conference.
Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, told about a friend who felt prompted to visit a sister she hardly knew. At first she was reluctant, but then decided to give the woman a container of ice cream to ease her anxiety.
The woman quickly realized the new sister was facing several challenges and they talked for an hour. The ice cream melted but it didn’t matter — “It’s OK. I’m lactose intolerant!” the woman said.
The moral of the ministering experience centered on “doing.”
“Sisters, it’s not about the ice cream. And it’s not about doing more,” Sister Craven said. “It’s about doing what matters. It’s applying the doctrine of Christ in our lives as we strive to become more like him.”
Why it matters
The conference is being viewed and heard by millions seeking counsel, spiritual rejuvenation, peace and personal revelation.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, opened the session. President Jean B. Bingham, released earlier Saturday as Relief Society general president, also spoke as did Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. A video presentation also was shown.
President Bingham, who has served as the Relief Society general president for the past five years, conducted the women’s session.
Why a women’s session?
President Oaks opened by providing an explanation for the church’s decision to designate Saturday evening as a women’s session for all Latter-day Saint women and young women, including those who turn 12 in 2022.
- The church had previously announced in July 2021 that the Saturday evening sessions, which previously alternated between a women’s session and a priesthood session for men, would become a general session for all church members. The last women’s session was held in October 2020.
- President Oaks said the Saturday sessions of general conference have a history of different purposes and different audiences. “For now, this Saturday evening meeting is a session of general conference, not a session of any organization,” he said. “Like all sessions of general conference, the planning, speakers, and music are designated by the First Presidency.”
- “The gospel of Jesus Christ does not change. Gospel doctrine does not change. Our personal covenants do not change,” he said. “But over the years, the meetings we hold to communicate our messages do change and very likely will continue to change over the years.”
- Future Saturday evening sessions may be conducted by general officers of the church, such as members of the presidencies of Relief Society, Young Women and Primary, as designated by the First Presidency.
- “We honor the daughters of God in this special session by concentrating on their concerns and those of their organizations,” President Oaks said.
What were the themes?
- Keeping covenants yields blessings and spiritual strength.
- It is possible to find peace and purpose despite the difficult circumstances of life.
- Being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves more than just hoping or believing, it means giving effort and commitment to taking action.
What was said?
- The topic of heavenly parents was among the notable truths in the “Young Women’s Theme” that Elder Renlund discussed. What is known about mother in heaven is summarized in the church’s Gospel Topics.
- “Once you have read what is there, you will know everything that I know about the subject. I wish I knew more,” Elder Renlund said. “You, too, may still have questions and want to find more answers. Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation.”
- Elder Renlund continued: “Speculation will not lead to greater spiritual knowledge, but it can lead to deception or divert our focus from what has been revealed. For example, the Savior taught His disciples: ‘always pray unto the Father in my name’ We follow this pattern and direct our worship to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and do not pray to heavenly mother.”
- President Bingham illustrated the power of keeping covenants to having the proper equipment for rappelling. “With Jesus Christ as our anchor and perfect partner, we are assured of his loving strength in trial and of eventual deliverance through Him,” she said. “The spiritual equipment that keeps us from being broken on the rocks of adversity is our testimony of Jesus Christ and the covenants we make.”
- A video was shown before President Bingham’s remarks that shared words from President Spencer W. Kimball in October 1979 and President Russell M. Nelson’s talk for women in October 2015. Sister Camilla Kimball read her husband President Kimball’s talk during the general women’s meeting in 1979 when he was in the hospital. He foretold that much of the major growth coming to the church in the last days will be because many of the good women of the world will be drawn to the church in large numbers.
- The video also showed President Russell M. Nelson’s talk from October 2015, where he spoke to Latter-day Saint women. He said the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. “You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!” President Nelson said the kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make and keep sacred covenants and who can speak with the power and authority of God. Women need to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils.
- Sister Porter discussed the life-changing events surrounding the death of her husband, Elder Bruce D. Porter, and shared three lessons that she learned that brought her close to Jesus Christ.
- They were: (1) Our past and present circumstances do not determine our future; (2) “The power is in (us)”; and (3) “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”
- Sister Craven said being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves more than just hoping or believing. It requires effort, movement and commitment. She urged Latter-day Saint women to focus on what matters most to find lasting joy. “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of action and a gospel of joy,” she said.
Venue and attendance
For the first time since the pandemic began, the public attended a conference session.
- Attendance was limited to about 10,000, so many seats remained empty inside the Conference Center (capacity 21,000).
- The restriction was not related to COVID-19. Instead, there were concerns about parking, public transportation and access due to construction on and around Temple Square with the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple.
- The general public hadn’t attended a conference session since October 2019.
- In October 2021, the families and guests of the speakers were allowed to attend, which amounted to several hundred people per session.
- “We cannot create our own path and expect God’s promised outcomes.” — Elder Renlund
- “We cannot deviate from Heavenly Father’s course and then blame Him for inferior outcomes.” — Elder Renlund
- “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the church in large numbers.” — President Kimball’s talk in video
- “The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!” — President Nelson
- “We must choose to be anchored to the Savior, to be bound to him by our covenants.” — President Bingham
- “Dear sisters, above all else, stay on the covenant path to Jesus Christ!” — President Bingham
- “No matter our circumstances, our lives are sacred and have meaning and purpose. Each of us is a beloved daughter of God, born with divinity in our souls.” — Sister Porter
- “Even though you may feel alone as the storms of life are raging, you can shine a light in the darkness of misunderstanding, confusion and unbelief. Your light of faith in Christ can be steady and sure, leading those around you to safety and peace.” — Sister Porter
- “Conversion won’t come while doing nothing. It comes through the power of the Holy Ghost as we make an intentional effort to know by asking, seeking, and knocking. It comes by doing.” — Sister Craven
- “It’s not about doing life perfectly — it’s about finding joy while doing our best to live the covenants we have made with the Lord.” — Sister Craven
- “If the restored Church of Jesus Christ is going to come out of obscurity, we must come out of obscurity. As covenant-keeping women, we must shine our gospel light all over the world by stepping up and standing out.” — Sister Craven
Prayers and hymns
- Sister Rebecca Mehr, a member of the Relief Society Advisory Council, offered the opening prayer. Sister Andrea Spannaus of Argentina, a member of the Relief Society Advisory Council gave the closing prayer.
- A women’s choir from stakes in Utah provided music throughout the women’s session. They sang “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise,” “We Listen to a Prophet’s Voice,” “Come Ye Children of the Lord” and “Oh, May My Soul Commune with Thee.”