For two days, an estimated 15,000 women gathered on the Brigham Young University – Provo campus for BYU’s Women’s Conference, the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world. The conference is designed celebrate womanhood, sisterhood, and the gospel of Jesus Christ while fostering friendships and spiritual growth.
This year’s theme was taken from 2 Nephi 11:5: “…my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord…” and both the keynote addresses from Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson and Elder M. Russell Ballard highlighted this theme.
On Thursday afternoon, Sister Oscarson, the Young Women’s General President, spoke powerfully about how covenants are evidence of God’s love.
“He [Heavenly Father] sees the dangers of this earthly life, and understands the possible risks to our happiness and salvation much better than we do. He has an eternal perspective. He is anxious for us to be happy and knows our best chance for that is obedience to His commandments. He asks us to promise Him certain things that will help prepare us to return to Him someday,” said Sister Oscarson.
Sister Oscarson noted how covenants are an exchange of love between us and God, requiring effort on our part.
“When we truly love the Lord, we will be generous in how we keep our covenants—willing to keep the commandments and take it one or two steps beyond.”
As part of her testimony, Sister Oscarson concluded:
“Covenants bind us to our Heavenly Father. They make Him a partner in all that we do in this life. We know that God always keeps His promises and that He will never let us down. I testify that love of the Lord and gratitude for all that He has done for us is the greatest reason for us to keep our covenants with Him. He gave His only begotten Son so that we might have hope for exaltation.”
“No one can do what you sisters can do to help move the gospel kingdom forward and make the world a better place. No one,” he said.
He gave multiple examples of strong women, citing the recent spike of full-time sister missionaries and the Mormon pioneers. He also discussed the strength of women today and spoke freely about the choices of women today and how each one should be respected.
“One sister may be inspired to continue her education and attend medical school, allowing her to have significant impact on her patients and to advance medical research. For another sister, inspiration may lead her to forego a scholarship to a prestigious medical institution and instead begin a family much earlier than has become common in this generation, allowing her to make a significant and eternal impact on her children now.
Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive such different responses to the same basic questions? Absolutely! What’s right for one woman may not be right for another. That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them….
We can all be kinder and more thoughtful of the situations in which our sisters throughout the world find themselves as they seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father in their lives,” said Elder Ballard.
Elder Ballard also warned of the dangers of the internet, encouraging everyone to “be prudent and careful about seeking answers to spiritually important questions online.”
Overall, Elder Ballard’s address was summarized in part of his closing remarks: Righteous and faithful women have always played an essential role in saving souls and in defending the kingdom of God.”
Other highlights of the conference included powerful performances from Gentri and other LDS artists, workshops, and special sessions with the female leaders of the Church, including Sister Wendy Nelson and the Relief Society General Presidency. Elder Ballard’s address was streamed live and possible rebroadcasts may become available. We’ll let you know if the full video or transcript becomes available to the public.
Photos by Mark A. Philbrick, BYU.