Last Saturday I volunteered at Salt Lake City’s Color Run. The happiest 5K run on the planet. Volunteers splashed powdered color on runners wearing tutus, rainbow headbands, and striped socks. It was pretty incredible to watch.

 photo unnamed-1_zpsa67cc4c6.jpg

The run benefited two charities.  Global Citizen – a movement, website, and app invested in ending extreme world poverty, and UN Women of Utah – an organization working to help women and children in a variety of ways including refugee services, eliminating prostitution, and advocating education for girls in Africa.

My friend, Nikki (pictured above) is the go-to girl for both. Years ago, through the International Refugee Committee,  she connected me to a Sudanese family that I spent time with during my college years, helping them acclimate to a new life in the United States.

Saturday was the first time in years I’ve volunteered somewhere beyond math facts and reading at the elementary school. And it got me thinking. When I do have a little more time, as kids go to school, and life cracks open a bit, how will I spend it?

My interest was piqued when a friend shared a FAIR talk with me, given by Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities. I thought it interesting that she was asked to talk on a subject unrelated (so I thought) to her work. A topic that has worn us out of late: Women in the Church.

She admits to feeling unqualified (although I beg to differ) and begins,

Because of the topic and because of how diverse people feel about this topic, I don’t really see that there are a lot of ways for me to be successful in this… Last night when I was getting ready, I thought, Why did I even say ‘yes’ to this assignment? I’m not a scholar, I’m not a FAIR contributor, I’m not a church spokesperson. There’s very little to recommend [me] and I’m not going to say anything very startling here today that you’re going to think, wow, that was new! So I started to think, why did I say yes? But the reason I said yes when they called was I want to go on record from my own experience. And my own experience has been incredibly empowering.

I listened to her entire talk this morning, and felt impressed to share it with you. Her experience is empowering. And so are her words. They are full of light and energy. And I hope you find, as I did, comfort, enlightenment, and even rejoicing, in what she has to say.

She does a marvelous job of teaching the church’s doctrine on gender and women, which she then reconciles with  practice. Pointing out that sometimes there is a disconnect between the two.

Mid-presentation, Eubank asks the question I had just been considering, “Where should I be spending my energy and my intellectual curiosity… what should I be worrying about?”

I loved her answer, with respect to the issue regarding women in the church.

“It’s not very political to say this but sometimes I think we have the luxury to worry about things that are less significant.”

Her work of distributing church funds and aid around the globe obviously colors her perspective and how she sees the church’s place in the world. The day before her presentation she was working on getting aid to thousands of Christians who were expelled from their homes by ISIS and are now in Kurdistan. Hungry, homeless, and stripped of everything valuable they owned.

She sees first-hand how the church elevates women, gives them hope, and saves their families, particularly in places where men, businesses, and governments, oppress women. That said, she is not unaware that practice of the doctrine, at times, can be improved.

Give yourself the gift of reading or listening to Eubank’s talk (link below).

This is a Woman’s Church – Sharon Eubanks, 2014 FAIR Conference

Sharon (if you see this), I’m so glad you had the courage to say yes to this assignment. I’m grateful for the wisdom you’ve acquired over the years. And I appreciate your masterful collaboration of truth on a subject we all care about, but that most of us have had the luxury of worrying over.

Readers, if you find time to listen to her talk, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Kim Warnick

    August 28, 2014

    Catherine, thank you SO much for addressing Sis. Eubank’s talk. I discovered it last week, printed it up, and have been forwarding it to friends! Extraordinary approach.

    You captured the essence of her beautifully phrased thoughts…There are so many ways we can hasten the work of helping our sisters at home and overseas and in and out of the church.

    One of the things I am loving being a part of is Impact 100. I know this organization is in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and probably a few other states. 100 Women each contribute $1000 (or groups of 4 women $250 each). We then offer a grant of $100,000 to a non-profit in our community. We do this by forming committees who review the grant proposals, which are in 5 areas: Environment, Health, Education, the Arts, and Family. We focus on women and children.

    I can’t believe the education on local issues I’ve received through my involvement. And I love the flexibility of involvement. A woman can simply contribute or she can join a committee, she can attend two learn events we sponsor during the year. But most of all she can attend the Big Give where the members hear presentations from the 5 finalists for the grant. Then we all vote on where our $100K is going this year.

    It is a beautiful way to serve with other women and make a choice based on our women’s hearts and priorities.

    Research what’s out there when that season comes in your life…and enjoy the luxury of serving in a meaningful way.

    • Catherine A.

      August 28, 2014

      Kim, thank you for informing all of us about this wonderful program. I’d like to tell my friend Nikki about it. You’re right. So much good to do, if we can just find the right venues. All the best!

  2. Hope

    August 28, 2014

    Dearest Catherine, I am so so glad you posted the link to this talk. Her perspective was so powerful. I have lots to think about after reading through it.

    First, I love your heart. I love that you ask these hard questions and care about humanity so deeply.

    “Luxury to worry about the less significant”. Yes. Absolutely. I will totally remember those words.

    I am hoping to come back later when I have more time to add more thoughts but I am knee-deep in some things. Thank you, thank you for this. xox

    • Catherine A.

      August 29, 2014

      Hope – I also had lots to think about after listening. I’d like to re-read the piece again. You’re a dear to comment here. Thanks for making time amid the busyness. Sending love. xo

  3. Michelle

    August 28, 2014

    So many thoughts, so little time. 🙂 I loved the passion and clarity of her talk. I loved how she shared doctrine and her own testimony. I loved how she gently encouraged us to consider the power of rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. Even as I personally love to ponder the doctrine surrounding the role of women in God’s plan, I also really do believe that, as the scriptures say, the power is in us. To wait for structural or organizational change to me denies or at least potentially undermines that power within. The examples you give of women doing great good are great examples. The power and influence of women is incalculable if we will just go and do — beginning in our own homes and expanding outward as time and circumstance allow.

    I’ve been thinking lately about all the doctrines that touch upon women’s issues. I love how Sister Eubank touched on so many of those doctrines — the doctrine of our divine identity, of the plan of salvation, of the Atonement, of gender, of marriage, of the body, of motherhood (in the larger, Eve-as-mother-before-she-had-children-sense – that same sense that, imo, drives women to do good in the world, fulfilling the role of mother-of-all-living), of councils (oh, how I love the doctrine of councils). Anyway, the doctrine is rich. The power is in us. I felt that so strongly from her and was very grateful.

    I feel that from you, too! Thanks for this post.

    • Catherine A.

      August 29, 2014

      Michelle – I was in the temple today and am just re-reading your comment. “The power is in us.” That exact feeling came to me so strongly today. Particularly as I listened to the language of the endowment with slightly different ears. I believe you are exactly right. Didn’t Sister Eubank touch on the facets of our identity in such a beautiful, intelligent way? I appreciate your thoughts and testimony, as shared here. Thank you dear lady.

  4. Melanie

    August 29, 2014

    I also read Sister Eubanks’ talk and have thought a lot about her comment on having the luxury to worry about the less significant. I definitely agree that the mental effort I spend on thinking about women’s place in the church is a luxury. This concern pales in comparison with having basic necessities like safety, food, and shelter. But even with that being said, I’m still not sure that it is less significant. If women (and men) who have the luxury of relative wealth and security don’t contribute time and effort toward these causes, who will?

    Rather than creating a ranked list of which causes are most significant, I really love Sister Eubanks’ thoughts on how her work with people in crisis has given her an enlarged perspective. When we take into account the ways in which the gospel and the church are improving women’s lives world-wide, we come to realize that maybe things aren’t quite so problematic as we might think they are. We see the strengths alongside the weaknesses.

    • Catherine A.

      August 29, 2014

      Melanie – you said it better than I could. A perfect explanation of why I loved what Sister Eubank said. All inroads toward greater communication with and contributions from women in the church are valuable. I loved how she distinguished between doctrine and practice, admitting that sometimes there is a disconnect there – a need for improvement. All of which is definitely significant. But, as you mentioned, it was refreshing to hear from someone at work within the bigger picture, to put things in perspective for us, help us see it all with a little more clarity. Thanks for your articulate comment.

  5. robin marie

    August 30, 2014

    I listened to her presentation a few weeks ago and absolutely loved everything about it. I loved her experience and perspective. I too found her questioning regarding our “luxury” spot on as I have seen many suffering parts of the world too. I urged my relief society to watch it!

  6. jtg

    August 30, 2014

    I seem to be in the minority in disliking the presentation. Perhaps its because I read it rather than listened to it. I found it too rambling and there are several points where I don’t think she referenced the doctrine accurately. For example, “I have Divine Parents and so that means that I belong to belong to their household of God and I have rights and privileges and blessings that are associated with being their child. And one of those rights and blessings is that nothing can separate me from my communication with them. There is no intermediary. ” There /is/ an intermediary. His name is Jesus Christ. We have been instructed specifically to address our Father through our Brother and in His name, and likewise specifically instructed to never address our Mother directly.

    That said, I think she did a great job in the Q/A portion. Perhaps because there was less pressure to fill time.

    • Catherine A.

      August 31, 2014

      jtg – you make a fair point. Eubank’s discussion here could have had a little more clarity. I think she simply knew her audience – that most would assume yes, Jesus Christ is THE intermediary, OUR intermediary. Her point, however, was to acknowledge the gift it is to come directly to our Father in Heaven in prayer. To ask for forgiveness, answers, or blessings without a priest or ecclesiastical leader as intermediary (as is required in certain scenarios within other religions). I think she hoped to remind us that we are children of divine parents, with access to their qualities and characteristics, their thoughts, their words, and their eternal blessings.

      Thank you for reading her presentation (you might like listening to it for a slightly different perspective) and for leaving your comment. As a side note on inheritance, I really love President Eyring’s explanation of inheritance in his last conference talk, A Priceless Heritage of Hope, where he explains how the Atonement of Christ (as you mentioned) brings universal inheritance to all of God’s children.

Comments are closed.