Tag Archives: General Conference

A Plea to My Siblings

LHK Botanic“We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.” Elder Russell M. Nelson, October 2015 General Conference.

It was wonderful to hear this from Elder Russell M. Nelson, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, in his recent Conference address, “A Plea to My Sisters.”

In his remarks he quoted Elder Boyd K. Packer:

We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out.”

Elder Packer said this in  General Conference in October 1978, 37 years ago.

Elder Nelson also shared these encouraging words:

My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a contributing and full partner” as you unite with your husband in governing your family.

The part in quotations is from the Women’s Fireside, September 1978 by President Spencer W. Kimball.

As those of us women who work diligently and devotedly in the Church know – even those of us old enough to have heard Elder Packer’s and President Kimball’s quotes the first time around – we have, of course, been doing all of these things. For all these years. We organize, administer, teach, lead and in all manner of other ways build the Kingdom. It’s what we do. Even if, alas, like holograms, it takes the correct angle to recognize exactly what we’re up to.

The “speaking up and speaking out” part may be where the emphasis is stronger now.
The extra punch to this, I believe, is that despite the title, it is a plea to our brothers, too. It is a plea to men and women to honestly expect, encourage and welcome the counsel of women.

So much depends on the personalities of the leaders. One bishop’s attitude toward a woman “speaking out” in a ward council meeting could be to cheer her on, to “hearken” to her counsel, so to speak. That’s what Elder Nelson is championing, I think. In another ward the bishop might subtly or not-so-subtly caution her about “overstepping her bounds.” (See Muffins and Miracles: Church Service in the Real World, Cedar Fort 2013., Linda Hoffman Kimball; p. 62, p.80, p. 126) Ward and stake roulette can be so difficult.

One woman’s participation may be articulate, confident and persuasive. Another woman, raised with a cultural expectation to “defer to the priesthood” may be hesitant to voice her opinions since she believes she has no “clout”.

In a Sunday School class with all the adults in a Utah ward I attend, one of the General Seventy recently spoke about how eager the First Presidency is to get women to participate in ward counsels and leadership meetings. The General Authority also wanted to ensure that the message of involving the sisters is “trickling down” to the local units and that their perspectives are heard. One class member said that he’d attended counsel meetings but getting the women to speak up was “like pulling teeth.” Other wards may have an opposite issue to deal with.

Have your wards, like mine, been emphasizing observance of the Sabbath Day in your sacrament meetings? It’s a high priority to the First Presidency, and another one they are eager to have reach every outpost of the Church. They want the women’s input on this topic. It is one thing to emphasize having more spiritual Sabbaths and quite another to envision, for example, how that impacts a busy mother-of-many. With little kids it’s constant calf-wrestling anyway. If we assume that the mom, too, deserves a day of rest, what might that look like? Or maybe it’s the dad who deals more directly with the children. How can couples develop a “contributing and full” partnership in this situation – and in myriad others?

We have some growing pains ahead of us (and behind us as well).

While we sort out (decades’ old and days’ old) applications of Elder Nelson’s “A Plea to My Sisters,” we can focus on the plea of another apostle, Paul in Ephesians 4:

… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all… So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. …[W]e will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:1-5,11-13, 15-16 (NIV)

The General Conference Family Home Evening Challenge

When General Conference rolled around last October, I realized that it was the weekend that my children were scheduled to spend all day Saturday with their father. I felt somewhat ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I looked forward to a day of actually getting to hear the talks and ponder them in quiet peace without the stress of trying to help three small children sit through eight hours of talks in a somewhat reverent manner. On the other hand, I do take seriously the counsel to watch and listen to Conference and to encourage participation from our children. During the past decade since becoming a parent I have sought to make General Conference a significant family tradition. I’ve tried special foods, coloring packets, bingo, key words, going for scenic drives, and, most commonly, just requiring children to be in the room doing something quiet and not bothering me. I don’t remember watching Conference much as a child, but I don’t fault my mother for this at all. If watching Conference meant hauling five small children to the chapel by myself for eight hours of viewing, I’d probably opt out as well. However, now that I live in a time and place where General Conference is easily accessible in my home, I try to participate as much as I can. What to do when my kids weren’t even going to be around for half of it? Continue reading The General Conference Family Home Evening Challenge

Making the General Specific

image from ldsmediatalk.com

I have spent every hour since the concluding hymn contemplating last weekend’s General Conference, chewing over the words and welcomes we received. Elder Robert D. Hales, who was the first speaker at the Saturday morning session reminded us of two vital aspects in benefiting from General Conference.

First, he said, (quoting President Kimball), “What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel.”

Elder Hales also said, “The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over. Remember the pattern recorded frequently in scripture: we gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them.”

Post-conference, I found myself hearing and feeling all sorts of things – a yin and yang chatter fest. I decided that one good way I could process conference beneficially was to go through each talk sussing out my own uplifting take-aways from each message. Continue reading Making the General Specific

Feasting on the…

Is it just me, or does everyone think long and hard about what special foods they’ll eat during General Conference? As a child, my food association with conference was a special treat bag assembled by my mother, the contents revealed to us only after we were settled into the church pews. In college, watching conference was a social event, where apartments all over Provo hosted brunch for specially invited friends and crushes.

Today, my first-session meal will be homemade butternut squash soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, followed by Thai takeout during the 4-6 p.m. block. Tomorrow, I’m thinking homemade brioche au chocolat for the morning session, and a classic Sunday supper in the afternoon.

What are your General Conference food plans? Are you a traditionalist, serving homemade cinnamon rolls semi-annually? Or does your feast change from year to year?