For three years, President Jean B. Bingham has led the more than 7-million Latter-day Saint women throughout the world as the Relief Society General President. As her ministry comes to an end, she has one more very public moment — as the first woman grand marshal of the Days of ’47 Parade.
President Bingham says it is an honor to represent all of the women who have made such wonderful contributions to their families or communities throughout the world.
She descends from six generations of Latter-day Saint pioneers on both sides of her family. Many of them arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in the late 1840s and early 1850s — from an infant girl who was born on Goose Creek, Nebraska, to a 16-year-old boy who drove a wagon across the plains, to a 70-year-old widow who walked most of the way.
Her great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth White, traveled from England with her husband and four children, pregnant with her fifth child — as they crossed the plains, her husband died in Winter Quarters, Nebraska. After his death, White found a driver for their wagon, Benjamin Clegg, who was a Scottish shoemaker. He helped her get across the plains and they later married.
President Bingham’s husband, Bruce, was once a member of the Days of ’47 committee, so she remembers the parade as an important community gathering. She said this is a time to join together, after a pandemic that separated us.
“I love that we can now actually gather together in large groups, and we can experience that sense of community one more time,” she said. “That really creates a greater unity.”
And unity is what she says her presidency expressed to Latter-day Saint women the world over as they traveled and testified of Jesus Christ. “We have been blessed and led to do what we can do during this particular time,” she said.
As her ministry as the Relief Society general president comes to a close she hopes that, like her great-great-grandmother, she will be remembered as a cheerful, energetic woman of faith.