Members of the Young Women general presidency joined with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday for a Face to Face broadcast. The virtual event marked the 150th anniversary of the Young Women organization.
Sister Cordon was joined onstage in the Conference Center Theater by Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
A small group of Latter-day Saint musicians and singers also took the stage, including Kenadi Dodds and Lexi Walker. Only essential members of the technical crew were on hand for the event because of COVID-19 restrictions in Utah.
“What has been remarkable is we are going to still broadcast all over the world and will be knee to knee in people’s homes as we get to talk about Christ, rejoice in Christ and celebrate these young women throughout history and then also celebrate our history now,” added Sister Cordon.
“My dear young sisters, I’m delighted to greet you on this significant occasion,” said President Russell M. Nelson in a recorded message. “As the father of nine daughters, 26 granddaughters, and 72 great-granddaughters with more to come, I spend a lot of time with young women.”
President Nelson continued, “I have watched you tackle challenges of every kind. Teach your friends the gospel, and rise above the temptations of the world by choosing to live by the Lord’s higher and holier standards.”
Sister Cordon expressed her gratitude for support from Church leaders to move forward with the broadcast. “We are thankful for a prophet who had nine daughters.”
Young women worldwide are part of the Church’s Young Women organization from January of the year they turn 12 through 18 years of age.
The program was recorded in English, but it was broadcast in 11 languages. Young women from around the world participated in the broadcast. The Young Women leaders fielded questions in Spanish and Portuguese, and prayers were offered from young women in Norway and Thailand where a new temple is under construction.
“It is a global church,” shared Sister Craig, who was able to use her Spanish-speaking skills along with Sister Craven. Sister Cordon speaks Portuguese.
“I served a Spanish-speaking mission a long time ago, and I haven’t practiced a lot until I got my calling,” she said.
“In talking about it and planning, we really just wanted to find ways to highlight young women from all over the world,” said Sister Craig. “This has been a hard year. And hopefully, this is like a boost that we can do this, we can do this together.”
Over the past year, Church leaders have encouraged young women around the world to do 150 acts of service to commemorate the anniversary.
“We weren’t exactly sure what we might get, but we were astounded because the 150 were so unique and so clever and so faith-filled with each girl,” remarked Sister Cordon. “They had to do with scriptures and service and the medical community, especially with this pandemic. So many of them had eyes to see others that needed help.”
Young women have been participating in a conversation on the sesquicentennial celebration via social media by using #strivetobe.
The Young Women organization was organized on May 27, 1870. It was originally known as the First Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association.
“The purpose of creating the young women organization was to help young women center their lives on Jesus Christ and gain a living testimony, and that has not changed,” said Sister Craven.
“[The Young Women program] has come a long way as far as the things that we do. Programs have changed a little bit, but the purpose has not changed at all,” she said.
The young women once wore a sash displaying emblems representing goals they had achieved called a bandelo and uniforms. In fact, Sister Craven came on stage during the program in a late 1920s Bee Hive uniform that once belonged to Sister Ruby Leak Smith.
“Putting on that uniform that belonged to Ruby Smith was really quite a spiritual experience for me,” said Sister Craven. “I realized that she wore it to camp. … I felt honored to put it on, and I’ll never forget that.”
150 years ago, President Brigham Young began the Young Women organization “to help the young women gain a ‘living testimony’ of the gospel of Jesus Christ and stand together against the challenges and temptations of the world.”
Sister Cordon added, “the strength and faith of young women still stands as a shining beacon today.”
Watch the entire broadcast below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.